Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Carolyn Belefski
Carolyn Belefski recently friended me on Facebook, and on the infrequent times I look in, I've been amused by her Sketch Before Sleep. Until I saw her mention plans to attend the Baltimore Comic-Con, it hadn't occurred to me to check and see if she's a local cartoonist. I did, she is, and s0 here she is to tell us about her web comic Curls and other projects.
Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Carolyn Belefski: Dangerously adorable cartooning. I write and draw the webcomic Curls. I also collaborate with Joe Carabeo on the comic books Kid Roxy, Black Magic Tales and The Legettes. I have also been doing a sketch everyday since January in my Sketch Before Sleep blog.
WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
CB: I grew up being woken on Saturday mornings by Pee-wee's Playhouse. I was born in Virginia.
WCP: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
CB: I'm in the greater Washington area now because after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, I landed my first freelance design gig in Northern Virginia. My career has been in the city and surrounding area ever since.
WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
CB: I took children's art classes in elementary school and still have a stack of cartooning books my parents bought me. I took many art classes in high school, then went to VCU for a communication design degree and took some illustration and animation classes in addition to the standard required design classes. In 2002, my Curls comic strips were published twice a week in VCU's newspaper, the Commonwealth Times. That was truly my training ground in cartooning.
WCP: Who are your influences?
CB: My influences in art and/or story are Chuck Jones, Bugs Bunny, My Little Pony, Judd Apatow, Pixar, Betty Boop, Walt Disney, Mel Blanc, Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Will Eisner, Jeff Smith, Rafael Navarro, Raina Telgemeier, Elizabeth Watasin, Bruce Timm, Darwyn Cooke, Tim Sale, Amanda Conner, Jean Shepherd and more.
WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
CB: My path has been building and growing everyday. I would not change anything, although I wish for more time to work on comics.
WCP: What work are you best-known for?
CB: Most likely the Curls comic strip because I have built up that audience for a longer amount of time due to my college newspaper days.
WCP: What work are you most proud of?
CB: I cannot pinpoint one thing I've done in my comics career that is better than the other. I can say I am proud of the transitions I have made over the years. Each year that passes my work looks a zillion times better because of practice and discipline.
WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?
CB: I am excited about working on expanding the world of The Legettes. They are a burlesque group in the dark and dangerous future where analog and digital are at constant war and everything we were ever afraid of has happened. While not on stage, the Legettes work as super secret spies who dream of changing the universe. Joe and I have a lot of great ideas we are planning on for the second book.
WCP: Will you be at the Small Press Expo this weekend?
CB: Yes. At table H3A.
WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
CB: Brushing my teeth calms my mind and I come up with a lot of ideas by not focusing or looking for them when doing this activity. I also like taking walks and bubble baths.
WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
CB: I hope for a movement in self-publishing and rediscovery of new talent. I also hope for more diversity in mainstream comic storytelling. There are a lot of demographics that the comics industry can reach out to right now for readership expansion.
WCP: What's your favorite thing about D.C.?
CB: Ben's Chili Bowl.
WCP: Least favorite?
WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
CB: I would take out-of-town guests to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the Bob Hope exhibition at the Library of Congress.
WCP:Do you have a website or blog?
The Small Press Expo is at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center on Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sept. 12 from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for one day, or $15 for both. Belefski's minicomics and her book collection CURLS: 2002-2009 Collection of Comic Strips will be available at the show or also on Etsy.