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Inkblot Cartoon Style
aka: Rubberhose Animation

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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
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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.


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Examples from the 1930s and earlier:


Retraux Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Video Games 
  • 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!

    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.

Alternative Title(s): Rubber Hose Animation

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