Illustration telling a comic or satirical story in a single image
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A cartoon is a drawing. The word "cartoon" has been used in several different ways in the world.

A political cartoon of Theodore Roosevelt

Types of cartoonsEdit

A cartoon for an oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci

Cartoon for an artworkEdit

The oldest meaning is a drawing that is a full-sized design for a finished artwork. The cartoon might be a drawing for a painting that was going to be put onto a wall or ceiling in fresco. The cartoon would be pinned against the wall and its design marked onto the plastered of the wall. Cartoons were also made to design tapestry. The most famous cartoons are a set by Raphael which show the "Life of St Peter". The cartoons are in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The finished tapestries belong to the Vatican and were made for the Sistine Chapel.

Political cartoonEdit

Cartoon depicting a corporation as an octopus

In the 1700s, artists such as William Hogarth often made sets of humorous (funny) drawings that were about political subjects, such as poverty, elections, war and riots. The drawings were made into prints and were sold cheaply. These prints were not called cartoons at that time, but they led to the idea of modern political cartoons in newspapers.

Nowadays many newspapers publish a different political cartoon in the paper, every day. The word "cartoon" was first used in this way in 1843 in an English magazine called Punch.[1]

A political cartoon does not always show real people. Sometimes it may use a personification of a country or organization as a person, an animal, or a monster. For example, Britain might be shown as a woman holding a baby Australia in her arms. Russia might be shown as a bear. The United States might be shown as a Bald Eagle.

Comic stripsEdit

Political cartoons were often drawn to show several different stages of the same story. Many of Hogarth's famous political cartoons do this. From this came the idea of telling funny stories in a series of pictures. Comic strips are a type of "cartoon" that is published in newspapers, but they are usually just called "comic strips". Some of the earliest comic strips are The Katzenjammer Kids (1897) and Ginger Meggs (1921). Sometimes they represent animals like Garfield. Later comic strips from the 1950s onwards show superheros such as Superman and The Phantom.

Comic books assemble many strips in a book. The book may tell a long story, longer than a newspaper would want to print, or several stories. Big Five cartoon major studio mascots creator company owner creating studios of Disney's Mickey Mouse, Warner Bros' Bugs Bunny, 20th Century Fox's Lucy the Mouse Paramount's Popeye and Universal's Woody Woodpecker.

Comic strips posted on the internet are web comics. Some use animation and sound for special effects. Like comic books they may be large, and most offer a large collection of earlier strips for new readers, so longer stories can be told. Many webcomics are published (shown to people) by independent artists.

Movie CartoonsEdit

From the beginning of the movie industry, some artists began experimenting with making drawings that seemed to move. These moving drawings also became known as "cartoons". They often depict animals rather than humans. They were often just for fun, but sometimes, particularly during World War II, were used for political reasons, just like the cartoons in newspapers. Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros both made famous cartoons. Famous cartoon characters are Felix the Cat (1919), Mickey Mouse (1928), Lucy the Mouse (1935), Betty Boop (1930), Bugs Bunny (1938), Tom and Jerry (1940), Woody Woodpecker (1940) and Popeye (1919).

At first, movie cartoons were quite short. When a person bought a movie ticket, they would see a news program, two or three cartoons in black and white and a movie. Walt Disney then got the idea to tell a long story as a "cartoon". The first example made was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Movie cartoons soon became a popular type of entertainment. Modern movie cartoons are sometimes created using computer graphics, rather than hand-drawn cartoons. They include Toy Story (1995) and Shrek (2001).


  1. "History of the Cartoon".