the inner dark

February 10, 2011

New one for you.

-WR

204 Responses to “the inner dark”

  1. bachterman Says:

    thanks for the midnight treat :)

  2. Z Says:

    You’re comments always seem to hit home for me, I really appreciate your efforts.

  3. Edwin Says:

    Fantastic work, this is the kind of posters that should be in high school’s walls.

  4. Dominic Says:

    That internal monologue hits impressively close to home. Let’s form a club of people who occasionally feel really shitty about themselves, I’m sure it’ll be a great success!

    • Midoriem Says:

      Can I join your Feel Bad Club? I think this basically sums up where my head’s been at for most of this week. Nice work as always, Winston.

  5. Jake Says:

    I love looking in the background of your comic, (Not that the foreground is any less interesting.) I laughed at the graffiti in the tunnel that said “Graffiti”

  6. Jamie Says:

    Dude. Dark stuff, glad I checked tonight. Nice ending though, that stuff is pure.. Whatever my vague use of adjectives means, know that it’s at least a half-hearted attempt to be complimentary towards your skill.

    Or,

    WRite Muuore Funny Comikxs!!11!

  7. Njam! Says:

    Awesome. Really cheered me up. Also, I love the lettering in this one. Keep it up, Rowntree, you are the master.

  8. Keely Says:

    LOVE this. Love it. I’d scream the same thing at my internal monologue, but then it would probably tell me nobody liked me because I looked crazy.

  9. Paul Says:

    6000 SUX: I’d buy that for a dollar!

  10. fishboy Says:

    Bravo. I hope to shout down my black dog someday too. Love it.

  11. Joe Says:

    Love it! Awesome work Winston

  12. Dan Says:

    I had one of those following me around before I started poppin’ antidepressants (which work WONDERS by the way). Hit real close to home, I think this is my favorite comic so far.

  13. Bill Says:

    I love how the inner dark is connected to her in every shot right up to the last panel; very subtle artistic touch. Brilliant work once again!

  14. Art Says:

    I’ve never posted here before, but I’ve read all your stuff and followed this webcomic for a long time. It’s the only one I read. This particular one let me cry for the first time in almost ten years. Thank you.

  15. Benji Says:

    Not only do you make great comics with great message, you can capture the feelings of the time to within a week. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s having a really shitty week. My friend’s step dad’s brother killed himself today, and despite the distant connection, it shook me. This sort of thing is just what I needed. Thank you.

  16. Rex Says:

    i can never decide if your stuff is more optimist or pessimist. i guess we could go with realist, but it’s so heavily weighted both ways…extreme realist? kinda puts me in mind of someone writing a comic about complete banalities tho. like eating a bowl of cereal or something.

    anyway, at the risk of sounding very creepy- whatever it is that you’re doing, don’t stop.

  17. PLF Says:

    Hot damn, I love when the true message of a webcomic/poem/short story hits you like a softball to the face. Hard. That’s how I like my epiphanies.

  18. Kalina Says:

    I used to think that was Death yelling all that crap in my ear all the time until one day I snapped I think and when there was some dude with a janitor’s cart and a mop tapping me on the shoulder and he asked if I was finished with that. It turns out I was pulling flesh off the bones of my former tormentor with my teeth. I was a little tired at that point, maybe a little depressed so I dropped the bone into the garbage bag on the front of the cart while the guy finished mopping up. Guy sits down beside me and offers a handkerchief. I accept, and say, “You’re Death, right?”

    He grins and said, “What gave me away?”

    I said, “The mop.” And gave myself a face wipe with the kerchief. Death gestures to the trash bag, so I toss it in there when I’m done. I ask, “And that other guy?”

    Death shrugs and says, “Fear. He’s an arse but he does his job right.”

    “Teaches courage, right?” I ask.

    Rhetorical question. Death recognises that but nods anyway. He gets up and hangs the mop back on the cart. He grins, “Best get to it, we both got work tah do, yanno?”

    I get up too, slowly, still tired. Death looks around, shrugs again and offers a handshake. Nah, none of that, I give Death a hug and say, “Take care, man. See ya again when the time’s right.” I think I made his day.

    True metaphor.

  19. NeuroManson Says:

    Well, that’s okay, I think she looks kinda cute.

    HAH! YOU THINK THAT’S GOING TO AMOUNT TO ANYTHING, SHE’S A CARTOON CHARACTER, AND EVEN THEN, REAL WOMEN WOULD SHOOT YOU RIGHT DOWN BECAUSE THEY PREFER THE 2 DIMENSIONAL, SHALLOW TYPE, JUST TRY, THERE YA GO, DOWN LIKE GREASE THROUGH A GOOSE!

  20. Hexadecima Says:

    GET A THERAPIST.

    Also: “ASSURED” in the second panel is really hard to read. Could that “U” be fixed?

  21. Eskarina Says:

    Wow. I mean your stuff is always awesome and always manages to speak to me but this one really just… made all my own self-image issues just vanish, :) thank you.

  22. Flup Says:

    Thankyou for that cheer-up :)

  23. PusillanimousRex Says:

    How very (and oddly) fortuitously timed this comic was for me. Thank you?

  24. Colin Says:

    The way you know what’s going on inside my head at 3 a.m. is a bit worrying. Anybody got any aluminium foil?

  25. Dusty668 Says:

    Cheap-O’s stay inexpensive even in discount Milk! Loved the comic!

  26. JesterRaiin Says:

    Dziękuję.

  27. Stranger Says:

    Ahhhhh yes, so very very true…

    …except my inner dark never goes away.

  28. Harry Says:

    This is exactly what I think! The whole idea about rationalizing a lack of beauty by trying to convince myself that because beauty is subjective, it’s ok not to have it. PLEASE, PLEASE make this a poster. PLEASE. I *need* to stick it up on my wall so that I can see it every day.

  29. Wyde Says:

    Inner dark looks like it didn’t think of that last retort, so I assume it probably disappeared in a puff of logic.

    Excellent read, as usual.

  30. Josh Says:

    The inner dark is the only reason I get up in the morning. Otherwise I would be content.

  31. Stag Says:

    Disturbing.
    Don’t think I ever had it quite that bad.

  32. DoubleW Says:

    I talk to my inner monologue all the time.
    Why does everyone think it’s weird?

  33. DarkCanuck Says:

    Hey WR, been reading this comic for a couple of years but this is the first time I’ve left a comment here. I just wanted to say that I think the “Only you can see the reasons to hate yourself!” line was probably the most powerful one I’ve ever read on this site.
    Such a simple message too.

    I’d say you should make it into a t-shirt but that would probably just make it trite.

    Cheers and keep up the good work!

  34. NDNX Says:

    All these comics are just awesome. I love how you always shine a light into the corners of North American society and the human psyche where nobody else goes.

    Very inspirational, good sir.

  35. Dom Says:

    Thanks! Now I can wear my parka and dress like a mod in public, because you know what?

    NO ONE BUT ME GIVES A SHIT!

    • Eth-Zee Says:

      This is quite true. A large proportion of people are fairly self-centred, to an extent that caring about what other people look like doesn’t matter that much. I know I am, at least. If I see someone ‘oddly-dressed’ (and I wouldn’t call a parka odd) then I would probably give them the benefit of the doubt.

  36. Otter. Says:

    Is it weird that I read Subnormality and watch “Tales of mere existence” on YouTube too?

    I wonder what would Winston and Lev would talk about if they would meet. :)

    • TH Says:

      I watch both as well… and I think your question is extremely interesting! I mean no offense to Lev but the more I contemplate such a conversation, the more I think W. Rowntree has a bit more gritty, multifaceted grasp on things.

      No doubt, they could commiserate on the personal insecurities and oddities individuals seem prone to, especially in relationships, but Lev has never provided the insight into societal and cultural affairs that in the same way Rowntree has for me. I find both very poignant, and again no slight against Lev, but I think Subnormality is the sharper work.

  37. Bystander Says:

    Oh.

    Thank you.

  38. Sean Says:

    Yes. That.

  39. Richter Says:

    Man, that one hit close to home. I got one of those beasts shouting in my mind all the time. I wish he was that easy to shake off.

    Gotta love Lady of the Night though; she’s my favourite character after PHG.

    Optional art question for WR: personally I would have made the girl’s speech bubble different from the monster’s to illustrate the final break, but since this Subnormality there’s probably a reason as to why it was kept in the same colors/design?

  40. Jack_Cookie Says:

    Man I love yelling at incorporeal embodiments of my own subconscious on the street!

    NO WONDER PEOPLE THINK YOURE A FREAK, YOU YELL AT NOTHING LIKE A CRAZY UGLY HOBO, YOU EVEN DRESS LIKE ONE.

    I’ve always been curious about people who aren’t so analytical of their emotions and generally happier. Do they have like a little voice in their head soothingly telling them how great they are all the time? Like, even happy people have insecurities, but is there like a balance of voices in their heads…? (ya that didn’t come out right)

    Or is it just ignorance is bliss and if you refuse to recognize it you can’t feel bad about it?

    Anyways, I’m a big fan, been reading Subnormality from the start, keep making them this good and I’ll keep readin, maybe I’ll even buy a poster.

    • Richter Says:

      It may have to do with the support network. Many unhappy people have few or no friends, or a limited social life. So when the monster talks to them, they have no one to snap them out of it. He talks longer and you end up relying to the voice in your mind lmore than outside ones.

      And it becomes self-feeding prophecies quickly. The less outside feedback you have, the more alone you feel, and the more the inner dark feels like your only ‘friend’, the only feedback loop that ‘gets’ you. Since he’s always ‘there’ for you, he must be right, eh? He’s the only faithful entity you have around because no one else can stand you.

      (Girl’s voice) Well, maybe people could stand you more if you stopped taking advice from a brooding dark cloud of negativity! (Girl’s voice)

    • frag Says:

      Apparently I can’t reply to a reply, but I want to ++ Richter’s reply. There’s a whole book about this: Loneliness, by Cacioppo and Patrick. Here’s a good review of it:

      http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article08140801.aspx

    • Chocolate Covered Cotton Says:

      @Richter:
      This isn’t mere unhappiness nor lack of social life. It’s severe clinical depression. The Inner Dark monster is itself a creation of a brain wracked by a simple neurochemical imbalance, usually pretty easily treatable with meds. The imbalance causes the horrible emotional state- and it’s a constant state- and the thoughts come up from that.

      It doesn’t actually help to have someone remind you to “snap out of it.” Because you can’t. No more than a diabetic can adjust their blood sugar by an act of will. In my experience, well-meaning friends actually kind of made it worse saying, “come on, just snap out of it.” See, that implies one has control over it and therefore the suffering is one’s own fault. It also reveals that even the people closest to you don’t really get what’s happening, which feeds the sense of isolation.

      Depression is no joke. This strip today was absolutely spot on, the closest description of the experience I’ve seen.

      Thanks, Winston.

    • Erdosain Says:

      I disagree with Cotton, not ALL of the people who has an ugly monster on its back is clinically depressed and needing meds to make it right.
      Cognitive dissonance product of the ambience you are involved in (family history, social surroundings, etc) may have the same effect, and the only way of effectively get through that is with lots of work in therapy.

  41. No Hablo Ingles Says:

    God, I needed this. My self esteem has just been plummeting lately.

  42. Sutowato Says:

    This is an amazing piece as always, but I really have to stop coming here when I am depressed. The fact that there are so many people who feel like this just makes makes me feel even worse… at least she doesn’t have the red guy as well.

    I am going to have to look in your shop again to see if you have a book yet.

  43. Ace Says:

    Thank gods I haven’t had to deal with this guy for more than a few seconds at once for a really long time now.

  44. Solis Says:

    Thanks for making this comic, man. I’ve been feeling like shit since I woke up and this just brightened my day up. Great work, like always.

  45. Mercè Says:

    Thank you. Seriously.

  46. Aisu Says:

    I was reading way too many things I think to myself in the early panels of this, and starting to feel worse and worse… and then that ending came and for the first time in a while I felt really, really relieved. It’s nice to realize that only we get to hear our own inner dark – and, judging from the comments and the comic, that everyone else has one too. I even look a little like that girl.

    Thank you so much, Winston. A lot of your comics have spoken to me, but this one actually helped me wake up a little.

    (Now if I can actually get the courage to ask the guy I like out now is a different question…)

  47. Zombocom Says:

    That was almost too much, Winston. I’m glad to see people feel the way I do but, man. That just got me worked up. Either way, for me, a classic of yours. Read almost all your comics, this is my first comment.

  48. Rob Says:

    I can’t say it was really resolved to be honest, sure these voices are a figment of your imagination but that doesn’t make them any less real (and she obv knows its in her head from the start). I would have ended it with the monster actually being visible to her friends and they deal with it.

    also, it was a little hard to read at some points in the larger texts as the style can get cluttered (maybe its just my eyes going!)

    My bitching aside I enjoy your comics and thanks for going into that little voice we all have in our heads

    • Golux Says:

      Often the biggest resolutions in our life are internal to us and cannot be done by anyone else. Our friends can give us moral support, but they cannot resolve our problem unless we resolve it within ourselves.

      As a friend found going through rehab, it’s a useless waste unless you decide you must change for yourself, not your kids, your buddies, your family, wife, etc. but to save yourself.

  49. RoadBeef Says:

    Right there with Zombocom.

    Big thumbs up.

  50. Bill W Says:

    This one is way too close for comfort. It’s amazing to realise how many people go through “the inner dark” everyday, and here I was thinking it’s just me

  51. John Says:

    Been following your work for awhile. This entry really hits home so, for what its worth, thanks for making it.


  52. Hey man, are you okay? You’re a very talented artist and I’ve enjoyed your art for over a year now, even if at times it’s too socialist for my liking, but every now and then you post one of these type of articles, which makes me wonder if you are okay. Often times you here people so desperate they say “I just got to do me now”, not understanding our fates are all intertwined. There are a lot of dharmic minded non-Buddhist non-Hindi running around out here, even though we appear very diluted in the mainstream waters. We exist. I for one like to count myself among their numbers and I do want to know, are you alright?


    • Me? I’m alright. A lot of comix i do to make myself feel better about something, and this was definitely one of them. And thanks so much for the support– for sticking with the strip for over a year despite any philosophical differences. That’s definitely alright, so cheers.

  53. Pika Says:

    First time commenting. I actually sent you a picture of me in a t-shirt and you never posted it up. I know you’re busy. Just like to let you know that this comic really hit home for me. I set the last panel as my desktop background. It’s a good thing to remember.

    Thanks for that, WR.


    • Really glad you liked it. And i apologize for not posting your picture. You weren’t alone in that, it was just one of those things i wasn’t able to get to unfortunately, like a lot of stuff i’ve meant to do over the past few years. I guess it’s overall good to be busy, but for what it’s worth i do regret the unfulfilled intentions. Thanks again for sending it though, and for the support!

  54. Baru Says:

    Oh geez.

    I should really confront my own inner dark sometime.

  55. Mister X Says:

    I prefer to live life as it doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t. No stress, no expectations, just do what you can, find happiness where you make it.

    Also the 6000 SUX gets better gas mileage than an Explorer, making it an economy car in New Detroit.

    OCP. Yes, we own that.

  56. Syndic Says:

    Awesome finish there, a perspective that I haven’t seen or heard about before, and yet it’s the perfect way to view those self-doubts. I don’t listen to those voices myself, but this comic might just be the thing to link some friends to. Thanks for brightening my (and hopefully their^^) day :)

  57. JCBS Says:

    you’re a genius.

  58. Kalontas Says:

    I feel confused about this strip. When I saw how it started, I thought there’d be something to help people who feel bad about themselves.

    Finale? “If only I can hear you, maybe you don’t exist.” The problem is, I feel like I’m the only one who can hear myself crying out for help… so I don’t exist? Either my problems are completely unusual or I’m just not getting this comic (as I apparently didn’t get one or two before).

    • Abel Says:

      springboard for discussion maybe? But I feel ya. If only it’s that easy to talk yourself out of a very reinforced negative self image in full downward spiral. with one thought.

      I’m a big fan of two flavors of “turning out the dark.”

      One: Beat yourself at your own game. (Work within the system) Argue back with the innerdark. My favorite thing to wonder is if the innerdark/me are really as pathetic as it/me says. . . how can I rationalize it/me being so good at reading everyone’s minds so specifically? “people waiting for me to die” is a really specific thought to think. If I suck so bad, how can I get so specific about what the world at large thinks of me? And then project that “truth” in to the world and act as if it’s already “true.” If I’m so unsure of how I am, how can I be so sure that I suck like this? That’s some sophisticated shit for someone as pathetic as me/the inner dark to do. . . . And if I suck, chances are my mindreading skills are equally sucky. Which means these horribly specific interpretations of the world at large have some serious explaining to do. I think this is usually a good catalyst for making that walk back up the dark spiral one step at a time. Not super positive, but a favorite first step, because, I aint no psychic.

      It’s a bad habit, that innerdark. Habits are formed with practice. The more I practice, the more automatic it gets. It goes from a seed, a thought in the “back” o’ my head, that I let “invade” i.e. I think it often, and doing anything often is the same as practice in this context. . . With practice this thought slowly gets hardwired (literally hardwired, habits of perception we practice fire those patterns of synapses faster! our brains like to think in well worn paths: WHERE WE WALK OFTEN WE WALK WITH EASE) Pragmatically, for some of us, getting to the origin of these bad habits is retracing a convoluted path. . . so. . . I like focusing on it as a habit. . . and understaning that changing habits is a painfully, painfully, horribly, ridiculously, gradual process that moves on a gradient from 0-100.
      I dig this because it helps ease the pain of wanting unlimited willpower, and also eases the suffering coming from a culture that feels like it needs to account for every nook-and-cranny o’ yourself before you can change. Instead of asking “Where did this start and why” it’s more like asking “how does this work” and “how can I use the things I’m already doing to my advantage.”

      Fuck arguing with it just think “I’m okay” and take the time to hard-wire myself to internalize these awesome thoughts with the same systematic fuck-a-thon-strategy that may have been a major factor in bringing me to my knees. . .
      What’s good about knowing the process of habituation. . .Once that’s already done, I can start to apply the process and let the results take care of themselves. Slowly, gradually, sustainably. Once that “I’m Okay” thought starts to invade more and more perceptions, it can get more sophisticated, more automatic, more real-feelin’ in the same way “I suck” manifests in to “Everyone’s waiting for me to die” “I’m too different.”

  59. Kirk Says:

    Awesome. I used to have one of those riding me, and then I kicked it to the curb. It still comes whining around when there’s a chink in my armor, like maybe I’m late with the rent, but I just keep hitting the reset. And it does help to remember that most everyone has one of those.

  60. Obi-Wan Says:

    Thanks for doing what you do. Never give up, WR.

  61. Tony Darkwood Says:

    Another great comic. Your art is inspiring. Loved the 6000 SUX ad!

  62. Ben Says:

    Hey Winston,

    Been reading your comic for only a few weeks but I’m going to claim I’ve been reading it for years and that this is my first comment because I was particularily moved when in fact it is because I only recently read through the whole archives and decided to comment on the newest one….

    Is it just me or are you getting a lot of comments like this the past few strips? ;-P

  63. Thomas Says:

    @Kalontas: I don’t think this strip is about someone crying out for help; it’s about someone who feels worthless because of certain opinions that certain people may have about her — and who finally realizes that there are people who *don’t* have those opinions, and that *those* people are her friends. In other words, don’t obsess about the people who don’t like you; spend your time with the ones that do.

  64. frag Says:

    Really liked, and related to, this one, and I liked that she used It’s own voice back on It in the end.

    My only issue with this is that I can’t read the Lunch Special in the window of Bistro Harvey. Would it be hasenpfeffer?

  65. The Old Wolf Says:

    Spot-on. We only give the inner demons power if we listen.

  66. Harry Eckford Says:

    I love these comics…also, is that an xx t-shirt i spy? nice…

  67. Eric Says:

    Thank you so much for this.

  68. TentacledBeast Says:

    The first speech bubble kind of resonated with me, then you lost me. Seeing as this is a comic about people with low self-esteem, I guess that’s a good thing. :P

  69. Colleen Dick Says:

    I thought I was the only one who had that conversation with my inner beast. Loved it, I will definitely read this comic again.

  70. S Says:

    Thanks for showing me how I talk to myself sometimes.

  71. Theo Says:

    Amazing! I got some major respect for you now.
    This comic struck some major (minor?) chords with me. I always felt that I should leave no thought unthought, I should prepare myself for the worst by inflicting it upon myself first, I should lower my self-expectations as low as they can go, and then be wonderfully surprised when anyone is even half nice.
    Every panel of this comic rings true to me.
    And the ending is amazing, although it by no means symbolizes the end of the battle, the struggle against the inner dark is lifelong.
    I just wonder if two people with an inner dark like this would be perfect or horrible for each other.
    Once again thanks!
    Cheers,
    theo

  72. Eth-Zee Says:

    Great strip, WR. I’d also like to put in a thumbs up for your new effort on Cracked (Awful Logo Design); funny as hell.

  73. Ejay Says:

    I didn’t even know I needed this. Thank you!

  74. Golux Says:

    The day I learned to do this was one of the most important in my life. Some of us have a pretty cruel voice in our head that we have to conquer before it destroys us. Distance yourself from it, recognize that it is a separate identity from your true identity. Then you can start breaking down it’s seeming authority and hold over you. The first time is a revelation, telling it to shut up can get easier from that point on.

  75. Dave H Says:

    Excuse me, have you been bugging my voices?

  76. Tom Says:

    This needs to be a poster. I would buy this for everyone I know.

  77. GV Says:

    Excellent work mate, this site should be required viewing for all the ignorant fuckwits who refuse to acknowledge the very existence of anything other then their own perception of happiness. If everyone had that monster behind them for a while maybe something would get done about depression. For now the three monkeys with their ears, eyes and mouth covered are in charge.
    One suggestion: perhaps a Black Dog. Have the Sphinx eat it.

  78. Eric Says:

    Wow, this one made me really sad untill the end. Good job, as usual.

  79. Steve Nordquist Says:

    “Have a typeface made from your ur-censor’s dispositional demeanor!”
    Official Font of the Sufficiently Critical; but I like Bookman and script features casually forming Serifs, over Fraktur.

    Still; would a voice-command car (or X-Box) listen to it?

  80. sidaki Says:

    :-( :-)
    Your work, and the comments it elicits, show that we are ALL struggling with the same issues. EVERY.ONE.OF.US.


  81. BOOYAH!

    I cheered at the end. Yayyy!

    I’ll buy you another cuppa coffee soon. Would that i were not poor, and I could support the arts properly. Somebody evil die and leave me an inheritance to squander, dammit.

    ~Sabrina

  82. getbusyyall Says:

    Brilliant. Just the thing to tell it.

  83. pG Says:

    So that’s where my little voice went. I thought he’d died from all the blows with the ‘don’t give a damn’ stick.

    btw. Thanks for the link Alex.

  84. Alex Says:

    I’ve been a fan ever since I realized nobody could be so tone-deaf as to churn out walls of text by accident.

    Anyway I bought a sphinx shirt a few weeks ago in uncharacteristic bright orange. It’s easily the loudest garment in my wardrobe. It’s not much, but it’s a baby step I guess.

  85. Pedro Tejada Says:

    Wow. That was so cathartic. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorites (and this is from a reader who’s read every single one) Keep up the great work!

  86. Where?wolf42 Says:

    This was so perfect of a reflection of myself, that I almost cried when I read it. It is always strange to suddenly realize that everyone has these little things about them, especially after living your whole life thinking that you are alone in having little issues with yourself

  87. Michael Says:

    Great comic, good call on the Robocop reference

  88. QT Says:

    Oh man, panels five and six. GET OUT OF MY HEAD ROWNTREE!

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take a tire iron to the kneecaps of the little voice in the back of my head.

  89. Jay Says:

    The ending to that comic didn’t really help resolve the depression brought on by the rest of it

  90. Tomora Says:

    Holy shit.

  91. senpai Says:

    …this is EXACTLY what I go through every morning. Exactly.
    Thank you so much.

  92. Stone Taggart Says:

    At first, I wanted to give her a hug, because I thought that nobody should have to put up with this. Then I realized, I knew that because it’s what I have gone through again and again until I did pretty much what she had done. And finally, it hit me: this happened to -everyone-… this is you, hugging US.

    …thank you.

  93. Everdark Says:

    It is true – each of us has an inner dark. It is stronger in some people and weaker in others. But it is always there. When you look into one of the room’s dark corners – it will be there. Smiling ;)

  94. Squidsong Says:

    That takes me back… When reading it in someone else’s head, it sounds so absurd that it actually made me laugh. That’s an important lesson to hold on to.

  95. Rob Says:

    Dark, but fucking awesome stuff

  96. johnny Says:

    hey winston. longtime reader, occasional commenter, dedicated admirer. i’ve been struggling with depression for over five years — three of which i spent pretending it was all better and putting on a facade for the sake of my family’s peace of mind. it’s been getting worse again, though; i finally broke down and admitted i was still depressed, and now i’ve been on medication for a couple months. it didn’t work for a while, and my doctor had me try a few different types. just last week it seemed to be working for a little while – and it was fucking wonderful, feeling balanced and functional and just normal for the first time in years – but things have spiralled back down into the same bullshit the past few days. there isn’t a single day that goes by without me thinking about suicide. i don’t have the fucking ovaries for it anyway – the closest i’ve ever come is taking a bottle of painkillers to bed with me and then only taking three before i chickened out (and painkillers as a suicide method have a pretty high failure rate to begin with) – but i hate living like this.

    i can’t say this comic made it magically all better or anything (that’d be holding webcomics up to kinda a high standard), but… it helps. it’s like slowing down and taking a deep breath after holding it for a long time. it’s just nice to recognize a bit of what you’re going through in somebody else, hearing them put words to how you feel. i’m not alone, and i’ve heard that thousands of times before, so i knew it — but it’s hard to really believe it, to have it be more than just words. thanks for this, winston.

    • Abel Says:

      Hey Brutha. Keep it real. Take care of yourself. And know that if you’re gonna choose life, you’ve go the rest of it to make it good/better one step/day at a time.

    • Everdark Says:

      Don’t give up, bro! I’ve been through depression as well, but I managed to overcome it on my own – without anyone’s help. If I could do it, you can too!

      All you need is a little faith. If you convince yourslef that you are stronger than depression, then you will beat it!

    • Aaron Says:

      You’ll get to that point where you can look back at how you were, then realise how far you’ve come.
      Regardless, the past is gone and done, the future is unknowable. The only thing that really matters is the present and everyone has the power to change that. Even you, even in those darkest of times where you _believe_ otherwise.

    • Golux Says:

      Depression sucks. I forged myself a set of mental handcuffs I’d put on when those thoughts of self harm came. Lived with it almost a decade. Medication helps. What I ended up doing that helped the most was a major change of diet with various amino acid supplements and avoiding gluten containing foods due to an inherited failure that allows it to corrode the insides out of our small intestines.

      One doesn’t snap out of it, brighten up, look on the brighter side of life or all the other cliches. Rather it’s a slow awakening where you realize one day you can function better and have actually been for a while. Telling the inner negativity to STFU is a piece of armor you forge over time as well.

      Illegitimi Non Carborundum

  97. bintmejnuna Says:

    This strip is amazing. I want to print it out and frame it and look at it everyday. Most days I’m able put that inner dark in its place, but on those days when it’s hard, this would be good to see. I agree with the person who said this should be a poster. i would buy it.

  98. K Says:

    Beautiful!

  99. Deathcake Says:

    Every time I see this girl in your comics, I think she is a more awesome version of me.

    Thank you.

  100. M. Says:

    Ah, you made my day with this comic. Thank you, Winston, for sharing your work with the world! ‘Subnormality’ is always worth waiting for. :-)

  101. helllo Says:

    this is me.

  102. Nestor Says:

    I think an interesting alternative ending would be if she was eaten by the Sphynx or one of her drinking buddies. Bleak as fuck, but I’ve read Captain Estar, you can do bleak as fuck.

  103. Nestor Says:

    Also check out this similarly themed comic, I think you’ll like it (Before I remembered it was by Eric I thought it might be one of yours)

  104. Sean Says:

    That resonated.

    Deeply.

    Thankyou.

  105. Dusty668 Says:

    If I could marry a comic strip, I think Subnormality would be the one that got away, that I never told my wife about, made sure to never carry a picture of, or mentioned at all.
    The one I thought about while boinking the wife.
    The one that made me cry silently sometimes when sitting in the basement with the bottle of whiskey in the toolbox.

  106. Tomas Says:

    See, the trick is to take negative feelings, translate them into to words, and then scrutinize the words. Most of the time you’ll realize that your worries are nonsense. That’s one of the benefits of talking about your problems, even if you talk to dullards. You know that sitcom cliche where someone will franticly ask for help on an urgent problem and halfway through their rant the speaker will come up with their own solution and thank the listener for their help even though the listener didn’t actually say anything? I’ve done that.

    Also, accolades must be given on the depiction of the monster and the way he takes up space on the couch and the back seat of the car.

  107. Jon Says:

    It’s a pretty brilliant message but halfway through there I started to think maybe it did relate to me. I’ve become pretty happy with myself (in no small part thanks to your comics) but around panel 5 I thought “hang on, does that ring a bell?”. Ending wasnt quite uplifting enough I guess but dont get me wrong, its still a fantastic piece

  108. sfury Says:

    That’s a spot-on one, I’ve caught that fellow talking to me many’a’times, but thankfully realised it’s mostly nonsense and haven’t seen or heard of him for a while. :)

    Man I missed out on 3 or 4 comics while I was away from my home pc and its RSS, so let me say for all of them – brilliant stuff!

  109. benS. Says:

    Hypothetical Desert* Walking

    Well.. she’s surely no supermodel!
    Mirror says: standard model, invisible Sue!

    I bet, only something like 10,000+ bucks in cash could cheer her up.

    Phew… WOMEN* !!

    ben,
    directly from his Oasis*.

    *= Just metaphores!!

  110. zerozine Says:

    there’s no way to describe how much i love this. it is how i’ve been feeling recently (for the past 2 years after finishing uni). Excellent work, keep it up!

  111. Sonny-D Says:

    Is she a fan of The xx or is the T-shirt more relating to her feelings?

  112. Marc Mielke Says:

    I really needed this. It’s becoming increasingly clear that I may have had some level of depression going on twenty years now.

    The two times I’ve begun seeing a shrink about it, I lose my job and medical coverage before I can see any benefits.

    Stupid American healthcare system. None of the medical coverage I’ve had even covers mental health adequately.

  113. Luredez Says:

    It has some degree of truth in it, the inner dark, it does exist, it bears some truth. We shouldn’t be naive. I think it can actually be healthy, it’s like a free-radical and we should every so once in a while take antioxidants to level it. it’s real, live with it, conquer it.

  114. QuakerOats Says:

    Thank God.

    I’m not alone.

    Thank God.

  115. Dave Says:

    …Fuck.

    That resonated. Incredibly timely, at that.

  116. Brenia Says:

    Thank you for this. :)

  117. Niels Bohr Says:

    Is it possible this strip is based on Little Acorns? The problems do seem to hide in her curls!


  118. Beautiful and Inspirational

  119. Dylan Says:

    Really cool, beautiful stuff, especially the last few weeks. Thanks for sharing what most of us could never put into words (or cartoons, for that matter).
    Take Care.

  120. Brian Boyko Says:

    I have to live with this every day. I can’t imagine a better way to explain avoidant personality disorder to someone who doesn’t have it. It so perfectly describes my life.

  121. Hannah Says:

    perfect

  122. Mud Says:

    wow. I don’t think anyone has ever captured what I often go through so perfectly.

  123. Burning Oasis Says:

    Interesting thought…Some days it can be hard to get the dark to shut it though…

  124. brother-eros Says:

    It’s just that the last panels never come.

  125. Alejo Says:

    Powerful stuff

  126. Yula Says:

    Great stuff, the ending is shocking and thought-provoking. Will share with my frineds =D

  127. Trex Says:

    Winston,

    Very powerful strip. Has a positive message.

    On another note, is it possible to add social media sharing links to your site? I’d like to promote my favorites.

  128. Marc Says:

    I’ve only recently delved in to certain aspects of spirituality… but I’ve got to say, after doing so and seeing this comic again, it is almost an exact interpretation of the ego’s affect on our daily life, ending with a realization that it really is just our thoughts and not who we really are.

    To be honest, almost all of your comics have taken in a whole different kind of deeper meaning for me (well, deeper than they already are).

    I’m not sure what I exactly expect in writing this comment, but it was something I felt I needed to do.

  129. laura Says:

    Oh God. That’s me when I was twelve.

  130. Peter Says:

    This thing’s face would make a pretty cool T-shirt in my opinion. Love your comic by the way. Definitely some of the best stuff out there.

  131. Martel Says:

    Your comics are truly something else. I’ve only read 3 of them so far (this one and the next two), and I’m already in love. Never before had I read something so beautiful, or that took advantage of the full potential of the webcomic medium, that narrated a full story with so little, or that was so honest.

  132. ben wessel Says:

    i love it. i love your work and i gotta say this is the most original deserving comics i have ever seen. once i spent a whole day doing nothing but reading your comics. absolutely grand. thank you for writing

  133. jades Says:

    thank you, I needed this today :)

  134. Fumblebee Says:

    I absolutely love your comics. At first, I thought they looked vividly stunning and when I got down to reading them, they blew my mind. I love the fact that you touch upon such real, relevant issues about life that most of us experience and narrate them in the most nonchalant and hilarious manner. They’re a real treat.I wish you the very best and I hope you continue to create outstanding work. I’ll be coming back very often.

  135. Daniel Clark Says:

    I have enjoyed your comics casually, reading them off cracked.com every now and then. I decided to browse through this time and I have to say that your cartoon “the inner dark” really hit home for me. I am still pretty young, and I am staring to come to grips with adulthood, and accepting the responsibilities that comes with it.
    Long story short, Panel 6 specifically really hit home for me. It definitely feels like an individual struggle, to not think or act like “normal” people. I go through this very form of self doubt constantly. It is comforting to see someone else struggling with it too. Not that it is a good thing that they are suffering, just to know that this isn’t necessarily an individual problem I have. Other people feel like outsiders and outcasts because they don’t think exactly like the collective does.
    Didn’t mean to go on rambling, I just wanted to share that I have enjoyed your comic (Subnormality) and the creative work hasn’t gone unnoticed, in fact it has lifted my spirits on this Easter Sunday in which I am eating my dinner alone on front of a computer.

    Thank you,
    Daniel Clark

  136. Kelsey Says:

    I don’t know why, but after reading a (bizarrely similarly dystopic) novel for class, I was starting to wonder if I– the I that is still depressed, no matter how much better I get –was just holding back the people who supported me to this point. Like, maybe I’m just being selfish getting pleasure from their company and now I should let them go?

    And then, internet-searching and soul-searching led me back to this comic once again. Those thoughts are so hard to permanently disconnect, but maybe I’m just not yelling loud enough. :) Thank you.

  137. Paola Says:

    I admire you, and this comic got me, that’s how I feel right now. Keep doing the good work :)

  138. Trilly Says:

    Oh good, I’m not the only one who has one of those fucking things. >.>

  139. Tyler Says:

    Will you please make this into a poster? I will buy the shit out of it. I completely understand longer custom paper will come with an increased cost. COMPLETELY WORTH IT.

    Signed,

    Recently purchased a poster and shirt

  140. seven Says:

    thank you.

  141. ridureyu Says:

    But what if the things it says are all true?

  142. Eddy Vicari Says:

    I’m at a slight loss for words… It was beautiful.

  143. jake Says:

    I honestly love your comics(and im more than sure you have heard that before). i recently stumbled upon them and decided to start reading from the beginning and this is the one i decided to pause on and leave a comment. i doubt it’ll go noticed but on the off chance it does i’d just like to say, i honestly like the tone of your work. while so many people are sure to say that so much of your work is negative or even too negative, i see alot of up beat and inspiring things in them. this one comic made me think of that. well bisides, im sorry for the long message. keep this up, i (and many people im sure) appreciate it.

  144. Marc Says:

    Winston, if your work had any more perspective you would be omniscient, I kind of suspect on some level you are. You have somehow managed to create a portal into the human condition. Your work is brilliant beyond all justification, praise and reverence.
    Thank you for sharing your immeasurable awesome brilliance.

  145. Zette Says:

    Wow, I think that was my internal monologue for most of last winter!! There must be more of those black creatures hanging around us than we realize!

  146. Beck Gardner Says:

    And this one made me cry a bit

  147. Leo Says:

    Genial, sos un grande!!!

    It’s just so true.
    Who hasn’t felt that way sometime in their lives?
    That comic was great, you’re truly a Comic genius.

  148. nirvana Says:

    Eerily familiar. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with an ‘IT’. Lovely comics, by the way.

  149. jake Says:

    i dident understand any one of these comics!!!!!

  150. Alex Says:

    This comic is amazing. Almost every time I read one I’m like “This is an American version of me! How is it that this person is living my life?” I was going to email you and say as much, then I thought about it and it doesn’t seem so strange. I just have what passes for a normal life for much of my generation.

    I don’t know if that makes me feel better. I think it does, but it does kind of make finding a kindred spirit seem a little less special.

  151. Pablo Says:

    Very nice comic! I wish I’d say “maybe you don’t exist!” some times…

    Thank you!


  152. I love this more than I can describe. It’s so true!

  153. Daniel Says:

    Just found this strip today, and see it was originally posted Feb 10, 2011. Wish I had found it then, and shown it to my wife before the 21st.

    Sadly, she lost her struggle with the inner dark.

  154. fishboy Says:

    Oh wow, that hit hard – that’s terribly sad to hear. My heart goes out to you.

    Kia kaha.

  155. H Says:

    I remember seeing your comic about “normal being a figment of popular imagination” (the ‘Weird’ one) a while ago, but somehow I didn’t get to going through the entire archive until these last two days.
    I am just writing to say that this comic encapsulates how I have been feeling lately, and thank you for making these comix. You give a lot of us hope and comfort.

  156. pr0nty Says:

    Don’t suppose Bistro Harvey was a little wink towards the movie ‘Harvey’ with the dude and his giant, invisible rabbit friend, was it? :)

    • pr0nty Says:

      Yikes, just realised this comic is a year old, as opposed to a couple of weeks old. Lol. My bad. I just found this strip a few days ago and have been going through them one by one from the start. Really amazing work. Pink Haired Girl and Sphynx are my favourite characters.

      Well done on your amazing creativity and thoughtful mind. :)

  157. A Says:

    You drew me wrong. I have blonde hair, not brunette.

  158. Baeraad Says:

    Heh. Yes. That rant sounded… depressingly familiar. :( The final rebuttal *is* pretty much the logical response to it, but managing to say it and mean it can be a bit tricky. :/

  159. Leon Says:

    How did you manage to raid my mind??

  160. Matt Says:

    You’ve given us all a treasure. I see and cherish it, and for what it’s worth, I thank you.

  161. Mystyr Nile Says:

    Character depth! Character depth for everyone! So i remember she’s “The Lady of the Night”, but does she have a name? I forgot.

  162. Mystyr Nile Says:

    This kind of reminds me of Above the Influence.


  163. This is my first time reading your stuff. I am really enjoying it a lot!. Love the depth and humor…

  164. j Says:

    thank you. i hope i can find the courage to do what you did.


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