Life Behind the Sketches

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Living inside your head can be a refuge, but it can also change the way that you look at and interact with the outside world. The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker delves into the interior life of one half of an animation team while exploring the events occurring to them both in the real world.

Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaught met during a college in art class and have been an inseparable team ever since, complementing each other’s personalities and temperaments well. Sharon is more introspective and cautious while Mel is charismatic and brash. After a decade working together, they have put together an animated full-length feature film that depicts Mel’s childhood and complicated relationship with her incarcerated mother. While out promoting the tour, an unexpected health issue causes the duo to rethink their lives and refocus themselves on their next piece of work.

The writing made it was easy to become invested in the characters. The way that Sharon living inside her head was described in the text made me instantly connect to it with an emphatic, “Me, too!” despite my frustration with her passivity at times. Mel was an entertaining force to be reckoned with and I think it would have been really interesting to see the world from her perspective. While he didn’t play an incredibly large role, I wasn’t particularly fond of Teddy as he gave off a weird vibe, and although I want to believe that was part of bringing Sharon out of her idealized version of him in her head, at my core I don’t think it was. I appreciated the descriptions of the cartoooning/animating world, but I think it might have added to the story, and definitely would have been interesting, to have the ability to see some of the work that Sharon and Mel produced.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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