Cartoon College

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Film phase:Completed


Each fall The Center for Cartoon Studies invites 20 of the world’s most promising aspiring cartoonists and graphic novelists to the ramshackle village of White River Junction, Vermont for a no-holds-barred education in comics. Those who complete the two-year program earn a Master of Fine Arts degree and are ready to face the uncertainty of a career in one of the world’s most labor-intensive, drudgery-inducing art forms. Cartoon College is their story.

Featuring a who’s-who of the biggest names in literary comics, including Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly, Scott McCloud, Jason Lutes, and James Sturm, among many others, as well as the music of Beulah, Archers of Loaf, Portastatic, Tortoise, Tokyo Police Club, Quinn Marston, The Hot IQs, Fire Tapes, and an original score by Jason Zumpano, Cartoon College is a fast-paced look at a school where the stakes are high and spilled ink and tears are often the only reward.


Cartoon College is co-directed by Tara Wray and Josh Melrod

Tara Wray was born in Manhattan, Kansas in 1978. She is founder and co-managing partner of L.B. Thunderpony Productions, a Vermont-based production company. Her first film, an autobiographical documentary titled Manhattan, Kansas, premiered at SXSW in 2006 where it received an Audience Award. It went on to screen at Lincoln Center and festivals worldwide, including showings in Italy, Croatia, India and across the U.S. Manhattan, Kansas aired on PBS, Channel Oktoskop in Austria, and can currently be seen on the Documentary Channel. Her photography has been widely exhibited. Most recently she published the photobook Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long (2014). She is the recipient of a Jerome Foundation New York City Media Arts Award as well as an Anthony Radziwell Documentary Fund production grant.

Josh Melrod is co-managing partner of L.B. Thunderpony Productions, a Vermont-based production company. He attended the MFA program for creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and was a founding editor of the award winning literary journal the Land-Grant College Review. His work as a visual artist is included in the permanent collections of the Boston Public Library, the University of Vermont, and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, among others. Funding for his projects has been provided by the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Vermont Arts Endowment, the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. As a film editor his credits include Northern Borders, starring Bruce Dern, “SKUNK” (2014 Cannes Film Festival Cinefonation winner), and most recently, The Cult of JT LeRoy. He was named among “10 Filmmakers To Watch in 2010” by The Independent. Cartoon College was his first film.


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Cartoon College premiered in Canada at the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival. It screened at universities and festivals nationwide including the Woods Hole Film Festival in July 2012 and at the Orange County Museum of Art as part of the 2012 Cinema Orange Summer Series, making CBS LA’s “Best of LA” list. The film was also part of the 2012 Sheffield Doc/Fest line-up. You can bring Cartoon College to a venue near you by requesting a screening here.