Carol Lay grew up in California, where she had a pretty dull and isolated childhood. In 1970, she went to the University of California in Los Angeles, where she discovered sex, drugs, Frank Zappa and Zap Comix. She graduated in Fine Arts and started drawing comics herself, which were published in underground comix magazines by Last Gasp and Rip Off Press, and later by Kitchen Sink Press and Fantagraphics. To earn a living, Lay worked as an advertising illustrator and did various jobs for mainstream comic companies such as Western Publishing, DC Comcis ('The Oz-Wonderland Wars') and Marvel Comics.
She eventually quit to be able to do more of her own work. After doing five pages of comics for the LAWeekly, she decided to make her own weekly comic. This became 'Story Minute', which has become very popular since its first appearance in 1992, and has since been published in Hong Kong and Japan as well as in the US. Many of the 'Story Minute' strips have been collected in the books 'Strip Joint' and 'Joy Ride'. Lay's work is featured in The Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Mad Magazine and Worth Magazine. Since 2010 she has also been drawing 'Simpsons' stories for Bongo Comics. Lay has drawn commercially for Mattel and did storyboards for rock videos and feature films ('Top Secret', 'Back to the Beach', among others).