Working with cartoons
The topic sentence stating what you think to be the message of the cartoon! (Thesis!)
a) Picture(s) and their elements
- How many separate drawings/frames does the cartoonist use?
- What effect does this have (e.g. ... shows development / contrast/before and after ....)?
- Who are the people, (current) events, or institutions depicted? (Brief summary; Source of this information?) What is happening?
- What (different) size are the characters and objects shown in the drawings? What colours are used (contrasts?)
- What is in the background/foreground/centre?
- Does the cartoonist use labels/speech bubbles/captions to help to get his/her ideas across? What do they say?
- What words are in bold letters? (→ for emotions e.g. EEK, YUK.)
- What words are made up to convey sound?
c) Symbols / Stylistic devices/ Bias:
- What symbols (colours!) are used? What do they represent?
- How do the symbols help to convey the message?
- Look for exaggeration, puns, irony and juxtaposition!
- Who looks nice, kind, helpful, ...? - Who looks ugly, cruel, stupid, ...?
- What gestures/facial features are used to convey expressions e.g.:
- happiness, meanness, annoyance, surprise?
- Does the cartoonist take sides?
Full Interpretation → Message:
- What does the cartoon say/express? see topic sentence of your interpretation.
- What do the frames/element, bubbles stand for/ express?
- What ideas does the cartoonist want us to think about/criticize?
- What do you think about the issue/do you agree/disagree?
You can also (it helps to avoid repetitions) combine steps 1 and 2!
- Describe and immediately interpret every relevant elements of the cartoon and then
- Formulate the overall message of the cartoon (and e.g. if you agree
Analysis of Cartoons
- Arbeitsblatt 'Working with Cartoons'
- www.archives.gov - Cartoon Analysis Worksheet
- University of California - A Semiotic Analysis