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Arts & Culture

Local Artist Wins Weekly Spot On Times-Union Sunday Comics Page

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Regan Lester
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His comic strip might be new to the First Coast, but drawing and writing in the name of humor is nothing new for one of Jacksonville's most recent residents.A Georgia native, Mike Lester and his wife Regan moved to Jacksonville about eight months ago; he had only ever lived in the Peach State.

Last week, the Florida Times-Union announced that Lester's comic strip "Mike Du Jour" was among four winners of the newspaper's Sunday comics reader poll.

The strip will be published locally on Sundays, and Lester also writes weekly for publication in newspapers around the world through syndication by The Washington Post Writers Group.

"I'm not trying to do what's already in the paper," Lester said of his art, comparing his style of observational humor to the work of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

"I like people who don't laugh at their own jokes, I think they're funnier," he said of his influences.

An award-winning editorial cartoonist and illustrator, Lester began "Mike Du Jour" as a series of animations for the Wall Street Journal in the late 1990's.

The strip, which Lester said is "100 percent politics free," focuses on a theme per week Monday-Saturday, with a standalone strip on Sunday.

"I'm not looking for left and right, I'm just trying to be funny," Lester said.

His weekly themes focus on anything from "pocket lint" to last week's arc that introduced and followed the adventures of "Yawn the Hipster"—a pipe smoking, mustachioed, monocle wearing bar patron who the comic's lead (named Mike) introduces to newspapers as the latest ironic fashion accessory.

Lester said his time in Florida,  a state which has recently become a meme unto itself for outrageous and weird news, hasn't affected his weekly material.

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Credit Mike Lester
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Mike - the lead character of "Mike Du Jour."

"The weather's not that different, and neither are the sensibilities," he said, comparing Florida to Georgia.

"I go to my local Starbucks a lot, trying to get week together," he said. "The people who come in and out of there are no different than the people who came in and out of my Starbucks in Georgia."

While they haven't made it into a strip yet, Lester did identify two differences he and his wife have noticed in Jacksonville thus far, both traffic and travel related.

"Stop lights are just a suggestion here," he said, noting another sight from the road, helmet-less motorcycle drivers, that has given him pause.

When they first moved to town, Lester said he would go to the beach every other day. Now he makes it to the water about once a week, and he and his wife enjoy spending their weekends in Atlantic Beach.

Formerly an avid golfer, he hasn't had time to hit the links since his move, and he's okay with it.

"I love to play golf, I like this job more," he said. "There's no end to this. I hope there's no end to this."

Lester encouraged local fans of "Mike Du Jour" to get in touch with the Times-Union to request that the paper to begin publishing the strip seven days a week.

You can follow Patrick Donges @patrickhdonges.