This form of art has evolved tremendously over the decades
The word “cartoon” once meant something entirely different from what it does today. It was used to describe a sketch made by an artist to prepare for a painting or other work. In the 1840s, the English magazine Punch published cartoons that made fun of artwork planned for public buildings in London. Since then, “cartoon” has generally meant a drawing intended to be funny or to make a point. Many newspapers and magazines have editorial cartoons, which express an opinion. Such cartoons often use caricatures, or exaggerations of a person’s features, to make fun of figures like politicians. They may include words.
Cartoons that are animated, or appear to move, have been around for centuries. The first ones were called flipbooks. They were made of pages of drawings. People flipped the pages with their thumbs. The characters appeared to move. They were costly and difficult to make. Each picture had to be drawn separately by hand. Eventually, new methods were invented that made cartoons easier and cheaper to make. Today, animated cartoons are a big part of television. Popular examples are Scooby Doo, The Simpsons, SpongeBob SquarePants, etc.
Comics, or comic strips, are cartoons with several panels that tell a story. You can find comic strips in the funny papers, a section of the daily newspaper. Popular comic-strip characters include Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, and their friends in Peanuts, and the fussy cat in Garfield. The first comic strips appeared in American newspapers in the 1890s. One of the earliest was Hogan’s Alley, by Richard Outcault. It featured a bald boy in a yellow nightshirt called the Yellow Kid. By the early 1900s, comic strips were a part of most American newspapers.
The first comic books were just collections of newspaper comic strips. Comic books with original material began to appear in the 1930s. Comic books became widely popular from around 1938 with the first appearance of the superhero character Superman. New superheroes soon appeared in other comic books, including Flash, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel. Comic books in the 1960s introduced a whole new set of superheroes, such as the X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. These newer superheroes all had special powers, but they had problems in life like everyone else.
For many years, many people looked down on comics as silly stories and a waste of time. This attitude changed. In the 1980s and 1990s, comics began attracting lots of collectors and even scholars who studied them. Comic collectors now hold big conferences in the United States and Canada to buy, sell, and trade comics. Today, some comic books, called graphic novels, are considered serious literature. In 1992, the graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman, even won the Pulitzer Prize.