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25 Years of Eavesdropping on San Diegans

The local comic strip Overheard in San Diego by Jay Allen Sanford is celebrating 25 years of appearing in the alternative San Diego Reader newspaper. Bonus: It gets the cover story!

Jay Allen Sanford relives the past 25 years in the feature story:

At first, I was only the writer. I used artwork by Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics penman Scott Pentzer for the first Overheard, and then Hard Rock Comics artist Joe Paradise was aboard for around two years. When Paradise could no longer work on it, I was stuck with the unenviable task of either finding another artist or drawing the thing myself.

I have made some concessions to the modern world: I now do Overheards with the assist of digital trickery, especially when it comes to rendering realistic background settings. Thanks to working from photos (gawd bless Photoshop), people no longer frown at my art and say “That doesn’t look anything like me” and walk off toward the Zoo or the carousel without paying me. I even post tutorials online showing step-by-step exactly how I transform photos into elements for Overheard comics.

This practice once earned me an angry email from a well-known comic artist, blasting me for giving away secrets of photo manipulation that more and more illustrators are using. He likened my frequent online art lessons to Penn and Teller’s TV specials revealing the secrets behind magic tricks.

The above essay is a revision of Jay’s 2017 celebration of Overheard:

So…when I realized that drawing Overheard in San Diego myself meant I no longer had to split the paycheck, I decided – at the age of 38 – to become a cartoonist.

My crash course involved consuming and all but memorizing several highly recommended books on the art of comics, including/especially Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner. After studying those two industry bibles, and a series of How To Draw books by Tarzan artist Burne Hogarth, my first solo Overheard comic debuted in 1998.

No, I will not reproduce it here – believe me, you wouldn’t be impressed. I’m frankly still amazed the Reader didn’t fire me.


© Jay Allen Sanford

Hey Jay! 25 more years?

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