If you’re at all curious about a career in animation but don’t know where to start for information, Natalie Nourigat’s I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation is a great first step. Nourigat has a talent for effervescent autobiographical comics (see: her 2012 collection of diary comics, Between Gears), and her new book is a how-to guide with a personal touch that makes it an especially enjoyable piece of educational material. She opens with a disclaimer that it is reflective of her specific experience and shouldn’t be viewed as a comprehensive resource, but that specificity is what makes it such an engaging read. The narrative gives the book forward momentum, starting with Nourigat’s frustrations as a freelancer living in the increasingly expensive Portland metro area and continuing through her stressful job hunt before she finally lands a gig at a Los Angeles studio.
A lot of the lessons in this book are good to know for any job-hunting situation, even if you’re not looking to break into animation. Spend time learning about the industry you want to break into, and use job postings as guides for what you should know in order to become an ideal candidate. Be persistent about applying for jobs, and don’t be too worried about meeting the exact qualification they put on the job listing. Don’t understand what a union does? Nourigat’s breakdown of The Animation Guild serves as a primer for a lot of unions in other industries, highlighting the perks and the expectations that come with being part of a unified group of workers.
Nourigat’s writing is dense, but she livens up the occupational information with drawings that are full of personality, spotlighting just how much she’s learned working as a story artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Her artwork is warm and pleasant, with smooth, graceful lines and pastel colors that invite the reader to relax and take in the information without worrying about if they’re qualified for the work Nourigat details in these pages. Technical knowledge is important, but there are a lot of different resources to help people learn about the specifics of animation without spending thousands of dollars in art school. Nourigat wants readers to know that they shouldn’t feel intimidated, and that determination and commitment are essential for developing their skill set and getting eyes on their work.
The art is so charming that it would be nice to get even more of it, and breaking up big blocks of text with more visuals would improve some pacing issues, particularly when Nourigat gets into the nitty-gritty of her routine and her work duties. While the book ends with supplementary interviews with some of Nourigat’s animation colleagues, the main guide concludes with a rundown of some of her favorite experiences in Los Angeles. These small snapshots imbue the graphic novel with emotion, accentuating Nourigat’s appreciation of the life she’s created for herself.