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An artist drawing cartoons.

The term cartoon has more than one meaning.

Humorous drawing[edit]

Cartoon faces.
Cartoon of a teacher and a schoolboy, artist unknown, estimated late 19th century.

A cartoon is a humorous illustration or other drawing. It is related to caricature, but usually does not parodize a real-life person such as a politician. Instead, cartoons typically feature fictitious characters. The term "cartoon" in this sense was first used in the British magazine Punch in 1843, and Punch helped to coin it in the 1840s and 1850s.

A cartoon is not a comic, although a great number of comic artists draw their comic characters in cartoon style. The difference is that a comic is sequential art; it narrates a story using a sequence of picture panels, while a cartoon is only a single drawing.

Typical features of a cartoon are exaggerated figure proportions, poses, gestures and mimics. Also, most cartoons are drawn with greatest possible abstraction from unneccessary detail and (photo)realism. Figures and objects are typically drawn in black outlines. Pleasant, smooth, rounded shapes prevail in the line art. The areas enclosed by the outlines can be colorized or left white.

Cartoon characters are often based on an animal's form, rather than human.

An artist who creates cartoons is called a "cartoonist". This term includes comic artists as there is no such word as "comicist".

Humorous animation[edit]

The term cartoon can also refer to animated movies; see animated cartoons.

See also[edit]