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Inkblot Cartoon Style

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Merrie Melodies presents Foxy!

"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.


Examples from the 1930s and earlier:

  • Felix the Cat, created in 1919.
  • The earliest Disney characters are, or at least were, this.
    • The characters in the Newman Laugh O Grams.
    • All the cartoon characters from the Alice Comedies. Julius the cat either looks like a tuxedo cat done in this style or like a blatant Expy of Felix the Cat sans the cheeks.
    • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Fanny, Homer, and Sadie/Ortensia
    • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pete, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Goofy (known as Dippy Dawg back then) are this in their earliest appearances, but have evolved from this, most notably by trading in their white muzzles or faces for peach-toned ones, since the mid to late thirties.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid & Honey, two Informed Species human characters from the earliest cartoons. Even though they look more like dog/cat crosses in Tiny Toon Adventures, they are still drawn in this style.
    • Piggy and Fluffy, Goopy Geer, Foxy and Roxy (blatant Captain Ersatzes of Mickey and Minnie Mouse), Buddy and Cookie (expies of Bosko and Honey, but obviously human), Wilbur the cat, and Beans the cat are done in this style. Beans, who is made in the mid-thirties, is sometimes drawn with a peach-tone muzzle.
    • Foxy and Roxy have been redesigned to look more original for the Tiny Toon Adventures segment, "Two-Tone Town."
    • Goopy's fur is white in his original cartoons, unlike in his Tiny Toon Adventures appearance in which he's black-furred.
    • Many Merrie Melodies in the 1930s (which, unlike Looney Tunes, didn't have a regular cast) are drawn in this style.
  • Betty Boop and Bimbo are both quite rubbery, even though Betty looks a lot more shapely.
  • The Popeye cartoons of The '30s are this, especially with the characters' eyes, the cats in some of the cartoons, and Olive Oyl's Rubber Hose Limbs. The earliest Popeye cartoons also have FunnyAnimals drawn in this style.

Retraux Examples:

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  • 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 be Black Bead Eyes are actually empty eye sockets.
  • Game & Watch from Super Smash Bros.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog, especially his original look.
  • The indie title Cuphead is all about this visually. The animation was even all hand-drawn on cels!
  • The original Pac-Man design was clearly inspired by this style, the more evident part being his fittingly Pac-Man shaped Pie Eyes.
  • Fleish & Cherry in Crazy Hotel takes place at a hotel in a cartoon universe version of The '30s.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine, as the name might imply, takes a lot of inspiration from this time of animation.
  • Timeless River in Kingdom Hearts II is a throwback to the old black and while Mickey Mouse cartoons, style and all. Like other worlds, Sora, Donald and Goofy's appearance change to suit the world, with Donald and Goofy reverting to versions of their earliest designs. Though Goofy is the only one who can actually be described as being in the Inkblot style. Sora's look is more akin to a Tezuka styled anime character, and Donald debuted as the Inkblot style was on the way out.
  • A few Game & Watch characters, such as the player character in Egg (who was actually Mickey Mouse in another version of the same game), are drawn this way.

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    Western Animation 
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: One of the Shroink's flashbacks in "Old Monster" is done in "rubber hose" style.
  • The Futurama Season 6 finale mocks this art style.
  • Toot from Drawn Together.
  • Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner from Animaniacs are this, even though they don't have Rubber Hose Limbs and their eyes look somewhat Animesque.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Ed 'n' Seek", Ed somehow hides inside a television during a game of hide and seek, and appears on a cartoon called "The Glippo Show" drawn in inkblot style.
  • The Simpsons:
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy parodies this in the episode "Hill Billy".
  • In a Cutaway Gag on Family Guy, Peter was waxing nostalgic about him and Brian in the old days; they were drawn in this style for the flashback.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In "The Good Ol' Days", Timmy's Grandpappy Turner comes in to baby-sit him. After bonding with him over their mutual love of old-fashioned cartoons (and old-fashioned cartoon violence), Timmy is inspired to make a wish that causes the whole world to look like this art style for his grandpa.
  • The "Old Timey" universe from Homestar Runner.
  • Dennis the Duck from House of Mouse, who is basically an avian version of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
  • One episode of Spongebob Squarepants featured a scene drawn this way, with Spongebob singing "I'm Ready to go to Work!" during the entire scene.
  • A number of the drawings in ChalkZone are drawn in this style. They've been shown in "Mellow Drama Falls" and "The Label Police" as well as the music video segments "There You Are" and "Time to Go Home".
  • Cat and Dog's shared dream in the CatDog episode "It's a Wonderful Half-Life" is done in this style.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Weirdmageddon", when passing through one of Bill Cipher's "weirdness bubbles," Gideon and Ghost Eyes temporary turn into this. They scream silently, followed by an intertitle that says "AAAAAAAAAUGH!"

Alternative Title(s): Rubber Hose Animation


Example of: