Wearing gloves is quite common among cartoon characters and especially for cartoons made in the first half of the 20th century. But have you ever wondered how this puffy accessory came to be a standard in the animation business?
Well, there are three main reasons why many cartoon characters wear gloves: to save time, for color contrast and because gloves give human characteristics to non-human characters, such a mice or a duck.
Let’s explain each one differently: (the article continues after the ad)
Gloves save time
Back in the day when every single frame was drawn by hand, cartoon artists were constantly trying to find certain techniques that would speed things up. These techniques actually shaped the style of the cartoons as we know them today. One of these techniques for example, was making things more round and one notable example was Felix the Cat, who once was a very boxing-looking character, but as it was becoming more popular, its animators decided to make him more of a circular character. That very design, with the circular head and body as well as spaghetti-style arms continued to the design of many cartoons. Gloves came on handy as they saved time for animators allowing them to not go into detail when designing the cartoon’s arms.
In the age of black and white film, gloves helped in providing color contrast. Because it was difficult to see their hands when in front of their black bodies, white gloves were added to the cartoons so when the character was holding his hands against his chest, their hands would still be visible to the spectator. In fact, many cartoonist agree that this is the main reason why gloves are worn by cartoons.
Give human characteristics to non-human characters
Another important reason as to why cartoon characters wear gloves is mentioned in Walt Disney’s 1968 biography “The Disney Version” (Get it from Amazon). As Walt Disney explains, Mickey Mouse is a non-human doing human things. So they didn’t want him to have mouse hands, because he was supposed to be more human. So they gave him gloves, which is pretty clever if you ask me.
So, there you have it. These are the main three reasons why the animation business put white gloves on our beloved cartoon characters.