home  Taiwan  TW  OP  democracy  tour  medical  restaurants  night-markets  love  personality  women  speech  mental-control  privacy  fraud  judiciary  police  corruption  net-army  univ  foreign-labor  death penalty  prosecutors  soft power  diplomacy  pres.  president  brief  happiness  housing  prostitutes  massage  supermarket  transport  avia.  cult-creativity  human-rights   intl-Human rights  judicial-persecution  oppression  trans-justice  larceny  military  drugs  food  buffet  wealth  image  culture  US-cartoons  US-designs  Japan-comics  Chn-creativity  EXPO  cartoons-WWII  humor  political-cartoons  CovID  migrant  fb  music  movies      Is 'cannibalism' legal in a 'cannibal'-led country ?

"Cartooning, Creativity"
"cartooning & humor "

       this site's world No. 1 in  2020~24,  2017~19,  2016 2015,  2014,  2013 2010~12        
   Top rankings since 1998       

a seminar paper "cultural creativity in cartoons, cartoons in cultural creativity
by Zola Zu in Yu Da University, Taiwan,

Taiwan President, Federation of Cartoonist Organisations  ,  Taiwan vice president & member of advisory board,
Asia- Pacific Animation & Comics Association


fights for rights




for precise meaning pls read traditional Chinese version



pic.: "Cartooning, creativity" ranks
No.1 on US Bing, 2024-1-1, 2023-11-11, 2023-8-8, 2023-1-24, 2023-1-1, 2022-12-31, 2022-12-25, 2022-12-18






pic.: "Cartooning, humor" ranks
No.1 on US Bing, 2024-1-1, 2023-11-11, 2023-8-8, 2023-5-1, 2023-1-24, 2023-1-1, 2022-12-30, 2022-12-24, 2022-12-18



pic.: No.1 "Cartooning humor" on Yandex of Russia, 2024-1-1, 2023-8-8, 2023-5-1, 2023-4-8; No.2 at 2023-11-11


 No.1 "Cartooning creativity" on Yandex of Russia, 2024-1-1, 2023-5-1, 2023-4-8; No.2 at 2023-11-11; No.1 "cartooning humor" on Swisscows of Switzerland, 2023-8-8, 2023-6-22


pic.: "cultural creativity in cartoons" ranks No.1 on Yandex Russia, 2023-5-1, 2023-1-24, 2022-12-31, 2022-12-16 ;  "cartoons and cultural creativity" ranksNo.1on Yandex Russia,2022-12-31;  "cartoon cultural creativity" ranks No.1 on US Bing and Yahoo Taiwan, 2022-12-9; 




No.1 "cartooning humor" on AOL, 2013-1-2;  No.1 "cartooning humor" on US Google, 2012-11-12



 pic.: No.1 "Cartooning cultural creativity" on US Google, 2023-5-1, 2023-1-24; "Cartooning and cultural creativity" ranks No.2 on US Google, 2023-1-24, 2022-12-31

 "cartoon & cultural creativity" (Chinese version) ranks No.1 on US Google, 2022-12-8
 "文化創意  漫畫" 排名US Google 第一 , 2023-5-1, 2023-1-24, 2023-1-1, 2022-12-8,  2021-11-4 ;  " 漫畫 文化創意 " 排名US Google 第一 , 2023-5-1, 2023-1-1, 2022-12-8 



1, Cartooning, yesterday & tomorrow                                                 

Many fine-art masters in ancient China as well as in Western world drew "cartoons".   Cartoon's features, such as irony, humor, exaggeration, wits have existed in art works by Miro, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Topffer, Mogarth, Goya, da Vinci......,  comparatively speaking, cartooning focuses on the content (wits, intellectual creativity), instead of the surface (appearance, drawing skill), so that it's easier for viewers to think, understand, move, laugh, and even get mad.  Today's cartoons are much more witty and  intellectual, Picasso probably won't be selected if participating in today's  international cartoon contest !? ( To express anger, Picasso drew a picture that a senator is digging his nostrils and scratching feet by his fingers, this idea is not up to an entry-level of satiric cartoon.)

It should be a broader space for modern cartooning to help Taiwan's cultural & creative industry, as well as Taiwanese soft power (US professor Dr. Joseph Nye suggested Taiwan to increase its "soft power" if it is to stand on the international stage (BBC 2010)).    Japan already started its " cartooning & animation diplomacy" to shift national image from "manufacturing Japan" to "cultural Japan",  and hope world people, particularly young generation, regard the term "Japan" as  "bright", "warm", "beautiful", and "cool", some cartoon mascots, like Hello Kitty, already became Japan's cultural ambassadors .   Taiwan's 2 other major opponents in Asia, China and Korea,  already spent lots of money on their cartooning and animation industries.   CTV evening news (5.3.2011) reported China has been developing this industry "in full speed", about 447 colleges offer cartoon related major, a lecture in Beijing University by APACA & AYACC leader stated that the whole industries worth more than USD 4,000 billion, so that every country is striving for it ......      

2.   Taiwan  &  cultural and creative industry

At present, Taiwanese government treats the cultural & creative industry as a best-love child, and declares this policy very loudly ― but, there's still a long long way to go.


 Mainland China has completed 17  cartoon/animation bases (<China Times>, 12.19.2009),  but Taiwan has none.

China's media just criticized China's creativity as "slow" , the primary problem of Taiwan is about the same, weak creativityTaiwan has not provided with a good environment for creators although Taiwan's cultural leader said the cartoon/animation industry is very influential and is Taiwan's major soft power.

Recently Taiwanese won a few times in int'l contests, their works are no longer trying to win by exotic flavor or obscure codes as many Taiwanese artists did before (that's the main reason Taiwan's film industry died), instead, by real beef.  However :

1. Taiwan's latest winners "lighthouse" and "swing" touch many people's heart, by using relatives death, illness ... but till now Taiwan is still short of one thing :   sharp witty ideas and completely free & exceptional imagination  ―   Taiwanese should learn from 2 best examples, Polish <Fallen Art> and Canadian <Special delivery>, which won grand awards in Siggraph and Oscar respectively.

The <National Palace Museum> made some ads films that are not bad, but not very clever, as for the big film <Adventures of NPM> which's directed by American and French artists and used special effects by the latest computer tech.,  eventually won grand prize of 2008 Tokyo International Anim. Fair, unfortunately it is kind of kids' stuff (the film was shown in NPM children center when I was there), not really for modern adults. 

 2. So far the only one Taiwanese animation film that dare to apply humor & satire (this is Western world's strong point, but Chinese weakness) and won a big award in Siggraph is <Cubic Tragedy> , however, this Picasso inspired idea is quite similar to classic cartoons and an animated ad. <MTV art breaks> of UK.

A paper from National Taiwan Yunlin University of Technology praised this animation work that output by National Taiwan University of Tech. that (1)  Picasso inspired creativity (2) an unexpected , satiric and alternative idea.  This paper's comment is not quite right, I would like to believe <Cubic Tragedy>  authors are witty enough, but they probably need to read more classic cartoons to avoid similar thinking.


Cartoons/ comics can be divided into three categories.

 (1) single-panel cartoons (gag cartoons, caricature):

Although Taiwan has only a few world class cartoonists, but almost all of those Taiwanese cartoons to participate in Knokke Heist Cartoon Festival ( ROC on Taiwan as "Theme country", and in <Taiwan International Cartoon Contest> sponsored  by Taiwanese government are, average speaking, not world class ideas (or just newcomers  ideas, but drawing skills are not bad). 

<People's Daily > of Mainland China  once referred to my saying before , "Taiwan's cartoons are just 'selected' level in the international contests", in fact, I mean it's generally speaking,  Taiwan still has outstanding ones, better than some awarded cartoons.  

Cartoon contest is also a subject of college papers, a paper by China's best college (大陸社會科學院的一篇"試論人民日報漫畫增刊―<諷刺與幽默>") criticized that communist Chinese cartoonists sent some porn cartoons to int'l contests for money or for Western people's flavours, but really harm China's national image.  In my view, Chinese cribs or scare to criticize dark sides of china i seven worse than that.  As for Taiwan's scholarly papers, they only mentioned contests sponsored by Taiwanese government, not dare to or have not referred to < Courage World Cartoon contest> that includes better int'l cartoons, and reported by Asian best awarded newspaper (<the straits times>, Singapore) , some Taiwan's scholarly articles praised Japanese Yomiuri contest as "highest level", but it's not right comment, Yomiuri offered "highest amount of money prizes", but gave awards to wrong cartoonists again and again although their team is very large.


pic. a work both Caricature and cartoon by Italian artist Achille Superbi to join <Courage World Cartoon Contest> in Taiwan.

(2) Editorial/political cartoons

Cartoons are the landmark of a nation's democracy & freedom of speech. Each cartoon is like a  political commentary,  the size is just about a dagger, but is more sharp and efficient.  In Russia, the leader Putin's image is not allowed to be in political cartoons (4.30.2008 <Independent>, UK), In the US,  <Harvard University> Nieman Report (2004) mentioned political cartoons played a distinctive role in terminating president R. Nixon.  Once former president R. Reagan held a cartoon expo. in the White House backyard, all cartoonists invited came and found those heads in their works were replaced by their own.   In the Internet Age, newspaper political cartoons are also inevitable in a difficult situation.    

Temple U. professor Dr. J lent pointed out that the line between editorial cartoons and 4-panel cartoons is blurred, so sometimes  <Pulitzer Prize> awards went to Doonesbury and Bloom Country.   It's same in some other countries such as  South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan,  many political cartoons in <the Liberty Times> of Taiwan are 4 panel cartoons.

Pic.: Russian top cartoonist Mikhail M Zlatkovsky criticized in UK's news that image of Russia's leader  is not allowed to be shown in cartoons, the pic. above is one among many his cartoons to join <Courage World Cartoon Contest>.  http://Courageworld.ch/V-satire-eu2.htm

 (3) Comic strips : 4 panel cartoons and long-story "manga" comic strips    A peper in National ChengChi University uses "cartoon" or "comics" (you don't know which one because there's no English translation as usual do) as the theme, but only discusses Manga (long story ) comic strips.   The best-known Taiwanese 4 panel cartoonists are Ju (Zhu D.Y.) and Tsai.  Communist China has shown respects in public to cartoonists, e.g., Hangzhou City spends USD 40000000(NT1.3 billion) to build a Zhu DY Museum, and sold Zhu's one piece of cartoon by about USD70000 in an auction, which is higher than China's landmark cartoonist Fon (豐子愷), and Hua (華君武), Yi (葉淺予).

 In contrast, Taiwan rejected French Angouleme Comic festival's invitation as "theme country" expo. by using the reason that Taiwan's manga comic strip is not good enough, this led to many discussion/controversies in local media, therefore soon after, Taiwanese government changed their mind.


When Taiwan's film industry was going to die, there' re 2 movies <Cape No.7> and <艋舺> regained Taiwanese popularity, but int'l views are quite different from most essays in Taiwanese media.  <Golden Globe> commented that it's not a very artistic movie, the bravest newspaper <新京報> in mainland China criticized it as "all plots lack original ideas."

 <Cape no.7> is positioned by foreign media as a comedy, and attracted Taiwanese people by its local elements,  most jokes maybe bit funny, but not clever, unexpected and imaginative .

World famous director Ang Lee analogs <cape no.7> with Hong Kong film <genius and idiot>(天才與白痴), but the latter one is full of humorous dialogue (or used the existed  formula/cliche ) so as to attract Japanese people at that time.

Art catagory

 Cost per person per year
movie about USD15
 drama  about USD3
dancing show    about USD2

 Table:  Prior to <Cape no7>, a statistics about how much Taiwanese spent on enjoying arts.


Product Design

 (1) Taiwanese most popular product design :

Recently, Taiwan's best-selling & widely known product , "Chinese Fortune(or Rich) God figure toy", is based on Taiwanese superstition (Apple Daily 5.29.2005: 88%of college students believe ghost ), and eagerness for money.

Taiwan's figure-toy design just simplified Chinese Gods' complicated appearance to little cute mascot, in contrast, int'l designs for gods are more witty, e.g.,

☉ Europe, Belgium rug Co.     installed a special compass in each product, its needle points to Islam's holy land  - Mecca, instead of pointing South/North.
☉ Japan      made a watch converting 114 world major cities' time to Islam holy land's (Mecca) time, with time-alarm function for Muslims' prayer.


( 2 )  Best-selling cultural products for int'l tourists

A design Journal stated that NPM's rich cultural resource  is the key  to enhance/elevate  the economic value of Taiwan's cultural and creative industries, but <NPM> seems to look down upon Taiwanese talents on design.

<NPM>   product

my comments

Alessi "the Chin Family" (1) <NPM> cooperates with Japan, Italy, hence, NPM's products are not purely Taiwanese or Chinese flavor.
(2)  Mr. Chin got slant eye (or "raising eyebrows"), it's a western view-point, the Oriental usually don't draw that way.
NPM's latest mascot "Mr. Chin" designed by Italian Alessi led to a controversy in Taiwan for its slanted & small eye.   

Cartoons often exaggerate or distort features, but looks more likely than camera-photos. 

"Survival of the Prettiest - The Science of Beauty" by  Harvard University professor mentions Western people favor baby's large eyes, and the aesthetic standard of different cultures is about same.   But I think smart, free-minded, and great personality are more important than an ordinary or ugly face.   We need great creativity.


Taiwan's tourists guidebook (pic. above)   
calls 5000 yrs treasures
  "Chinese Creativity" .

How about "Chinese Creativity" in today's Taiwan ?

"Jadeite Cabbage" tray-pillow for
 chop-sticks to rest on

(1) according to academic paper <故宮文化創意商品之符號研究> , National Kaohsiung Normal University, 2007, <多媒體動畫在文化產品上的探討與應用> appendix 115-169 pages , almost all product-examples directly or simply used/applied those treasures' graphic forms or shapes.  
(2) At least 20 years ago, various assorted dedicated vegetables and fruits  glass chopsticks tray-pillow already were made-in-Japan (best-sellers too) .

Don Dynasty ladies picture slippers

 just directly applied antique pictures on products.

<NPM> should apply Chinese treasures, to design sharp witty, style humorous artworks  to represent Taiwan's modern arts.   Western tourists suppose like to buy souvenir with Chinese culture & flavor created by ourselves.    "Mercenaries" cannot represent Taiwan to cultural Olympics.



slippers, mugs, etc with Don Dynasty Ladies Picture

Zola Zu's design :

(1) expo. in Europe like Holland, Turkey, and was printed in best-collection albums.
(2) printed in <the China Times>.

 directly use antique pictures(or simplify a little bit)

I choose the theme : When the East encounters the West,  Fine arts meets Cartooning, to integrate 2 major cultures.  



ps: "tech. oriented" product design like <idea> contest, <if> contest is not discussed in here

(3) university theses

The first case study of the paper <The Kuso design> (Shih Chien University) is a suspect copy work of <Singapore Cancer Society>'s lung shaped ash tray, many Taiwan's academic papers (national universities and major private universities) selected many suspected works as examples.   In addition, the definition of "Kuso" is too broad, both style witty ideas and ordinary slapstick ideas are counted as "Kuso".

★  Advertising

Taiwan's ads creativity has been weak for a long run, and nearly at bottom in Asia for about 10 years.



 Taiwan's most important political advertisements


"UN for Taiwan (Taiwan participating in the UN)" ads campaign:


national university's and government's official views

 My reviews

 2007 Taiwan government reviews:

 "Unlimited creativity !"

those ads lack creativity !

in addition to efficiency, should we also pay attention to brand personality ?

the scholarly book < 打造 台灣 品牌 > ("building Taiwan brand") by a well-known professor of National Chengchi University

  These ads. puns "very creative and clever !"

For example, "UN Happy" ads in 2005 is about same as "UNhappy birthday" idea in <Economist> (1995, the United Nations 50th birthday), to deliver the message that the UN received more condolences than congratulations.

One more example, a whale in a glass ("End political apartheid" ads) is not original, HSBC and UUnet have similar ones before, creativity should be no boundary & endless, to express  "isolation" or "apartheid" , there're a lot of good ideas appeared before,  for example, many political cartoons printed in 1985 for bloody protests against apartheid in South Africa.


 Taiwan's business advertisements

 As for Taiwan's commercial advertising, till 2008, although Taiwan occasionally was selected in international contests, but they are too simple  (e.g., playing a funny face ―   stick tongue for a drop of water on his nose ), or applying old formulas ( unsafe sex, a metaphor of making love with an insect  ), etc ,all expose Taiwanese imagination is not totally free.  Scholarly papers show many Taiwanese professors are not familiar with classical ideas.

Over the past a few years, the Asian advertisements have outstanding achievements in Cannes Ads Festival (see details below), even always weak China 1st time won a golden award right before Beijing Olympics in 2008 (1st time ad. trade body official visited Cannes), Taiwan is almost at the bottom.

Table 1 shows Cannes Lions totals for selected Asian nations over the last five years.






















泰國 (Thailand )







大馬 (Malaysia)







菲 (The Philippines )







港(Hong Kong)














印尼 (Indonesia)







越南 (Vietnam )







Table 2 shows Cannes Lions totals for selected Asian nations over the last ten years. 


 total (1999 – 2008)










Hong Kong    


The Philippines   









:  http://canneslionsarchive.com Note: The latest details please visit the official website http://canneslionsarchive.com .


UK <Sun> (2008) pointed out that the cartoon character "SpongeBob SquarePants" earned NT $ 228 billion from related business like underwear within 10 years..., becoming the most profitable "underwear star", more than Armani underwear star, Beckham, with NT $ 7.5 billion in assets.

Cartoon mascot is important in modern CIS system,  comics can make younger those aged business, not only young generation like cartoons, but also people aged 40-50 like nostalgic cartoons, such as 60-year-old Astro Boy to remind them of their joyful childhood, and to express the courage to cross ages.  According to the survey (United Daily 2009. 3. 12), 58% of snacks in 7-11 kind of chain-stores use cartoon characters in package design or as gifts to attract children to buy, more than half of children find it difficult to resist temptation.

Unfortunately, most of Taiwan's Chain Stores, banks used imported cartoon characters,  such as Japanese Astro Boy, Hello Kitty, Chibi Maruko, etc., rather than Taiwanese made comics.

 Graphic Design

<Advertising Principles, Choice, Challenge, Change> (Bruce G. Vanden Bergh & Helen Katz) and ads. design book by Roy Paul Nelson, indicate the 1st principle of logo design should be : the originality.

However, many Taiwan's logos for enterprises, even for the government, for President, or for major universities, ......  also appears to be mere copycat.

(1) Nation-level logo : logo for Taiwan's participation in the United Nations is not fresh !The images by graphic fusion or substitution - "earth" and "baseball" already     have a lot before, e.g., Japan's sculture, or US editorial cartoons in 1990 World Series which was interrupted by the earthquake, etc. 

(2) Top university logo :

Korea Seoul logo.

Official definition is " A man in merry mood ", but it certainly can be extended for "the beautiful river, sun, and mountains" to attract international tourists, or a  picture of TaeKwonDo Kick , South Korean national sports.

 Logo by one of the best universities in Taiwan, Chung Cheng University.

this one appeared later.


(3) the government logo:  

 well-known logo in western world, good aesthetics

Another "R" logo for Taiwan's governmental enterprise







Pic. left is the logo of Taiwan government, since 11-9-1993, next 3 are logo of Canadian Pacific Rail, since 1968.

In addition to cheap-copy suspect, Taiwan's official document states their logo "easy to identify and associate with Taiwan's brand ... a simple shape and modernized & internationalized, aesthetic design " ; but, exactly on the contrary, it's neither modernized, nor as aesthetical simple as CPR's logo... 

Taiwan's college paper and tourism leader both advised : “culture is absolute an added-value & critical element in Taiwan Tourism industry”.  TVBS (7-14-2015, 9-15-2015) : scholars and official advised Taiwanese cultural creativity cooperating with tourism, and  enhancing soft power to save Taiwan tourism.



 Visual "arts'

(1) form vs content

While visiting the National Palace Museum, we are proud of elegant, refined, luxurious ancient Chinese heritages, but we hardly found humorous master pieces there, probably only jade cabbage(翡翠白菜), streaky pork stone (五花豬肉石頭) are bit interesting, as for satire (another major character of cartoon),  we can found a few good paintings, e.g.,

Qi (齊白石)has painted a <never-fall tumbler> (不倒翁) symbolizing Chinese rotten officials who will never be caught.
Huang Shen (黃慎) painted <Money talks> (有錢能使鬼推磨)cartoon.
In 1690, Ba Da San Len (八大山人) painted a <Peacock> (孔雀圖), which uses peacock's 3 tail-feathers to metaphor Chin Dynasty high-ranking officials' hat, they all look ugly and do nothing but stand in an unstable rock waiting for the king's coming.

Taiwan's scholarly articles in recent years discussing art-cartoon topics only selected some 'arts' applying comics surface images, instead of cartoon's sharp witty ideas.  e.g., Taiwan Normal University's paper <漫畫式圖像在視覺藝術表現上的創作> (2008) , and National Kaohsiung Normal University's <台灣義藝術作品中的漫畫圖像表現> (2007).  Some of their example is similar to idea of Cannes awarded works, some talks about graffiti serving a challenge and criticism on the authority in power, but in fact graffiti functions much weaker than cartooning can do, cartoons already pushed US former president to step down, and triggered a global crisis, etc.

(2) cartoon in 'arts' vs. 'arts' in cartoon

Taiwan's mainstream media introduced a very expensive visual art drawn by red Chinese Pop movement artist, the image, a fighter drops countless human-body as bombs, that is similar to some best Western political cartoons published many years ago, such as human beings as bullets ...  I personally have not seen enough visual arts as sharp witty as cartoons.

In contrast, cartoons usually combine fine arts' surface and cartoons' wits, e.g., visual parody, which is a major way for visual persuasion.

This doesn't mean cartoon drawings don't have artistic value, Japanese cartoonist (Takakashi Murakami) 村上隆's colorful & interesting cartoon characters were exhibited in the Palace of Versailles in France in 2010.  

3.   Cartooning - humor - creativity

In the US, cartoon books are displayed in "Humor" category.   Past research has found a significant positive correlation between humor and creativity (Edgar & Pryor, 2003; Sun 2000; Ziv 1976, 1983; Chen, 2004, Hsueh-chih Chen, Shu-ling Cho, Hwei-der Lai, 2005:  「幽默」的創造與理解過程,所使用的「出乎預期」、「跳脫固著的優勢基模」、「重新轉換舊有基模」、等歷程幾乎就是產生 「創意」的重要技巧 (師大&政大  陳學志, 卓淑玲, 賴惠德; <應用心理研究> 二六期 ,2005)

Cartooning is not just "humor", its witty creativity goes cross boundaries of cultures, religions, languages, and national borders ...... Cartooning thinking can be used in ads., movies, animation, illustrations, print designs, etc.

For instance, Olympics ceremony is world most popular cultural & creative event, e.g., a fighter (plane) passed by the torch platform and "fan out" (extinguished) Olympic flames in Sydney 2000 was a cartoon,  a paper boat in 2004 Athens Olympics is a cartoon idea, a funny weight-lifting in London's propagandistic application film for holding 2012 Olympics is a cartoon, even shooting an arrow to ignite Olympic fire in Barcelona needs to apply cartooning sharp-wits......

In graphic design field, the Reebok ad in China's most famous & influential book on Creativity by professor Wang G. is all the same as a British cartoon, "Speed Kills" (religion's "cross" on the road) in New york Festival was a cartoon idea, my toilet cartoon published in the China Times, Taiwan's leading newspaper at that time, is similar to a best-collection art-work in <graphis> years later......

Zola Zu's illustration for <the China Times> is similar to a best-collection artwork in <Graphis> appeared  years later

4, Definition of Cartooning, humor

(1) The definition of cartoon



  comic strip

Encyclopedia Britannica

originally, and still, a full-size sketch or drawing used as a pattern for a tapestry, painting, mosaic , or other graphic art form, but also, since the early 1840s, a pictorial parody utilizing caricature, satire, and usually humour. Cartoons are used today primarily for conveying political commentary and editorial opinion in newspapers and for social comedy and visual wit in magazines.


Series of drawings that read as a narrative, arranged together on the page of a newspaper, magazine, or book.

 (2).  The definition of humour



 the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement.


5,  psychological theories of humor  

   (1)  Cognitive theory
         (a) incongruity theory : e.g., a very big dog and a tiny dog stand together (Beard, 2008).
         (b) incongruity & resolution theory :

  For example, a guy made spring-shaped hair style  (
incongruity ), the unexpected reason is to participate in succor game  (  resolution ).

    (2)  psychoanalytic theory:   arousal-safety -  e.g., release some pressures by sexual, attacking(aggressive) contents ... 

    (3) Superiority theory, disparagement humour

          For example, a film U.S. President George W. Bush's digging his nostrils by ugly ways was placed on Youtube.com, and a big cake was thrown to people's face in Yahoo ad., these cause viewers' sudden glory and mock those 2  "unlucky" people.

    (4) Other important Western theories of humor as below  (<Humor theories, mechanisms and typologies>, Fred Beard phD., Univ. Oklahoma, 2008)

Typologies Incongruity/ Incongruity-Resolution Arousal-Safety Disparagement
Speck Speck comic wit, resonant wit, full comedy, satire resonant wit, full comedy satire, full comedy
Goldstein and McGhee nonsense sexual aggressive
Freud nontendencious wit tendencious wit tendencious wit 
 Kelly and Soloman pun, understatement, joke, something  ludicrousness, irony pun, satire
McCullough and Taylor nonsense, pun, humor , nonsense , pun , humor   sexual, warm humor aggressive
Cho negativity, subtle, complexity, perceptual interest negativity, subtle , complexity, perceptual interest negativity, slice-of-life, subtle, complexity, miniaturization negativity, ludicrousness, slice-of-life, perceptual interest, miniaturization
Stern verbal comedy, satiric comedy romantic comedy satiric comedy,physical comedy 
Catanescu and Tom comparison, personification ,exaggeration , pun, silliness, surprise   sarcasm
Toncar pun, understatement, joke, ludicrous, irony, satire    satire
Buijzen and Valkenburg slapstick, clownish, humor, surprise, misunderstanding, parody  slapstick  slapstick, satire, irony


6, Cartoon/Comic aesthetics

A paper by national Taiwan university used a bad humor to explain humor theory :  a stranger entered a house to join a family dinner, all families sit beside him did not find this stranger (incongruity ), that stranger pretended to be a family member in order to have some KFC chickens.(resolution ).   This KFC ad. is not humorous, not witty, not unexpected, not within reason.

Style humor and bad humor both may successfully go through incongruity-resolution humor theory.   How do we tell a cartoon is good or bad?  imaginative, sharp witty and style witty?

This paper is trying to add some views about style wits & style humors to Lee Shan's book <Cartooning Aesthetics > on this issue.  

(1). The only solution / best solution :    2 animation films under the theme of 'old man & sea" won Oscar best awards from 2000 on, so below uses similar example:


an elderly & infirmed man who has been staying in a remote, tiny island for years after a flight crash, but refused to get on a big boat passing by.

 (1) viewers curious to know why  (2) draw people's attention


That boat is Titanic !

 good resolution :
It's unexpected but extremely reasonable,
   style witty with humorous imagination
(may leads to better impression, word-of-mouth influences)

           (1) Using Titanic, not others like Somania pirate boat, is because it's a world-known and "must die" symbol, other symbols  may be save the elder man ......

           (2) cartoons mock strong politicians as well as poor weak persons, since it is harmless, innocuous (Zillmann 1983) cues ,   it is a unreal drama.

           (3) viewers don't care why that old man didn't warn the boat, etc, because viewers focus & relish cartoon's main stuff, not minor details ...


courtesy Nederland Cartoon Festival


2.    Consider to use more than one kind of humor (incongruity resolution theory, disparagement humour, arousal-safety...)

 In the similar-material cartoon below, if we add a panel (the elder stop exciting when he saw the boat 300 m. away) before the 2nd panel , the cartoon add one more kind of humor , "incongruity resolution" ―  readers doubt and try to think (efforts in thinking may help readers to keep this humor in mind ).  

 Otherwise readers only laugh the man is so out of luck.

by Vice president of Egyptian Cartoonists Organisation, Tamer Youself

 (3).     To increase the  "unexpected" degree at the final panel

In the previous 2 or 3 panels it's better to
(1) mislead viewers/readers to a remote or just-the-other-way place
(2) try to distract readers by skillfully arranging some elements

so viewers are more difficult to figure out correct/best resolution,  hence feel more unexpected   perhaps more humorous.

Also see the joke  "Zoo visitor to zookeeper" in Ch.7, giraffe's is better than gorillas's

   (4). Using the best material / element

To express "victory" , BEST use "V" sign.

the pic left is best to express " a fake victory" or " a victory cost too much".

A China's visual art (by X-ray) is same as Spain's cartoon poster(by drawing - see pic. left ).

To express "competition", BEST use "track", this cartoon delivers a  message "born to be winner in an unfair game"  

courtesy Dutch CartoonFestival

To express "suppress" BEST uses  stepping someone by foot

Germany professor Lex Drewinski's visual arts joined Courage World cartoon contest held in Taiwan http://Courageworld.ch/nw01.htm

Using the best material may lead to similar ideas, sometimes may use remote materials to create unexpected ideas, for instance, most caricaturists drew distorted/exaggerated face, but a British cartoonist for <TIME> or <Punch> etc drew US president Richrad Nixon's sly face as a fighter hanging a bomb.

 (5)using the min. elements

Academic books <The language of Comics> (Mario Saraceni, 2003) and <Comics & Sequential Art> (Will Eisner, 1985), stated that comics' two most important features are words and pictures, or words and images.

But ambitious authors are willing to try & take the challenges to attract viewers solely by witty idea ,  instead of taking advantage of beautiful surface, funny face, action... mental image  or even verbal ...... sound effects, functional words, content words, or  applications of  the gutter、the balloon、 the shape and size of the panels......

All elements should be necessary for the form & style, without superfluous, redundant stuffs.    Disney's Mickey Mouse etc animals only have 4 fingers.

Less elements make viewers quickly catch the point.  The size of a political cartoon is about same as a dagger, but is more sharp and more effective.

Korea Seoul's logo, uses only 3 lines, to express a man in merry mood (official intepretation), also to deliver massage "red sun, green mountain, and blue river", what a beautiful country for tourism, and a gesture of Korea's national game  TaeKwonDo(跆拳道)- a big kick.


 (6)  to avoid too simple & stupid  

  Scholars Stern (1996) pointed out that the physical action comedy/ heavy-slapstick ( such as throw a cake or a pie to a person's face,  ps: compare sec. (14) black humor as below; or suddenly exposure a woman's breast, or former President Bush's digging his nostrils on Youtube )  is funny, but too direct and low tasty, does not require much cognitive processing on mind; On the contrary, style witty humor requires more cognitive processing to understand.   However, many Taiwanese youngsters like slapsticks.

 Comparing two Mordillo "sex" cartoon:
  Figure 1:  An old man in a remote island have made ​​a good timber raft, then a shipwrecked girl swim ashore, the old man converted the raft into a wooden bed.
  Figure 2:  An old man in a remote island have drawn "SOS"  on the beach, then a shipwrecked girl swim ashore, the old man quickly erased the "SOS"  characters.
  a wooden raft is more hopeful than just Issuing "SOS" message, so, the old man in figure 1 is more
horny/pervert ( love having sex), the idea is more witty & tastful.

  Most people will show good side to others, when the difference between good and real behavior was discovered, viewers will laugh about it ! (王慶中"應用心理研究", 二六期 ,2005)

 (7).   No gap

     Humor lovers and viewers may feel tired or exhausted if they can not resolve the incongruity, or they solve one and then 2nd incongruity pump out ...

     High-class arts often include social criticism,   Cartooning is democratic, more efficient and courageous (clear message about top position people ), equal social status , honest (not pretend to be a deep philosophy author, not intend to confuse viewers)...

    Although Surrealism arts which can not be explained according to some underlying logic appeal elites and some people showing off their high taste , status, richness, superior, or conspicuous leisure ... Many artists intend to make obscure or abstract images on purpose for viewers to decode the codes, this may impress viewers because they spent efforts on thinking, or they like their own interpretation by their life experience and knowledge, hence like the arts  ...   

   Who can know what a big apple in Magritte's arts and a 'furry coffee cup' means?   This trick may be work for some top artists, but not for many many other artists, a study showed the average time viewers taste each painting in an art-museum is quite short.

   Some modern arts have gone even farther, e.g., an empty museum, a plastic surgeoy LIVE TV,  or shooting in the street (refer to <What good are the arts>, John Carey PhD , by Oxford U professor), ...  all these survey messages -  or lead to overintepretations. 

 Mihai Ignat, Romania http://Courageworld.ch/nw02.htm

(8) real plot,  inside the story

 Limiting the ideas in the real world, appearance without distortion or exaggeration ...., or ideas can be implemented, or useful,  logical, suppose are more difficult.

 Koller (1988) pointed out that humor has 13 kinds of functions, Italian film <美麗人生> shows the function for survival .(<幽默的研究問題>,王慶中,"應用心理研究", 二六期 ,2005 )

 For example,
Which stuff being thrown to a mysterious admirer downstairs & singing love songs every night, is more effective than throwing a flower-pot?  Answer is condoms, wet condoms !
     What bed curtain is the most "sexy"? The answer is a circus tent! ( refer to : House of Satire & Humor, Bulgaria)
While firing, an  intelligent building  can show "SOS" message by thousands of rooms' lighting combination.
(Yomiuri Shimbun cartoon contest, Japan)



Leng Mu, China  http://Courageworld.ch/4thexpChina.htm

Huseyin Cakmak, Cyprus    http://Courageworld.ch/nw00.htm



(9)   collage vs clean neat look

 "Danish Cartoon Crisis" (CNN headline) was caused by the cartoon the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.    whether the cartoon abused  freedom of speech caused a serious discussion.   Besides, if that cartoon uses other shape (other than round shape) bomb, readers will focus on the point by its strange shape, but it's not an artistic idea.

Similar ideas were appeared at least 20-30 years ago, like  US political cartoon by D Fitzsimmons, Arizona Daily Star, all are round shaped bombs.

In contrast, the graphic design 'The Face of HK'  collages 4 HK people's faces to form a symbolic head, another art for China-Germany cultural exchanges, collages Confucius and German sage's half face to form a haed to deliver messages.

If a work is formed roughly by too many different elements (graphics, words, remarks,) certainly is easier to catch eyeball and to express some message, but may looks  terrible, and usually is not as clever & artistic as neat look design, such as Volkswagen cartoon ads : a gas gun to replace a pistol to commit suicide.

Sometimes, cartoon's best way is taking middle way. 

   click below to see clear picture on study purpose :


CNN news report masking the picture becomes the center of attention.

(10) how to say - what to say

Ukraine cartoonist works (left): fingers represent unlucky twin towers

 widely known French cartoonist Gerald works (right),  a table calendar



 Comic books <Comics: Ideology, Power, and the Critics> (Martin Barker, 1989) discussed the ideology of comics, as well as its impact.   A lot of comic books called cartoon as effective cultural weapon.

 These two cartoons above are made ​​by well-known cartoonists, the left side one is "comment", the right side one is "news report".  Both witty ideas come from "similar shape",  delivering more deep messages is great, if they are correct, not political correct.

(11) Visual persuasion

 Through Singapore Cancer Society's ad. work  ―   the lung-shaped ashtrays, smokers will experience how they damage their lungs step by step, this personal experience  leads to strong emotion, may be helpful for them to quit smoking.

As for many other ashtray designs,  such as  coffin-shaped ashtray, don't function so well, since smoking is not 100% fatal, and heavy smoker most likely will avoid reading this message.   ps: To get the Lung-shaped ashtray image : http://www.quirkyjessi.com/2007_02_01_archive.html , or on Google Image search "lung shaped ashtray, Singapore Cancer Society".

Some cartoons like the mirror to reflect human's nature, are masterpieces for persuasion.


(courtesy Dutch Cartoonfestival)  laugh and mock to persuade : people should not wait for free lunch all day long

(12)  Using familiar materials  

People have humorous materials on hand every day, but slip away all ideas/creativities from them, if you can see what other people can't see and come up with some humors, this leads to unexpected surprises.

Taiwanese people will love oyster omelets joke better than Mexico's world-class Taco joke. 

excellent Chinese cartoonist Xia DaChuan



 (13)accurate vs. fuzzy

  Words are accurate, but the elusiveness of visual image may leads to a success.

  Visual image is an excellent way to send a message when you probably would not want to spell it out explicitly or expressed more openly, and may  entice viewers to try to decipher the various allusions that are contained in its images, if the audience would arrive at the implied message on its own, and that this message would make more impressions.    The elusiveness also generates extensive discussion, thus creating even further interest in its interpretation, and also avoids the (legal) consequences of saying it in words.

   But if you fail to direct viewers to think in correct way like Apple computer's <1984> did, it may become just a trick, and viewers may feel boring. 

   Below are graphic design works by Germany artist Lex Drewinski who won European Design annual, N.Y. Art Directors Club, etc, If having the background knowledge, the reader should be able to interpret these art-works.






 (14).  mixed sadness and happiness

Black humor uses misery, tragedy, death, disease, terrorism, etc, to perform humor, not too easy job, like balancing salt and sugar.    UK encyclopedia defines "black humor" as writing that juxtaposes morbid or ghastly elements with comical ones that underscore the senselessness or futility of life. Black humour often uses farce and low comedy to make clear that individuals are helpless victims of fate and character"

bullet + medal (a very old cartoon, author unknown)



cake + bullet, used political trick


A Borigen, Israel  http://courageworld.ch/ENG-courage-contest.htm

M. Yelickovic, Yugoslavia

Savkov Ilian, Bulgaria
make you handsome or funny?


 (15).  personality

Chinese people say, "works show the author's personality"(文如其人),  is it original?  What topics? what philosophy?  are all his works inconsistent? ...

High-class arts often include criticism, excellent cartoons challenge the situation, expose the dark side, not just for money.

 (16).  all kinds of emotional experience

In addition to humor and satire, there're angers, sorrow, sadness, love, worry, laugh to tears and laugh with tears ...... 

Pixar's animation <UP> (天外奇蹟) became the 1st animation film to be opening ceremony show in Cannes Film Festival , which got the comment : "tough guy laugh with tears" by 中天<文茜世界周報>,5.23.2009.

China's world first-time ink animation in 1960's, "small oyster tadpole to find its mother,"  ("小蚵蚪找媽媽") makes many adults "tears"年代<兩岸相對論>, 2.24.2011.



a sad, witty idea, by Volodja, Yugaslavia

Edogan Basol, Turkey
 http://courageworld.ch/ENG-courage-contest.htm http://courageworld.ch/4thexp1BK.htm

 (17).  enjoy the witty and intelligent comic

In Western world, more intellectual comics are popular and attract academic attention.  below is an interesting idea:

A Math expert always fails to date a girl. so he design 3 questions for girls as below, as long as the target girl respond him, will be "no way out".

1st question is : Are you willing to answer my 1st and second question?

My second question is:   If my 3rd question is "can we go out tonight?", are you willing to answer my 3rd question just the same way as you answer my 2nd question?

 (18).    A taste on comic strips

 Taiwan comic strip market was almost dominated by Japanese comic strips, Japanese cartoonists and publishing companies  always produce pretty good comic strips (almost as real as the movie or photo), they   broke in Europe market too.    Whodunit (mystery) books are very popular in Japan too.  Below are books combine both.

   Years ago, I spent 1 hour on reading the 1st story (usually most exciting in a book) of 3 most popular Japanese comic strip books "金田一少年事件簿", "金田一短篇集" , "名偵探柯南" which are translated and printed in Taiwan ( those best-sellers were also produced video-tapes and movies in Japan, and Chinese language edition in Taiwan).

   Some shortcomings are found :
    (1)  Almost all "nude" pictures are not necessary for the plot: you'll see all  murdered young lady or dead teen-agers wearing only underwear or showing naked bottom ("金田一少年事件簿")
     ps: more pls see some papers (like <Themes and Issues in Asian Cartooning - Cute, Cheap, Mad and Sexy>, John A. Lent, Popular Press, ) regarding sex, fantasy, etc in Japanese comic books.
    (2)  one murder trick ( frozen and ice-melted "stuffs" as killing tool)   is similar to those whodunit books of early years ( book "金田一短篇集" ), murder in a sealed room (chamber) actually is just a half sealed room. ( in the book "名偵探柯南" )        
    (3)  Not all clues for solving mystery are shown -  so it's not a fair game for readers against the authors.

 (19).  Applying aesthetic tech.

If necessary, comics certainly can apply art/literature/ film techniques, such as lens, perspective, color, composition, movement, contrast, symbol, and so on.     As mentioned previously, ancient Chinese painting arts already applied metaphor, e.g., peacock tail feathers to symbolize official's hat.

Cartoon/comic style are wide-ranged :   elegant, delicate, rough, wild, self-confident, natural, original, bold, abstract, Zen (禪宗), expressionism .......

Since the 1990's, many adult comic use form of experiment, the latest tech. of digital graphics, computer networking ......

Good comic, creativity & imagination should be better than reproducing (like camera photos).

 7, How to figure out creative ideas

Internationally renowned creative methods, by Edward de Bono's (lateral thinking),JP Guiford, Bruce G Vanden, Bergh and Helen Katz (1999, 2006) etc, also can be cartooning thinking way. Below focuses a few topics :  

(1) Unexpected : overcoming mindsets, getting rid of assumptions

 United States Books: Compare the following two humors: 
      Zoo visitors asked zoo keeper , "Excuse me,  ......"
       (1) "Why gorillas have such big nostrils?" (This is an example taken from works <Humor in the Advertising Business> by Fred Beard PhD, Professor of the University of Oklahoma, USA )
       (2) "Why Giraffe have such long neck?" ( from a humor/joke book)
     A typical logical thinking is:

       (1) It's easy for gorillas by big nostrils to find food by smell or find the spouse or dangerous animals, predators smell ......
       (2) Long neck helps the giraffes to get leaves in high places, to avoid leopard or lion choking their necks ......
     the conventional answer is:
       (1) "Yes, sir, it's because they have such big fingers." (This is an example from professor Fred Beard's book <Humor in the Advertising Business>)
       (2) "Otherwise giraffe's head can not connect to its body."  

      UO's professor Beard commented gorillas joke as "this playground joke shows how the incongruity resolution works", but, if readers associate gorillas big nostrils with some Africans, its a disparagement / superiority humor too. 

      Besides, by logical thinking many readers suppose can figure out fingers cause big nostrils, but resolution to giraffes neck is unexpected, which is one reason that is a better humor than gorillas joke.

Chinese books:

 A famous Chinese book on Creativity by Professor Wang Jian pointed out that most usual thinkings about "speed", is to search all related signals,  e.g.,  fast animals such as cheetah, antelope, deer, sharks,  then, to think of fast instrumental things like aircraft, rockets, bullets, etc, then may be supersonic, the speed of light, time ......

However, all those are still the most common way of thinking,  If we can boldly go cross the boundaries, may be able to have a big idea.

The 1st example picture in his book is an Adidas ad, an athlete man runs so fast that even his shadow fails to catch up with him.   The next one is a Reebok ad., a runner's upper body can not follow his fast legs.

Thoughts above seem questionable, because : (1) ordinary things like "bullet", "Rocket", ...  from them still can have wonderful or big ideas  (2) "beyond the conventional,"  is right, but the book does not direct the way to figure out that "shadow" idea  (3)  the second example, Reebok ad ( same idea as an UK cartoon, which one appeared earlier is unknown yet) is not a witty idea, we can have other better "speed" ideas by creativity methods, such as "redefining".

(2) Pay attention to tiny details

    (1) Find out !   -   Seeing no one else is seeing, thinking no one else is thinking

      Careful observation probably is most important and 1st step to find out "weakness" to have a big idea. 

      The most expensive painting is Vincent van Gogh < Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers  Veertien zonnebloemen in een vaas >.    What's this perfect art's  "weakness"?   The flower arrangement is not perfect !

      Cars in Taiwan go along the right side, cars in Nippon run on the left side. Most escalators in Taiwan go along the right side, most escalators in Japan go the left side.   What happens are escalators of Japanese dept-stores in Taiwan ?  In the movie <Die Hard> , the escalators in Japanese business building located in the US go left side.

     (2) sympathy, redefinition :

      The book <Creative Tools> by some professors of Hong Kong Poly Univ's and India's university mention that masking designers eyes is helpful to design an indoors jogging equipment for the blind people.   Using sympathy can have some cartoon idea too.   
      HK Poly university redefines chair as " a comfort place" to design a new shaped product ,  Singapore's <MobileOne> redefined his opponent <Singapore Telecom>'s logo, a big red umbrella as a negative meaning - clients always in rainy days, one of my cartoon redefined the police line "Crime scene, do not cross" as track event's final line for the best reporter first arrived.

8, Intro.  below are several international animation and cartoon contests, for students to practice all creative methods, and witty thinking.

1.    Famous Western festivals include the Dutch Cartoonfestival, Belgium Knokke-Heist, France Salon St Just De Martel, Bulgaria Gabrovo Festival - 

      A hot & controversial news in here recently is that Taiwan refused to participate in Angouleme Comics festival in France,  which is basically a comic strip event, just like Chambery festival.   But Salon St Just De Martel is a "great" cartoon festival according to European cartoonists experts' opinion.

2.   In the East, Hangzhou International Contest and Guiyang AYACC contest welcome professional and amateur cartoonists/artists to join.


Below please find viewpoints by international cartooning experts : European cartoonists leader Peter Nieuwendijk as well as American professor John A Lent.


This is an excellent article in which you give clear comment and explanations  about the world of cartoon.  Also, adding the illustrations is a very good idea.

I would like to give you my compliments as connoisseur of the cartoon-world.

As you describe cartoons are an international language to clarify matters of social interest in a humorous way, I am touched by your chapters and how you have built up this piece of works.

Probably you can add  Something is going to happen to a cartoon, when the spectator/reader is finishing the joke.  Association cartoons with known subjects can be international understood."

By the way, your ins and outs about the creativity is understandable and clear.

Seeing the cartoon-art as a part of the arts ( the drawing stand-up-comedian ― a cartoonist is the same but than with drawings, to amuse and to explain, to tell (packed in humor) a message. )  

Lots of success. 



Peter Nieuwendijk

President General, federation Cartoonists Organisations
Editor in Chief FECONEWS Magazine

Secretary Dutch Cartoonassociation
Chairman Art Collective BIB
chairman Culture Centre Hillegom Holland
The paper is well organized and carefully thought out. It benefits from having these characteristics:

1. Theoretical with a few important theories given. If you had more time, I would say you should include Asian humor theorists  and comics theorists ...
2. Comprehensiveness, including filmic and print cartooning.
3. Critical. You are certainly critical of Taiwan cartooning, and also of cartoons everywhere that lack humor and wit.
4. Comparative. I like the way you compare Taiwan cartooning with that elsewhere and also examples of good and bad cartooning globally.
5. Explanatory. Your paper is important because you take time to explain cartooning, using many examples.

6. Instructive. Your paper would make a good primary source for young people who aspire to be cartoonists.
7. Entertaining. Cartoons selected are entertaining, as is your light-hearted approach at times.

All in all, this is a well structured, comprehensive, and instructive paper based on your extensive cartooning experience, mixed with theories and works of others worldwide...


John A. Lent, Ph.D.
Professor, Temple University
Chairperson, Asian & Pacific Animation and Comic Association


   for precise meaning
 traditional Chinese version


★ to see cartoons in the paper pls. refer to
Courage World Cartoon Contest   ★



 Asia Games       WorldGames & Deaflympics     Shanghai's EXPO     Beijing Olympic




No.1 "cartooning humor" on US Google, 2013-1-1