Women in Comics Month: Interview with Carolyn Belefski

PREVIEWSworld: Who is your current comics employer?

Carolyn Belefski: Curls Studio.

PREVIEWSworld: What is your primary job title? In a quick phrase or two, could you define your job’s key responsibility?

Carolyn Belefski: Creative Director, all-encompassing roles ranging from writer, artist, letterer, colorist, editorial, promotion, and more

PREVIEWSworld: Could you please explain how your work helps make comics a reality? (Connect the dots for us. Where are you in the flow of getting a book into reader's hands?)

Carolyn Belefski: Making a finished self-published product takes quite an amount of additional effort because once the book is completed your creative resources need to flip to the business side. I’m there from start to finish: from when the idea comes into my head as I’m brushing my teeth, to the creation of full art and story, then the production phase, and physically selling the books in-person to people. It’s literally a hand-to-hand interaction: from my hand to the customer. It’s great that the audience gets to meet actual creators when they attend comic conventions. Since 2013 I’ve been making signing appearances during Free Comic Book Day at local stores. I’ve also exhibited at zine fests, craft shows, and a used book store. I’ve sold comics in many locations during book-related events: church, bowling alley, outside tent in a snowstorm, city hall, universities, art galleries, restaurants, fire department…

PREVIEWSworld: What’s the part of your job you enjoy the most?

Carolyn Belefski: I like seeing people enjoy what I create and feedback. Any type of reaction is fun to witness. During the creative process, I enjoy inking with pen on paper.

PREVIEWSworld: What comic titles have you worked on?

Carolyn Belefski: My most recent publication is the Mine! anthology with ComicMix. I was exhibiting a MoCCA Comic Arts Festival in New York when they asked to contribute a story, which is based on Fania Mindell, an American feminist and theater artist. My most popular work online was collaborating with the Obama administration to create a series on comics showcasing the Affordable Care Act. I have been a contributor to sixteen editions of Magic Bullet, featuring original Black Magic Tales stories by Joe Carabeo. My self-published titles include Curls, French Fry Club, and The Legettes. I am active with National Cartoonists Society and established the “Cartoonists Draw Blood” drive with American Red Cross. Last year NCS asked me to become a national board member. I have worked professionally with BOOM! Studios, Northwest Press, Clorox, US National Archives, and more. I

PREVIEWSworld: While there are loads of professionals in the comics industry, there are only so many folks who get to do what you do! How did you get started? How did you learn all the skills you needed for your position?

Carolyn Belefski: I didn’t wait for anyone to “give” me a job in comics. I created my own. Started with my Curls comic strip printed twice a week in a university newspaper while in college and then I posted them online with a Tripod website. I volunteered at Small Press Expo for two years after graduating before I felt comfortable enough to register for my own table. Now I’m behind the table at New York Comic Con, Awesome Con, Baltimore Comic-Con, and other events. By attending the shows and being active online, I’ve been able to meet other fabulous creatives. This occasionally leads to freelance opportunities while I’m also able to self-publish the comics I want to make.

PREVIEWSworld: Talk to us about the heroic people in your comics life. Who do you admire? Who inspires you? Why?

Carolyn Belefski: Jimmy Palmiotti has always been supportive. He encouraged me to run a Kickstarter campaign (I was originally shy asking for funding money) and also asked me to do a pin-up for his book, Queen Crab, published by Image Comics. I would also credit Jeff Smith, Rania Telgemeier, and Elizabeth Watasin for being instrumental in motivating me to create. I’m inspired by Darwyn Cooke, Bruce Timm, and Chuck Jones because their art is classic and phenomenal.

PREVIEWSworld: Please tell us about the coolest experience you’ve ever had thanks to your job.

Carolyn Belefski: The travel is rewarding because I like to discover tasty restaurants of historic spots while in town for events. I usually visit pierogi places when in Pennsylvania! There are always opportunities and perks, such as meeting famous cartoonists at the NCS Reuben Awards. I got to meet Bruce Campbell and give him a comic strip after he showed his film, My Name Is Bruce, at E Street Cinema. I was able to take my family on a tour of the East and West Wing of The White House because of the comics I drew. You get to meet and work with a lot of cool people in the entertainment industry, but ultimately the rewards are the fans adoring your books.

PREVIEWSworld: Every industry professional has something they absolutely love about comics. Whether it’s a particular title or format or audience or tradition or something else, we’re all hooked. What’s special about comics for you? Would you be willing to share a treasured memory about it?

Carolyn Belefski: The sensation of calming your mind to sit and become engulfed in a story and characters is appealing to me. I have memories of reading the comics in the newspaper from my childhood. I also enjoy animation and have a fondness for Looney Tunes and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Although they are not directly comics, they encompass the spirit of the storytelling involved.

PREVIEWSworld: If you had one comics-related wish—no limits—what would it be?

Carolyn Belefski: Give me time. I always hope to grow the audience. I’m only one person and the demands of everyday life, working full-time, and freelance on top of that can be draining. I wish for more time to work on comics, but ultimately everyone equally gets 24 hours a day. I have gone through periods of sleep deprivation, failure to exercise, not seeing friends, and lack of eating in order to crank more work out. It’s simply not healthy. If there is a way to make more comics, I will make more. We need to take care of ourselves in order to have the comfort, focus, and ability to create.

PREVIEWSworld: Do you have an online presence we can link to and share with our readers?

Carolyn Belefski: Yes, you can view my website at www.CarolynBelefski.com. I’m on the socials @CarolynBelefski.

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