Yes, it’s everyone’s favorite time: Filler time!

I really thought that I would have my head back together again, but I was wrong. PaJaF will definitely be back on schedule next Tuesday. I always think that school won’t throw me for a loop, and that I’m going to be really diligent on vacations. Why. Why do I think these obviously wrong things?

I did learn about beard taxes on vacation. So it wasn’t all bad.

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A Little Detour

Yo, yo!

Because I’m smart at scheduling (I’m going to start using my calendar, promise) I realized that I’ll be away until next Tuesday. Which means I can’t post the next PaJaF on time because there is no scanner at the beach. Or internet.

Instead I’m to post early sketches of something I hope to have done in full by late August/Mid-Sept. I really wanted to only present it to you all together, but I figure this is the least I can do since I’m missing a promised PaJaF update.

With no further ado….



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PaJaF 08: Study Buddies

Like, a lot of mini-Ayers rocks? Or something?

Oh yeah, this is the comic that I drew that convinced me that I should do everything with thin lines. I really liked how this one came out, especially Johnny’s face. So that’s when I started down a horrible comics path. I’ll stick to inking attempts from here on out, no fears (a little fear).

One thing I love about this picture – it gives me no end of pleasure to draw the weird things as mundane. The fact that I can draw Pete just sitting on the wall? It’s this one action that makes an unfamiliar viewer ask a hoard of questions. In order to answer them, you really need to meet the character (be it in movie, comic, etc.). And to make you wonder, I just had to doodle this sketch.

There’s no doubt that I love the duality that comes with being a costumed hero/totally (I swear) normal guy. I think I love it more when great abilities are pedestrian. That Johnny doesn’t care that Pete’s sticking to his wall, and Pete does it just because it’s in his nature now. It crosses a line when Peter Parker stops caring that his friend is on fire, which places being a normal human well behind him. There’s something so compelling in asking these characters to live human lives when, no matter their biology, they are something outside of human. At least on a societal level. It’s something that they can no longer succeed at, but because they’re mobbed by us (no superior for our sapien) the only choice they’re left with is to blend in. Otherwise how can they hope to protect their loved ones? Or even begin relationships? Unless you have the chutzpah and abandon of Mr. Storm, you’re probably going to hide behind some reporters’ glasses.

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PaJaF 07: Strongman

Probs need that Millennium Puzzle.

I think this comic could use another panel or different dialogue to be really funny, but I’m pretty satisfied with the rest of it. The contrast worked well, the coloring…it’s colored, and I got to draw Johnny being a butthead. The inking wasn’t the best, but it’s better than I’ve done before, so we’ll totally strike that in the win column. I told y’all, 2015, that’s when we can seek skill in inking from me.

I take it very much for granted that not all superheroes have super-strength. It seems like such a given, especially with how wide characters’ abilities vary from writer to writer. Then there’s Spidey, who sometimes can handle bench-pressing a car, but has a stat sheet that says he can handle 10 tonnes.

Either way, we all know that he could obliterate that rock slab if he wanted to, but something is telling me he’ll wait awhile.

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PaJaF 06: Tough Crowd

Batman is obviously on my brain

To be fair, Johnny’s parents are dead too, Pete. Well, depends on the storyline…but sometimes you have parents so…yeah. Comics.

This was the first comic where I laid down a significant amount of blacks. I read in a book that that creates depth. Man, this reading lark has been crazy useful. Honestly, I’ve always been afraid of using too much black. In my pre-photoshop days a lot of black could kill a picture, and there was no (easy) way to take it back. In my high school art class there were signs everywhere that said, “Go DARKER” because my teacher knew we all sucked with gradient variation. Brrrr….it still haunts me.

I think I’m beginning to understand all these art things that I’ve known, but because I’m reading books that finally tell me how to apply it. I’m not saying my teachers didn’t teach application, I just probably wasn’t listening. The inking book I’m reading went through how determining a black, white, and gray layer for your comic panels’ foreground, middleground, and background will make depth. Now I’m not afraid of applying blacks anymore. Crazy.

Bonus pic for today:

A local website is running a contest for Dark Knight Rises movie tickets if you submit a picture. I WANT THOSE TICKETS.

I imagine it’s obvious that I like Marvel a lot. I don’t want to say that I like them over DC, but I think they’ve given me more to like over the years. That can change at any moment though. I am completely enamored with Scott Snyder’s/Greg Capullo’s Batman. The Court of Owls is a welcome addition to his Rogues, and I don’t think the art could be better. It’s so stunning I have to sit and stare at pages. A lot.

Oh man, then there’s Manapul’s Flash! Barry isn’t my guy (Wally, come back to me) but that doesn’t alter the quality of that artwork. An awesome painted style? That’s Cooverlike and Thompsonish and is the style chosen for an A-List character? Be still my beating heart. Not to mention the inventive lettering…..

I guess my point here is: Yes, if asked, I can gush about DC pretty easily. But what’s weird about it – I don’t want to draw DC. At least for me, DC is very insular and in command of their universe (varying quality of different books aside…). I just can’t add anything to the DC conversation. Especially because that conversation is serious times. Worlds be ending son, and we do not have time for potty jokes. Of course, fans can draw anything they want, but I like to think that when I draw things I stay true to the characters. For instance, that Batman up there is not Batman. Which is why it’s fun, but not something I really revel in drawing. And since I don’t want to draw brooding, I retreat to the offices across the street.

I laugh when I read Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. I laugh when I read a lot of Marvel comics for that matter (Wolverine and the X-Men..). Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire make me want to assume a fetal position and never uncurl. (You too, Joe Hill, but you’re IDW). If Booster Gold/Blue Beetle was still being written, I know that I’d have promised fun times. I can’t think of another giggle-worthy entry from DC.

That doesn’t make their line bad, it just has a different objective. While I love reading that universe, it’s not something I want to draw. Nor, since I’m cartooning-inclined, do I think I have the chops to pull off a serious superhero. I would guess all of this stems from the basis of wish-fulfillment. I’m not a dude, so growing up to have 12-pack abs and leap over buildings wasn’t something I wanted. I did and do want to forge strong interpersonal relationships, and to a kid/adult that spends too much time in her head, Marvel had the creators that were fulfilling that wish. That weird people could find family (X-Men) that struggling families could overcome (Fantastic Four) and that odd dudes that spent too much time in their heads could connect to others (Spidey). The fact that these tales were brought to me covered in cosmic problems with giant monsters and explosions? Yes, please.

Obviously DC has those stories too. But which character got that treatment seemed to come from the author writing them, not because it’s in the characters’ DNA. I would love the opportunity to learn I’m way off. Books suggestions are always welcome. But from what I know now, you’re not allowed to write an FF story without them fighting in space. It just doesn’t work. That’s why I keep makin’ my drawings Marvel.

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Characters © DC and Marvel Comics. Creative content © Sheli Hay.

PaJaF 05: A Friend In Need


Johnny is just the gift that keeps giving.

You can tell that O’Hirn is pretty happy with their tight bonds. This band of bros.

This is one of the last of the older set that I did. There are a lot of things that make me mad. The biggest thing is the camera angle. I knew when I was drawing it that it was a weak choice, but at the time I couldn’t care less. Because I’m lazy I decided that I’d draw all of these in my sketchbook. That means I only have so much space to work with. The second that I realized that I finally drew a rhino that fit on the page? DONE DEAL.

I drew so many rhinos….ugh.

This comic has better flatting to support it, but you can tell that I got trés lazy with the shading. When I get my brain around that, I’ll have a pretty good looking page. Well, color-wise.

I finally finished a drawing-reading book! It was super useful. Titled Framed Ink it talked a lot about how to frame shots, get continuous movement (don’t cross the cameras line!) and have a cohesive layout. It was heavily illustrated, with a lot of step-by-step instructions. That type of methodical writing is something my dense self loves. The whole book is just chock full of lessons I obviously need to pay attention to.

If you’re more of a beginner in those subjects, the best intro book to the composition of a page is hands down Molly Bang’s Picture This: How Pictures Work.  It’s literally a book for children on how shapes effect story telling. It retells Red Riding Hood with just shapes. It’s a little shy of a hundred pages (but it’s really 50 since every other page is a picture) and it is so elucidating on this subject. Page composition and how shapes illicit emotion is one of the hardest conversations to participate in art. If you can do it, it means you can justify modern art to a layman, and that’s crazy art skills. Bang won’t make you a master, but she’ll make the words more comfortable on your tongue, and that start leads to being able to build a better view of art.

Yeah! So! Go read those books….if you’re inclined.

Thanks for stopping!


Characters © Marvel Comics. Creative content © Sheli Hay

PaJaF 04: It’s Spider Season

Johnny, that’s not very nice. Besides, except for the whole almost-killing-Peter thing, Kraven is a great guy.

Yeah! A comic inked with a brush! It’s not the best quality in the world, but it’s far more lively than using technical pens. I’m not sure what I was thinking.

The coloring here isn’t amazing, but it’s also not my priority. I’m working on reading a couple inking books, and then the next two books on deck are coloring and coding. But you’ll have to give me a year or so to get the coding one down. At least we can depend that I’ll be better at coloring within the next six months. Then perspective books are after that.

It’s very weird how in comics you have to teach yourself everything. Since I was bound to a state college (bad high school GPA) I didn’t have the option of going to a fancy college with a comics program. Not that there are that many even out there. I can think of a couple (SCAD, Kubert, Center for Cartoon Studies) and of the ones I can rattle off, two of them aren’t accredited. So one of the easiest/hardest options is just doing it all yourself. With art, as it’s a very visual medium, it might seem like it’s pretty self-explanatory and just requires a lot of practice. While that can be true (for instance, I understand proportion well, I just need to practice anatomy more) there is SO MUCH of this reading that I wish I had a smarter person teaching to me.

Seeing how a professional inks? Just watching them for a few minutes and getting pointers? That would be invaluable. I do my best YouTube hunting, but sometimes it can be like looking for a needle in an internet for good references.

I did mention it would take me the next year to get basic coding skills down, right? The one inking book starts with the caveat that it took the author three years to feel comfortable with a brush. So come back in 2015 and be WOWED.

And if you’re looking to see lettering improved? Huh. Um. Herm.

Yeah, that’s not even in my radar. For a couple future PaJaFs I pulled out a T-Square and tried to be neater, but that’s on my back burner for now. But like any good librarian, I do have a book for it. So future me is set.

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PaJaF 03: Skymanship


This is something that I would do all day if I were the Human Torch. Burnt your cell phone? Just fire-write something. Peter got the better of you? Tell New York how you really feel. What’s Spidey going to do? It’s fire. Webswinging into that would just be a bonus for Johnny.

I guess that’s where being friends with people who produce ice from nothing helps out. Pssh, Bobby.

This was the comic that started the whole all of this. It’s the first one I did, and it was mostly just to entertain myself. I really couldn’t predict that it would get away from me this much.

Got back from vacation yesterday, so I’ll try to fix the site tomorrow morning. Something about a wedding shower, work, and school starting (bleh, summer classes) has had me a little tied up since yesterday.

Thanks for stopping!

Update: This will make very little difference to all y’all, but I fixed the website! It was silly stupid, but excuse me while I go be pumped that I did something successful with technology. Guys, I’m basically a pro.