Some more talk on whether the term “webcomics” should be used in polite society

Over at, comic-talking-guy Sean Kleefeld gives his two cents on whether or not “webcomics” should still be used as a term. I’ve discussed the topic a couple of times on this site, but Mr. Kleefeld goes that extra mile and discusses the taxonomy of everything comics. Like… why do we call cartoons “cartoons”?

“Cartoon” is the earliest of terms that we’ll look at. Originally, it referred to a heavy paper or pasteboard on which the original sketches for a painting or tapestry were made. It has the same root as the word “carton” also referring to the heavy, but cheap, material. The magazine Punch used the term in some of their comics (though not called “comics” at the time!) in the 1840s when parodying the “high art” being used in British Parliament at the time. The illustrations became popularly known as “Mr. Punch’s Cartoons” which was eventually simplified to “cartoons” and then broadened in meaning to any comedic single panel illustration.

See? That’s why he’s Kleefeld on Comics, and I’m not. Besides not having the surname “Kleefeld.” In the end, he comes out on the side of the usage of the term “to be needed to differentiate among the different types of comics that are still widely available”. Though maybe, just maybe some glorious day when there are no “comics” or “webcomics” … ’til all are one.


Posted on April 6, 2012, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. He’d be interested in Scott McCloud’s books (haven’t read the piece). McCloud uses “cartoon” to refer to an art style as opposed to a medium.

  2. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I believe I might never understand. It seems too complicated and very vast for me. I am taking a look forward to your subsequent post, Ill try to get the hang of it!

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