Inkblot Cartoon Style is the cartoon style most prevalent from The Silent Age of Animation. Most historians refer to this as Rubber Hose Animation because characters' arms, legs and pretty much everything else are usually animated as if they were made of rubber tubing and without elbows or knees. In many cartoons in the very late Twenties and early and mid-Thirties, not only does everyone dance to the background music, everything dances to it as well. The style sometimes falls into Accidental Nightmare Fuel territory because of the its tendency toward surrealist humor.
Characteristics of Characters of the Inkblot Cartoon Style:
- Black or, less commonly, grey bodies
- White facial masks or muzzles
- Eyes are often Pie-Eyed and conjoined if it's just their muzzle that is white. Or simply Black Bead Eyes.
- Black noses
- Rubber Hose Limbs
- Four-Fingered Hands
- White Gloves, which make the hands show up more easily.
- White paws, typically both back paws/feet and front paws/hands, if not a human. They have a function very similar to that of White Gloves.
- The main character is often a Captain Ersatz or an Expy of a famous Silent Age cartoon character.
- The main character is often a Cartoon Creature or has an Informed Species.
If this style is used in a cartoon that was made after the 1920s/1930s, it results in Retraux. It often, but not always, goes hand-in-hand with Rubber Hose Limbs, which originated from this style. Often a Mocky Mouse.
Examples from the 1930s and earlier:
- In the Felix the Cat cartoons, the titular Felix, a cartoon cat, has the characteristic ink-black body, white muzzle, and black nose associated with the ink blot style. The cartoons are the Trope Maker for the Rubber Hose Limbs technique and has inspired the style of many cartoons after their debut in 1919.
- Many Merrie Melodies in the 1930s (which, unlike Looney Tunes, didn't have a regular cast) are drawn with black/gray bodies, Pie Eyes, black noses and White Gloves.
- Betty Boop and Bimbo are both quite rubbery with flexible limbs, pie-shaped eyes and Four-Fingered Hands. Bimbo also wears White Gloves.
- The Popeye cartoons of The '30s employ the ink blot style, especially with the characters' Black Bead Eyes and Olive Oyl's flexible Rubber Hose Limbs. The earliest Popeye cartoons also have FunnyAnimals drawn in a simplified style with the Pie Eyes / Black Bead Eyes that the humans have.
- In episode 8 of Little Witch Academia (2017), Sucy's memories are drawn in an old-timey cartoon way◊, with monochrome characters drawn with simplistic shapes, pie eyes, and Rubber Hose Limbs. To drive the Retraux home, they are framed with film reel borders, and are overall a lot less complex than the series' normal art style.
- Kaiju Girl Caramelise: When Kuroe and Arata go on a date to Destinyland, the theme park's mascot, Mitchy, is portrayed as a rabbit-like animal with a predominantly black body, white face/muzzle, Black Bead Eyes, White Gloves, and vaguely 1930s clothes — basically Mickey as a rabbit. Rinko commandeers a Mitchy costume to spy on their date.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) #257's Off Panel strip imagines the Sonic cast as if they were in old cartoons when Sonic refers to "the classics", most likely due to the old cartoon style's influence on Sonic's design. Everyone has round bodies, Rubber Hose Limbs, and Pie Eyes, and Sonic, Amy, and Knuckles are given black fur. Amy is The Flapper and Knuckles is a hobo as regards to the 1920s-30s. Plus, everything is black-and-white! The penciller of this strip, Jonathan H. Gray, posted art of more of the Archie Sonic cast designed in this style.
- Inspired by the Inkblot Cartoon Style influence on Sonic the Hedgehog, these line of fan mockups envision an Alternate History in which the Sonic the Hedgehog canon started in the The Silent Age of Animation era. Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Eggman first start as cartoon characters with the Inkblot style, with pudgy bodies, pie eyes, and 1920s-esque accessories, though they didn't have more black shapes and pronounced eyes until the 1930s. Even their simple initial names (Sonic having name "Hasty Hedgehog" at first), personalities, and roles within the cartoons fit the Inkblot aesthetic.
- The Tulsey Town commercial seen in I'm Thinking of Ending Things is a Retraux cartoon akin to the Golden Age of Animation, with a Betty Boop-esque fairy queen singing about Tulsey Town and followed by little children drawn in inkblot style pie eyes, white-gloved four-fingered hands, and rubber hose limbs.
- Peacock from Skullgirls watched cartoons from this era when younger, so her character design, unlike the Animesque style of the rest of the cast, is inspired from this style. Paying close attention will reveal that what appear to Black Bead Eyes are actually empty eye sockets. Her design also has attributes of the art style like a cartoonish mouth, and Rubber Hose Limbs, as well as several vintage trappings, such as top hats, petticoats, and White Gloves, evoking the era where inkblot cartoons were in vogue.
- In the Classic days, Sonic the Hedgehog's designs of the Funny Animals and Doctor Eggman were influenced by funny animal characters from this era, such as Mickey Mouse, with rounded heads and bodies, White Gloves, Rubber Hose Limbs, sausage-shaped muzzles, black noses, Conjoined Eyes of hedgehogs, and the Informed Species style. The Modern designs still have some influence, yet have a more anime-oriented style.
- The indie title Cuphead. Its visuals and overall art style are a homage to old cartoons by Fleischer Studios and its contemporaries, and features characters drawn with wide eyes and mouths, round features, simple outfits, and white gloves. In motion, they all have Rubber Hose Limbs and uses Briffits and Squeans. Several characters visually evoke characters from that era, such as Werner Werman looking very similar to Mortimer Mouse; some reference animation figures from that era, like Kahl being named for Milt Kahl. The animation was even all hand-drawn on cels!
- In The Grossery Gang webseries, a flashback to Stinky's youth (hinted to be in the 1930s, as he's an elder in the current day) is given a redesign meant to evoke the inkblot style; the color scheme turns black and white, the pinpoint pupils of the original characters are replaced with Pie Eyes, and all characters are given inexplicable White Gloves.
- The first segment of the Futurama Season 6 finale "Colorama" is animated as an old cartoon from the 1920s and 1930s, specifically revealed in marketing to be those done by Fleischer Studios. The entire thing is in monochrome, and the characters are redesigned to have Rubber Hose Limbs, pie eyes, rounder features, and white Mickey Mouse-style gloves. Jazz music from the 1920s was also licensed for use in this segment.
- Toot from Drawn Together is a Captain Ersatz of famed inkblot character Betty Boop. She is Deliberately Monochrome in a colorful world of Genre Refugees, has a large head and big dot eyes, and dresses like someone from the early 20th century.
- The Warner siblings from Animaniacs are an obvious parody hitting all the aforementioned marks: they're ill-defined Cartoon Creatures likened to "puppy dogs" with their paws, ears, and tails, White Gloves, black bodies, beady eyes (with a notable shine), and (small) muzzles. In-universe, their design isn't a Retraux: they were actually created during The Golden Age of Animation, but were too screwy too be contained and were hidden away until the '90s, at which point, their designs would look humorously old-fashioned.