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In the summer of 2007 filmmakers Josh Melrod and Tara Wray left New York City for the wilds of Vermont to begin shooting CARTOON COLLEGE. They spent the next three years following the lives of a few unique students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the nation's premiere institution of higher learning for aspiring literary cartoonists and graphic novelists. Along the way they interviewed some of the most famous names in independent comics, including Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Kim Deitch, Scott McCloud, Francoise Mouly, R. Sikoryak, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware, among others, in addition to traveling across the country to meet comic book store owners, museum curators, convention goers, critics, librarians, college professors, and fans to find out what it takes to make it in the world of indie comics.

CARTOON COLLEGE premiered at the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival. To find out how you can see it in your town request a screening.



Josh Melrod (Director, Producer, Editor):

Josh is co-managing partner of L.B. Thunderpony Productions, a Vermont-based production company, and served as associate producer on the documentary Manhattan, Kansas, which premiered at the 2006 SXSW Film Festival. He attended the MFA program for creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and was a founding editor of the literary journal the Land-Grant College Review. As a visual artist his work has been widely exhibited, and is included in the permanent collections of the Boston Public Library, Plymouth State University, and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth University, among others. His projects have been funded by the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Vermont Arts Endowment, the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was named among “10 Filmmakers To Watch in 2010” by The Independent. Cartoon College is his first film.


Tara Wray (Director, Producer)

Tara 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. Tara is also working on Barnard 1000, a book of portraits of the entire population of Barnard, Vermont (funded in part by the Vermont Community Foundation) and Meet Your Meat, a Farm to Table Adventure Book. Her photos have been published in the New York Times. She is the recipient of a Jerome Foundation New York City Media Arts Award as well as an Anthony Radziwell Documentary Fund production grant. Her second documentary Cartoon College is about the weird and wonderful world of indie comics and a school for the people who draw them. 


Alan Oxman (Producer)

Alan’s editing credits include Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Storytelling and The Pleasure of Your Company. He was supervising editor and co-producer of Control Room, and editor of Unzipped, which won the A.C.E. Award for Best Documentary Editing. Other co-producing credits include Assisted Living, winner at the 2002 Slamdance Film Festival, and Children Underground, which won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2001, and Best Documentary at the IFP Gotham Awards that same year. He produced An American Soldier, an official selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and most recently produced documentaries Strange Powers: Stephen Merritt and the Magnetic Fields and Hot Coffee.


Christopher Branca (Editor, Associate Producer)

Christopher recently edited Page One: Inside The New York Times, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and has gone on to screen theatrically around the world. Previously he served as assistant editor on the feature Look, Stranger. He teaches editing at The Edit Center in New York City and is an accomplished musician.


Judith Helfand (Consulting Producer)

Filmmaker, activist and educator Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to take the dark, cynical worlds of chemical exposure and heedless corporate behavior and make them personal, resonant, and entertaining. Her films, The Uprising of ’34 (Co-directed with George Stoney), the Sundance-award-winning Blue Vinyl (co-directed with Daniel B. Gold and nominated for two Emmys), and its Peabody-award-winning prequel A Healthy Baby Girl (a five-year video-diary about her experience with DES related cancer), explore home, class, corporate accountability, intergenerational relationships and the ever shrinking border between what is personal and what is a critical part of the public record.


Teo Zagar (Associate Producer)

Teo produced his first film Ten Days, Ten Years while still a student at Hampshire College. While at Hampshire, he began a yearlong internship with Florentine Films/American Documentaries, Inc., Ken Burns’s film company in Walpole, New Hampshire, serving as a post-production intern and assistant editor on Horatio’s Drive, which was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2003. The following year he was hired by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Larry Hott and Diane Garey of Florentine Films/Hott Productions to serve as associate producer and assistant editor on Ohio: 200 Years, which won an Emmy for Regional Programming in 2004. His second film Mind Games, about a family coping with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), premiered at the 2006 Green Mountains Film Festival.

Jason Zumpano (Composer)

Jason Zumpano is a pianist living in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Apart from piano composition he has been involved in various musical ensembles such as Zumpano, Destroyer, Sparrow and Attics + Cellars.