Golden Age Cartoon Animals

cartoon animal illustration

Cartoon animals, created by some of the great illustrators and cartoonists, graced the pages of American magazines during the Golden Age of American Illustration (1880-1920).

At the same time artists in Europe and America found a ready market for childrens' storybook illustration featuring creatures of all sizes and shapes.

Mickey Mouse, the best known cartoon character in the world, is basically a cute little cartoon rodent created in the early 1920s as an animated film character.

But he is much more than that. He is imbued with a human personality that causes a sympathetic reaction in humans.

Animal cartoons during the Golden Age of Illustration relied on human features and behavior, plus usually the ability to speak, to produce humorous characters.

They could be used as caricatures of well-known human counterparts, drawn in a realistic style with the addition of human props such as a hat or clothing.

Or as fictitious and sometimes weird creatures created by an artist's' active imagination. Either way, they remained immensely popular in graphic art from the Middle Ages to the present.

Below are a few examples from the Golden Age of Illustration:

(More to come soon!)

The Roosevelt Bears, by Seymour Eaton, 1906. From a series of children's books featuring characters based on the original "Teddy Bear," named for President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Slipshodder, one of a series of fantastic animals by Bob Addams to illustrate a poem for children, 1907.

The Puss-Cafe, another of Bob Addams weird and wonderful creatures, 1907.

Bob Addams favorite subjects were birds and assorted barnyard fowl. He aslo created gags for popular magazines from 1898 to 1912.

A Risky Snap-shot, by F. Booth, 1904.

The Skigamaree, by J.P.Bodfish, 1904.
The smile of the Skigamaree
Is contagious to such a degree
If one gets on your face it's so hard to erase
That you might just as well
let it be.

Refreshments for One, children's book illustration of cartoon animals by W. W. Denslow, 1903.

A Sewing Bee, by J.P. Bodfish, 1903.

Autumn Revel, a cartoon masthead by O. Beck for a poem in St. Nicholas Magazine, 1893.

Cartoon Nursery Rhyme, 1880 Cartoon Cats Singing, 1880

Above: Two Victorian cartoon trade cards, c.1880; Hey diddle-Diddle, The Cat and The Fiddle , left, and Thomas's Concert, right.

Check the Image Galleries for more examples
of animals and cartoon animals.

You can find more examples of humorous illustration and comics on these pages:

Comic Art: sight gags, puns and comic strips.

Caricatures: famous people and stereotypes.

Story Illustration: cartoon characters and settings.

Editorial Cartoons: political and social commentary.

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