A cartoon is a type of illustration , possibly 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 createscartoons in the first sense is called a cartoonist , and in the second sense they are usually called an 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 , it came to refer – ironically at first – to humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers. In the early 20th century , it began to refer to animatedfilms which resembled print cartoons.