The Projective Nature of Cartoons
Ms. Bee Haven
“The cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled… an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel in another realm. We don’t just observe the cartoon, we become it.” - Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, The Invisible Art
What was your favorite cartoon character as a child? Does it match your personality? If the answer is yes, it is due to the projective nature of cartoons. Asking friends and colleagues this question, we noticed something remarkable. In each case, a smile instantly appeared on their faces as they identified their favorite character, often culminating in an epiphany when they realized how much the character matched their personalities.
Classic and beloved cartoons last not only due to their exceptional storytelling, but because we identify with them. Since we can so easily see ourselves in them, comics and cartoons make for a fun and inviting mirror. Their audience may willingly slip into an “experience-taking” state where, as research reveals, they lose themselves in the story and identify with the character until the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions are taken on as if they are their own.
A cartoon simplifies, amplifies and inspires. The cartoon or comic is fundamental, focused, and universal.