I can't even remember how many years ago I was introduced to the cartoonist by Mary, but it was back in the days of her original strip Patience and Sarah. I've been a fan of Eliot and her work ever since.
These days, with the popularity of Stone Soup, she has lots of fans. Stone Soup is now a syndicated cartoon strip that's distributed internationally by Universal Press Syndicate to over 140 newspapers in 6 countries, and read by over 8 million readers every day. The distributor's web site offers this history of the journey to cartoon success:
Jan Eliot began cartooning as a form of self-defense when she was a single mom trying to raise two daughters, stay fully employed, pay the bills and still have a little fun once in a while. She discovered that cartooning gave her the opportunity to laugh at adversity, vent her frustrations and find humor in being short of money, short of time and short of patience. Not coincidentally, her original comic strip was called 'Patience and Sarah' and featured a single mom (Patience) and her daughter. It ran for five years in 10 weekly and monthly papers.
While working as a copywriter and graphic designer, Jan continued cartooning and developed a second strip called 'Sister City,' which ran weekly in the Eugene Register-Guard for five years. Her cartoons have been reprinted in many humor collections, magazines, computer manuals and parenting books. Jan has also published greeting cards with Maineline Press, Umbrella Press and Marcel Schurman.
In 1995, under the new name of 'Stone Soup,' Jan's comic strip was nationally syndicated. Jan promptly quit her job to become a full-time cartoonist and with the quick success of 'Stone Soup,' she has had no regrets. Closely based on her own life and the lives of her unsuspecting friends, 'Stone Soup' focuses on human relationships and the modern family. As one newspaper described it, the strip 'pursues the humor in life, parenting and even the friends we can't choose - relatives.'"
Stone Soup has become an industry. A new book, Desperate Households, will be released in the near future. Five other book collections are available: Stone Soup, You Can't Say Boobs On Sunday, Stone Soup the Comic Strip, Road Kill In The Closet, and Not So Picture Perfect. Readers can get their daily fix of the strip - and order prints - online. There's even a Cafe Press site of products.
With all the success of Stone Soup over the years, one thing has remained constant - Jan Eliot is still one of the nicest people I've ever met.
Photo: Sol Neelman
© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives