“Animists are the first artists, the shamen dancing around the tribal fire who drag raw emotion from their soul and give it to the audience. They are the instinctual artists, concerned above all with content.” (McCloud 2006) Jack Kirby and Jeff Smith are prime examples of this broad category of art.



To index Animist art:

Step 1:  Look at the art.  Is the story the most important part?


A.  Yes, Animist.  Continue to Step 2.

B. No, one of the other tribes.



Classicist Definition: Classical art is complex, with levels of detail that come closer to simulating reality.  Classic art presents an idealized version of the world based on historic conceptions of beauty and form.  Classical art is clean and detailed.


Charles Vess is a Classicist


Iconoclast Definition: Iconoclastic art is representational and symbolic.    It eschews beauty, and accurate physical representation in favor of the truth of ideas.


Robert Crumb is an Iconoclast


Formalist Definition:  In art theory, formalism is the concept that a work’s artistic value is entirely determined by its form–the way it is made, its purely visual aspects, and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than realism, context, and content.


Frank Miller is a Formalist


Step 2:  Consider one of the below sub-categories if appropriate.  If not, just pick Animist and check box in

Story Driven Realism

Think of this as a mature cartoon style, still a bit rounded, more detailed with less expressive deformation but still representational.

Expressive Action

Example: Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim.  Characters faces are distorted or exaggerated to show emotion, gravity is ignored in favor of setting the tone irregardless of the plausibility of the story as a whole. Comics with expressive action break the rules to give you information beyond the physical representation of the scene to aid in telling you their story.


Just shy of being Classicist, highly detailed and realistic rendering of characters and backgrounds.

Old School

Example: Black Blizzard by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. A cartoonish style, has a sense of whimsy, expressionistic.

Home Grown

Home Grown art has a folk art feel. It may share some characteristics with the folk art tradition or it may simply feel less formal. This type is distinctive from primitive because it is not intentionally childlike, or of a quick, poor quality, but rather it has the feel of a self trained artist.

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