It’s a world that’s become a kind of internet playground, one where creators can use their own images to create whatever cartoon they want.
And with the advent of new platforms like YouTube, YouTube Kids, and Cartoon Earth, the world of the cartoon has evolved.
But as the world has become more digital, its creators are facing some difficult questions.
How do you tell a story?
How do the characters portray themselves?
How should people relate to one another?
What if someone can’t find the answer to any of those questions?
It’s hard enough to create a cartoon that makes sense, says Lisa Hagen, founder of The Girl Cartooning Group, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing new cartoon characters to life.
“It’s not that you can’t draw anything, it’s just that it’s hard to draw anything you like.”
What makes a good cartoon?
There are a lot of things.
“Some things that are easy to understand, like the characters themselves, or the settings, are easy,” says Hagen.
“But there’s something much harder to understand.
How can we do a story that feels meaningful, interesting, and true to the characters?”
A few decades ago, the easiest way to do a good comic was to use an existing comic.
And it worked.
But today, many creators are finding new ways to create their own material.
For example, cartoonists like Alison Bechdel and Matt Furie are creating more diverse and inclusive cartoon universes.
These creators, like Hagen and the Girl Cartooners Group, aren’t interested in simply using existing comics to create something new.
Rather, they want to make their own stories that they can share on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
They want to explore a wider range of stories that are possible, that feel authentic and resonant.
And that means they’ll need to create more than just cartoons.
They’ll need a cartoon book.
“They need a book of comics to tell their stories,” says Bechdl.
“That book will be the cornerstone for them to build a community around their art.”
There’s a new world of cartooning to explore The Girl Cartoons Group, founded by Hagen in 2015, is one of a few organizations dedicated to this.
“The girl cartoonists are creating their own worlds and stories to tell, and that’s something that we really need to be doing, to build up a community,” says Shelli Rieschke, co-founder and president of The Cartoon Collective.
She says the group is making a name for itself by helping cartoonists, writers, and artists like Alison, Matt, and Frank.
It’s an approach that the group hopes will become more mainstream, with the hope that it will inspire new creators.
“I think it’s a great way to help the girl cartoonist community,” she says.
“If you’re going to be in the cartoon community, you’re probably going to want to be a part of the girl community, and it’s going to benefit you as a person and a writer and artist.
That’s the way to go.”
Hagen says that the Girl Cartooning Group has been able to help connect the community through social media and through educational workshops.
“What we’re doing is creating a platform that is for them, and they’re not going to go out and be a writer, artist, or filmmaker,” she explains.
“You’re going into a platform, and you’re there to learn.”
The GirlCartooning Collective, a non-profit dedicated to helping artists create their comics and comics art, has been active in the creation of comics for the past decade.
And since the group began, it has grown into a sprawling community.
Since 2014, The Girlcartooning Collection has hosted a series of educational workshops, where artists are able to create and share their comics in the hopes of fostering a sense of community.
“We want to give a voice to these kids and to make sure that they are aware that they’re in the community,” Riespke says.
The groups most popular event is the GirlCartoons Worldcon, a gathering of artists and writers in the U.K. It has been held every two years since 2011.
Rieskke and Bechdell, along with other artists like Matt Furiett and Alison Beechdel, are helping to run the event, which was started by The Cartoonists Group.
Riedschke says the Worldcon is a great opportunity for young people to learn how to make comics, but it’s not the only one.
“This is the one event where we’ve really been able have a really diverse mix of artists from all over the world come together to tell a really important story,” she adds.
“And we have been able create a platform for these kids to really be a voice in this community.”
What the world needs for a girl cartoon world The Girl Collective