Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A cartoon is a form of art with diverse origins and even more diverse modern meanings.
In its historical original meaning, a cartoon is a full-size drawing made on paper as a study for a further artwork, such as a painting. However, cartoons were typically used in the production of frescoes in order to accurately link the component parts of the composition when painted onto newly applied fresh plaster over a series of days. Cartoons by painters such as Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci are highly prized in their own right.
Today a cartoon is a humorous drawing of some description. This usage dates from the 1840s when Punch applied the terms to satirical drawings in its pages, particularly sketches by John Leech. The first of these parodied frescoes in the then-new Palace of Westminster. The original title for such drawings in Punch was Mr Punch's pencillings and the title "cartoon" was intended to be ironic - these were still essentially line-art drawings in pencil and/or ink.
Gag cartoons are found in magazines and newspapers and generally consist of a single drawing, generally without a border, with a caption immediately beneath. Many consider New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno the father of the modern gag cartoon (as did Arno himself). Gag cartoonists of note include Charles Addams, Charles Barsotti , and Chon Day .
Editorial cartoons are found almost exclusively in news publications. The art usually acts as a visual metaphor to illustrate a point of view on current social and/or political topics. Sometimes followed by captions, editorial cartoons often include dialogue and, sometimes, multiple panels. Editorial cartoonists of note include Herblock and Mike Peters.
Comic strips are found daily in newspapers worldwide and are frequently compiled into books. Comic strips are either individual drawings or a series of (often) bordered drawings called 'panels'. Cartoons in this sense include Peanuts, drawn by Charles Schulz, Garfield, by Jim Davis, or Dilbert by Scott Adams, although there are literally hundreds of others. Some comic strips retain a satirical and even literary edge, such Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau. Some, like Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise, serialize a continuing story, which may be adventure-based, mystery, or romantic. Serial comic strips are sometimes compiled into graphic novels.
Animated cartoons are usually shown on television or cinema screens and are created by drawing thousands of individual drawings which are shown rapidly in succession to give the impression of movement. In this meaning, the word cartoon is often shortened to toon, which may be a corruption of Looney Tunes. Toon was popularized in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Toons are often anthropomorphized animals used in non-serious fiction. It is not generally used to in reference to anime characters. A major distinction between the two is the squash and stretch mannerism of American cartoon characters.
Since the 1990s, many Japanese pornographic studios (and a few outside Japan) dedicated themselves to the proliferation of pornographic cartoons or pornographic anime (see Hentai). These movies are, of course, targeted to a mature audience and not available to children.
- Punch website's history of cartoons
- New Yoker's Cartoon Bank
- Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists Index
- Don Markenstein's Toonopedia
- Big Cartoon Database
- Golden Age of Cartoons
- Toon-Cycle: Cartoon community and media resources
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