150 of these things

May 10, 2010

Alright, comic’s finished for you. Yeah, it’s number 150 as well, making it a Spring of Milestones: 3 years, 150 comix, 6000 comments, 50,000,000 page views, and the only reason that’s interesting is because it means an audience has formed around around this Comix Thing i have going on here, an audience that has come for something it can’t get elsewhere (such is the fundamental nature of audiences).

Because that’s the real story here: the audience, and what they want. The story of a comic or a band or a film isn’t the story of the artist, it’s the story of the whole: what it means that an audience likes what the artist is doing. The Beatles’ story is the story of Lots of People Liking Good Songwriting, and the Bill Hicks story is the story of Not Enough People Liking Forward-Thinking Ideas (Goddamnit), and the Hair Metal story is the story of Music as a Fashion Trend (or something) and chances are you can pick a newspaper comic at random and it’ll be the story of how A Bunch of Old People Enjoy Reading the Same Inoffensive Thing Day In and Day Out (it’s a long story), and that’s fine. Whatever the art is, it’s a Communal Phenomenon as opposed to a Chosen One, descending from on high to amaze the poor, simple villagers with spectacles. I’m in plenty of audiences myself, and i know i ain’t simple. As for my own comix, it’s not up to me what the story is, and it’s none of my business. I’m just glad to be a part of it, because i have reason to believe the audience around here is Awesome.

until later,
WR

126 Responses to “150 of these things”

  1. Fopenplop Says:

    A comic about…*gasp!* relationships?! This can only mean one thing: Jeph Jacques has taken over your writing. This will be good.

  2. Trish Says:

    I ship them now. I’m very, very sorry. It’s not your fault.

  3. Ratazana Says:

    Three years!, time goes by so fast.

  4. Ryan Says:

    Damn! I got into a frenzy of devouring my stir-fry while reading and my eyes wandered to the bottom, totally ruined the ending for myself. Really good though ^_^ keep it up!

  5. YK Says:

    Yay for funny!

    But seriously, I love the ones that don’t necessarily have anything to do with anything ‘artistic,’ where it’s just character development.

    But seriously, I love the ones that don’t necessarily have anything to do with anything ‘character development,’ where it’s just artistic.

    (of course, I misspell ‘necessarily’ both times)

  6. GerryB Says:

    Winston firstly, congratuf**kinglations on these milestones, and 50 million sets of eyes wearing your work to mind, if every one of us claps RIGHT NOW for 20 seconds you’ll hear just a fraction of the thanks you deserve (And Where’s The Shop Yet?)

    Secondly,
    Is there such a thing as embedded anthropomorphism? Ascribing human qualities to the Sphynx’s last-panel reaction had a very ‘omigod my Parents Did It To Make Me’ level of brrr-reveal that I’m not sure what to do with comfortzonewise, especially given her quasi-human attributes to begin with.
    Way to unsettle the sharks Winston, those chumless weeks of waiting and BOOM is blood and nutritio-delicio smearing all down the screen.

    I want to see if they can hold hands without the Sphynx realising she can’t.

    Congratulations on this and everything. If you weren’t behind the curtain you’d be pissed on the yellow brick road for life, the queue of people building up to buy you a beer.

    Why not stick a button somewhere so we can?

  7. CC Says:

    This is, I think, my favorite comic you’ve ever done.

  8. frankwolftown Says:

    I like where this is headed. :-)

  9. rett Says:

    This is definitely my favorite comic that you’ve done…I come to your site over others’ because your comics contain real human emotion and I can relate to the characters..gpes well with Radiohead too, haha..

  10. miller Says:

    thanks man, for the 150th comix. love your stuff.

    that pink/brown haired girl is hawt, btw. i would tap that.

    fapfapfap

  11. miller Says:

    asdfasdf
    thanks man, for the 150th comix. love your stuff.

    that pink/brown haired girl is hawt, btw. i would tap that.

    fapfapfap

  12. MagnaMusica Says:

    Thank you, and congratulations on all the milestones. I hope you continue racking ‘em up, and continue your amazing, thought-worthy, emotionally resonating work.

    There are many doors in life, but only one wall of text. ^^

  13. Kyle Says:

    bahahaha

    TTC man is very TTC-ish…

    love it.

  14. Walkabout Says:

    Great job with all the comics. You are an inspiration. Hope you keep it up with whatever you’re doing.

    PS. I like the rendering of the old school Degrassi characters!

  15. brashieel Says:

    Pure awesome man. I loved it, and I just want to say thanks for having made 150 of these crazy, text heavy, brain twisting things. Whatever strange muse drives you to produce this, I hope it endures.

    Thanks again, and congratulations on the milestone. Couldn’t have picked a better for your 150th.

  16. Marshall Says:

    Awesome man, congratulations! I love your work.

  17. Sebastian Says:

    Ok, Winston, a few things:

    1st: Congratulations on the milestone.
    2nd: That comic was fucking amazing. The Sphinx is definitely a fascinating character, probably because we can all notice how you identify with her, in several levels. On one hand, you share a lot of your idiosyncrasy with the Sphinx, on the other hand, she is the kind of woman you like. Or was that how I feel regarding the Sphinx? I am confused now.

    Am I the only one that reloads this page every fucking day, even when you know that Winston only uploads a new comic every 20 or so days?

    Anyway, congratulations, great comic, we love your work man, keep it coming!

  18. Dan Says:

    Character development with The Sphinx. I like it.

    Congrats, Winston. Phenomenal stuff. Keep it coming!

  19. Jack Says:

    I know Carl Sagan’s stuff. I read/watch a LOT of it. Which “idea” are we talking about here, Winston?

  20. Jon Says:

    I love it, this really is one of my favourites. Here’s to another three years plus

  21. Dusty668 Says:

    Sphinxie! Weeeee! Thanks Wilson and here’s to another 150 more! *hands over apple pie*

  22. TentacledBeast Says:

    Congrats on your 150th comic. :)

    On another note… yeah, people want to look good just for themselves… *dripping with sarcasm*

    If we did it for ourselves, we would want to look good when we were alone, too. To the best of my knowledge, noone does that.

    It’s always about other people.

  23. George Says:

    The Sphinx reminded me of Galactus with the “higher on the food chain” comment.

  24. Buldwren Says:

    I never thought I’d see a weakness in the Sphynx. Awesome comic.

  25. Wade Says:

    Just noticed there is a tiny smily face at the bottom of this page, I love all the little details you put into every frame (like Chad peeking over the wall in frame 12), also how every character is so human. Another fantastic comic, thank you!

  26. Mothra Says:

    Do you have any idea how much your comic rules

  27. William Brust Says:

    I love what you’ve done with the Sphinx. She was getting a bit annoying because she didn’t seem to have any flaws. It was hard to identify with a character who constantly claims moral superiority in the face of absurdity and then eats all dissenters, but now that there’s a flaw to latch onto, well, it’s easier to let the eating people thing slide.

  28. Louie Says:

    Awesome strip! Been hooked for a few months and there really is no other webcomic that fills the void when I’ve got a craving for some subnormality- keep up the good work ;]

  29. Bill Says:

    Making a comic is a lot of work. I for one appreciate that. Thank you.


  30. YK: Cheers. And you spelled it right all three times, for the record.

    Gerry: Let’s just say the Sphynx has some buried issues that might have emerged in that last panel there. Oh, and there are Donation buttons on the site if that’s what you’re looking for. I don’t call attention to them, but the option is there.

    miller: ‘Preciate it, cheers. Easy on the “i’d tap that” terminology though, it gives the wrong impression, i reckon.

    Walkabout: I like that you noticed.

    Jack: I adapted this quote of his: “The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.” Uh, I mean, he stole it from the Sphynx!

    William Brust: Agreed.

    Bill: It’s only a lot of work if no-one appreciates it, so cheers.

  31. YK Says:

    Well sure, through the magic of right-clicking . . .

    And I’m an english major, to boot.

  32. Tigre Says:

    I don’t always have to be witty, I just am. Good comic though.

  33. vm Says:

    The bus driver is the best part of this whole comic.

    And, sadly, representative of all drivers in the GTA.

  34. Kim Says:

    Aww! Sphynxy and Formerly-Pink-Hair Girl are almost-friends! <3 I love that you've stuck with a few core characters through the strip and have slowly developed their personalities. Looking forward to lots more. :D

  35. Andrew Says:

    You’re cool. Even if you’re 150 and weird.

  36. Brett Bretterson Says:

    Congratulations on 150. Kilroy was here!

  37. JfC Says:

    Hey mang, you’re awesome. I was at TCAF this weekend and I thought “Man, Winston Rowntree should step out of the shadows, they’d LOVE him here, and also we need more locals.” So that’s my thoughts on your audience.

  38. Gatewatcher Says:

    I noticed something in the girl and the Sphynx – their faces and hairs look very similar. Almost the same actually. This goes well with their personality similarities :)

  39. Bavette Says:

    O.O They are the same.

    “We burn!” “We are one!”
    They should totally, like, get to know each other.

  40. DaveB Says:

    OMFG dude, this is too weird. Okay, my comment needs just a little background. I’m one of those cynical old farts (older than any of you pipsqueaks out there) who just rolls their eyes at all the daily bullshit coming from every direction. Who stays pissed most of the time because of the unrelenting hypocrisy and evil of (choose: wall street, any organized religion, any government agency you can name, any large corporation you can name, stupid assholes in general, okay you get me). I mostly just say fuck everything at this point. This strip is one of the few things I still find hope for humanity through. My crusty old ass read this and I started crying. You heard me. Do I sound like I give a fuck about what the illiterate shitasses who can’t spell your, you’re and yore think? This is for Winston: This strip made me cry, motherfucker. Damn. You are good.

  41. Leo .W Says:

    you sure do know how to make a chap feel important winston…

    was really clever, great to see that you’ve given the sphinx a flaw which actually stops her from being a monster

    also glad to see that even the sphinx worries about her hair, i guess i shouldn’t feel guilty for trying to look good.

  42. Suntiger Says:

    @GerryB
    I don’t think you need to apply human qualities to the sphinx. She’s a person, just different from a human. She has sphinxian qualities, since she’s people.
    What we term human qualities aren’t actually unique to humans, it’s just that all RL counterparts have a lesser register on their ‘people qualities’ than we do – ergo, most humans only apply (full) people qualities to humans.
    (Or maybe I’ve just read too much fantasy and scifi. I’m used to thinking of non-humans as people first and different species second ;) )

    The sphix actually inverts this, since she’s in the situation we are in RL. She’s the highest (pretty much) in the foodchain.

    Which ties into what William Burst said.
    To me the Sphinx has never came across as claiming any moral superiority over anyone. Why would she need to?
    Metaphorically speaking she’s carrying a bigger stick than everyone else. (Leaving aside any conflicts between the sphinx and, say, a couple of Abrams or an F-15. It’s not relevant to the point here.)
    Hence the eating of dissidents. Why should she care about what a human thinks?
    Combine that with her long life, which has allowed her to observe how absurd we appear when viewed in a longer timeframe than an ordinary human life which only reinforce her attitude of; why should she care about human opinions?

    Do we ask the opinion of clothing from a cow or debate philosophy with a pig before we slaughter them and eat them? Or a dog?

    What is interesting with this strip is that it reveals that Throttler (assuming she’s the Greek sphinx) isn’t immune to human opinions all the time. Just most of the time.
    It’s also quite fitting that Pinky is the one that affect her that way, because they are quite alike in many ways.
    And when all is said and done, we may not ask for fashion advice or discuss philosophy with our food, but we don’t dismiss it out of hand either. We do care about them too, in a way. Sometimes. Particularly when we hunt them or raise them for slaughter ourselves.

    I think in the end it ties into respect for life meaning respect for yourself.
    If we don’t give living beings at least some value, even those we slaughter and eat, what value do we have, when you get down to it?

    Very interesting anniversary comic, Winston.
    Funny too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sphinx verbally backpedal before.
    It’s kind of cute in a way. Even if she sees us mostly as annoying and/or food.
    Pinky, well, she’s usually awesome, in no small part because of how human she is.

  43. H1der Says:

    This comic really struck a note with me, i identified with the girl a lot! And I would LOVE to have a sphinx as a friend ^_^ Amazing job as always!! Keep it up!

  44. DoubleW Says:

    Now we need a bonus comic to show the journey of the missing boot.

    Cheers, cheers, many more years!


  45. vm: Pretty much, yeah. I’d say it’s all drivers in the GTA period, actually, having spent way too much time on the roads the past few years.

    JfC: Nah, i’m not too big on the whole convention thing. Used to do shows back in my ‘zine days and i pretty much hated every minute of it. Sitting at a table for seven hours is by far the most exhausting thing i’ve ever done. Plus i have no merchandise to sell anyway. Well, not yet.

    DaveB: Your description of yourself is i assure you a pretty good description of me as well. Knowing that i’m not alone in my, er, attitudes has been the most rewarding part of doing these comix. Thanks for your reactions, i was incredibly grateful to read them.

    Suntiger: That was more interesting than the actual comic, and i assure you i have taken notes…

    DoubleW: Ha, good idea. Come to think of it, one does see a lot of single shoes strewn about the gutters downtown, perhaps there’s a connection.

  46. snap1415 Says:

    Wow, Sphinx & FPHG together on one page. I’m rocked by on my heels from the awesomeness.
    Thanks.

  47. moaem Says:

    congratulations on your 150th. hope you have new projects in mind, many people would like to see what you do.

  48. Blee Says:

    Awesome work, WR.

    Your comix are psychologically and philosophically profound, and at the same time insanely funny, really engaging and completely relate-able. Most stories don’t have even three of those four things.

    Hope the 200th at least comes close to this level of awesome.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    Daaaaaw, they’re friends! It makes me feel all warm inside.

  50. localvagrant Says:

    I appreciate the Carl Sagan reference. I thought you slyly slipped it in the middle for only the most Sagan-savvy to catch, including myself. I deluded myself into thinking I was special until I saw the alt-text and the comments.

  51. tilk1010 Says:

    Hey Winston

    There’s a few of your comix floating around on different websites but it doesn’t the authors name, so no one knows you drew them. (Like this one http://www.ihasafunny.com/2010/05/11/the-circle-of-life/ )

    Maybe you should leave a signature on them like Herge used to, so that they can be traced back to you.

    Keep up the excellent comix

  52. LiudvikasT Says:

    Great, a sphynx comix, the best kind :)

  53. Filipe Tomé Says:

    A comic about relationships and a blog post about your relationship with us? Are you trying to say something, Winston? Do you LOVE us? =D

  54. Bhangbaby Says:

    I’m so glad I found this webcomic, reading it is more often than not the highlight of my week. Thank you. :)


  55. tilk1010: Yeah, I know, that’s why i started adding the little “viruscomix.com” at the bottom of each comic, but it doesn’t make any difference, the people who operate those sites just remove it before they post the comic. I’m plenty tired of these super-sketchy content-stealing sites making ad revenue off my work (and i don’t care if they’ve only made 15 cents, any amount is too much), but i guess that’s the price one pays. Google are too busy making money to care what sites they advertise on, so it’s them i blame primarily.

  56. Isolda Says:

    Damn it! I thought she was going to get run over by that bus! I guess may be next time…

  57. benS. Says:

    Again we find the key to this drama in the middle frame, #12, where we can spot Alice, the “evil-eyed” Segarian.
    Just include the vignette, and, it’s suddenly #13 ! Huh !

    Can we blame the sweaty bus driver for the accident ? Suppose he claims that rainbow girl was hiding in both !! his intelligently designed blindspots ?

    Well, IF he can prove he’s not a cephalopod, I might believe him. But, on the other hand, there is frame #20 with 8 !! tentacle-like ..things..

    P.s. Topalov’s blind spot seemed to be black-black bishop A8 in his 12:th WC-game vs Anand yesterday.

  58. Mike Says:

    I can´t wait for the next 150 issues of subnormality.

  59. Spacecoyote Says:

    It seems the Sphynx is no different from, say, a driver who swerves into a bus full of nuns to avoid hitting a squirrel. She has a soft spot for some of her food, just as we sometimes keep pet fish or rabbits. I’m surprised she hasn’t actually got a “people coop” in her back yard. For midnight snacks, y’know.

    Really, though, why ride the roof? She can fly, and is likely immortal, so she’d have little concern for aviation regulations. Imagine the fun she could have around Pearson!

  60. yoche Says:

    These two ladies are my favorite. I love their conversation together.

  61. Jo Says:

    Interesting comic as usual. I spent most of it thinking it was a meandering dialogue about not much, and enjoyed it for that. Then, right at the end, it turned out to be all setting up for the punch-line. Well played.

    The Sphinx is acting in a morally consistent way. Most people eat meat, and that’s fine, it’s in the food chain. But killing an animal out of the food chain by accident or even omission can still make us feel guilty because we’re not gaining anything from it.

    Nice way to put it about the audience being the phenomenon. Now that comments pages are becoming more common I often find that the comments add a lot to the comic.

  62. AK Says:

    Gorgeous.

  63. yoche Says:

    I just realized if anyone were to play the Sphinx on TV, it’d have to be Paget Brewster

  64. The Snork Maiden Says:

    Justifying murder, solipsism, and anorexia in the same comic. Classy.


  65. yoche: The resemblance is unintentional but it’s definitely there.

    The Snork Maiden: Are you being ironic? I can’t tell. And if you aren’t: Not good enough. Construct an actual argument or your post gets deleted for trollishness. [starts egg timer]

  66. The Snork Maiden Says:

    Just responding to what I read in your comic, dude.


  67. The Snork Maiden: Last chance, please actually explain why you’ve interpreted the comic that way.

    It’s like this, alright: If you’re going to make extremely hurtful accusations of people then guess what, you have the obligation to explain yourself! I’m giving you the opportunity, against my better judgment.

  68. The Snork Maiden Says:

    I find your comic extremely hurtful, so I think you should explain yourself to me!

  69. Spicy Says:

    Ho crap. I totally saw Kilroy in one panel.

  70. The Snork Maiden Says:

    Well, OK for real:

    Murder: the Sphinx says it’s OK for her to eat people because she’s “higher on the food chain”, but that’s bullshit since she can obviously interact with them on a equal level. Are psychopaths higher on the food chain than other people? Should I not take it personally if one kills me for their own benefit?

    Solipsism: the woman, who is portrayed sympathetically, says she can’t feel bad about something unless it happened to her personally.

    Anorexia: she doesn’t like to eat and the Sphinx says that’s cool.

    And the Sphinx only saves her at the end because she reminded her of herself, so it’s not like she learned a lesson about not mindlessly killing people.

  71. GerryB Says:

    For some reason, this comic became that more beautiful just now:

    http://www.viruscomix.com/page483.html

  72. Sean Says:

    Ok, follow up.
    She gets a reporter: we will give you lots of money if you can tell us how to survive the sphynx.
    Oh, Hair? and thin? Take $10k, you have changed the landscape today.


  73. The Snork Maiden: Jesus christ, was that so hard?

    Now then, i firmly believe that the interpretation of art is up the audience, so if that’s how you want to read the comic then fine, that’s your choice, but don’t confuse your choice with my intent. Your argument is based on the assumption that a character who is overall portrayed sympathetically is therefore a paragon of virtue in the eyes of the author, leaving no room for shades of grey, nuance, etc, and that’s gotta be a pretty bleak way to interpret art. Is it bad that she can’t feel bad about something unless it’s happened to her personally? Of course it’s bad. She says as much in the comic. Everyone has some aspect of themselves that ain’t so hot, and those are the kind of characters i write. My intent is to present characters who are not perfect, and it’s up the audience to decide what to do with that. If your choice is to interpret that as me somehow endorsing negative qualities then that’s your choice, but don’t go telling me that what you think is also what i think. That ain’t how this works. You don’t know what i think, you only know what you think. It’s of course very disappointing that the comic could be interpreted in that way by someone, but i can’t be responsible for every possible reaction out there.

    Can the comic be interpreted as you describe? Clearly it can. If you look for something you’re gonna find it no matter what the author’s intent was. But it can also be interpreted in far more hopeful ways, ways that recognize that we all have terrible flaws but are doing the best we can. If you give people the benefit of the doubt you’d be surprised how much more enjoyable life is, trust me. You are NOT wrong just because you disagree with me or hate the comic, i’d like to stress that, but you’ve chosen such a depressing interpretation that i feel like i have to say something here.

    [administrative note:] i don’t delete comments i consider hurtful, i delete comments that are written with the intent to insult, or the intent to glorify the comment’s author at others’ expense. I delete troll comments. How many comments do i end up deleting? About one a month, unless there’s some kind of concerted effort to troll me like there has been today for whatever reason, in which case it’s more than one.

  74. Sean Says:

    I was kinda disappointed in that pirate site, since the real signature tends to be ‘too many words’ (grin), and they removed most of that. But everyone here likes a comic that way sometimes.

    I really liked the Sphynx’s expression on that last panel. It is like she has learned something unexpected and likely unwanted about herself.

    Snorkie: The sphynx has her own viewpoint. Killing prey is ok, and the main herd that needs thinning in her view is the human herd. I’ve been around and really, this is mostly a quiet and somewhat tame in that respect, and as much as the Sphynx has killed, she and her buddies do not come on stage much. Yes, she can talk to her prey, but see K&K for that. She might just be bored. See many prior comments by many people.

    Trolls tend to be strident, impolite, and attempt to radicalize the forum. Thank you for a full explanation of your viewpoint, please cut the nastiness factor by a bunch.

    Nasty is Jack (adult nasty, you have been warned) (http://www.pholph.com/strip.php?id=5&sid=3307), and things like these psychos: http://suicideforhire.comicgenesis.com/
    Even the definitely G rated Kevin and Kell has an attitude toward prey that makes me think that vegan might be a good lifestyle.

    Suntiger: Yeah!

    Sebastian: I let this comic lie until I can read it in one sitting, so days or weeks can go by. But since I have not figured the delivery, or its irregular, I have to check now and again. Like OOTS.

  75. Sean Says:

    Ok, I should have done a final edit.

    The nasty comics comments are supposed to follow the comment that Subnormality is not nasty for a webcomic, nor does Sub. have characters that justify violence etc. as much as some comics have. It does some, but others do more.

    And that level of violence, etc. is not the point here anyway. It is a story, often a very good story. (Winston: Are we depriving you of a writing career and the income from such?) Winston is writing/drawing for an adult or PG-13 ish audiance and is not beyond what can likely be found in some best sellers.

  76. GerryB Says:

    Might be interesting to compare what happened at a certain bus-stop with these 2 at the 100th anniversary in ‘Together at Last’ in case there might be a theme I’m the only one slow on picking up: http://www.viruscomix.com/page467.html

  77. Johnny Says:

    let me just say i love your comics. i think they’re witty and intelligent and tragic in turns, truly something beautiful rising from the bubbling cesspool that is the webcomic community. i freaked out a little bit when i first saw a familiar bus stop in one of your comics and realized you, too, live in the t-dot.

    but there’s something that’s been rubbing me the wrong way for a while and i want to mention it. it seems like the only people you ever portray sympathetically – no, wait, the only women you ever portray sympathetically (it doesn’t seem to apply to men; certainly not to mongo, who, don’t get me wrong, i adore) are thin, white, and conventionally attractive. and no, being pink-haired or wearing glasses doesn’t change the fact that they are very much in line with mainstream beauty standards. i do appreciate that you don’t fall into that nasty habit many ‘alternative’ comic folk fall into of typecasting pretty women as vapid and unintelligent, but it would be nice to see some unconventional women in your very unconventional comics.

    (and for the record, i don’t mean ‘unconventional’ in the hot-topic gawf kid way. i mean it in the way of straying from the confines of mainstream beauty standards; white, thin, able-bodied, you know the drill.)


  78. Johnny: I know, and I definitely agree, so thanks for not holding it against me. That’s something that i’ve been very conscious of lately. Part of it’s that i’m just not a very good artist, but another part is that i’ve fallen into a distinct pattern that could definitely be taken the wrong way along lines that you suggest. All i can say is give me time; the comic isn’t gonna end for a while, so what i can strive for is some greater sense of diversity when the run of the strip is taken as a whole upon its completion however many years from now. I can’t represent every kind of person in my art, but i can definitely do better. I guess it started as a reaction to what other comics were doing in terms of typecasting, like you describe, but i agree for sure that i’ve probably gone too far in the other direction at this point. A person’s appearance is of course unimportant in relation to their character, but if i’m only portraying one kind of appearance then that could certainly be taken the wrong way and so i thank you for bringing up the topic.

  79. CCS Says:

    Brevity is the soul of wit. Some of your comic are very good and humorous. Many are not, loaded down with walls of text that inhibit reading and are not at all enjoyable to look at. You really should try making comics, not illustrated short stories.

  80. Melvazord Says:

    Question (rhetorical) for CCS and the many others who make the same comment:
    If you do not enjoy the “B.W.T”s* then why, I ask you, do you even read Subnormality?

    Don’t give Winston (or indeed anyone else) pointers, tips or suggestions about the type of webcomic YOU would like them to create, trust me they couldn’t care less**
    I, Winston and most other sane*** human beings have a policy of “hey fuck it, I’ll do what makes ME happy”
    In short, SHHHHHHH

    *Big Walls o’ Text

    **This is the correct and only logical wording of this saying

    *** for a given value of “sane”

  81. Melvazord Says:

    PS I apologise for essentially putting words in your mouth there Winston, rant mode was active.

  82. Suntiger Says:

    @Snorkmaiden (Yay for Moomins btw! ;) )
    Obviously you interpreted the comic in a certain way, and Winston has given his reply as to why he writes the characters as he does.
    However, since I’m curious about people’s thoughts and how they think and a nosy, interfering busybody, I’ll offer how I saw the points you brought up.

    Murder/Throttler eating people:
    Of course it becomes very intensely personal for the people she actually eats, but on a moral/ethical scale her eating humans is as much murder as we humans eating pigs and cows.
    Granted, unlike us she can talk with her food. However, it comes through pretty clearly that it doesn’t change her view of us as prey.
    That’s a pretty important distinction I think.

    Humans usually doesn’t see each other as prey to catch and eat. Not even in the stone age, as far as we know, except when people were starving (that holds for sieges as well, in bronze age and medieval times, and in ‘Alive!’ the surviving football team eat their dead when there’s no other source of food, but I digress).
    Perhaps it is an effect of pack mentality that got translated into a religious and cultural taboo among most tribes/people (though not all), or perhaps humans are too hard to catch and kill compared to, say, rabbits or deer.
    However, we do see pretty much everything besides humans as prey, provided it is edible and not too hard to kill.
    Even though some of those ‘prey’ clearly are intelligent, though unable to speak our language.

    Returning to the pack mentality, those tribes that did practice cannibalism usually did so against people outside their tribe, if memory serves. Outside the pack/tribe = you’re fair game.
    The sphinx is not only outside the pack (or rather the other way around, we’re not in hers), she’s a different species.
    One that is much tougher, stronger, lives longer (ergo, more experienced) and is arguably more intelligent than most humans.
    Thus, in a moral sense, her eating a human is the equivalent of us eating a pig or cow. Yes, even with our ability to communicate with her – because that’s how she sees it.

    A case of might makes right if you will, which is the default mode of humanity’s attitude towards pretty much everything else on the planet.
    The only difference here is that the shoe is on the other foot.
    Or to put it another way: To Throttler, eating humans is not a moral decision, she’s just hungry. Like she said herself, she’s indifferent (you’d think she’d eat more cows though; there’s more food on them and I bet they taste better too).
    To sum up my longwinded argument; to me the sphinx eating humans isn’t murder.
    Using an old hunter proverb: If it gets caught it deserves to be eaten. ;)

    Solipsism:
    Pinky having a hard time feeling angry about people unless they have treated her bad, well, that’s pretty much how humans are wired.
    Only our capability to reason and preserve knowledge outside our own memory and communicate that knowledge between each other even makes it possible to be intellectually aware of events happening to other people outside the area we can reach/move in.
    However, even with a well-developed empathy being intellectually aware of something and going through it yourself is two very different things.
    No matter how much you empathize with people in trouble you don’t feel the same way about the people who cause them harm as they do (for good and ill).
    Thus, the response you feel is usually more grounded in your own ethics and morals than in any actual emotional connection to the victims.
    Pinky herself is aware of this and says that she feels bad that she isn’t better at empathizing with the victims, but at the same time she can’t force herself to feel more, because there’s nothing there to feel.
    Blaming her for lacking morals in that case might or might not be valid, though in the end energy better put elsewhere.
    It should be noted though that neither Pinky nor the comic tries to justify this or brush it off. It’s just how she is and she acknowledge it as a flaw she has (like her vanity).
    This is not a free pass for either her or other people to not trying to make the world a little better or safer, but neither should anyone expect her or anyone else to take on all the burdens in the world. Or judge people prematurely.
    You do what you can, not what people expect you to do. Anything else will make you unhappy and others unhappy and/or angry, which is a net loss for all.

    Anorexia:
    I’d consider Pinky slim rather than anorectic, but that aside, what she says is that she likes to confirm to the social norm of being slim = attractive more than she likes to eat. Ergo, she’s vain.
    Again however, neither she nor the comic tries to justify this in any way, at least that’s how I see it.
    Pinky acknowledge it as a flaw in herself; she’s vain. She doesn’t plan to change her ways though, but I still does not see that as any justification of anorexia or the “thin ideal” (and Throttler just doesn’t care either way). Rather, it shows what she think of herself without coming with any moral pointers either for or against it.

    I hope this illustrates how people can interpret the same thing in very different ways.
    The thing to remember is that it is our own views and not project them (or perceived intentions) onto anyone else.
    Well, until we develop telepathy anyway. :P

    And responding to Winston responding to Johnny:
    Pinky or the other character’s looks isn’t something I had reflected much over, though I don’t think it would matter much if their looks were changed (within human limits. If you drew Pinky having three heads, tentacles for legs and green skin I might think differently. Or perhaps not :P ).

    It’s not that I’m unaware of their looks, rather I think their looks are incidental to their characters.
    A bit like Johnny Rico in ‘Starship Troopers’. His character is what describes the story and moves it forward. When it’s revealed that he’s filipino at the end, it doesn’t really change anything.
    (I don’t know if that was the case when the book was published, but for me it did not change how I perceived him or the story.)

  83. Suntiger Says:

    Actually, that might make a very interesting test, Winston.
    Draw different characters who says the exact same thing and see how people react to and interpret it. ;)

  84. Jarkko Koponen Says:

    Thank you.

  85. AlanSmithee Says:

    Yeah, that’s totally what immortality does to you.

  86. Richter Says:

    Dammit WR, will you ever fail us? Another great comic. Love the bus driver; I laughed outloud at his face. Love Former Pink Haired Girl (what’s her name anyway, and will she ever dye her hair pink again?). And love the Sphynx. I want to hug her.

  87. Suntiger Says:

    Gah, I was thinking of the panel where Throttler says it’s bizarre that Pinky “starves” herself when I stated she didn’t care.
    It still stands though, she just thinks it’s ok to be vain rather than being indifferent.
    Not quite the same as endorsing or justifying anorexia in my book.
    Of course, your mileage may vary. ;)

  88. Sean Says:

    So you have named the nameless?
    Cool, and on one level, needed.
    But the only kill sequence that I recall has Throttler shooting beams of light from her eyes. While she might have deserved that name in ancient Greece, I am not sure she does now.

  89. Suntiger Says:

    Winston hasn’t named the sphinx, I’ve just used the name she has in greek mythology (Throttler or Strangler) because that is the sphnix she resembles most (in attitude if not looks at least) and if I recall my strips right it is the area she has spent most time in before she got to where she currently is.

    Granted, sphinxes appear in both the mediterranean (well, egypt), middle east and near asia, and quite some time before the greek one to boot.
    While the great sphinx of Giza is a male (named Haramakis if memory serves) there were both male and female ones.
    Usually a lions body with a human head. Sometimes winged, sometimes not.
    They did not have the bosom of a human female, which the greek sphinx did, which argues for “our” sphinx being egyptian, middle eastern or asian, but in those areas the sphinxes (emphasis on the plural against the greek singular) are more associated with guardian traditions, taking away the sins and/or evils/curses of the tempelgoers as they pass the gate (where the sphinxes often are located).

    Anyway, regardless of the origins of “our” sphinx, I decided to use Throttler because of her attitude (just subtract the riddles ;)) and a name does make it easier to write about her without having to go ‘the sphinx’ all the time. That feels a bit impersonal, but going the other way and call her ‘Sphinxy’ or something like that would feel a bit rude. Like calling Taj Mahal an old house for dead people. Throttler is more personal but also has more dignity. Sort of.

    I’m weird that way. :P

  90. Nico Says:

    I love the sphynx.

    Though I am a little disappointed she wants to use public transit. What happened to her hate-on for traffic?

  91. mikeN Says:

    Yay! 150 + Sphynx! It’s a shame they make her take the bus. Ah, modernity.

  92. Quirel Says:

    Meh, the connection between the Girl Whose Hair was Formerly Known to be Pink and the Sphinx (my favorite character in here) is easy…

    Has nobody else picked up on the fact that the bus driver has been featured before?

  93. bo Says:

    uh This stuff is like morphine. I feel less like shit and more like coping.

  94. moaem Says:

    imagine walking down the street on a normal day and suddenly you see a sphynx on the roof of a speeding bus.
    i’d totally take that photo.

  95. Michael Says:

    Is that ‘Stephen Harper’ getting off at the Organic Food Mart?


  96. Melvazord: You’re okay to put words in my mouth on this one, fear not. I just don’t have the energy to deal with the “brevity is wit” peanut gallery these days, so your input is more than welcome.

    Suntiger: I continue to Love what you have to say, and i continue to takes notes. As for the Sphynx’s origin, she’s like the historical ones but slightly off, hence the misspelling of the name with a y and not an i.

    Michael: Stephen Harper is internationally renown for his love of sustainable food sources (and his love of using public transit).

  97. GerryB Says:

    Maaan it’s Friday, the Sphiynx is at peace with F?HGirl, Winston’s watching over the coop and it’s Time To Beer.

    The only thing Subnormality misses, truly, is a bar. If someone can make that happen, among the Thinkers in here, (or sycophants, acolytes, I’m not proud, just proud) then I’ll drink with all of you.

    Cheers Winston! Happy Birthday that we miss Every Year Whenever It Is !!!

  98. Sean Says:

    GerryB: try alt.callahans, a good virtual bar.

    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.callahans/topics

  99. Sean Says:

    While we are chasing references, Degrasi street may be a pointer to Degrassi high school, a school featured in a show by that name.
    So what is the ref on 13th street? Gotta have a ref, right?

  100. Greg Says:

    I really like this strip, and this is especially delightful. I hope you try writing books or plays sometime. The way you see people is so darkly cheerful, and very few authors can create real characters in a single page. And then I could actually buy your stuff and give you more than an sincere thanks!

  101. Thaif Says:

    I do see Sphynxs as a on-and-off author expy, with a personality and a character of her own.

    That said I don’t mind the expyism as the whole comic is like that(deep in subject matters and compellingly brutally honest in it’s presentation).

    Quite an obvious assesment, but simple obsevations tend to have a complex causal story behind it all.

    A cynically observant, but self-ironically hopefull comic drawn by and for that same kind of people of warying intensity in the two.

    Thanks for the 150 strips of depressing and uplifting, often both in the same strip, comiks.

  102. Anna Says:

    Bahahahahaha…. This one is awesome. They are all awesome actually. Sorry I have nothing more intellegent to say.
    Love you
    Anna

  103. Thomas Says:

    Happy 150th, Winston! Looking forward to many more. :-)

    @Spacecoyote: the Sphynx doesn’t fly because the airspace over the city is restricted. This was explained in #100 http://www.viruscomix.com/page467.html

  104. Bystander Says:

    Long time reader, first time writer and I have to say I love your thought provoking, funny and sometimes maddening comics.

    I’ve just got to reply to Snorkmaiden (yay for debate!). Anorexia and solipsism I’ll give you (though their role in the strip is more of a barbed commentary than it is something to take at face value), but not murder.

    It cannot be murder as that is the intentional, unlawful killing of a person by another person. If you’re killed by a tree falling on you, that’s not murder. If you’re killed by a lion that wants to eat you, that’s not murder and so, no the comic doesn’t portray murder.

    Unlike a murderer, the Sphynx bears as much ill will towards people as I did to the chickens we used to keep for food. It’s sufficient to a murderer that you die — that’s the entire object of the exercise. For the Sphynx, death is just an unfortunate effect of eating something — it’s not the point, which is a full stomach.

  105. valy Says:

    congratulations on the “3 years and going”!!!hope that there will be more of those mindblowing-realisation comix on the way…
    and this: . your work can be really inspiring, hope it shows you what a great comic you are making.

    about the comic, mixing the formal-pinkhaired-girl with the sphynx?the formula for a good subnormality great comic…and it was nice seeing the sphynx having relationship troubles, she has a human head…she couldn’t be that rationalist

    great comic,and please…do a follow up on these two together xD

  106. valy Says:

    sorry: “and this: http://tinypic.com/r/2n7mtj7/5 . your work can be really inspiring, hope it shows you what a great comic you are making.”

  107. Richter Says:

    Next comic with those two needs to feature Pink haired girl riding the Shpynx’s back like Atreyu and Falcor in the Neverending Story. :-)

  108. AliceHatt Says:

    Congrats.
    Loved this one.
    But the “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” one is still my favorite. Or the brain one. Or the tampon one. Or the…nvm.

    I love how you mix the impossible with the possible and manage to keep all the characters three dimensional.

    I love how you describe yourself as a cynic, but love humanity.

    I love… a lot that I can’t be organized in my head so I won’t bother to write.

    I want to bake you cookies.

  109. Hexadecima Says:

    In re the design of the Sphynx: “hence the misspelling of the name with a y and not an i.”

    When this was first introduced, I had figured that she was, at least in part, meant to poke fun at radical feminism (as in ‘womyn’.) Was this, per chance, intentional?

  110. Catinthewall Says:

    Why does the comic start on page 324?

  111. johnny Says:

    thank you, winston, for responding to my concerns in a reasonable and non-reactionary way. you gain a lot of respect from me for not getting over-defensive and vicious like a lot of people do when asked to address possible problems in their own work. i’m glad to hear this is something you’ve taken note of and want to work to change.

  112. Levi Says:

    Hey congrats on your 150th comic! Long time reader and big fan. I like the development on the (formerly)pink haired girl and the Sphinx, possibly a friendship in the future, though that would be awkward having to introduce her to her friends (Or vice versa with the Sphinx’s mythological friends).

  113. Anterodyne Says:

    Wow, I just realized that the Sphinx is a perfect metaphor for the West- powerful, callous, hypocritical, even slightly cruel to the faceless masses she doesn’t know or cares to know for the sake of her lifestyle, but caring and sympathetic to those few that she actually recognizes. Also, wrapped up in her own self-image while trying to seem like she’s not.

    Or maybe I’m reading into it waaaay too much.

  114. Hexadecima Says:

    Anterodyne: maybe everything’s like that and you just happen to not like the West.

  115. JeremyJoseph Says:

    Enjoyable and curious making. Also, you hit the Bill Hicks nail on the head. :D
    “Oh, my Me!”

  116. Offendi Says:

    Last panel: is this the first time this has ever happened to the Sphinx?

  117. dannykins Says:

    ending panel is so cute, glad to see more of them together.

  118. Arnday Says:

    Wot no bananas Winston?

  119. Gary Watson Says:

    There’s a “donate” button on the viruscomix home page. If you want to encourage WR to spend more of his time on this and/or to thank him for what he’d done to brighten this dark corner of the Internet, then fork over a few bucks. Takes less than 3 minutes. Personally, I always give a big donation when there’s a good FRHG episode, but that’s me an my priority system.

  120. Alain Says:

    Mr. Winston

    I’ve been reading your comments and i think you express yourself like the sphynx :)

    I enjoy a lot reading subnormality, especially on vacation and lonely saturday nights.

    Saludos from Mexico!

  121. Rick Says:

    Best Sphynx-themed comic I’ve read yet!

  122. Mr Gask Says:

    Nice R. Crumb reference thrown in there.

  123. Courtney Says:

    I love these comics. Thank you so much for contributing something awesome to the internet :)

    Keep up the great work, I always look forward to the next update.

  124. SotiCoto Says:

    I help people sometimes.
    I hate them, but I help them.
    I do it because I’m intolerant of incompetence… and a bit of a control-freak.
    I see something being done wrong, over and over, and I just want to correct it.
    Usually when I help people, I give them this glare like they should be ashamed of being so bloody useless at doing a thing that I had to step in to help them.
    Stupid humans.

    Point is, it is entirely possible to have one opinion on a person and another opinion entirely about an action… and while you wouldn’t step in for the person, you might step in for the action… or something like that.

  125. Mystyr Nile Says:

    That last panel was hilarious, and that hairstyle is /indeed/ fabulous!


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