The effects of cartoons and comic strips in society

Learning how cartooning began

Today cartoons are a part of the daily lives of most people. Large audiences follow comic strips in newspapers, laugh at gag cartoons in magazines, and enjoy animated cartoons on television and at the movies. COmic books are sold on newstands, in bookstores, and at supermarkets. Cartoons appear in advertisements on television, in periodicals, and even on highway billboards. Both printed and animated cartoons are widely used in educational and instruction materials. On the editorial pages of newspapers, catoons offer a succint views of local, national, and world events.

Until the mid-19th century the word "cartoon" referred only to preliminary drawings made by artists in developing their plans for paintings, mosaics, and tapestries. In 1843, cartoons of this kind depicting decorations for England's new House of Parliament were exhibited in London. After the comic magazine Punch satirized these drawing under the title "Punch's Cartoons," the word cartoon was also applied to pictorial humor, wit, satire, and parody.

A cartoon is a single drawing or a series of drawing s that make a point of tells a joke or a story about such subjects as human activities and habits, political and historical events, fads, fashions, and sports. Many cartoons treat their subjects humorously or stirically, present pictorial narratives or adventure stories, and to provide information. Cartoons are closely related to caricatures - drawings in which a person, a type of person, or an action is depicted with exaggerated or distorted features.

A cartoon may make its point in the drawing alone, ot it may be accompanies by a brief caption. OFten dialogue is included with the drawing in clearly delineated areas called balloons.

One of the most common forms of the cartoon is the gag panel, which tells a joke in a single drawing called a panel. A comic strip consists of a sequence of panels that tells a story and features a cast of cartoon characters who appear regulary. A comic strip is usually published in newspapers in daily episodes of from two to four panels. When a complete incident or joke is told in a single episode, the cartoon is known as a gag strip. A daily episode may be a part of a continuing story that runs for a week, a month, or even longer. In addition to using balloons for dialogue, comic strips may contain a written narrative within or below the panels. A few comic strips tell their story without words. A comic book is magazine containing one or more comic strips or stories in comic strip form.

Editorial cartoons, also known as political cartoons, are usually single panel drawings that portray the cartoonist's views of current events, prominent personalities, and public issues. Although many editorial cartoons are humorous, most of them also make a serious point about their subject. Editorial cartoons appear regularly on the editorial pages of newspapers and are a frequent feature of periodicals concerned with public affairs.

Animated cartoons are a series of cartoon drawings filmed and projected as motion pictures. Animated cartoons are also used in television advertising and to present instruction material in schools, industry, and the armed forces.

Origins of the Cartoon

Man's use of the pictures to tell stories and to record experiences began in prehistoric times, when he drew on the walls of the caves. In the sculptural and decorative arts of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the pictorial narrative was used to record historical events, the lives of important people, and legends.

During the middle ages, hand-drawn illustrations with captions supplemented the texts of books and illuminated manuscripts. In the famous Bayeux tapestry, depicting William the Conqueror's invasion of England, captions follow the action from scene to scene much as they do in comic strips.

In the 15th century, the invention of the printing press with movable type enabled written and pictorial matter to be reproduced in quantity. From the 16th century to the 18th century, news of all kinds reacehed the general public by means of heavily illustrated printed broadsheets, flyers, and pamphelts. Many of the illustrations were early forms of the editorial cartoon.

Artists also contribute to the development of pictorial comedy and wit. In England the satirical engravings of William Hogarth, depicting human follies and weaknesses, became so popular that his works were often pirated. Thomas Rowlandson, who drew political satires, anticipated the comic strip in his "Tours of Dr. Syntax" - a series of humorous drawings using one cast of charactersin a continuing story. James Gillray and George Cruikshank also became well know for their political satires.

By early 19th century, when newspapers and magazines began to reach wide audiences, satirical and political cartoons were well-established features of journalism. In France, the periodical Le Charivari, founded in 1832, featured the caricatures of Honore Daumier. Almanacs of pictorial humor became popular in England, and in 1841 Punch, England's first illustrated comic weekly, began publication. The with and humor in Le Charivari and Punch were powerful forces of social and political comment.

By 1920, cartoonists had experimented with different styles, established comic strips with a wide range of subjects, and created many memorable characters. George McManus' "Bringing Up Father" was the first comic strip to achieve internation popularity. Rude Goldberg, in "Boob McNutt," and Milt Gross, in "Count Screwloose of Toulouse," created the innocent man adrift in a mad world. Harry Hershfield's "Abie the Giant" pioneered the ethnic strip. George Herimann's "Krazy Kat" was both intellectual and poetic. Many of the comic strips in the 1920's centered upon home and family life.