Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cartoon College (2012) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
What are the world's most glamorous professions? Comic book illustrator might not be on everybody's list, but there are thousands of people dsperate for he chance to get into this industry. For many, it's a dream they've had since childhood. The reality of long hours, tedious work and financial struggle, even when it's recognised, does little to deter them. Each year, a lucky few get to study for a Fine Arts degree at the Vermont Center for Cartoon Studies, where any residual naivety is thoroughly beaten out of them. Graduation isn't only about talent - it's a real test of commitment.
Cartoon College follows a cohort of these students as they go about their work. Their approaches and ambitions are more varied than you might expect. One wants to use comics to talk about his religious journey. Another wants to focus on breaking taboos about menstruation. Others are developing more conventional tales, but their tutors stress the importance of unique angles - they must not only learn to draw and write - they must have somehing to say.
Most of all, they must learn to work hard. Even those immediately willing to engage with this find it hard going and the result is that the film has a rather glum tone throughout. Attempts are made to enliven it with tales of geek romance and of the dreams that originally inspired its protagonists, but these are perhaps too few and far between. It's appropriate that the film should have an intellectual focus but there's too little focus on theory or technique to really satisfy those attracted to it for this reason.
Where Cartoon College succeeds is in giving a grounded impression of student life that reflects many people's reality but is rarely seen on the big screen. It's a must-see for anyone contemplating taking a course like this themselves. Though very plainly shot and rather flat, it provides a solid guide to the tasks required of an illustrator and contains the advice you might not want but almost certainly need for success in the industry. A dry film but a useful one.Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2013