County Face: Brent Dyer of Presque Isle
Many people who read The County’s local weekly newspapers will recognize Brent Dyer’s often humorous cartoons of Aroostook County life.
They might not recognize him by his given name, however, because he uses the pseudonym E.A. Williams, named after his three children, Elizabeth, Amelia and William.
Dyer, 42, who lives in Presque Isle, has enjoyed drawing as a hobby since he was a child and has contributed weekly cartoons to the newspapers for about a year. Though his initial pitch was to draw political cartoons, his work has since gone back and forth between the comical and poignant.
“Some of my favorite drawings have come about from something meaningful that happened around here,” Dyer said, recalling the demolition last February of the William Haskell Community Center on Main Street in Presque Isle.
“When they tore down the old rec center, I drew three generations of a family standing in front of the building as it went down,” he said.
Still, Dyer doesn’t shy away from drawing cartoons that are more of a friendly joke, such as one that portrayed the Northern Star talent competition hosts Sherry Locke, executive director of United Way of Aroostook, WAGM-TV news anchor Katie Zarrilli and Jason Parent, executive director of the Aroostook County Action Program, onstage. Another recent popular cartoon portrayed Presque Isle City Council members.
“A few people have bought prints of cartoons before, especially if one is about something particular. I got both positive and negative feedback from the Northern Star drawing,” Dyer said.
Aside from a brief period when he worked for the James W. Sewall Company, an engineering consulting company in Old Town, Dyer has lived in Aroostook County his entire life. He now works for the USDA Aroostook County Farm Service Agency.
He remembers how his first jobs in high school were with local potato farmers.
Dyer’s grandfather was also a big influence on him while growing up. He often worked with his grandfather during the potato harvest and now knows that he learned more lessons than simply how to pick potatoes.
“Being close to him made me see the way he loved his family and how he respected people and worked hard,” Dyer said. “I know that’s why I’m able to support my family today and make sure they’re always happy.”
Those values have helped sustain Dyer through many personal challenges, including when his now 4-year-old son William was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Doctors immediately put William on a cooling bed to resuscitate him, but had dire hopes for his future. Despite the odds, luckily, the story turned out well in the end, as William made a full recovery.
“The doctors said his chances of surviving were minimal and that if he did he would have cerebral palsy,” Dyer said. “But now he’s just a regular kid and you can’t keep up with him.”
Dyer gives credit to his entire family, including his parents, wife and children, for giving the greatest meaning to his life. Even when he was a young artist drawing pictures of his favorite Norman Rockwell paintings, he knew his future would be brighter if he had more people to share his life with.
“I remember in junior high I drew a picture of an older me with a woman holding a baby. The only thing in the picture that hasn’t happened is the Lamborghini sitting on the hill,” Dyer said, laughing.