In 1930, aged thirteen, Giles left school to work as an office boy at Superads, a London advertising agency which also produced animated cinema advertisements. Giles was soon making tea and washing brushes for the animation studio, and eventually got work as an “in-betweener”, copying the animator’s style in order to fill in the movement between key drawings. In the animation studio he had his unkempt hair cut short, and gained the nickname “Karlo”, after the monster played by Boris Karloff in the 1932 release of Frankenstein. Shortened to “Carl”, he would keep this name for the rest of his life.
Giles never had formal art training, but by the age of sixteen he was already an experienced in-betweener, working long hours in small backroom animation studios around London’s Wardour Street and Charing Cross Road. “That was the best training I could have had”, he later recalled: “They were marvellous places. I’d have worked there for nothing. All those people, some really great artists. You had the chance to see all the various styles - it was absolutely marvellous.
In 1935 the film director Alexander Korda offered Giles a job in a studio producing the first British Technicolor animated film, The Fox Hunt. “What an honour it was and what fun we had”, Giles later recalled. He worked on tracing, tinting and in-betweening, but by the time the film was released in October 1936 his life had been changed by an accident. A passionate motorcyclist, Giles crashed his motorbike into a lorry outside the studio gates at Isleworth, and ended up in hospital with a fractured skull. He lost the sight in his right eye and most of the hearing in his right ear.
Giles returned to Suffolk to recuperate. He got some work as a stable lad at a riding school near Ipswich, but eventually answered an advert “for a professional to train animators and tracers at the Roland Davis studio in Ipswich”. Roland Davis was a cartoonist who drew the comic strip “Come on Steve” for the Sunday Express, and hoped to make short animated films starring his horse character “Steve”. These took around six weeks to produce, and Giles worked on five that were released in 1937. At the same time he submitted cartoons to newspapers and magazines.