Cartoons

Primary Author: Adam Westerbur
The primary author is the individual who drafted the first version of this section; a section that could have been modified since it was originally published.


Cartoons are sketches or drawings that symbolize satire or caricature in some action, subject, or person of interest. They are commonly known in comic books, political campaigns, and television shows. In history, cartoons go as far back as the Renaissance era and evolved into some of the earliest animations. From the 1900s to present time, famous cartoonists and directors such as Walt Disney and Ottis Messmer have made a mark on the cartoon world and changed it forever. Cartoons have changed and developed over time into what they are today.

The origin of the word cartoon comes from the Italian word cartone. They were sketches or drawings that would transfer to large paintings. Famous for this style of art was Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino. Raphael was a well-known artist and architect born in 1483 in Urbino, Italy. His father was a painter and this inspired Raphael to become an artist as well. Becoming educated in art, literature, and social skills allowed him to move up in his career. Raphael and his assistants would create small sketches and paste them together to get ready for paint. Some of his paintings using this method were "Christ's Charge to Peter" and "The Healing of the Lame Man". He died on April 6, 1570 but he left behind some inspiring work such as "The School of Athens" and "Crocefissione." After the Renaissance era of cartoons, new styles were being created.

Political cartoons were designed to show the political view of the cartoonist. Symbols, stereotypes, and irony were used in creating a political cartoon to get a point a crossed to viewers. In order for a cartoon to be effective, it needed to have a clear image with a strong message. Political cartoons first appeared in America with the famous "Join or Die" which Benjamin Franklin created in 1754. This drawing was made to show the importance of colonial unity. Snakes were thought to be able to come back to life after being cut in half.

Known as the father of political cartoons, Thomas Nast has created some of the most well known cartoons. He was born on 27 September 1840 in Landau, Germany. Nast and his family immigrated to the United States in 1846. After nearly failing public school, he was enrolled in an art school at the age of 12. He grew up to become an illustrator for Harper's Weekly creating political cartoons and illustrations like the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey, and he helped in making Uncle Sam. Thomas Nast died in 1902 and is remembered as one of the most famous political cartoonists.

Comic books are magazines that show a sequence of comic strips. Some of the most famous comic book companies are Marvel and DC Comics. Martin Goodman, an American publisher of pulp magazines, and comic books, founded Marvel in 1939. Marvel comics' first issue was the Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner. Later on, new characters such as Captain America (1941) began appearing. By the 1960s, Stan Lee became the Editor in Chief of Marvel comics, and debuted new characters such as The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Hulk, and the X-Men.

Rival Comic Book Company, now know as DC Comics, was founded in 1934 by Malcom Wheeler-Nicholson. Some of the most famous characters they created were Superman, Batman, Wonder Women, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Aquaman, which formed the Justice League. Cartoons were commonly found in ads, newspapers, and comics but eventually made their way to television.

Cartoons were shown on the big screen in the early 1900s. The first character to be shown was, Felix the Cat, created by Ottis Messmer in 1919. Born on 16 August 1892 in Union City, New Jersey Messmer grew a passion for art at an early age. After he graduated from Thomas School of Art in New York City, he worked at an advertising agency illustrating fashion catalogs. Afterwards Messmer began developing his own comic strips with one of his characters being, Motor Mat. When he returned from World War 1 in 1919, he created Felix the Cat. Felix was a huge hit and played in films such as Felix Saves the Day (1922) and Felix Revolts (1923). Eventually Felix was made into a comic strip but it wasn't nearly as successful as the animated cartoons. On 28 October 1983, Messmer died. During the rise of Felix, other cartoonists like Walt Disney began to grow.

Walt Disney was born on 5 December 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. Disney went to school at McKinley High School and the Chicago Institute of Art. After serving in France in 1918, he returned and began doing animation. One of his first cartoons series (1927-1928) starred Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The series include All Wet (1927). A year later, Disney's most famous and well-known character, Mickey Mouse, was brought to film in Steamboat Willie (1928). By the 1930s, the popularity of Mickey Mouse dropped as Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy were made. Some of Disney's most famous films are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Bambi (1942), Peter Pan (1953), and The Jungle Book (1967). Walt Disney has won Academy Awards for films such as Winnie the Pooh and The Blustery Day (1968), and Fantasia (1940). He also won Film Festivals for Best Short Film and awards as a top producer. Walt Disney died on 15 December 1966 and leaves behind a legacy of animated cartoons.

Cartoons require a series of steps before they are made into films. With every cartoon comes a good story. Once there's a story, illustrators being to illustrate the story. An illustrator has to draw hundreds of pictures to create the animation. Writers will create the script of the story, and work with composers to create the soundtrack. The drawings are then taken to the cameras to be photographed on-by-one. The animation is looked over and is then ready for color. The picture is recorded again as well as the backgrounds for each frame, the music, and the sound effects. The animated film is then ready to be shown in theaters. Many directors and composers including Walt Disney used this method.

Today's cartoons aren't what they once were. Back then they were commonly shown in the newspaper, or on Saturday mornings. Now cartoons are shown daily on television channels such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Adult Swim. Some of the most watched cartoons are Sponge Bob (1999), Adventure Time (2010), Regular Show (2010), Family Guy (1999), and American Dad (2005). Cartoons have been made to target many audiences from young kids to adults. Animated cartoons have evolved and changed over the years and will continue for many years to come.

Works Consulted



Screen Capture from Felix Saves the Day (1922)