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In this paper, we propose a new method to recognize gestures of cartoon images with two practical applications, i.e., content-based cartoon image retrieval and interactive cartoon clip synthesis. Upon analyzing the unique properties of four types of features including global color histogram, local color histogram (LCH), edge feature (EF), and motion direction feature (MDF), we propose to employ different features for different purposes and in various phases. We use EF to define a graph and then refine its local structure by LCH. Based on this graph, we adopt a transductive learning algorithm to construct local patches for each cartoon image. A spectral method is then proposed to optimize the local structure of each patch and then align these patches globally. MDF is fused with EF and LCH and a cartoon gesture space is constructed for cartoon image gesture recognition. We apply the proposed method to content-based cartoon image retrieval and interactive cartoon clip synthesis. The experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.