All of us grew up with cartoon comics. During vacations, and even during school days, comics had the ability to transform us into another magical reality where cats and dogs talked, human beings possessed super powers and saved millions of people from untold calamities – all this and so much more happened between the panels of a cartoon strip.
Cartoons have always been successful in capturing the young minds. Be it the adorable Garfield, naughty Dennis or the strong-willed Spider-man, we loved them when we were kids, we still love them after growing up. They not only perform mind-blowing stunts, but teach lessons of life with their high moral values and strong sense of justice. There is a history behind the creation of every cartoon character. Here is a quick run to introduce you to some famous toons that have captured the imaginations of many among us.
Comic strips have ruled the newspapers and magazines for ages, and it would be a lie to deny the fact that we all jump to this page for our daily dose.
Jon Arbuckle: “What am I gonna do with you?”
Garfield: “Love me, feed me, never leave me.”
One of the most famous comic strips till date, Garfield was created in the year 1978 by Jim Davis. Garfield is named after Davis’ grandfather James Garfield Davis and Davis also claims that he drew inspiration from his grandfather’s character to characterize Garfield. Garfield held a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “most syndicated comic strip”.
The famous strip consists of three main characters, Garfield, an orange tabby cat, Jon Arbuckle, his owner and Odie, Arbuckle’s pet dog. Odie is supposedly Garfield’s best friend, though Garfield torments him most of the time. There are a few other characters who appear once in a while. Garfield comes along as a selfish, lazy and overweight cat, who loves to eat lasagna and hates Mondays. Most common themes are Garfield’s witty remarks, his laziness (he doesn’t even chase mice), his craze for food and his hatred towards Mondays, spiders and those who make him work.
“Anybody can exercise… But this kind of lethargy takes real discipline.” ~ Garfield
Dennis the Menace
Dennis: “The most important thing is they marry the women, then the women can go down and get the baby.”
Margaret: “The baby is in her stomach.”
Dennis: “She has to get it installed. Her stomach isn’t just filled up with babies.”
Margaret: “Who installed some?”
Dennis: “A minister and a doctor.”
Joey: [laughs] “She wants to know how?”
[Joey continues laughing but stops as Margaret furiously glares at him]
Margaret: “Tell me, Dennis. How?”
Dennis: “The bellybutton – it opens up.”
Margaret: “How come men have them?”
Dennis: “So they don’t look weird in bathing suits.”
[Margaret goes disapproved]
A comic strip created by Hank Ketcham, Dennis the Menace was first seen in the year 1951. Dennis Mitchell is a five-and-a-half-year-old boy, who lives in a suburban neighborhood in Kansas. He wears blue striped shirt and red overalls. Dennis has an innocent demeanor, however, his purely unintentional acts towards helping others (especially Mr. Wilson, who he loves and calls his best friend), leads him to trouble. His character can be called adorable. He is naughty yet extremely lovable; he is highly inquisitive and is always full of curiosity. Dennis loves to play with Joey, Tommy, Gina and Ruff. He also loves root beer, ketchup and watching cowboy shows on the TV. He hates baths, vegetables and Margaret.
Dennis, till date, is one of the most adored kid characters and is also one of the most popular. The strip is now written by Hank Ketcham’s former assistants Hamilton and Ferdinand. It is a common strip in nearly 1000 newspapers and is written in more than 19 languages. Dennis the Menace has been adapted to television shows, animated series, movies and theater acts. Dennis is, and for a long time will be, the most lovable next door neighbor.
“Havin’ a sister might not be too bad… ‘specially if she’s trained to kick people in the shins when you’re losing a fight.” ~ Dennis
Calvin & Hobbes
Calvin : “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.”
Hobbes : “What mood is that?”
Calvin : “Last-minute panic.”
Calvin & Hobbes is a daily comic strip created by Bill Watterson. Calvin is a six-year old kid, who is exceptionally wise and imaginative. He also has a great sense of humor and a knack of losing himself to his fantastic imaginary worlds. He mostly embarks on such adventurous tours with his best friend Hobbes.
Though he is much smarter than other kids of his age, there are certain things that Calvin does exactly like them. He misbehaves with his parents, runs away from homework, hates babysitters and baths, is highly lazy and self-centered. Hobbes on the other hand, is Calvin’s stuffed cat who comes to life when he is alone with Calvin. The creator insists that the live-Hobbes is not a fantastic imagination of Calvin, but is the one with two distinct personalities. He is smarter than Calvin and is mostly more reasonable. His advice is never taken seriously by Calvin who ends up in trouble most of the time. Hobbes can also be seen as the voice of Calvin’s conscience. Hobbes prides over being a tiger when he is with Calvin and therefore he too believes that he is live. Hobbes hates mankind and considers his species superior to humans.
Calvin & Hobbes share a deep relationship of friendship and understanding. They are also often seen fighting and arguing, but this only deepens their friendship.
“Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the Universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” ~ Calvin
Dilbert: “I was holding a virtual meeting using the cloud and…..”
Psychologist: “You’re already dead and you don’t know it.”
Dilbert: “Umm….No, I’m an engineer.”
Psychologist: “And yet your soul had a meeting in a cloud. Interesting.”
Dilbert: “My people call it an Avatar.”
Dilbert is an American comic strip written and drawn by Scott Adams. It can be called the most popular strip as is the most copied, downloaded, faxed and e-mailed comic strip in the world. It has also been adapted to many books and television series. Dilbert has been syndicated since 1989 and currently appears in more than 2000 newspapers worldwide. Scott Adams has been highly appreciated and has received prestigious awards for his work, the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award and Newspaper Comic Strip Award in 1997.
It is mostly a satirical office humor about a white-collar, micro managed office, where Dilbert works as an engineer. Initially, the strip revolved around Dilbert and his pet dog Dogbert at their apartment, his weird and unique inventions and Dogbert’s egotistic ambitions. Later, however, the theme shifted to Dilbert’s office, where satirizing workplace, technology and other work-related issues became the central idea or the main theme. Dilbert portrays the inefficient political atmosphere of the corporate world, where hard work is not appreciated. The ridiculous behavior of the characters due to lack of proper management is source of much entertainment. The subtlety with which the characters mock at the inefficiency of the management, makes this strip much popular.
“On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key.” ~ Dilbert
The Incredible Hulk
Dr. Elaina Marks: “David, try to remember…”
Dr. David Banner: “I, ah, I remember… feeling incredibly strong… it was me… and it wasn’t me.” ~ The Incredible Hulk (1977)
The Incredible Hulk was first seen in May 1962. Hulk is actually the alter ego of Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a physicist by profession and reclusive and introvert by nature. A comic from the Marvel Comics Universe, Hulk has been depicted in live-action TV series, animated series, movies and several video games.
When a gamma bomb explodes while testing, a terrible thing happens to the doctor. He realizes that he has developed an alter ego which appears every time he gets angry or upset. The transformation is mostly not under his control, and Hulk appears. The Hulk creates havoc and destruction as he is a giant-sized green-colored raging monster. Definitely, the character is unique and the creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby claim to have taken inspiration from Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and also partly from Frankenstein.
Originally, the transformation was not under the control of Banner, but was a slave to anger. However, in Incredible Hulk#4, Banner used a gamma machine to transform. Recently, however, change is affected by emotions. Thus, the story re-invents itself and changes with time. Hulk is portrayed as the dark side of Banner’s psyche. However, he is definitely the hero in the eyes of his fans and followers.
Dr. Banner himself says, “The angrier Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!”
The first comic book that appeared on the book stalls was in the year 1933. Initially, they were reprinted famous comic strips, however, as we can see, comic books have come a long way and have become one of the most popular choices for kids of all ages. (read kids and adults!!)
Superman: “I can only tell you what I believe, Diana. Humankind has to be allowed to climb to its own destiny. We can’t carry them there.”
Flash: “But that’s what she’s saying. What’s the point? Why should they need us at all?”
Superman: “To catch them if they fall.”
First seen in Action Comics No. 1, the fictional comic book hero Superman has come a long way. He was created in the year 1932 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Since his first appearance, Superman has appeared in many TV programs, comic strips, radio serials, films and video games.
Superman, born on the planet Krypton and raised by farmer parents in Kansas, is one of the most widely known superheroes of the century. He was the first superhero to have a self-titled comic book dedicated to him, and him alone. The character of Superman has evolved with time. At first, Superman appears to be an angry and aggressive man, ready to beat up outlaws and kill without thinking about the consequences of his actions. He does not have high morals or ideals and can be called reckless. However, with time, he becomes calmer, sober and someone having high morals. As of today, Superman is a kind-hearted, gentle and just superhero, who strictly follows moral codes and is highly righteous.
Apart from all, Superman has been seen suffering from loneliness and he desperately wishes to re-unite with fellow Kryptonians.
“Superman? You’ll never be Superman. Because you have no idea what it means to be Superman. It’s not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest. It’s about what you do… it’s about action.” ~ Superman
The Amazing Spider-man
Harry Osborn: “Peter… you killed my father!”
Spider Man: “There are bigger things happening here than me and you.”
Another amazing fictional character of Marvel Comic universe, Spider-man is a superhero created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He has been featured in several comic books and has been also seen in live-action TV shows, syndicated comic strips and in a very successful movie series.
Peter Parker, the protagonist, is an introvert nerdy teenager, seen as a good-for-nothing lonely young man. He was orphaned and was raised my Aunt May and Uncle Ben. He is bitten by a radioactive spider at a science exhibition and surprisingly acquires powers beyond his comprehension. He realizes that he is not only stronger, but is highly agile, can hang from walls and ceilings and develops a way to fire the adhesive webbing from his wrist. The character transforms into a more responsible crime fighter when he realizes that due to his ignorance and indifference towards an escaping robber, his uncle is killed (the robber kills his uncle while escaping).
Though, Parker is introduced as a weak, anti-social, accident-prone teenager, the character develops and gains maturity with time and becomes emotionally stronger. The plight of Parker was that he was constantly doubted and highly misunderstood by those he was giving up his life to protect, the public.
Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. ~ Spiderman
The Adventures of Tintin
Tintin: “What have you done?”
Captain Haddock: “I lit a wee fire…”
Tintin: “In a BOAT?!” (large explosion) “Well, this is a fine mess!”
The Adventures of Tintin (originally published in French as, “Les Adventures de Tintin“), is a series created by Georges Remi in the year 1929, in a children’s supplement. Tintin has been adopted in more than 50 languages across the globe, and in other forms of media like the radio, television, and films.
The protagonist is a young reporter and adventurer, who travels the world along with his faithful dog, Snowy. Though he is always sent to find a story as an assignment, he ends up getting involved in the adventure. His quick-wittedness and bravery helps him unlock the mystery. He is a very real character, and has sometimes been called neutral. He is also seen as intelligent, inquisitive and highly skilled. Apart from knowing several languages, he is also very good with technology.
Highly appreciated for mature characterization and humor, Tintin will always remain one of the most popular satirical series.
“How’s your thirst for adventure, Captain?” ~ Tintin
Robin: “Boy! That was our closest call ever! I have to admit that I was pretty scared!”
Batman: “I wasn’t scared in the least.”
Robin: “Not at all?”
Batman: “Haven’t you noticed how we always escape the vicious ensnarements of our enemies?”
Robin: “Yeah, because we’re smarter than they are!”
Batman: “I like to think it’s because our hearts are pure.”
A comic book superhero, Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in the year 1939. Though Batman was introduced in the Detective Comics, he soon found himself in a self-named book, due to his popularity. Batman has been adapted into a series of films, television series and video games.
Batman is one of the most admired superheroes due to the fact that his success does not come from super powers but from pure intellect, bravery, knowledge of technology, detective skills, physical strength, strong will and fearlessness. Bruce Wayne (or Batman) is an American Millionaire who witnesses the murder of his parents, and decided to avenge them. His philanthropic heart and a great sense of justice guides him to reach his Batman status. His greatest partner is Robin, and together they are known as the Dynamic Duo. He is also assisted by his Butler Pennyworth, Jim Gordon and Batgirl.
Batman joins hands with other heroes and works alongside them to fight crime, especially with Superman, with whom it is said he shares a close friendship. With time, however, Batman becomes darker and his ways become more cruel. Come what may, Batman would remain one of the most admired superheroes of all times.
“Experience teaches slowly, Robin. And at a cost of many mistakes.” ~ Batman
(Archie in Principal’s room)
Mr. Weatherbee (angrily): “Archie, what’s this I hear about you getting into a fight with another student?”
Archie: “He said some very insulting things!”
Mr. Weatherbee: “It doesn’t matter what he said! It doesn’t justify picking a fight with him! Now I have no choice but to take correct measures!”
Mr. Weatherbee: “WHat did he say anyway?”
Archie: He said,”Mr. Weatherbee is a fathead!”
Mr. Weatherbee (feeding Archie): “Waiter, more food!!” (wink)
Archie Comics is an American comic book about teenagers Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Jughead Jones. These characters were first seen in the year 1941 and were created by John L. Goldwater drawn by Bob Montana. It is said that Montana based his drawings on real people he knew in Massachusetts.
Archie is set in Riverdale, and revolves around Archie, a teenager attending school, Betty, a tomboyish young girl in love with Archie, and Veronica, Betty’s best friend and the person responsible for completing the love triangle between Archie and Betty. Other characters like Jughead (Archie’s best friend) and Reggie (Archie’s rival) also play important parts.
The story mostly talks about Archie and his obsession with “chicks” or girls his age. He is young, he is athletic and is attractive. Though he is accident-prone and clumsy, he is mostly loved by all his friends due to his generosity and helpful nature. He is seen having issues with Veronica’s father and his Principal. Archie is a performer and lead singer of the band “The Archies”. Young readers could relate to the characters instantly and Archie became a huge success. Most of us have read Archie during our growing-up years and can say that it is simply awesome!!
Cartoons are a part of our childhood, our growing-up years, and also our adulthood. Most of us sit beside our kids and enjoy watching and reading the cartoon strips, just the way we used to, when we were kids. These immortal fictional characters rule the hearts of one and all and would continue to do so for years to come. They not only entertain and guide children, but also help keep the child in us, alive. (Here’s my secret: I always had a crush on Superman, and I still do! wink!!)