Thea Cheuk is a communication arts major whose research last spring investigated the coded sexuality of Batman’s “Boy Wonder” sidekick, Robin. Their work involved several trips to the enormous comic arts collection at VCU Libraries, and led them to a coveted internship at one of the largest comics publishers in the world.
Cheuk applied to summer internships at Marvel and DC Comics, where both interviews allowed the student to demonstrate their impressive knowledge of the medium’s history. Ultimately, Cheuk accepted DC’s offer and spent 10 weeks in Los Angeles working with the company.
The editorial internship was a window into how comics are created — meetings with writers, editing scripts, working with letterers (the people who add text and sound effects to drawings on the page), proofing pages and routing drafts through a meticulous approval process. Occasionally Cheuk was asked to help with reference work — when an artist needs to feature a character they haven’t drawn before and wants archival materials to help draw that character accurately. Cheuk, who spent months conducting research on Grayson, enjoyed those assignments.
“There isn’t a perfect system to find [the reference material] so you are looking in tons of different places,” Cheuk said. “It’s actually real fun, but a little bit of a challenge. I really enjoy it.”
Cheuk said the internship, the people at DC and their passion for the work — desks and workstations in the office “are bursting with figurines and comics and posters” — reinforced a desire to continue working in the field.