Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 2nd 2015 Contents A28
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CONTINUES FROM PAGE A27
So my dad would bring home any-
thing he thought I would like and even-
tually when I got my own money I start-
ed buying my own."
But what Trinidad lacked was ded-
icated comic stores. Instead they had
their own sections in bookshops and
drugs stores. Perhaps slightly less
romantic for enthusiasts but just as
exciting for kids.
On his Web site, seethomas.com, he
explains how as a child he "substituted
comic books for friends and quickly
became one of the pre-eminent six-
year-olds in my field with the intro-
duction of my ground-breaking Comet
Cat comic series."
There were other anthropomorphic
characters like Micro Mouse which
Thomas would draw in panels, ripping
out the centre pages of his school exer-
But with just six or seven other class-
mates who were into comic books,
Thomas wasn t reaching the kind of
audience he would later achieve.
"My parents encouraged me to draw.
They bought me supplies and if I needed
more I would ask them for it. They
didn t really care what I was drawing
but they encouraged the talent," Thomas
And although his art teachers sup-
ported him, Thomas says it was never
presented to him as a professional pos-
sibility, more of a "fun hobby. Something
you do on the side. Growing up in
Trinidad nobody s telling you to become
an illustrator. You wanna be a doctor or
lawyer or engineer."
The realisation that he could make a
living from drawing and reach a sizeable
audience came at Howard at the school
"They wanted someone who could
do editorial cartoons and stuff like that."
It became popular and, with a friend s
encouragement, he began compiling a
portfolio and sent them out to the syn-
dicates to get wider circulation and have
his work in multiple newspapers. At his
peak he was appearing in the Washing-
ton Post, Chicago Tribune and Boston
Globe as well as smaller regional papers
including the T&T Guardian.
Now he has stopped doing newspaper
work and sees the way forward as chil-
dren s illustrations.
The amount of time one invests in
drawings is time better spent on pub-
lications than on daily sketches.
I ask how long it takes him to draw
strips and he laughs.
"For me it takes longer than most,"
he says. "If you look at a lot of comics
they re how I started out---less details,
more simplistic---meanwhile I think I
use a more detailed style, different cam-
era angles it takes more brainstorming
rather than just like a Dilbert of four
panels with characters looking at each
other. It takes me about a day."
Perhaps an element of moving out of
national newspapers is the problem with
establishing the kind of fame and recog-
nition when the long-standing strips
Peanuts, Doonesbury, Dennis the
Menace and Blondie are all still going
in the US. Andy Capp, Fred Bassett,
Hagar the Horrible are still going in the
"That s a major conversation here," says
Thomas. "Blondie started in 1950-something.
The original creators sometimes die and the
children carry it on so people ask is their room
for new people with fresher ideas. It was hard
for me and it s hard for newcomers now with
all of these legacy comics clogging up the space."
He puts it down to the older demographic
of newspaper readers to whom editors try to
cater for their tastes.
The lack of black faces in comic books and
superhero series is another thing Thomas and
other black and Latino artists recently protest-
"I was straight up told that certain editors
wouldn t want black characters because there
aren t black people in their demographic."
But Thomas isn t looking back. The future
is an exciting place. He s currently working
with the publishers of Patterson s children s
books to make his own original idea.
And he s taken control of the digital model
with Watch Your Head.
"There s more control over who reads it. I
can sell merchandise. There s direct interaction
with my audience. Newspapers put it out there
and hope for the best but this way I get an
audience that s more enthusiastic."
Artwork for The Arabian Nights. PHOTO COURTESY CORY THOMAS
Thomas creating his own space
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