Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This is Shnitzel from the great Chowder.

Baa: I hate the word "cartoon." Forget the high art origins of the word; it has clearly changed connotation and even denotation today. If you like teasing little kids, you aren't going to tell people you're a child "molester" because that word has changed to an entirely different concept today. In the same way, "cartoon" has become an entirely different, utterly inappropriate word. Reject "cartoon."

On top of "cartoon" itself just sounding foolish, clumsy, and unrefined, with its silly-sounding double-oh, even in its painterly roots "cartoon" refers essentially to the initial sketch that precedes the completed painting; it does not refer to the finished work*. I would hope there's a clear difference between a preliminary, scrawled sketch and a finished product (consider the slight of calling a published essay a "rough draft"). Thus it feels insulting to hear something that has been inked or otherwise executed to finality being called a "cartoon." As far as animation goes, anything that attempts to take itself even somewhat seriously, above goofy anvils and mindless slapstick-laden children's entertainment, ought to be considered not a "cartoon" but "animation."

*If anything, I could begrudgingly admit a single panel work is a cartoon based on the non-painterly definition of cartoon (as in single panel editorial cartoons), but as soon as there are two or more panels in concert, surely it is no longer a cartoon, much like a "novel" isn't a "sentence," despite being made up of them. It is a comic.

And although I never insist others use the term, I consider myself not a "cartoonist" but a "comicser," for lack of a better term.


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