Stealing books from a library is not, of course, considered the safest route to career success. But for the largely self-taught Bronx native Lesean Thomas, who is the lead character designer/assistant director of The Boondocks TV show, his non-traditional route has lead him to entertainment-industry gold. What he didn't learn from occasional professional animators he met over the years, he learned from the art books he stole from the library as a kid.

Thomas' first break came when he was hired as an assistant designer for a children's accessories company, drawing Disney characters. In 2000, he created Whirl Girl for Showtime, marking the first time a major network picked up a Flash cartoon. Thomas later started freelancing for MTV, Warner Bros. and Disney. At the same time, he sowed seeds in the comic book scene, developing his own comic, Cannon Busters, and designing characters for Beanie Sigel's show, The Playpen. During the latter gig, Thomas was invited to work with Aaron McGruder on his Cartoon Network show.