Kit Steinkellner
February 04, 2017 11:13 am
Disney

When you watch as many cartoons as we do, you start to wonder things. Like, why didn’t Aladdin have nipples? And why do Cinderella and Mulan have such weird toes? Also, how come some Disney cartoon characters have fingernails and others don’t?

And on the subject of fingers, have you ever wondered why so many cartoon characters wear gloves? If this question hasn’t been keeping you up at night… well, you are clearly less obsessive about animation than we are. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)

Whether it’s a burning question for you or something you’ve never thought about, now that the issue has been raised, we want to know.

Why do so many cartoon characters wear gloves?

Lucky for us, Vox just posted a video that breaks it all down for us.

The video starts by playing that clip from An Extremely Goofy Movie in which Max’s friend Bobby looks down at his gloved hands and asks “Do you ever wonder why we’re always, like, wearing gloves?”

Vox went to animation historian and NYU professor John Canemaker to get to the bottom of this mystery.

“Animation of any kind, even with computers is a very work intensive or labor intensive process,” Canemaker explains.

And gloves are apparently easier to animate than hands. You don’t have to worry about details like fingernails and knuckles when you’re drawing good old gloves. Animators will take easy where they can get it. Hence, the sea of gloved hands in cartoons.

That isn’t the only reason why gloves became popular as cartoon character accessories. Back when all animated films were black and white, the colorless world presented an animation problem.

“Characters were, in black and white films, difficult to see against their black bodies,” Canemaker tells us.

So giving Mickey Mouse white shoes and white gloves makes it easier to see what he’s doing.

via giphy

Even when Mickey made the move to color, he kept his iconic accessories, as did so many cartoon characters who came of age in the era of black and white.

Furthermore, gloves help to anthropomorphize cartoon animals. The video brings up a quote from Walt Disney’s 1968 biography The Disney Version, in which Mickey Mouse’s creator explains:

The video is super informative and well-worth a watch. Check it out!

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