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Hey, You! Twenty Years of Anonymous Thanks, Confessions & Accusations

Illustration by Bob Aul

It’s been my dubious pleasure to illustrate the warts-’n’-all stories of OC life readers have been sending in for two decades now. They’re tales of a sleepy, coastal farming area that suddenly got paved over by powerful interests and replaced with a dense, reassuring stucco grid punctuated by glass and steel monoliths, cut through with freeways, and injected with hurry—definitely an insecure upstart of a place, always comparing itself to its big, dirty, sprawling metropolitan neighbor up the road a bit, wrenched into a desperate and vain state of modernity and wealth without enough time to shuck its cowboy boots or the attitudes that filled them.

Hey, You! is the access hatch that reveals a sometimes-not-very-reassuring profile of the wide range of people dwelling in this pressure cooker, surrounding us everywhere, running loose with the verbal skills of a berserker on Red Bull: angry, explosive, inarticulate rants filled with vague threats and bile. There are stories of ire, offense, love, lust, impatient shoppers and abused food-service workers, revenge imagined or real, aggressive cyclists, theft, hit and run, and unwanted religious advances. There are bad bands; overamorous dogs; cheated musicians; lurkers; teenage PATRIOT Act violators; and a steady supply of road-rage scenarios, acts of heinous rudeness, dishonesty, infidelity, not to mention drug, verbal and animal abuse. Yet stories of redemption, touching personal encounters, and acts of human kindness and beauty have filled the column with nearly as much frequency—go figure.

Once-lengthy rants have now been shrunk to concise blurbs by the current economics of print media (still the main means of viewing by readers of this column), so I included with the following drawings synopses of their accompanying stories—or sometimes something pithy. These are the 20 or so finalists from nearly a thousand tales I’ve illustrated over 20 years. CLICK HERE for three complete stories I contributed. [1] I hope you like the drawings.

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Illustration by Bob Aul

HEY, EWWW!
Not that we seek out or dwell on them, but Hey, You! has never been about avoiding particular issues or sugarcoating stories of the human condition. It’s a broad, sociological slice, folks. Thus we’ve had life’s more, well, organic, sometimes icky, creepy moments submitted to us over the years. Here are a few slides from that particular and, oddly, experientially unifying petri dish.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A slightly fed-up reader sent a message warning of the unsavory hygiene habits of the chef at the favorite bistro of an annoying food snob.

Illustration by Bob Aul

Trapped: One guy lets one rip fragrantly outside his car after lunch, unaware until moments later there was another guy sitting in the car parked next to his in the garage; the window was partway down, and the air in those parts mighty still. This is from the victim’s perspective.

Illustration by Bob Aul

There was the pub crawler who mistook an Italian restaurant for just another place to get puking drunk, ruining the experience (and clothing) of a guy who only wanted a good dinner.

Illustration by Bob Aul

One person wrote in about a surreal encounter with the notorious Pedobear roaming OC’s back-alley nightspots.

Illustration by Bob Aul

There was shock, disbelief and revulsion upon discovering an already-read letter in French in one’s mailbox.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A guy imaginarily threatened to gift his neighbor a giant Close Encounters-style Devil’s Tower crafted from the volumes of poop left in his yard by said neighbor’s dog.

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Illustration by Bob Aul

ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS
Let’s hear it for our feathered, flippered, four-legged, taloned, scaly, furry buddies (and sometimes not-so-much buddies). They’re around us all the time, whether we’re taking them for a walk or they’re just watching us from the phone lines (crows know). Outside of maybe cars and traffic, animals factor into a story probably more than even cranky white conservatives (a breed once so thick in numbers they blotted out the sky as if passenger pigeons).

Illustration by Bob Aul

The poodle who set the smaller guy straight.

Illustration by Bob Aul

One reader wrote in about all the wildlife that lay flattened along a new stretch of toll road, just as he predicted.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A fast-approaching, zombie raccoon had a reader beating it indoors even faster.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The dog who caused three family members hospital trips, yet the parents still opted to keep it.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The dog you wouldn’t want anywhere near your leg.

Illustration by Bob Aul

An encounter in the buffer zone between suburbia and the wild. The writer respectfully wishes the coyote well.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The young dolphin who amazed and thrilled beach­goers with high leaps, all the while keeping sharks away.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The hawk that demonstrated the best way to drive crows away is to eat one.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The young possum who had a run-in with a reader’s dog and got away by . . . playing possum.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The two guys who halted traffic in Villa Park so a mama duck and her children could cross the road safely.

Illustration by Bob Aul

Scaly.

Illustration by Bob Aul
Illustration by Bob Aul

Victims of abuse and neglect.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A reader’s reflection on and yogic appreciation for a lazing sea lion.

Illustration by Bob Aul

Weebs the pet weasel, accidentally laundered, departs this world of strife.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The spider with a death wish.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A meeting of hearts under fairly unusual, risky circumstances.

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Illustration by Bob Aul
Illustration by Bob Aul

CARS & TRAFFIC
Traffic is a heavily recurring theme. Road rage, cops, menacing tow trucks, parking issues, the eternal conflict between steel and spandex on PCH in Laguna and elsewhere—everything from grim realities such as hit-and-runs to heated debate over whether people should be allowed to nap in parked cars. After a while, it becomes a banal, hazardous constant: Our vehicles are extensions of ourselves, often at our worst.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A slightly out-of-shape cyclist barks safety commands at other cyclists while not having his own helmet fastened correctly. Hostile run-ins between cyclists and drivers are numerous.

Illustration by Bob Aul

The law does not see who has repeatedly driven like a schmuck before, only who drives like a schmuck right now.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A joyous orange Prius in the city of Orange is most pleased when someone leaves an orange sticker for it to wear.

Illustration by Bob Aul

Some poor dude couldn’t even take a nap parked by the side of the road without some nosy do-gooder waking him up, resulting in multiple rebuttals!

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Illustration by Bob Aul

PAYBACK, KARMA & REVENGE
We get a large amount of tales about people in desperate need of some comeuppance. Amusing, imaginative and unrealizable curses abound. Karma is evoked every 3.25 issues—and for good reason. Sometimes the payback potential is real, probable and almost certainly waiting just beyond the end of the story. Occasionally and deliciously, it happens within the story. But usually, it winds down to a lot of wishful thinking and fodder for cartoonists.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A guy used his fist to randomly destroy a car mirror. No word on whether he was apprehended, but a trail of blood drops leading into the distance suggests he received at least the first installment of his payback plan instantaneously.

Illustration by Bob Aul

Two white dudes spouting derogatory comments about Hispanics in downtown Santa Ana turn a corner and meet . . . some large Hispanics!

Illustration by Bob Aul

Revenge can come in many flavors. There are more than a few ways a food-service employee might add a “special ingredient” to a customer’s order if that customer happens to be a pain in the ass.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A holiday curse issued by the recipient of some bad business.

Illustration by Bob Aul

Payback was swift for a bro who smashed a window with his bare hand on the Peninsula. Of course, loudly bragging about it and bleeding profusely from the hand were factors in him getting nabbed, too, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if he hadn’t done it first.

Illustration by Bob Aul

A valet’s wish for some non-handicapped yacht-club members who swiped a handicapped spot he was saving for someone who truly needed it.

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Illustration by Bob Aul

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS & THANKS
Editor in chief Nick Schou had been suggesting for years that we do a Hey, You! book . . . or exhibit . . . or something. We finally sat down last June and decided we’d do a special issue. Over the course of six months, I embarked on a brain-busting sort of archaeological dig through a few hundred boxes containing an unruly mess of print back issues, stacks of clattery CD-ROMS and hard drives containing any number of obsolete or incompatible layout formats. From there, 947 available columns were unearthed, from which 300 were chosen, then whittled down a couple of times to get to the roughly 20 or so items that fill this issue. And certainly more is left over to spill into digital realms in the future.

Thanks and appreciation are due to Nick for instigating the move to realize this project and keeping a steady eye on its progress, while thanks also go to art director Michael Ziobrowski for his eye and expertise in assembling all this stuff and making it look good on the pages you’re reading right now, including the cover. Thanks also to Cynthia Rebolledo, Patty Marsters, Mercedes Del Real, Lisa Black and Duncan McIntosh for your combined support and assistance, as well as everyone near the big Xerox machine for putting up with the ceaseless scanning during the archiving process. My gratitude to past editors Will Swaim (he started it) and Gustavo Arellano, as well as past art directors Heather Swaim, Laila Derakh­shanian, Dustin Ames and Richie Beckman, all of whom were instrumental in keeping this column alive and well.