cartoon is a type of two-dimensional illustration , possibly animated. While the specific definition Has Changed over time, modern usage Refers to (a) Typically non- realisticsemi-realistic or artistic style of drawing or painting , (b) an image or series of pictures Intended for satire , caricature , or humor , or (c) a motion picture that links to a sequence of illustrations for its animation. An artist who creates cartoons is called a cartoonist . [1]

The concept originated in the Middle Ages and first described a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as painting, fresco , tapestry , or stained glass window. In the 19th century, it came back to humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers, and after the early 20th century, it is referred to comic strips and animated films. [2]

Fine art

Main article: Modello

A cartoon (from Italian : cartone and Dutch : karton -words describing heavy, heavy paper or pasteboard) is a full-size drawing made on sturdy paper as a study or modello for painting , stained glass or tapestry . Cartoons were typically used in the production of frescoes , to accurately link the components of the composition when painted over a plaster over a series of days ( giornate ). [3]

Such cartoons often have pinpricks along the outlines of the design so that a bag of soot patted gold “pounced” over the cartoon, held against the wall, would leave black dots on the plaster (“pouncing”). Cartoons by painters , such as the Raphael Cartoons in London, and examples by Leonardo da Vinci , are highly prized in their own right. Tapestry cartoons, usually colored, were followed by the weavers on the loom . [2] [4]

Print media

In modern print media, cartoon is an illustration or series of illustrations, usually humorous in intent. This usage dates from 1843, when Punch magazine applied the term to satirical drawings in its pages, [5] particularly sketches by John Leech . [6] The first of these parodied the preparatory cartoons for grand historical frescoes in the then-new Palace of Westminster . The original title for these drawings was Mr Punch’s face is the letter Q and the new title “cartoon” was intended to be ironic, a reference to the self-aggrandizing posturing of Westminster politicians.

Cartoons can be divided into cartoons, which include editorial cartoons, and comic strips.

Modern single-panel gag cartoons , found in magazines, generally consist of a single drawing with a caption type and caption, or-much less often-a balloon speech . [7] Newspaper syndicates have also distributed single-panel gag cartoons by Mel Calman , Bill Holman , Gary Larson , George Lichty , Fred Neher and others. Many consider New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno the father of the modern cartoon gag (as did Arno himself). The roster of magazine gag cartoonists includes names like Charles Addams , Charles Barsotti andChon Day .

Bill Hoest , Jerry Marcus, and Virgil Partch began as gag cartoonists and moved to syndicated comic strips . Richard Thompson is noteworthy in the area of ​​newspaper cartoon illustration; he coined numerous features in The Washington Post before creating his Cul de Sac comic strip. The sports section usually featured cartoons, sometimes including syndicated features such as Chester “Chet” Brown’s All in Sport .

Editorial cartoons are found almost exclusively in news publications and news websites. Although they also use humor, they are more serious in tone, commonly using irony or satire . The art usually acts as a visual metaphor to illustrate a point of view on social and / or political topics. Editorial cartoons often include speech balloons and sometimes use multiple panels. Editorial cartoonists of note include Herblock , David Low , MacNelly Jeff , Mike Peters and Gerald Scarfe . [2]

Comic Strips , also known as cartoon strips in the United Kingdom, are found daily in newspapers worldwide, and are usually a short series of cartoon illustrations in sequence. In the United States, they are not commonly called “cartoons” themselves, but rather “comics” or ” funnies “. Nonetheless, the creators of comic strips-as well as comic books and graphic novels -are usually referred to as ” cartoonists “. Although humor is the most prevalent subject matter, adventure and drama are also represented in this medium. Some noteworthy cartoonists of humorous comic strips are Scott Adams , Steve Bell , Charles Schulz ,EC Segar , Death Walker and Bill Watterson . [2]

Political cartoons

Main article: Editorial cartoon

Political cartoons are like illustrated editorial that serves visual commentaries on political events. They offer a subtle criticism that is cleverly quoted with humor and satire to the extent that the criticizes does not get embitered.

The pictorial satire of William Hogarth is regarded as a precursor to the development of political cartoons in 18th century England. [8] George Townshend produced some of the first overtly political cartoons and caricatures in the 1750s. [8] [9] James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson , both of London , are the first exponents . Gillray explored the use of the medium for lampooning and caricature , and has been referred to as the father of the political cartoon. [10]By calling the king, and many others, Gillray’s satires were directed against George III , depicting him as a pretentious buffoon, while the bulk of his work was dedicated to ridiculing the ambitions of revolutionary France and Napoleon . [10] George Cruikshank became the leading cartoonist in the period following Gillray, from 1815 until the 1840s. His career was renowned for his social caricatures of English life for popular publications.

By the mid 19th century, major political newspapers in many other countries featured cartoons commenting on the politics of the day. Thomas Nast , in New York City, showed how realistic German drawing techniques could redefine American cartooning. [11] His 160 cartoons relentlessly pursued the criminal character of the Tweed machine in New York City, and helped bring it down. Indeed, Tweed was arrested in Spain when Nast’s cartoons. [12] Sir John Tenniel was the toast of London. [13]

Political cartoons can be humorous or satirical, sometimes with piercing effect. The target of the humor may complain, but they can seldom fight back. Lawsuits have been very rare; The first successful lawsuit against a cartoonist in a century in Britain came in 1921, when JH Thomas , the leader of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), initiated libel proceedings against the magazine of the British Communist Party . Thomas claimed defamation in the form of cartoons and words depicting the events of “Black Friday”, when he allegedly betrayed the locked-out Miners’ Federation. To Thomas, the framing of his image by the far left of the world. Soviet-inspired communism was a new element in European politics, and cartoonists unrestrained by tradition tested the boundaries of libel law. Thomas won the lawsuit and restored his reputation. [14]

Scientific cartoons

Cartoons also found their place in the world of science , mathematics and technology . Cartoons related to chemistry are, for example, xkcd , which varies its subject matter, and the Wonderlab , which looks at daily life in the lab. In the US, one well-known cartoonist for these fields is Sidney Harris . Not all, but many of Gary Larson’s cartoons have a scientific flavor.


Books with cartoons are usually reprinted by newspaper cartoons .

On some occasions, new gag cartoons have been created for book publication, as was the case with Think Small , a 1967 promotional book distributed as a giveaway by Volkswagen dealers. Bill Hoest and other cartoonists of that decade drew cartoons showing Volkswagens, and these were published along with humorous automotive essays by such humorists as Allen Allen Smith , Roger Price and Jean Shepherd . The book’s design juxtaposed each cartoon alongside a photograph of the cartoon’s creator.


Because of the stylistic Similarities entre comic strips and early animated movies, cartoon cam to Refer to entertainment , and the word “cartoon” is used in reference to Currently Both animated cartoons and gag cartoons. [15] While animated Designates Any style of illustrated pictures seen in rapid succession to give the feeling of movement, the word “cartoon” is MOST Often used as a descriptor for television programs and short films avocation at children, Possibly featuring anthropomorphized animals, [ 16] superheroes , the adventures of child protagonists and / or related themes.

At the end of the 1980s, “cartoon” was shortened in some cases to the word “toon”, which came into use with the live-action / animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Two years later, the animated Tiny Toon Adventures television series (1990).

See also

  • Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
  • Caricature
  • Comics
  • Comics studies
  • Editorial cartoon
  • List of comic strips
  • List of cartoonists
  • List of editorial cartoonists


  1. Jump up^ Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
  2. ^ Jump up to:d Becker 1959
  3. Jump up^ Constable 1954, p. 115.
  4. Jump up^ Adelson 1994, p. 330.
  5. Jump up^ “History of the Cartoon” .
  6. Jump up^ Adler & Hill 2008, p. 30.
  7. Jump up^ Bishop 2009, p. 92.
  8. ^ Jump up to:b Press 1981 , p. 34.
  9. Jump up^ Chris Upton. “Birth of England’s pocket cartoon” .
  10. ^ Jump up to:b Rowson 2015 .
  11. Jump up^ Adler & Hill 2008, p. 24.
  12. Jump up^ Adler & Hill 2008, pp. 49-50.
  13. Jump up^ Morris & Tenniel 2005, p. 344.
  14. Jump up^ Samuel S. Hyde, “‘Please, Sir, he called me” Jimmy! ” Political Cartooning before the Law: ‘Black Friday,’ JH Thomas, and the Communist Libel Trial of 1921, “Contemporary British History(2011) 25 # 4 pp 521-550
  15. Jump up^ Walasek 2009, p. 116.
  16. Jump up^ Wells 2008, p. 41.


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  • Adler, John; Hill, Draper (2008). Doomed by Cartoon: How Cartoonist Thomas Nast and the New York Times Brought Down Tweed Boss and His Ring of Thieves . Morgan James Publishing . ISBN  978-1-60037-443-2 .
  • Becker, Stephen D .; Goldberg, Rube (1959). Comic Art in America: A Social History of the Funnies, the Political Cartoons, Humor Magazine, Sporting Cartoons, and Animated Cartoons . Simon & Schuster.
  • Bishop, Franklin (2009). Cartoonist’s Bible: An Essential Reference for Practicing Artist . London: Chartwell Books. ISBN  978-0-7858-2085-7 .
  • Blackbeard, Bill, ed. (1977). The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics . Smithsonian Inst. Press.
  • Constable William George (1954). The Painter’s Workshop . Courier Dover Publications . Retrieved 20 January 2013 .
  • Horn, Maurice (1976). The World Encyclopedia of Comics . Chelsea House .
  • Morris, Frankie; Tenniel, Sir John (2005). Artist Of Wonderland: The Life, Political Cartoons, And Illustrations Of Tenniel . University of Virginia Press.
  • Press, Charles (1981). The Political Cartoon . Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
  • Robinson, Jerry (1974). The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art. GP Putnam’s Sounds .
  • Rowson, Martin (March 21, 2015). “Satire, sewers and statesmen: why James Gillray was king of the cartoon” . The Guardian.
  • Walasek, Helen (2009). The Best of Punch Cartoons: 2,000 Humor Classics . England: Overlook Press. ISBN  1-5902-0308-9 .
  • Wells, Paul (November 28, 2008). The Animated Bestiary: Animals, Cartoons, and Culture . Rutgers University Press. ISBN  978-0-8135-4643-8 .
  • Yockey, Steve (2008). Cartoon . Samuel French. ISBN  978-0-573-66383-3 .