Freelance Cartoonist pursues a Comic Strip: "A Long the Way"

As a child we all have dreams.
They are the seeds from which hope grows into reality.

And make no mistake, it usually happens one frame at a time.
Take for example an aspiring freelance cartoonist we met "A Long the Way" in Lead.

The furthest back Alex Portal can remember being a cartoonist is Kindergarten.

Freelance Cartoonist Alex Portal says, "It's my therapy, it's my escape, it's my you know. Some people read. some people go fishing. some people garden. I draw cartoons, yeah."

But it wasn't until about Middle School when he realized it could be more than a hobby.

"I started really identifying that myself as, 'I'm a cartoonist. I'm going to be a cartoonist. This is what I want to do," Portal says.

No longer a kid, on a white drawing board, in the corner of a room, he pursues his passion: one goofy character at a time.

Alex Portal says, "I like whimsical. I like funny. I grew up watching Looney Tunes, reading Calvin and Hobbes, and Garfield, and Peanuts and all that."

As a freelancer, he's always looking for more work, and he's done a bit of everything

Portal says: "I've done children's books, comic strips, posters, story boarding, pretty much everything except animation."

But like an aspiring actor, he still has a second job to make ends meet. He works at a local hospital, and 'No', he's not a Doctor.

"I work in the environmental services division which is a fancy way of saying janitor," says Portal.

When he's not working, he's here, sketching, drawing, as images that used to jump from his mind's eye to pen and paper, now export from his imagination via stylus to the glass screen on his tablet.

Freelance Cartoonist Alex Portal says: "I avoided this technology like the plague because I just didn't believe I was going to be able to do the same quality of work on something like this."

Now he loves it, even creating a cartoon for this story on it.

Portal says: "What I can do in an hour on this, would take all day with just paper and pens."

His career goal is vivid, and literally bounces off the tip of his tongue.

Portal says: "Comic Strip in a newspaper. I have always, always, always wanted to have a successful comic strip in a newspaper. If I could provide for a family with just doing that, that would be the dream."

Married in 2012 to his wife Rachel...all the fun and responsibility that goes with it...inspired the title of his Comic Strip concept.

Portal says, "We're the grownups."

It would be loosely based on them, and what he considers a ridiculous notion, that they are now the grownups.

"The husband does a sort of auto-biographical comic strip for a newspaper about a young married couple," says Portal.

But there's a twist.

Freelance Cartoonist Alex Portal says: "So the characters would know they exist in the world of a comic strip, so all sorts of things that would happen in the cartoon world, would be normal for them."

So why does he do it? Freelancing, accepting job posts for illustrations and cartoons on the internet, waiting for his big break?

Portal says, "Not really good at anything else, I guess. You know, it's just, I'm good at it and I like it."

A couple of good reasons to keep pursuing a dream, that started, in Kindergarten, and lives on as a grown up.

If you've met someone cool "Along the way", please e–mail or call us with your story ideas.

Alex is originally from Pennsylvania. For the most part, he's self taught.
He says he tried Art School, but after 3 weeks focusing on the color gray, he decided in his words "ehhh, not for me."