The little absurdities within life’s mundanities form the basis of cartoonist Jamie Smith’s work.

“I was homesick last week and I was at the seafood counter at Hannaford’s, talking with the lady about how I love Alaska king crab, and lobster’s, like, OK,” Smith said. “The irony being, that if I really get homesick, I can buy imitation lobster because that’s actually made with Alaskan pollock. So it’s little things like that.”

Smith is a professional cartoonist who moved to Bar Harbor half a year ago from Alaska, where he had a thriving career as a staff and freelance cartoonist at several publications. He drew his single-panel cartoon feature, called “Nuggets,” for almost 25 years and, since 2004, he taught drawing and cartooning courses at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

On May 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., he will be among 100 comic writers, artists, publishers and cartoonists who will show their work at the third annual Maine Comics Arts Festival, which will be held the Ocean Gateway facility on Thames Street on Portland’s waterfront.

The festival will be the first time Smith has participated in this type of event, he said.

“The field has really grown in the past 10 years. It’s not just comic books anymore,” he said.

In Maine, he said, he has so far found outlets for his panels, now titled “Low Tide,” in Down East magazine and The Maine Edge. He was also commissioned by Acadia National Park to draw a mascot – a beaver – for events such as the recent Junior Ranger Day.

Smith is endowed with an expressive face – big eyes that roll and squint, lips that  purse and twist, eyebrows that arch and furrow. In conversation, his hands are pretty much always in motion. His almost manic, teenage-boy laugh belies the silver head of hair – “’Arctic blond,’ as they call it,” he said – of his 40-plus years.

Smith sat down with a visitor one recent morning at one of his favorite new haunts, the Jesup Memorial Library. Jesup, he said, is integral to the peripatetic route he’s developed as part of his daily lifestyle – which is also key to his work.

“I get into a routine, go to the café, get the paper, go through it, come here, do some sketching, come up with some ideas, then go down to the coast somewhere, work on some more ideas, take a hike. It’s a nice routine,” he said. “Cartooning is something that you can do anytime, anywhere, with any material. You don’t need training, you don’t need a degree. Ballpoint pen, pencil, whatever – you can make somebody laugh, you can tell a story and express yourself and maybe earn a living, if everything comes together.”

Smith moved to Bar Harbor, he said, “following a girl” who took a job with Acadia National Park after a career with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Alaska.

He said he was always doodling as a kid, and sketching just came naturally to him.

“Cartooning just kind of happened. So I look back and say, ‘Oh, I guess that’s what I am, whether I get paid for it or not,’” he said. “I compulsively do it all the time. I’ve got tons of these sketchbooks lying around. This the incubator. I was brought up by hippie gardeners, so I use the words ‘mulch pile’ a lot, where stuff gets shoveled in and sits there and ferments and you turn it over a few times.”

He said he often sits down with his sketchbook at the library and at coffee shops.

“It’s a good way to get a feel for what’s going on,” he said. “You’re always keeping an eye out, always exploring, getting new ideas. So the library is the number one place to be.”

Ideas don’t always spring up fully formed, he said.

“A lot of it is just work, sitting down and thinking and kind of trawling through the waters,” he said. “A lot of it happens as soon as you start drawing – the old 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration – so once you start, you continue getting more ideas. They come out of the blue. It’s like wearing a pair of prescription glasses: Once you start looking at the world in a different way, you start looking at the world funny, and it just is. The ideas are all around. It’s just learning to pay attention and take notes.”

Smith has published five cartoon books in Alaska, and his weekly panels were featured in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, the city’s biggest newspaper, as well as a couple of alternative newspapers.

He said he was doing “regional-specific humor” about daily life, and he said he will continue along that course in Maine. There is some overlap, he said, insofar as both states have plenty of nature and tourism. But some of the characters are different. In Alaska, of course, Sarah Palin was a figure of fun for a long time.

But, he said, “I burned out on that. It’s now the rest of America’s problem.”

For his Maine cartoons, he’s already drawn up plenty of lobster characters, as well as the requisite lines of traffic heading for Vacationland, fishermen, lighthouses, and children who prefer to text rather than view a sunset.

“It sort of hasn’t really changed. The subject matter generally has to do with common, everyday things that are ridiculous if you really pay attention to them much,” he said. “I’m very connected with the media and online all the time, and it can be overwhelming, and you can get really cynical and you can get really bitter. So this is a way to forget all about that. That’s one of the functions of art – not to entertain, although there’s an aspect, or maybe to earn a living, there’s that aspect – but also just to enjoy what you’re doing.”

Smith’s work can be seen at his blog,