A cartoon is a type of illustration, sometimes animated, typically in a non-realistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to either an image or series of images intended for satire, caricature, or humor; or a motion picture that relies on a sequence of illustrations for its animation. Someone who creates cartoons in is called a cartoonist or animator.
The concept originated in the Middle Ages, and first described a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco, tapestry, or stained glass window. In the 19th century, beginning in Punch magazine in 1843, cartoon came to refer – ironically at first – to humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers. In the early 20th century, it began to refer to animated films which resembled print cartoons.
In print media, a cartoon is an illustration or series of illustrations, usually humorous in intent. The first of these parodied the preparatory cartoons for grand historical frescoes in the then-new Palace of Westminster. The title "cartoon" was intended to be ironic, a reference to the self-aggrandizing posturing of Westminster politicians.
Cartoons can be divided into gag cartoons, which include editorial cartoons, and comic strips. Modern single-panel gag cartoons, found in magazines, generally consist of a single drawing with a typeset caption positioned beneath, or—less often—a speech balloon.
Political cartoons are like illustrated editorials that serve as visual commentaries on political events. They offer subtle criticism which are cleverly quoted with humour and satire to the extent that the criticized does not get embittered.