What is the first animated cartoon?

What is the first animated cartoon? - Digital Animation of Colorful Tape Rolls

I am reading a book about film history which says that Fantasmagorie (1908) was the first animated cartoon. Coincidentally, I stumbled upon Pauvre Pierrot which is an animated cartoon from 1882. Not only that this movie appeared 16 years earlier, it is also longer (originally fifteen minutes vs. less than two minutes) and seems more sophisticated to me (coloured paintings vs. b/w stick figures).

So the question is: is there some reason why Pauvre Pierrot doesn't count as the first animated cartoon?


  • The book I read is in German but looking for the first animated cartoon on the web also led me to Fantasmagorie (see here, for example).
  • There is a similar question, but firstly this focuses on Hollywood productions only and secondly the single answer refers to a cartoon from 1937 which is quite far away.
  • On a quite detailed site with a timeline of animated cartoons Pauvre Pierrot is not even mentioned. I don't get why.
  • Meanwhile I found more animated cartoons that were released before 1908: Le Clown et ses chiens (1892) and Un bon bock (1892). They don't appear in first animated cartoons either.

Best Answer

Pauvre Pierrot were painted images displayed through Praxinoscope. While Fantasmagorie, uses the modern techniques known today, that later were used by Disney.

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What was the 1st animated cartoon?

Fantasmagorie is a 1908 French animated film by \xc9mile Cohl. It is one of the earliest examples of traditional (hand-drawn) animation, and considered by film historians to be the first animated cartoon.

What is the oldest animation?

The earliest surviving animated feature film is the 1926 silhouette-animated Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (Adventures of Prince Achmed), which used colour-tinted film. It was directed by German Lotte Reiniger and her husband Carl Koch. Walter Ruttmann created visual background effects.

The Evolution of Animation 1833 - 2017

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Answer 2

After thoroughly reading the Wikis I posted above, as well as a few offshoot Wikis, I've come to the conclusion that Pauvre Pierrot and other creations of Charles-Émile Reynaud were produced by affixing images painted on glass to a wheel (more complex than that, but that's the basics), and projecting light through it onto a screen. A second "projector" was used for the background images, which mostly stayed static and only changed when the scene changed. This is what a praxinoscope was designed to do. If you watch the surviving clip, you'll notice that the background bleeds through and the images aren't so much "on top of" the background, but "inside" of it.

Fantasmagorie, on the other hand, involved photographing individual drawings and stringing them together using film. This is what is known as Hand-Drawn Animation.

So, in short, the main difference is that one requires a "projectionist" to manually turn the projection, while the other is automated by a film projector.

Sources: Stack Exchange - This article follows the attribution requirements of Stack Exchange and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Images: Uzunov Rostislav, Nataliya Vaitkevich, Magda Ehlers, RODNAE Productions