Surely it’s Toronto. There was also an earlier comic set in the subway which had TTC subway stops. Perhaps Rowntree has also visited Montreal, though.
I must say that it feels very nice to have such a fantastic comic be made in my home city, with the atmosphere that I find so familiar. This one perfectly captures the feel of taking a break on one of Toronto’s few green lawns, which I’ve done at times, though never for a whole day.
I might be projecting a little here, but I suspect that Winston Rowntree is the pen name of someone who lives in Toronto, probably has some Russian roots (due to the occasional accurate depictions of Moscow and Russian text in the comic), and may or may not be female.
I always though he was British. There seems to be a lot of British in-joke quirks in his comics (though admittedly, none come to mind, off t he top of my head). Plus, there’s the ‘Winston Rowntree’ name. Anybody growing up in Britain in the 90′s gets that reference.
I’m half English, as it happens, and the city i would say is half Toronto (or maybe two-thirds) combined with a few other canadian cities (regina, montreal, a bit of victoria). Something like that, anyway.
@Thomas: i’m guessing the reference would be either Rowntree’s Candy or Dave Rowntree (the drummer from Blur). One or both of which is probably where i got the name from (i can’t remember now, it was a while ago).
Thanks for the response, Winston. I guess I didn’t ask directly because I wasn’t expecting a reply; you’ve been a bit secretive (no photos of you can be found, you’ve never visited TCAF though you’d surely be one of the star guests), which is why I assumed that you were probably using a pen name. And most of your recurring characters are female, which is why I assumed that you might be female as well (I really can’t tell, though). Didn’t mean to give offence.
Your 200th is next.
The nicest way to celebrate (for the readers anyway) is to do an extra panel that has the celebration, and still do a comic to celebrate.
Each one is much effort. And you have been consistent. And thanks for all of that.
Love your stuff.
I love this too!! It took me a few seconds to realise, but when I did, the effect was awesome.
I have a question, though, for anyone who’d care to answer:
Do we know why the two girls from all the other comics (By the way, does anyone know what their names are?) are getting onto two separate buses? I’m talking about the girl with the blonde curly hair and black tips and the other one with the black hair and the yellow shirt and hot pink pants.
@M.V.: Nah, it’s actually a time-lapse of the tram – the left one is the tram on the right shortly after it has departed, with the girls having taken a seat and the panicked woman chasing after it – that’s what you get for staring at a tablet instead of noticing the tram arriving… :)
Man, so I discovered you about a day or two ago and I did what I do with all webcomics… I hit the “first” button and read 5 pages before making up my mind. 199 comics later, I finally realize that this is the greatest thing on the interwebs. You are excellent man, truly.
I’ve been following the adventures of the Sphinx for a while now, and it’s quite heartwarming to see that she’s found a friend in this era.
BTW, I may have missed something, but how is it that the majority of muggles don’t freak out or try to hunt her or something? I remember a SWAT team showing up in the background of the Jeopardy comic, but that was about it.
I’ve heard this a few times before, the whole “deep friendships mean you don’t have to talk as much” but I’m not sure I agree with that. It’s fun to just talk rubbish, or shoot the breeze, to use a cliché, especially with close friends, because with close friends you can talk about any dumb thing without feeling awkward. But if 2 close friends are just sitting around saying nothing, it’s a bit boring. Wasn’t it the great philosopher Mel Brooks who said, “If you’re quiet, you’re not living. You’ve got to be noisy and colorful and lively.” :D
The point is that a long silence between two people who don’t know each other well can be uncomfortable (inside you’re thinking “Oh I have to say something or this social interaction is failing”), whereas with a good friend, a long silence can feel perfectly fine (if not exactly exciting).
Really beautiful piece, WR. So good to see the Sphynx and Formerly-Pink-Haired Girl’s blossoming friendship.
P.S: Although it is true that Kirby was cheated out of the rights to the characters he helped create, he is credited in the film. Not much, but something considering Hollywood nowadays. Despite this controversy, I love The Avengers film with all of my comic book fanboy heart. Not as sexist or mindless as some people might have you think.
Excellent, i love this comix, they are truly beautiful and like i said before, the comix about PH Girl and The Sphinx’s friendship are my favorite :) . The idea that when you found someone with whom you can be silent without being uncomfortable then you have found a true friend is a truly beautiful one. i like that you put a lot of details in your comix as long as all those details surround one great main story, as in this, not when there is no story that connects them, as the last one, i believe that you are getting better in time, and thank you for keeping on surprising us :)
can i just say i burst into tears at the end of this because i have a friend like this. and i always move around a lot, and i rarely get to keep friends for longer than a few years, and it just made me so happy to realize. thank you for this :,)
I have to say this. I LOVE YOUR WEBCOMICS!
you update once a month maybe, nut when i look at your artwork… it is amazing, the details, the colors. The ideas, the way you explain yourself, sometimes with lots of words, sometimes with no words at all.
PLEASE keep the good work. It is really apreciated :)
Oh my gooood, the passage of TIME! You did this beautifully. I love how you experimented with spacing and time here, I LOVE how you divided the space in the big panel without making it separate panels, oh gosh, I can’t even tell you how long I lingered on this comic, especially that big panel. Like everyone seems to be saying, relaxing.
Since I’ve seen you say you like constructive criticism, I’ll mention: too many caterpillars! I love the juxtaposition between motion and stillness that permeates this whole comic, but I think 18 caterpillars somewhat offset the remarkably well-achieved balance you had been maintaining between the two. Actually, I have to say the same about the motion of the planes in the Enjoy The Silence ringtone panels and the big panel. Planes don’t move that slowly compared to both how long that song snippet takes to play and how long people/buses move, and it grated on me a little awkwardly. I guess you were in a bit of a spot, cause I really LIKE the inclusion of the planes and I feel the comic wouldn’t have been the same without them, but those fuckers move so fast that I guess you had to distort time a bit to do them presentational justice. Perhaps if, like the caterpillars, you simply had fewer of them, and spaced them a bit further apart, it would have been more effective? I love how your style has this element of “lots of shit in a very small space,” like life is bursting at the seams (I REALLY like that, actually), but sometimes in certain places I do think you could stand to rein it in some, when it occasionally distracts from the flow and balance of your work. Though for most of this comic, the astonishing amount of detail and crowding worked magnificently! So it’s a tricky balance that I imagine is an almighty royal bitch for you to get perfect. I wouldn’t even say anything, but in the comments to your last comic you were like “I don’t get as much constructive criticism as I would like,” and I am so grateful for your lovely creations that I wanted to say something if it could be at all helpful to you in some way! As someone who also does creative things, I know how annoying criticism can be, usually bobbling mercurially either to “way too harsh and irrelevantly vitriolic” or “I was brought up thinking that if you like something you are not allowed to say or even think anything bad about it so your work is PERFECT!!!”, so I hope my comments have been of some use to you.
Were you trying to reference the “The Mission” comic with the square shapes on the roof in the panels where the sun is setting? I wonder a lot how much of what you do is deliberate, and how much is subconscious, and how much is me creating my own meanings.
Thanks, i really appreciate the feedback you can be sure– definitely of use. And i just generally appreciate that there are people out there who are so enthusiastic about stylistic elements of comix, that’s just really heartening to know that people care. I take this medium Very seriously, and it’s clear that you do too so Cheers, it means a lot to me.
As for the square shapes on the building, that was just kind of random. I always draw such goddamn boring buildings, that was just a conscious effort to do something different.
Oh yeah actually about the overcrowding like with the planes and caterpillars, the same applies for the stars in the last panel–but only, I’d say, for that cluster in the upper left corner. I was trying for the longest time to figure out if it was an image of something, because it looks very arranged, but the best guess I could come up with was a shoe. If it isn’t an image, it’s a little confusing and, again, overcrowded, but if it IS an image, then I take that back and is there any way I could convince you to tell me what it’s meant to be?
Yeah, i originally tried to make an image of something using stars, but it just didn’t work so now it’s just a shapeless cluster. I should probably have cleaned that up to be honest, but i must have forgotten..
I’ve been not here for some years and I’m really impressed of how you have improved your drawing. Plots are as good as always (more mature or is it just my imagination?) I’ve totally felt part of this silent complicity. It’s obvius that you enjoy with this stuff and that you put your ilusion on it due to the quality of the result. I need to came here more often. Un abrazo desde España.
Just felt the need to say that that panel where they’re watching the sun going down and you can see it in Pink’s sunglasses is my favorite panel you have ever done. Their expressions, the way you did Pink’s hair… loved it. Any chance of a desktop worthy resolution of that frame?
Aw this one was just plain beautiful. Both the art and the general sentiment, beautiful. Those friendships are the best friendships. Also: whenever you draw squirrels, they are always up to shenanigans. Always love those squirrels.
Yeah I KNOW, women totally aren’t allowed to wear skirts if they don’t shave their legs! It’s like, against nature. If God intended women to have hairy legs, he wouldn’t have created razors. I appreciate you calling out this egregious breach of what a woman should be like. We need more police like you. Next time you see a woman who is doing something you don’t think a woman should do, please give her a smack from me.
This couldn’t have been done as well in any other medium The clutter has always been one of my favorite parts of Subnormality. Only in comics can you linger over every line and not lose the flow. Especially in this one, where the passing of time is nice and slow.
I have to agree that the sunset-in-sunglasses panel is one of my favorites. Only a couple of webcomics have put a lump in my throat, and most of them are yours. I’ve got friends who would love what you’re doing but have trouble looking at screens for too long. I’m curious what a book by Winston Rowntree would look like, though. Is that idea floating around somewhere?
You know how you occasionally make a post about not having done a comic in a while, and we all say you shouldn’t worry? Next time you think it’s been too long, just look at this comic again – your fans feel that way about your work. Quality over quantity every time.
I agree, I’m in Australia and last I just randomly check this Artist out now and again because the work is of such a high standard for the internet, but now and again he pulls out pure unadulterated perfection in a strip, a good mate of mine died a few weeks ago ( it’s cool, I got to say goodbye) and he said something that fits this strip perfectly “ you can’t buy class”, this strip is pure class, I may even buy a T shirt one day,
FPHG ruined it by talking at the end. Therefore Winston ruined it by having FPHG talking at the end. If you have to explain the punchline to your joke you haven’t told it right (or you’re telling it to idiots, but hey, this IS the internet).
Sorry, I said “ruined”, that was way harsh, it was an excellent strip and enjoyable to read, it just would have been better if Winston and FPHG had resisted temptation and held his/her tongue at the end.
NZFishboy, no it’s not a joke, I was making an allusion. Joke/tale/shaggy dog story, I was referring to telling a tale in a public forum, but this strip shares a similarity to a joke in that it has a punchline.
Just so you know winston,you’ve reached a point in your comics where you can go all Joss Whedon on us and kill one of your characters making, in the process, a very profound statement about death or the futility of life. I don’t know if i should ask you to do it, or beg you not to.
oh dear, im late this time. beutiful work on this one. scanned rather quickly through it then went back and studdied it in greater detail after. its realy great to know i can get a big comic like this every month. something i look forward to.
Reading through the comments, a lot of what I wanted to say was already said. It is beautiful, yes, especially the panel with the sunset reflected in fphg’s glasses. Too many caterpillars, yes, very nice crowd panel, Riker is number one for sure. So thank you. Your work in comics is great.
There is one thing though, already slightly reflected in a comment made – about the end not needing words. I don’t completely agree on that, that is, the words did not bother me (I think because I did not see the objective of the comic in showing mainly how the relationship between the sphinx and the girl grows, but to show the passage of time from the point of view of two resting onlookers – and the act of resting (ha!) itself.)
However, your comics have a tendency to overexplain themselves – this is not meant as a comment in the spirit of “tl;dnr”, the walls of text never bothered me. Have you ever read “A Clockwork Orange”? At every turn, a character reminds us what message what we just saw is supposed to convey, the prison chaplin for example, or the good doctor’s assistant when explaining Nadsat. In the end, it’s Alex himself explaining how he has grown up, and what it meant that he cut out the picture of the little baby (honestly? In case of this novel, I think removing the last chapter from the American version was a good move that would’ve improved the book, had the author decided to do so). It perfectly works in your christmas comic about the returning soldier in the automated brothel – no tacked on note about how the use of fossile resources is wrong, just a short reference back to the beginning of the soldier’s story. Beautiful, after all the harrowing story.
Hm, now that I tried finding a negative example, I realise I need to re-read some of your newer work before I can do so. I shall do so the next time I am not on a slow connection. Your work is great and it’s free, and the least I can do is put a little work into the feedback I give. So, thank you, and I hope this feedback will be useful.
Wow. A non-depressing and non-allegorical/metaphorical Subnormality! Refreshing! Still well drawn, as usual. I especially like the subtle shift of the restaurant from Sunset Grill (old enough to know it was Don Henley) to Moonlight Cafe
some times words or text can be a wall between friends
Yes WR comic tends to hammer home the message
but the message is usually a buried truth from a by-gone
generation, foreign and strange to modern mankind. Kudos to him for reintroducing these insights to a fresh generation.
Hey Winston, you remember the Monstrous discrepancies comic you did over a year ago. Someone just posted it on 9gag yesterday, getting quite a lot of views. You should check it out http://9gag.com/gag/4552451
I am sure that if a monster appeared on the grass of the annexe of a park in the centre of any busy Western city – As long as it kept preternaturally still; Most people would consider it to be some sort of performance art, under the control of the civil authorities, and continue on their way unworried and unmindful.
This is all perfectly natural, staying still for extended periods is normal predator behaviour. Not only that staying still preserves energy making the need to devour prey less pressing and the time between kills much longer.
Never the less, sooner or later…..
Will our heroine get to witness this event?
What will be her reaction?
Will it affect her friendship?
Will it be a relationship breaker?
Will we get to witness a messy breakup similar to a divorce?
Will the Sphinx comiserate with others of its type?
With the best of intentions, will they try to set it up with a replacement human?
I love this piece and I have come back to it a number of times. It has a visual rhythm and evokes a distinct emotional state. I can almost smell the grass and the fumes when the mower goes by.
That said, I want to express a stylistic quibble. The frame where the sphinx makes the face at the dog is out of context with the rest of the images. It’s not the aggression. That makes a good punctuation mark in the otherwise dreamy sequence. It’s the distorted expression. The rest of the portrayals in the piece are in a semi-realistic style. Cartoons, yes, but obeying the laws of facial physics, as it were. The sphinx’s face in that panel is jarring because it goes outside the bounds of the universe you’ve created for her and into a cartoonish universe.
And that said, I join the multitudes who would like to spend a day sitting on the grass with the sphinx and the fphg, watching the world go by.
I used to consider a month’s wait between two comics a mild annoyance. (It is strange how self entitled one can become regarding free entertainment and art on the internet.) Now when I see the same comic as I did three weeks ago I smile (though not aloud) because something great’s in the pipeline.
Loved this one and can’t wait for the next, thanks M. Rowntree.
Something Huge is in the pipeline, i’ll say that (though i can’t promise it’ll be great). Thanks for the patience as well, it means a lot that you’re willing to wait because i know the waiting has been excessive of late (even though it’s been for positive reasons– big comix, and lots of side work).
Sometimes I get burnt out reading through the comic, but that much forces me to evaluate what I’m reading a comic for, what I intend to get out of it . . . sadly the answer is sometimes just a checkmark of sorts.
I read subnormality sporadically, a result of the slower update time than most webcomics, but every fourth comic or so means a great deal to me — forces me to reconsider what life is, how singular my views aren’t and how alone I am not.
I’m not one for sentiment, or for admitting that I need or am inspired by others, or for saying much of anything in the way of suggesting anything other than rustic self-reliance, but Thank You. This comic means a great deal to me. I find it to be inspiring and healing.
i am waiting for the new one!
but it’s not there…
winston, because your comics take so long to make, can you update frequently or something? like, give n estimate on the complete time? sorry if this is little disrespectful, but i have the worst case of ADHD and i’m not patient
It’s alright, you couldn’t possibly be more impatient than i am. I did post a progress update on the blog a few days back, but estimates just aren’t possible– it’ll take as long as it takes unfortunately. My workload is like this: either i have nothing going on for two weeks, or i decide to do a huge comic and then get a ton of side work on the same day, so, uh, murphy’s law or whathaveyou.
I know the waiting sucks, but this comic’s unusually large and the concurrent amount of side work is as well, so after this little Worst-Case-Scheduling-Scenario (and that’s what it is) clears up this week, i envision a future with fewer such delays. Honestly i’ve got a lot of new stuff on my plate and am still getting used to the time management aspect of it, so thanks for waiting, i really do appreciate it.
Can anybody here enlighten me as to what *Quebec is Killing Me* (the book that PHG is reading) is about? The title is intriguing but I’d like to know if it’s up my alley before I make the Amazon purchase.
People probably give you a hard time for taking such a long time to release new comics. Honestly man, I’m so used to the wait by now it’s pretty much irrelevant. It doesn’t hurt that waiting for the latest subnormality is almost always justified in the end.
So- regarding the note on the main comics page: please don’t rush it. This stuff is Art.