Cartoonist Jack Elrod at work on a Sunday page of the Mark Trail comic strip

A cartoonist is a person who specializes in drawing cartoons. This work is usually humorous, mainly created for entertainment, political commentary or advertising. Throughout the 20th century, cartoons were widely published in print media of various kinds, featured in magazines such as The New Yorker and Punch and distributed to newspapers through such organizations as King Features Syndicate. Today, both original and vintage cartoons can be found online.

Cartoonists may work in many different formats: animation, booklets, comic strips, comic books, editorial cartoons, graphic novels, manuals, single-panel gag cartoons or video game packaging. A cartoonist traditionally developed rough sketches into finished pencil drawings and then, for reproduction purposes, completed the artwork in black India ink, using either a brush or a metal-nibbed pen. Many favored a Winsor & Newton #3, Series 7 brush used in combination with a crowquill pen.

Today, cartoonists increasingly work in digital media. To illustrate the Blondie comic strip, the cartoonist John Marshall works directly on a Wacom tablet connected to his Macintosh computer.



The English satirist and editorial cartoonist William Hogarth, who emerged In the 18th century, has been credited with pioneering Western sequential art. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects". Much of his work poked fun at contemporary politics and customs; illustrations in such style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".[1]

During the 20th century, numerous magazines carried single-panel gag cartoons by such freelance cartoonists as Charles Addams, Irwin Caplan, Chon Day, Clyde Lamb and John Norment. These were almost always published in black and white, although Collier's often carried cartoons in color. The debut of Playboy introduced full-page color cartoons by Jack Cole, Eldon Dedini and others. Single-panel cartoonists syndicated to newspapers included Dave Breger, Hank Ketcham, George Lichty, Fred Neher, Irving Phillips and J. R. Williams.


Comic strips received widespread distribution to mainstream newspapers by syndicates[2] such as the Universal Press Syndicate, United Media or King Features. Sunday strips go to a coloring company such as American Color before they are published.

Some comic strip creators publish in the alternative press or on the Internet. Comic strip artists may also sometimes work in book-length form, creating graphic novels. Both vintage and current strips receive reprints in book collections.

The major comic book publishers (such as Marvel or DC) utilize teams of cartoonists to produce the art (typically separating pencil work, inking and lettering while the color is added digitally by colorists). When a consistent artistic style is wanted among different cartoonists (such as Archie Comics), character model sheets may be used as reference.

Calum MacKenzie, in his preface to the exhibition catalog, The Scottish Cartoonists (Glasgow Print Studio Gallery, 1979) defined the selection criteria:

The difference between a cartoonist and an illustrator was the same as the difference between a comedian and a comedy actor—the former both deliver their own lines and take full responsibility for them, the latter could always hide behind the fact that it was not his entire creation.[3]


Animated cartooning is created for short films, advertising, feature films and television. It is also sometimes used in live-action films for dream sequences or opening titles. An animation artist is commonly referred to as an animator rather than a cartoonist.

Books and exhibitions

There are many books of cartoons in both paperback and hardcover, notably the collections of cartoons from The New Yorker. Prior to the 1960s, cartoons were mostly ignored by museums and art galleries. In 1968, the cartoonist and comedian Roger Price opened the first New York City gallery devoted exclusively to cartoons, mainly work by the leading magazine gag cartoonists. Today, there are several museums devoted to cartoons, notably the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, run by curator Jenny E. Robb at Ohio State University.

Societies and organizations


See also


  1. ^ The British Museum. Beer Street, William Hogarth - Fine Art Print Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  2. ^ "The Comics Reporter". Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  3. ^ MacKenzie, Calum. The Scottish Cartoonists. Glasgow Print Studio Gallery, 1979.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cartoonist — ou cartooniste [kaʀtunist] n. ÉTYM. 1946, cartoonist; cartooniste, 1960; angl. cartoonist, de cartoon « cartoon ». ❖ ♦ Anglicisme. 1 Personne qui exécute chaque image des dessins animés ou des bandes dessinées. 2 Dessinateur, dessinatrice… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Cartoonist — Car*toon ist, n. One skilled in drawing cartoons. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cartoonist — /kɑ: tu:nist/, it. /kar tunist/ s. ingl. [der. di cartoon disegno, vignetta ], usato in ital. al masch. e al femm. (prof.) [disegnatore di cartoon ] ▶◀ (non com.) cartonista, disegnatore, fumettista, vignettista …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • cartoonist — 1880, from CARTOON (Cf. cartoon) + IST (Cf. ist) …   Etymology dictionary

  • cartoonist — [n] person who draws cartoons artist, caricaturist, comic artist, gag person*, gagster*, illustrator, social critic; concept 348 …   New thesaurus

  • Cartoonist — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Cartoonist est un nom de métier et un nom de convention. Un cartoonist, en français cartooniste, peut désigner un dessinateur de bande dessinée, un… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cartoonist — Die Pointe dieses englischsprachigen Cartoons besteht in einem Wortspiel mit der Mehrdeutigkeit (Polysemie) des Wortes bolt lightning bolt „Blitzstrahl“, bolt upright „kerzengerade“, „bolzengerade“. Ein Cartoon ist eine Grafik, die eine komische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cartoonist — Car|too|nịst 〈[ tu ] m. 16〉 jmd., der Cartoons zeichnet * * * Car|too|nist [kartu nɪst ], der; en, en [engl. cartoonist]: Künstler, der Cartoons zeichnet. * * * Car|too|nist [kartu nɪst], der; en, en [engl. cartoonist]: Künstler, der Cartoons… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • cartoonist — UK [kɑː(r)ˈtuːnɪst] / US [kɑrˈtunɪst] noun [countable] Word forms cartoonist : singular cartoonist plural cartoonists someone who draws cartoons, especially as their job …   English dictionary

  • cartoonist — noun Cartoonist is used after these nouns: ↑newspaper …   Collocations dictionary

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