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Inkblot Cartoon Style

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Ah, "the classics."
"Mickey had to be simple. We had to push out seven hundred feet of film every two weeks. His head was a circle with an oblong circle for a snout. The ears were also circles so they could be drawn the same, no matter how he turned his head. His body was like a pear, and he had a long tail. His legs were pipestems, and we stuck them in large shoes to give him the look of a kid wearing his father's shoes. We didn't want him to have mouse hands, because he was supposed to be more human. So we gave him gloves. Five fingers seemed like too much on such a little figure, so we took away one. There was just one less finger to animate. To provide a little detail, we gave him the two-button pants. There was no mouse hair, or any other frills that would slow down animation."
Walt Disney describing the design of Mickey Mouse

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:

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:

Retraux Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

    Film — Live Action 
  • 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.

    Music Videos 

    Video Games 
  • 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!
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine is a First Person puzzle horror game about a demonic machine turning people into these types of characters. The titular Bendy is based on Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat. The animation is done in black and sepia tones as if the entire environment had been hand-drawn.
  • Pizzahead from Pizza Tower appears to have come from a 30's era cartoon, which greatly contrasts with the rest of the game and character design mimicking 90's cartoons with hyper expressive Wild Takes and demented plot.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • Helluva Boss: While undergoing a nasty Mushroom Samba during Truth Seekers, Blitzo sees a vision of Fizzarolli drawn as a Pie-Eyed inkblot cartoon. Notably, of all the people Blitzo has visions of, Fizzarolli is the only one drawn in this style, perhaps hinting that their friendship imploded a long time before Blitzo's relations with Striker, Verosika, Moxxie and Stolas unfolded.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 to be contained and were hidden away until the '90s, at which point, their designs would look humorously old-fashioned.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rubber Hose Animation



Cuphead: Don't Deal with the Devil is a Run-and-Gun game developed by Studio MDHR for Xbox One, Windows PC, Steam,, Macintosh, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4.

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Main / InkblotCartoonStyle

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