Are Stylized Caricatures Real Caricatures?

May 20th, 2011 | Posted in General

After my post on Wednesday about how the accurate drawing of features does not necessarily create the only path to a caricature’s “recognizability”, I received an interesting email from my friend and superstar cartoonist Rick Kirkman, artist of the widely syndicated comic strip Baby Blues. Rick mentioned how he sometimes does a type of caricature with his strip and its animated TV version, where he has to “Baby Blues-ize” famous people…and I’ve seen him do it for soldiers on the USO trips we’ve taken. He also mentioned how this is frequently done on The Simpsons, Futurama and other animated shows. Another friend, Pearls Before Swine creator Stephen Pastis, does a similar thing with a self-caricature in his strip.

The trick to this, as Rick points out, is to stay true to the character design so the caricature looks like it belongs in that cartoon’s universe. A tough thing to pull off sometimes, and one that definitely requires the use of elements other than the facial features to create recognizability.

The above “caricature” of me was done a few years ago using the “Simpsonize Me!” website that promoted the Simpson’s movie. That website is now closed down, but I did the above with a little bit of customizing back then.


  1. Daniel Barcroft says:

    Super interesting topic. In my own mind, caricature is a practice rather than a style. For me, to whatever extent visual artwork is abstracting a subject’s features (visual or potentially otherwise) to create a stylized likeness, it’s caricature.

    I say that to add another example to the conversation: A lot of times Sesame Street will build puppet versions of celebrities for song parodies or skits they write. Even though it’s not even traditional drawing or painting, could that be considered caricature?

    Not trying to give an “answer,” just add more fuel to the thought process. Thanks for the consistently excellent content, Tom!

  2. Sagan Lacy says:

    To caricature something does not always mean to create a portrait; the term can be used in a broader sense as a verb to be applied to almost anything. So I assert that a caricature does not even necessarily need to be a person. Sometimes a personality or a gesture is a caricature. Sometimes a building is, etc.

  3. willva says:

    =) yes very interesting topic indeed. Hats of to the skill full men and women who caricature people under the strict rules of an already established show and style.
    How about doing a reverse tom? bart simpson in your caricature style =)

    Reminds me of the series of real simpsons characters people have created =)

  4. isabella says:

    i am fan of you and i love yours cartoons………..


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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