Created By: neoYTPism on October 3, 2010 Last Edited By: neoYTPism on August 16, 2013

No Flash, All Substance

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Trope
Laconic: Minimalist art, not-so-minimalist content

Also, I'm open to title suggestions.

This is for works that really don't bother with the technical quality, (audio, video, etc.) or whatever it is that's relevant to their respective medium; however, they clearly do show quality in their stories, or their characters, or perhaps even in their style aside from the most obviously superficial aspects of it. In certain cases, this can allow for a Cast of Snowflakes. The Internet in general specializes in this, mainly because there's no budget fueling the creative process, even though there are mainstream works that do this as well.

It's worth noting that this is pretty subjective, especially in regards to older works for who's art is considered outdated by contemporary standards.

Related to Stylistic Suck for when emphasizing the content over the art is intentional. See Stick Figure Comic for when the art in question uses stick figure drawings.

Examples

Comic Books
  • Knights of the Dinner Table. Minimalist art, usually with characters in stock poses and no movement. The interplay between the characters so accurately depicts the Real Life interaction between RPG gamers that many readers have written in and said "You must have been listening in at our last gaming session!"

Web Comics

Web Original
  • Three of The Escapist's regular columns, Zero Punctuation, Escape To The Movies and Extra Credits, are nothing more then slide-shows based on Google search images and the occasional minimalistic art. And it actually helps the viewer pay attention to what's otherwise some guy talking about video games (or in Yahtzee's case, reviewing them).
    • Moviebob's Game Overthinker series does the same thing as well.

Web Animation

Western Animation
  • South Park started off using paper cutout style animation similar to that used in Monty Python's Flying Circus in the two original shorts and the pilot episode. Since then, it's been all computer based but it still kept the same art and animation style, which has made producing the shots less of a hassle.
  • Home Movies, though it makes sense since it's a dialogue-driven series.
  • This is pretty much the signature style of all UPA cartoons, mainly as an alternative to replicating cinematic realism in animation. The fact that the Limited Animation style pioneered by them was horrendously abused didn't exactly help.
  • Word of God suggests that the character designs for Phineas and Ferb are simple on purpose to make kids be able to draw them, too.
Community Feedback Replies: 70
  • October 3, 2010
    DBAce9Aura
    Related to Stylistic Suck, for when emphasizing the content over the art is intentional. See also Stick Figure Comic for when the art in question is done with stick figure drawings.
  • October 3, 2010
    Glucharina
    What exactly is the point? Sounds like "Praising the shows you like, but only with awful art"
  • October 3, 2010
    neoYTPism
    Just using it as an example really. It's hard to describe how it's an example without it being confused for being about the show. o.o
  • October 3, 2010
    DBAce9Aura
    Plenty of nostalgic gamers feel this way about older games, especially the 8-bit ones. As for possible examples, I can think of two that can qualify:

  • October 3, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    I'm not seeing any "depth" in the picture. And not being a big fan of South Park in the first place, I don't think there's anything all too enriching to be found in Matt and Trey's social commentaries, anyway. This one should definitely end up with a Subjective Tropes tag if this goes anywhere.

    Also, if a work doesn't bother with sound quality, then I doubt anyone is going to stick around long enough to notice anything of deeper value. Visual quality isn't necessarily a big deal with most people when it comes down to it, but if something is largely inaudible or if the sound is extremely choppy or characterized by overabundant static or not properly synced, then nobody is gonna want to pay much interest for very long.
  • October 3, 2010
    DBAce9Aura
    @Sean Murray I: I agree about the sound part. @neoYTPism: Delete that part of the description and maybe we'll get cooking.
  • October 3, 2010
    Excelion
    Just make it Minimalist Art.
  • October 3, 2010
    neoYTPism
    I just don't know how to describe it, other than referring to "superficial" quality vs. "other" quality. As in, XKCD uses stick figures, and Dinosaur Comics uses the same set of images over and over again, but both address a variety of issues in often witty ways. Similar with South Park which is crudely drawn, but references a lot of pop culture and a variety of issues.
  • October 3, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    ^^If we want to go that path, we already have Minimalism, which should have this covered (although it doesn't).

    ^Like I said, this would be an entirely subjective quality and would necessitate a Subjectives tag.
  • October 3, 2010
    Speedball
    Order of the Stick, full stop. Immeasurable content, very simplistic (but to-the-point) art.
  • October 3, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    How is Homestar Runner's art "bad"?
  • October 3, 2010
    DBAce9Aura
    @UT: Relax, I changed it.
  • October 3, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Would UPA count? Minimalism became their house style.
  • October 3, 2010
    mysticgohan
    Phineas and ferb :acording to Word Of God the character design are simple on purpose to make kids be able to draw them too
  • October 3, 2010
    TheBigSock
    Three of The Escapist's regular columns, Zero Punctuation, Escape To The Movies and Extra Credits, are nothing more then slideshows based on Google search images and the occasional minimalistic art.
  • October 3, 2010
    Rhatahema
    This trope is doubly subjective, as there isn't any solid criteria for judging a show's depth or what qualifies as neglectful animation quality. What about cutting off the "depth" bit and focusing this on pared down art styles (possibly a supertrope of Stick Figure Comic)? It's not that no one bothers with the art, it's that the art is short-hand for action in an otherwise verbal work. The boundaries would still be fuzzy, but you'd end up with a similar list without getting into "quality."
  • October 3, 2010
    DBAce9Aura
    @Rhatahema: No problem, I already updated the main description stating the subjective nature of this.
  • October 3, 2010
    Gringodingo
    This trope probably exists because crude drawings prevent the art from detracting from the message, and instead allows the audience to focus on the plot; it also leaves more to the imagination by being rather ambiguous. This form defines most classic cartoons which are known for their content rather than form:

    • Calvin and Hobbes.
    • Peanuts with Charlie Brown.
    • B.C.
    • Shink Chan
    • Beavis and Butt-Head
    • Dexter's Laboratory
  • October 3, 2010
    Glowsquid
    ...Calvin and Hobbes's art is considered "crude"? oh well, you learn something every day.
  • October 3, 2010
    Rhatahema
    ^^Most of those are just examples of a typical cartoon/Sunday comics' level of visual simplicity.

    @DBA: What I'm getting at is that this trope doesn't have to be that subjective. I prefer less subjective tropes to more subjective tropes, so I'm inclined to push for Visual Shorthand. I'll give it a rest though, and we can keep collecting examples for the current description to see where it goes.
  • October 3, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    ^Most of these "examples" so far haven't taken this trope much further than listing works, without any explanation for what is it that makes their art style "minimalist" or the themes of those works "deeply enriching." Even for a widely subjective article like this, that is pretty poor.
  • October 3, 2010
    DBAce9Aura
    @Sean Murray I: Relax, I'm working on it. It's probably gonna take a while, though. @Everyone else: All further examples must explain what Sean Murray I mentioned.
  • October 4, 2010
    Arivne
    Comic Books
    • Knights Of The Dinner Table. Minimalist art, usually with characters in stock poses and no movement. The interplay between the characters so accurately depicts the Real Life interaction between RPG gamers that many readers have written in and said "You must have been listening in at our last gaming session!"
  • October 4, 2010
    neoYTPism
    "all the more easier"? Bad grammar much? o.o
  • October 17, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    I prefer the old name for this. Much more straight-forward.
  • October 17, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Seconding the removal of Calvin And Hobbes.
  • October 18, 2010
    neoYTPism
    You mean the title I originally gave it? @ Sean Murray I
  • November 9, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    Yeah.
  • November 9, 2010
    TBTabby
    I once read a webcomic that was a word-for-word retelling of Hamlet, but with stick figures.
  • January 6, 2011
    neoYTPism
    You seem to be interpreting the trope name too literally @ TB Tabby
  • January 6, 2011
    MorganWick
    Well, if we keep the name, we could still list it as "Happens literally in..."
  • January 7, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    As far as video games go, there's Cubivore: A complex artificial life program simulating an ecosystem with dozens of different species. The graphics are consisted mostly of what looks like painted cardboard boxes of different sizes. The landscapes are solid colors. The music is just as simplistic, one track being a single looping guitar riff. This was made for the Nintendo Gamecube, which was capable of producing photorealistic games and all audio is recorded and thus not bound by technological limitations.

    Another one would be 3-D Dot Game Heroes, which took The Legend Of Zelda and applied it to 3-D gaming, in a different direction than Nintendo did with ''Ocarina of Time'' but no less intricate, with sophisticated enemy AI and a variety of customizable weapons and characters. The entire game looks blocky like an 8-bit game, only in 3-D. This was for the PlayStation 3, the system on the market with the highest graphical processing power.

    Scribblenauts is a sandbox game for the Nintendo DS with the record highest number of available objects to create by far. The developers of this game looked at a dictionary and created an object for every common noun they could find. For the sequel, they went back and applied every adjective to every noun. The entire game looks like it was made out of pieces of cardboard with bolts as hinges, akin to a puppet show. Even Maxwell, the protagonist, continues to smile upon dying, because no sprite exists for him besides a smile. To be fair, this was the only way to animate things that allowed the programmers to put everything into the game in time for release.
  • January 7, 2011
    peccantis
    This is YMMV.
  • January 7, 2011
    neoYTPism
    So are various tropes, that would not stop this from being launchable @ peccantis
  • January 7, 2011
    Taelor
  • January 7, 2011
    XReaperBlade
    Arby 'n' the Chief. that is all
  • January 8, 2011
    peccantis
    ^^^ Not suggesting this shouldn't be done, just wishing to suggest the YMMV tag be added.
  • January 8, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^No idea who Arby or the Chief are. Not Self Explanatory.
  • January 8, 2011
    MaciekOst
    South Park's style isn't the same as it was in the beginning though. The first episodes had "shaky" animation and the backgrounds were very crude, often confined to geometrical shapes, text and photo cutouts. Now the animation is smooth and the backgrounds are drawn with a lot of detail.
  • January 10, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Still seems somewhat minimalist in comparison to other animated shows though @ Maciek Ost
  • January 10, 2011
    Gizensha
    Not convinced this is anything other than Gushing About Shows You Like, to be honest.

    Artists deliberately using simpler (which is not the same as 'worse', as the description of this implies) styles than they're capable of is reasonable (although I think we already have that, somewhere), the addition of 'but the content has to be deep' makes me question this as reasonable.
  • January 10, 2011
    neoYTPism
    "Artists deliberately using simpler (which is not the same as 'worse', as the description of this implies) styles than they're capable of is reasonable (although I think we already have that, somewhere), the addition of 'but the content has to be deep' makes me question this as reasonable." - Gizensha

    So? At worst that makes it a YMMV, but still, we have a good idea what is "clearly below average stylistically and about or above average otherwise."
  • January 15, 2011
    troacctid
    The current South Park image is already being used by My Future Self And Me.
  • January 16, 2011
    peccantis
    I'd like to add something like "philosophical comic about life, mathematics, and more -- with stick figures" to the XKCD line.
  • January 16, 2011
    neoYTPism
    "The current South Park image is already being used by My Future Self And Me." - troacctid

    Yeah, I know. I copied and pasted it from that trope article for a tentative page image, and am waiting to see what alternative page images people suggest.
  • January 16, 2011
    TwinBird
  • January 16, 2011
    peccantis
    ^^^^^ The art part is easy, there is also the depth thing which is the main reason for me bringing it up.
  • January 17, 2011
    shimaspawn
    ^^^ The problem is, it shows that trope and it doesn't show this one. It's Just A Face And A Caption as far as this trope is concerned.
  • January 17, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    Would it be possible to grab the image from the episode "I'm a Little Bit Country" where Cartman is in America's proto-Congress debating about independence?
  • January 17, 2011
    troacctid
    Grab something from xkcd; I'm sure there's plenty of good ones.
  • January 17, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    MARDEK might count. It's a Flash game made with pixelated graphics, yet has an extremely deep story and very fleshed-out characters. (However, the author is quick to point out that pixelated graphics are a stylistic choice and are not necessarily bad; in fact, he spent as much time working on them as he did on the other sections of the game. So this may not count)
  • January 21, 2011
    EponymousKid
    >XKCD as the page image

    HAHAHA OH WOW! 10/10, I'd rage again.

    Anyway, no, seriously, I don't think I'll ever stop vandalizing the page if this gets launched with that image.
  • January 22, 2011
    EponymousKid
    Bump. I'll not live to see this launched with this image. My personal feelings about XKCD aside, I really, really think we shouldn't have an image that basically says "THIS THING IS AWESOME IT'S SUPER COOL GO REED IT DOOD"
  • January 22, 2011
    bluepenguin
    With a trope like this, any page image is going to seem like an endorsement of the work in question no matter how neutrally the caption is worded, and I guarantee you that no matter what work we use, someone is going to intensely dislike it.
  • January 22, 2011
    EponymousKid
    No, you misunderstand. I think that this page shouldn't have an image at all. I think as a rule we should avoid images like those across the wiki.

    That said, XKCD is kind of stupidly divisive in the first place.
  • January 22, 2011
    neoYTPism
    But WHY should we avoid "images like those " in the first place?

    EDIT: Oh, and as for your earlier responses, using XKCD as a page image is NOT the same as saying "this thing is awesome" or whatever, and I'm not going to pander to those presumptuous enough to assume that. Oh, and I'm CERTAINLY not going to give an inch to those whose means of deterring the use of the image is threatening to vandalize the page if it gets launched.
  • January 22, 2011
    CinnaThePoet
    Does Hyperbole And A Half qualify? 55 million pageviews seems to agree about having content...
  • January 23, 2011
    neoYTPism
    To be fair, popularity doesn't imply content in and of itself.

    For now I'm going to do without a page image, as per bluepenguin's reasoning. I don't think I should be pandering to those who jump to conclusions, but the alternatives are probably worse.
  • January 25, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    Another video game example: Minecraft is a structure-building sandbox-type game, but all of its graphics look like early- to mid-90s CGI, a la Wolfenstein 3D. However, the game is (as of the moment this was typed) still in production. Note that there are some fairly advanced graphics present, such as particle physics illuminating the sun and partial transparency in the clouds that were not perfected until recently, indicating that the outdated-looking graphics were a deliberate stylistic choice.
  • February 10, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Would you say this is ready for launching? I'd say make sure we have a good title before launching it, but I'm not sure much else needs to be done with it.
  • February 12, 2011
    jayoungr
    I like this one and hope it gets launched officially soon.

    For an anime example, <i>Legend of Crystania</i> might qualify. The story holds together and provides an important sidelight on the Lodoss universe, but the art is wince-inducingly ugly.
  • February 21, 2011
    peccantis
    To fatten XKCD's entry:
    • XKCD is a stick figure comic that discusses topics such as psychology, physics, mathematics, and the meaning of existence - even the more straightforward gags are usually science geek insiders.
  • February 21, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Would Dr Horribles Sing Along Blog count? They basically filmed the whole thing in a week, after like a week of writing the songs, and no budget. It doesn't have much, if any, special effects, and yet it manages to really pull together a story and some fun songs.
  • March 15, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Bumping this after a couple weeks to see how it fares now.
  • July 19, 2011
    neoYTPism
    It's been months now, but I think it should be bumped again.
  • October 2, 2011
    Laukku
    • Almost all Roguelike games have ASCII art for graphics, but extremely detailed and complex gameplay. Net Hack is probably the most famous example.
  • October 2, 2011
    yogyog
    Should this be extended to live action stuff done in a very low budget, with no effects or flashy locations and sets, concentrating on the script? If so Withnail And I springs to mind. As does all of Ken Loach .
  • November 21, 2011
    Koveras
    • Would Eternally Us count? It has very simple art and low-budget execution, yet tackles major themes of loss and grief.
  • November 22, 2011
    Lore
    Woah... it might only be me, but the title had me think of drug induced hallucinations or something... if I'm the only one ignore it, if not think about it ;)
  • August 16, 2013
    Noah1

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=kg9my7egcpohoxx654u06drs