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Originally, a full-size drawing used for transferring a design to a painting, tapestry, or other large work. Cartoons were used from the 15th century by fresco painters and stained-glass artists. In the 19th century the term acquired its popular meaning of a humorous drawing or parody. Cartoons in that sense are used today to convey political commentary, editorial opinion, and social comedy in newspapers and magazines. The greatest early figure is William Hogarth, in 18th-century Britain. In 19th-century France, Honoré Daumier introduced accompanying text that conveyed his characters' unspoken thoughts. Britain's Punch became the foremost 19th-century venue for cartoons; in the 20th century The New Yorker set the American standard. A Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning was established in 1922. See alsocaricature; comic strip.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cartoon, visit Britannica.com.