Cartoons reflect back to us our societal costumes. They allow us to express our sense of humor and irreverent nature. We grew up watching and reading cartoons, and now the cartoons themselves are all grown up business. Iron Man, Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Hulk, X-Men, Cat Woman, the Fantastic Four, Wonder Woman, etc. I might be one day or two too late after Halloween with this post.
[this is me, supposedly, in Manga. Face your Manga here.]
Japan just appointed the first cartoon ambassador. Japanese “manga” comics are all the rage - see Dan Pink's new book - as are "anime", another very popular form of cartoons in quasi animated style. Maki, who blogs at Dosh Dosh, lists anime as an interest. My first publication in my pre-school years consisted of stories narrated visually through cartoons. I used stamps for the images.
I was thinking that from Dr. Seuss to Topolino (Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse genius in Italian) and Speedy Gonzales (the fastest mouse in Mexico), cartoons have been entertaining us and teaching us through stories for decades.
The word cartoon originally meant portrait. A cartoon is a drawing in which features of the subject are exaggerated and stylized, usually in a humorous way. An animated movie, composed of many drawings, is also sometimes called a cartoon.
We are visual creatures and cartoons capture concepts that would take many a sentence to convey. They are also part of the fabric of society. My favorite Italian cartoon was Eva Kant, fictional companion of Diabolik and a master of disguises.
Cartoons can express in a few strokes what takes us many sentences to express in symbols - from the adventures and heroes of the Marvel empire, to the dry representation of Cox & Forkum editorial cartoons and those of the New York Times, the narrative of Calvin and Hobbes, to Charles M. Schulz creation - Charlie Brown and Peanuts, Tom & Jerry, and the all to real Dilbert stories. I'm sure you have more.
Tom Fishburne of Brand Camp just published a collection of cheeky marketing cartoons and Hugh MacLeod, the creative marketing strategist who draws cartoons on the back of business cards, is trying his hand at lithographs and publishing his first book on how to be creative. I think I gave you enough material to consider the following questions:
- What do modern cartoons say about us? Think pop culture.
- Why are cartoons like brands? Think metaphors.
- Can modern cartoons help us think a little harder? Think issues.
- Are cartoons social objects? Think container of message underlying a cause.
Cartoons in new media today may well come from those drawings on the back of napkins - those attempts at describing and sharing what we're trying to do and where we're going from here.