Cartoons are one of the best ways for an artist to express their creativity. There is no limit to what they can draw. They are not restricted by budgets as are the special effects teams who do the CGI. So, basically, anything they can imagine, they can do.
But imagination is not the only source of inspiration for the cartoonists. In fact, they use the world that surrounds them to fuel their creativity. That is why some cartoon characters are often based on real people.
This list, compiled by Her Moments, shows ten popular characters that the artists created having in mind a particular person they were familiar with.
1. W.C. Fields (Mr. Magoo)
Millard Kaufman, the writer of the cartoon, did not intentionally base Mr. Magoo on W. C. Fields. At least not in the beginning. But after a few short films, the creative directors decided to draw inspiration for the nearsighted, mumbling character from the comedian.
2. Frank “Rocky” Fiegel (Popeye the Sailor)
Just by throwing a glance at a photograph of Frank Fiegel you can notice the resemblance between him and Popeye. Fiegel was somewhat of a local legend in Chester, Illinois, the hometown of Popeye creator E. C. Segar. His chiseled physique earned him the nickname “Rocky”, and he was notorious for his ability to win fistfights even against multiple opponents, and for his love of the smoking pipe.
3. Dennis Lloyd Ketcham (Dennis “The Menace” Mitchell)
Hank Ketcham, the cartoonist who created the Dennis the Menace comic, evidently considered his own son, Dennis, to be a real menace, as he based the titular character of the comic on him. One day, after the boy had made quite the mess, his mother yelled out to Hank, “Your son is a menace!” Brilliance struck, Hank sat down to draw a quick sketch, and the rest is history.
4. Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, and Rita Hayworth (Jessica Rabbit)
The character of Jessica Rabbit from the animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was in fact based on three different women. Rita Hayworth, the seductive wife of the animation director Richard Williams, was the original source of inspiration. However, the character’s hair was based on Veronica Lake’s mane. On director Robert Zemeckis’s insistence, some cues were taken from Lauren Bacall as well.
5. Margaret Kerry (Tinker Bell)
J.M. Barrie created Tinkerbell, one of the world’s most famous fairies for the play Peter Pan. Barrie later refined the character in his novelization Peter and Wendy. There were rumours that the Tinkerbell from the iconic Disney film was based on Marilyn Monroe, but in fact it was actress Margaret Kerry who was the inspiration behind the beloved character.
6. Deadeye/Red Skelton (Yosemite Sam)
During his years of vaudeville and television, Red Skelton had created many Western-themed characters. One of them was Deadeye. The Looney Tunes’ Yosemite Sam at first was inspired by director Fritz Freleng, but in later cartoons he was directly based on Skelton’s Deadeye.
7. Percy Crosby (Skippy)
The trouble-making character of Skippy, the titular character of Percy Crosby’s comic strip, was actually based on a younger version of the writer himself. Skippy became incredibly popular as people found him very relatable.
8. Marjorie Henderson Buell (Little Lulu)
Another cartoonist who had used themselves as children as the basis for one of their most popular characters was Marjorie Henderson Buell. She was also one of the very few successful female cartoonists of her day.
The protagonist of Carl Anderson’s comic strip Henry wasn’t based on an actual person. The author, aged 67 at the time, had made a quick sketch for his students at a vocational school. The illustration later served as an inspiration for the character of Henry.
10. Mickey Rooney (Archie Andrews)
Most recently Archie Andrews appears on CW’s drama series Riverdale where he is portrayed by actor K.J. Apa. But the comic book character was originally inspired by Mickey Rooney, another redhead who starred in teen comedies back in the day.