Leonard Elvis "Lennie" Peterson was born in the shadow of Mount Everest in the small Nepalese village of Lhotsa. Instantly unusual with his alabaster skin, young Lennie was worshiped as a sign from the gods, and the locals showered gift on his parents, his father, an incense salesman, and his mother, a sherpa. Had he remained in Nepal, Lennie would have been given a fortune in gold and the choice of any bride he wished when he turned 18, but by age 6 he had heard a different calling. One day, while playing with the burned remains of one of his father's incense samples sticks, Lennie carelessly drew the shape of a cat. It was crude, but Lennie knew that he wanted to draw cats the rest of his life. At age 8, he left Nepal alone to intern under renowned cat artist B. Kliban. By age 10, however, he grew tired of Kliban's rigorous drawing method and sought out a new mentor - Jim Davis. At Davis', Lennie learned the fine art of creating a cat with true merchandising potential. However Lennie was starting to develop his own artistic style and found the eternally cute Garfield eternally annoying. He briefly shared an apartment with Berke Breathed where the two bonded over Lennie's "special" brownies. Crude drawings and drunken, binging art sessions. Some say that perhaps Lennie's early "Ginger" was the inspiration for Berke's wildly successful "Bill The Cat". Berke has refused to comment....

Well, okay, not really.

Lennie Peterson is a gifted artist, musician and world-class coffee fanatic.

Born in North Grafton, Ma., Peterson says he has been drawing in all media since he was "in the womb." Although the literal truth of this statement is somewhat questionable, creativity was in his blood since birth: Peterson's mother was a painter, and his father is a musician.

Although he never studied art formally, Peterson credits an outstanding high school art teacher with encouraging his artistic interests and letting him explore art on his own terms. That exploration led Peterson to a successful illustration career with a client list that includes Bantam Books, the Children's Television Workshop, CCC Publications, Susan Herr Design, various national and international record companies, and a variety of magazines, advertisements and promotions. His fine art work has appeared in art galleries and museums throughout the country.

Music is an equally strong passion in Peterson's life. After receiving a degree from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, he taught and played music in the United States and abroad, returning to Berklee as an Assistant Professor. During his teaching stint at Berklee, Peterson created "The Big Picture", a self-deprecating, autobiographical strip that provides readers with a look in the mirror at the humor in their own everyday lives.

The urge to pursue his own style of humor, art and music full time grew increasingly strong, however, and Peterson took a leave of abscence from Berklee. Committed to eating mac 'n cheese for however long it took to reach The Big Time, he spent his days at the drawing board working on "The Big Picture" and other art projects, while devoting his evenings to playing trombone and keyboards with the popular New England band Clutch Grabwell.

"The Big Picture" won Editorial Humor Magazine's national competition for "Best Comic Strip" in 1995. In 1999 Andrews McMeel Publishing published the first collection of the strip, and in January 2000 "The Big Picture debuted in newspapers internationally.

When he's not being pursued by crazed Clutch Grabwell fans, Peterson and his cat, Ginger, live out their true-life comic strip adventures in Boston's South Shore community.

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