Charles Vess is a Classicist.

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.

To index Classicist art:

Step 1:  Look at the art.  Is the beauty and form of the art the most important part?


A.  Yes, Classicist.  Continue to Step 2.

B. No, one of the other tribes.



Animist Definition: “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.

Jack Kirby is an Animist


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 Classicist and check box in



Example:  Charles Vess.  Could you imagine this art in color, on the wall of classical museum? Painterly art uses mass, shade and light with fine, extra-realistic detail. Both the background and the characters are given attention and detail. These illustrations look sophisticated and complex. Charles Vess is an example of an artist who’s work would often be tagged as Painterly. Indexer’s notes: This is the most detailed style in the Classicist branch.

Sketchy Beauty

Example: Naoko Takeuchi. The elegance of lines on a paper, outlining and selective detailing as well as the sense of beauty distinguish Sketchy Beauty style from Animist styles that may have similar technique, but a different tone. Reality can be subverted in the name of creating a feeling or ambiance, often the background of a scene will be replaced with sparkles and stars. Sketchy Beauty is most consistently found in Shojo manga. Indexer’s notes: In comparison to other terms: it is less detailed than a painterly work, and its lines are sharper than those found in Clean Line styles. Manga art that does not seek to create a sense of beauty is better classified in the Animist branch.

Clean Line

Example: Herge. Distinct uniform lines, flat colors and clear details are the trademarks of the Clean Line style. It Also features simplified, stylized characters on highly detailed, naturalistic backgrounds. The best examples of Clean Line style can be found in the Franco-Belgian school, pioneered by Herge, creator of Tintin. Indexer’s notes: This term is not limited to Franco-Belgian comics. Any art with the described characteristics should be tagged with this term.


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