Luca sits down with a fibre-tip pen and a clipboard of paper. He draws a cartoon face, an expression, a hairstyle, a boy – he draws himself. Lucas adds more and more cartoons, showing a day in his life, both the real things and the dreams…
He remembers playing football in the park with his friends. He imagines what it would be like to fly and draws that too. His flight leads him to the beach. Luca remembers swimming in the sea and flying a kite. He sketches himself drinking milk from a coconut. He imagines throwing the coconut high into the air where it changes into a table-tennis ball. Now he sketches a game of table tennis at school. This reminds him of a ball of paper being thrown around his class, and the teacher catching them out.
Luca weaves events from his daily life into a dreamy sequence. It's as if the cartoons have come alive on the paper, animating his day.
Cartoons are jokey, lively drawings. The lines are simple, with a few details exaggerated. Animated cartoons are drawings that seem to move. Try staring at wallpaper. Can you see faces in the pattern? Optical illusions like this are the simplest kind of moving picture.
Ancient Greek soldiers painted figures around the edges of their shields. When the shields were spun, the figures seemed to move. In the 1820s, Dr John Paris invented the thaumatrope, a disc with a picture on either side. When it was spun, both pictures appeared at the same time. In 1826, the Belgian scientist Joseph Plateau put 16 drawings around the edge of a spinning disc. Each drawing was slightly different. You looked at the disc through a narrow slit and saw a moving picture. Modern film projectors use the same idea, showing thousands of pictures very quickly one after another.
In 1919, Otto Messmer drew the first great animated cartoon character, Felix the Cat. His adventures were shown on cinema screens, but the films were only a few minutes long. In 1938, Walt Disney caused a sensation with a much longer cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Thousands of hand-drawn pictures were needed and it took 3 years to draw them all. Today, computers make it easier to create a sequence of cartoon pictures.
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