Comic book artist's passion, risks starting to pay off
What a difference a year makes.
Last April, Jamie Fay was living in Massillon, Ohio, assistant manager at a GameStop store and spending all his free time drawing and dreaming of making it as a comic-book artist.
Bravely, he made the decision to leave his hometown and move to New York City, home to the comic-book publishing giants, Marvel and D.C., with whom he hoped to intern.
“I moved here to chase my dream,” Fay, 27, said.
Fast-forward to now.
A 10-page story drawn by Fay appears in graphic-novel collection titled “Sentinels Anthology” that will be published in June. He is busy drawing a new graphic novel titled “Neverminds,” that deals with ghosts, souls and other supernatural elements.
He has a day job as well, managing the GameStop store in the East Village.
He lives in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen district, sharing a four-bedroom penthouse apartment with seven roommates. “We call ourselves ‘The Real World’ without cameras,” he said with amusement. “We’re all artists, actors, singers, dancers, models.”
“It’s a huge difference living here. There’s always something to look at,” he said, contrasting Manhattan with Massillon. “It was a huge culture shock when I got here, but you fall into the routine very fast. It took me about a week.”
While attending the Pittsburgh comic-book convention in 2004, Fay had a fateful meeting with Rich Bernatovech, creator of the Sentinels graphic-novel series and owner of Drumfish Productions, an independent comic-book publishing house.
“Rich was telling me about his books, which were new, and I fell in love with them. The characterizations were great and the art was wonderful,” Fay said. “I showed him my portfolio and he really liked my art.”
A friendship formed and Bernatovech published artwork by Fay in the third and fourth issues of Sentinels. For the upcoming “Sentinels Anthology,” he hired Fay to draw a story about a flame-throwing female named Firebomb.
“Rick told me there was no other choice than to let me do it,” Fay said. “The character was drawn like a tomboy in the first three books, but once I became the artist she became a lot prettier and more feminine.”
Initially, Fay had difficulty drawing female characters. “They always looked too much like men. A guy just has to be strong, but a woman has to look strong and also be gorgeous and have a sense of sex appeal,” he said. “So I dedicated all my time to drawing them.”
Now, females are his artistic specialty. He is collaborating with Bernatovech on a new graphic novel titled “Neverminds” that centers on a female character who communicates with dead people.
“Rich wanted to do something completely out of the superhero realm,” Fay said. “We’re hoping to have it done by the end of the year.”
It was a woman -- his mother, Pam Carnahan -- who got Fay into artwork in the first place.
“My mom always had me coloring and painting,” he said. “My dad (Terry Fay) got me more into the drawing. They always pushed me to go for it.”
“He was born with a crayon in his hand,” Carnahan says about her son. She shares an anecdote of taking Jamie, then 8, to MGM Studios in Orlando and him being utterly transfixed by the Disney animators at work behind glass.
The first comic book Fay owned was “Who’s Afraid of Roger Rabbit?” whose artwork he would diligently copy “to the point where I didn’t need to look at the book anymore,” he recalled.
After he saw his first X-Men comic book, his future path was set.
“I fell in love with the superheroes,” he says. “I was always drawing them and creating my own characters. My sister (Amanda) and I started our own comic book in sixth and seventh grade.”
At Washington High School, art consumed him. “I took every single art class that was available. They changed the curriculum for me. My sophomore, junior and senior year, I never took a study hall or a lunch. I just did artwork.”
He graduated in 1999.
“I always was drawn toward the comic style. It’s so dynamic,” Fay said. “And I mean, who wouldn’t want to be able to fly around and shoot lasers out of their eyes?”
The Canton (Ohio) Repository