Carol Thompson is a West Coast gal through-and-through. She packed all her bags in California to attend The Center for Cartoon Studies in 2009 and graduated in 2011. Then she packed up all her belongings in a rather fantastic ‘mailing cube’ and headed back to the Pacific side of things.
What have you been doing since you left CCS? Tell me about your work
Life has been a little crazy since graduating from CCS. To start things off, in June I made my first trek out to LA to visit Boom! Studios and talk to CCS alum from the first graduating class, Adam Staffaroni, about what it’s like working at for a comic company. Boom needed volunteers for SPX so I stuck around on the east coast till then, during which Hurricane Irene hit which was its own brand of crazy.
After SPX I made my way across the country by myself, stopping in and visiting CCS friends along the way. I made extra time to get some reference for my comic while in Reno and Vegas and eventually made my way up to Seattle for a month. I went to Puget Sound University for undergrad so I have a lot of friends in the area and was hoping to find work. I ended up applying for a job down in LA and asked Adam for job reference who instead asked if I was available to do intern work.
December 5th, my birthday of all days, I started interning at Boom! and because one of their designers was leaving by the end of the year I was hired at the end of my first week there. To say it’s been a whirlwind of change since graduation is putting it mildly. Considering during this time I’ve been on the road, trying to manage an online comic, getting caught up in projects that have started and stopped, there’s been no time to rest.
I work as a production designer at Boom! Studios now and have only been here barely three months so I’m definitely still settling in. As one of only two designers here I definitely have a lot on my plate at all times. My responsibilities range from prepping monthly titles for release by designing credits pages and laying out books in InDesign to cleaning up scanned artwork. Being a designer can also mean logo design, ad design, creating pages in trades using assets and, as my coworker Stephanie says, we’re the ones that make it pretty.
Another cool thing about Boom! Studios is the number of female coworkers here. With two female editors, women working in marketing and finance, and now both designers being women the ratio is pretty good especially considering how small this company really is. And really, everyone here is nice and welcoming.
So far I love what I do. I’ve learned so much in the short time that I’ve been here and I’m excited by what this could mean for my own books. I hope to use this opportunity to give back to CCS by maybe bringing in interns or simply serving as someone with in the field experience.
How is LA treating you? It seems like a lot of cartoonists are moving there nowadays!
Well, I grew up in LA, for the most part, so in a lot of ways it’s not a big surprise to find myself back here. I love this city, truly. A lot of people seem to have a negative experience here and while there are some downsides, say a 90 minute one-way commute, there are also a lot of amazing opportunities as well. Aside from all the entertainment companies out here, the independent artist community is thriving. We meet each other through work, through get-togethers, gallery showings… you name it!
It’s definitely pricey, but any big city is. I say if you have the opportunity and desire to be in that kind of environment, especially while you’re still young, enjoy it and learn from it. After that, retire to the Vermont countryside.
Well, my job makes my comic work hours limited so most of my comic drawing time is when I’m at home after work hours or on the weekend. I’ve found that with my laptop I can ink just about anywhere so on my travels I’ve been able to keep up with that.
My local comic store, The Comic Bug, does monthly creator meetings. It’s a great way to meet people from the industry as well as get constructive feedback from fellow local cartoonists and to see what else other people are doing.
Best of all, Emily McGuiness, one of my fellow Boom! coworkers is also a regular comic artist and organizes monthly dinners for cartoonists to come together and talk. The first one I got to go to was at Canters Deli, which is a well-known spot here in LA with fantastic classic deli food. Emily has already completed and funded her first graphic novel project called Ties and is in the process of developing her next project.
What are you working on in your own time (like you have any)? Plan on going to any cons soon?
To make it short, this is what eats all my spare time is my webcomic City of Cards.
I try to spend at least an hour a day working on City of Cards, which I started while I was at CCS. It is my long-term project and I’m currently updating it weekly online. Occasionally I get time to do a side-sketch or two but the amount of work this comic requires gives me little time for other work projects.
Beyond that, I’ve put most of my con plans on hold in part because I don’t know what conventions I might travel to for Boom!. I’d like to go back to SPX just to catch up with people and I had a great time last time I was there. Once I get settled, I might do Long Beach Comic Con, but I’ve also been talking to people about maybe doing a gallery space. There are a lot of great little art galleries in LA that cater to more pop art and illustration minded folk like Royal T and Gallery Nucleus.
If that goes well, it’d be great to get other CCS people to show their work out here.
How has CCS helped you and shaped you in your current situation?
Well, it’s no question that I wouldn’t be where I am, doing what I am doing, in any way shape or form without CCS. The school not only offered me the opportunity to develop the skills to do the job I’m currently doing but if it weren’t for fellow CCS alum Adam Staffaroni I wouldn’t have gotten my job at Boom! Studios. Even just my familiarity with how comics are laid out and the proper terminology has been a great help with getting up to speed with my work. It’s allowed me to be able to work on my own projects while pursuing a career in my chosen field and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have that chance.
But more than that, it’s been the continued support and encouragement of my classmates and CCS faculty that has made the greatest difference. It’s because of them that I hope to get somewhere in this industry. If I can offer someone else an opportunity to learn new skills, get an internship, or promote their work then I will do whatever it takes to make that happen. I have never known a more positive, fantastic group of people in all my life. I hope to do well in my future so that I can give back even a small bit of what I gained during those two years.
Thank you, Carol, for your infectious enthusiasm and hard work. We look forward to reading more of your comics and the quality work that comes from Boom! Studios.