The picture vocabulary by scott mccloud in his excellant book understanding comics, explaining semiotics it gives a great overview of the different scales of abstraction for cartoon characters.
With 3 sides there are the:
- Retinal Edge
- Representational Edge
- Conceptual Edge
With the retinal edge it polarises the more reality, bottom left. Then going up it abstracts to mary fleener and accross the right to the conceptual edge, meaning becoming more arbitary with words and onomatapaeic words such as 'splash'.
Very good table, although mccloud states that they images included are not necessarily chosen for artistic merit. Makes me think of Rudolf Arnheims abstraction & the grasping of significant form. A scale between function and form as it is between words and images that abstraction will take place until a concept is conceived.
Mcclouds book may be comics content, but very very good, informal, non academic style of understanding semiotics.
Also check out Visible Signs by David Crow, explaining semiotics in great detail.