Cartoon illustration during the Golden Age (1880-1920) covered a lot of territory and many venues, including editorial cartoons, political satire and social commentary, clowns and cartoon characters, and the birth of newspaper comic strips.
The range of styles included everything from silly little sketches to realistic full-color paintings. Artists used any and all available media; watercolor, pencil, pen and ink, oils on canvas, and woodcuts.
Cartoons, humorous illustrations in the modern sense of the word, are as old as printing. Although the term “cartoon” meaning humorous art was in use by the 1840s, drawings intended to be funny predate the printing press.
Italian artists in the 1500s produced satirical woodcuts, and from then to the present, cartooning has taken advantage of every advancement in printing technology.
The familiar “gag cartoon,” an ink-line single-panel with typeset caption beneath, became popular in the 1860s before the development of photoengraving. In order to reproduce a drawing in a newspaper or magazine, a wood engraving was made from the drawing. With the advent of color printing in the 1890s, color cartoons followed.
In keeping with Victorian style, cartoon illustration during the Golden Age often were filled with lots of detail and cross-hatching. The punch-lines were topical, often involving domestic situations, or puns and plays on words.
Cartoons boosted the readership of weekly and monthly magazines and by the 1880s, periodicals appeared dedicated to humorous text, illustrations, and jokes. Cartoonists became popular as the public looked forward to their work in magazines such as the old Life magazine and the British publication Punch.
If you are interested in the history and development of comic art and cartooning, you can find on the Web vast amounts of information on a variety of related subjects.
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