November 25th: “7 Dichotomies in a Bar”

November 25, 2008


Okay, it’s done, and i’m sorry for the delay. I wasn’t goofing off, i swear! I just horribly misjudged how long it was going to take to color the damned thing. And so here i am shamefully updating the comic on monday night at 12. Oh well. At least the goddamn thing is out the door. On to the next stop…


Okay, so i’m working on some website-related stuff that goddamn needs to get done soon, so i need to take a week off from the comic. Thus, there will not be another Subnormality until two weeks from now, sadly. I’m just full of shameful news this week, but i’m only taking the break to work on comic-related things! It’s better for me, it’s better for you, it’s better for them! I think i took that quote from a star trek movie, so i have no idea who “them” is, but the point is that it should prove to be worth it. Huge, secret things are brewing! Massive rumblings underneath! Whisperings among the troops! Something is afoot at the Circle-K! Announcements to follow, so stay tuned ’cause i’ll talk to yer soon…


–W. Rowntree

80 Responses to “November 25th: “7 Dichotomies in a Bar””

  1. lily Says:

    I know these people! I see them all the time in my café. What I wonder is why the panel 2 guy didn’t include the possibility of her being a vegetarian. So much for planning ahead. That’s why you always make sure to be well stocked with tofurkey- in case the love of your life shows up.

    Everyone should take up the lute.

  2. evan Says:

    your best work. seriously, this might very well be my favorite comic of yours out of many favorites.

  3. Ari Says:


  4. Omara Says:

    I adore your comics. I consider them to be the most artistically inspired of all those in which I indulge. Also, I must tell you, your “Shameful Declarations” category is ingenious. I would copy you and put one on my site except in my case, the declaration of shame is far too broad a subject.
    Anyways, cheers to you! I eagerly await your next comic 😀

  5. Mo Gristle Says:

    You know who I feel sorry for? The girl in the first panel. First a man explodes right in front of her, now this.

    The comic, excellent, as always.

  6. Phinny Says:

    I wonder how many of these dichotomies occur in my life? Hopefully as few a possible…

    But anyway another thought provoking comic. I loved it.

  7. Michael Ezra Says:

    Well done, sir.

    My favourite bit is in the third panel where it turns out there actually is a record producer in the audience.

  8. Sean Says:

    Worth the wait.

  9. Marc Says:

    Well done and true to life.

  10. bachterman Says:

    too bad you write so much text. i wanted to translate them to hungarian to access a broader audience with your comics, but i am too lazy.
    the seven stereotypes were excellent, btw!

  11. kurash Says:

    OH Everythings SO true, and so sad…!!
    Hey, have mercy with the poor movie-cone bloke and draw him some friends! I really pitty him!

  12. Kurt Says:

    Ug, I have heard so many good songs ruined by bad karaoke singers. Try to imagine Zombie by The Cranberries sung with a completely flat lifeless voice droning out the words, shudder.

  13. Innominate Says:

    Let it go on record that if that chick was looking lonely at a bar, I would be ogling her so hard she’d die of it. I’m basically the guy in panel 1 all through (although I seriously doubt the number of hot chicks that would be in her situation).

  14. cobe Says:

    wow, probably your best one so far.

    I’m impressed, can’t wait for the next one 🙂

  15. Questo's Dad Says:

    If anyone wants to meet the Karaoke star in panel number three, come to Movado’s (in Regina) on Wednesday nights. The only difference is that it’s not the Beatles, it’s Pink Floyd. Or Journey. Seriously. Well done, well done, Winston. I’m home sick today, so maybe The Generals will finish writing their first number one.

  16. You have outdone yourself. This is quality stuff. Epic-ness.

    ESPECIALLY the last panel.
    The whole comic is built up like a crescendo and that panel as the climax… just great.

    well done indeed 😀

  17. arkonbey Says:

    fantastic, utterly poetic.

    Personal experiences:
    Panel 1: When I was 18, I went to a good friend’s graduation party and a gorgeous brunette friend of his walked in and my immediate thought were like the guy. For some reason, she came over later and we talked all night. After we dropped my incapacitated-due-to-alcohol friend off at his house, we made a date. It was a good date that ended with the Best Kiss Ever. The night before I left for my next USCG unit, we hung out, talked and kissed and teared up a bit. Then I wrote her some very sappy, idiotic letters and killed the relationship. Haven’t seen her in a decade.

    Panel 4: My sister used to be a bartender. Her regulars, far from being boors who offered to buy her drinks, often gave her outrageous tips during the Xmas holidays.

    Panel7: Portland, Maine had many panhandlers who could later be seen sharing a paper bag in the parking lot behind Joe’s Smoke Shop. Once had a guy ask me: “can I have some money for some mumble-umble-umble?”. “Some what? ” I replied “you know, some mumble-umble-umble” he said. So, I offered to buy him some lunch that minute, but he declined.

  18. TentacledBeast Says:

    I’ve been in the pink-haired girl’s position… it hurts when you learn the hard way that a friend is not dependable for serious matters 😦

  19. djex Says:

    very nice. alot of truth you have put into this.

  20. KeshoZeto Says:

    Bravo! Great style, great rhythm and cadence. Sharp jabs into my memories. Ouch!

  21. Robert Carter Says:

    I never comment on anything I happen upon online. But I related to this in a deep way. The loneliness, the paranoia. Ryan Adams said, “The bar is a beautiful place” but it’s also psychologically damaging.

  22. SockPants Says:

    dude, your comic is awesome. I love it.

  23. mmmmm Says:

    too much reading :<

  24. JM Says:

    fantastic work! this is very realistic and it’s nice to see the thinking of these people…we’ve all seen them and been there 🙂

  25. Btryan Says:

    Excellent work!

  26. Thanks, people! I appreciate the comments.

    bachterman: The new Subnormality tagline shall read as follows: “Too Wordy to Translate Into Hungarian.”

    kurash: Yeah, maybe Mongo does deserve some friends. A better job, too,

    Questo’s Dad: He also likes to blow the doors off at the Fox & Fiddle in Greektown (Toronto), also on wednesdays. Feel better, btw.

    Tom Foolery: Thanks once again for the words of support. You are a much-appreciated ally.

  27. drew Says:

    This was pure gold. Great stuff.

  28. richard Says:

    you are utterly human and utterly amazing for this.

  29. Jason Says:

    I appreciate the effort this takes. But it wasn’t very funny. Keep drawing!

  30. Gilchrist Says:

    HAHA 😀 ya it’s pretty dark but I’ve got to admit, it’s
    serial-show worthy material. You could go big time! (: REALLY.

    On another note, personally can’t fit in those 7. :\ I’m the adaptable yet blatant sort…not really the insecure type 🙂

  31. jstyla Says:

    Very nice. I can relate to one of the scenes hehe. had to bookmark this… keep it up

  32. kurash Says:

    Hmm– maybe he enjoys making the “deuce bigalow”-cone?
    Is this the reason that he has no friends ;)?

  33. pedro Says:

    I’ve got subnormality on my rss reader, and i enjoy every single one of the strips, but this one, albeit (or maybe because of) being quite depressive, is probably the best one so far. It even made me want to comment, something I rarely do on the web.

    Thank you very much Winston, and please keep ’em coming.

    On a side note, should you care to have them translated into Portuguese and Spanish, let me know (psd files? txt files?)


  34. simon Says:

    You, sir, are a genius. At some point I’ve been or known first hand everyone in this . . well, ‘comic’ doesn’t really do it justice. Visual slice of life.

    Hope the new stuff works well, after a build-up like that it needs to!

  35. simon Says:

    Oh yeah, and it’s weird how some get put off by the text – usually I’m so caught up in the narrative I forget to look at the drawing, other than the setup and facial expressions. I went back and had another look, and I can only repeat myself . . . Winston, you sir are a genius. Now how does that pay?

  36. czechyoself Says:

    So funny, yet so true! All of it!!!


  37. tris mccall Says:

    subnormality: the closest thing we have to old-school *mad* magazine.

  38. Tyson Says:

    I have read many strips in my lifetime, and this has to be the best I have ever read. You hit upon the truth about life. This is a strip to be preserved, it is an absolute GEM!

  39. HAvana Says:

    How painfully true .. LOL

  40. Paulius Says:

    i’ve been browsing your comics for quite a while and I have to say, this one is the best one yet (Or so it seems to me on 26/11/08 at 18:00 GMT) This won’t do very well for my tendency to check the page daily hoping for a comic though.

  41. Suited Justice Says:

    Really good work. You can write your own ticket with that sort of insight and talent. Keep it up.

  42. I like the mood change- sometimes when you do ONLY humor for too long you sap your own energy. Congrats successfully integrating a sentimental attitude!
    If everyone else disagrees- at least i liked the comic.

  43. Mark Temporis Says:

    Pink-haired girl has the most rotten luck with jobs, doesn’t she?

  44. Dusty668 Says:

    Beautiful, simply beautiful. 7 panels of winning.

  45. One of your best. An entire short story in seven panels. Brilliant!

  46. iamafish Says:

    i can really relate to panel 1. Just replace the bar with everywhere! the number of times I’ve thought ‘yeah, she’s pretty hot… wait, is she making eyes at me? i should go over and say hi. *ten minutes later* yeah, i should go over and speak to her. *three weeks later* why the hell didn’t i speak to that chick? I’m such a looser.’ yay for my social ineptitude!

  47. Rob Retter Says:

    Wow, Winston… I’m getting a little worried about you. Certainly the strip was worthy of all the praise it’s received here, but damn! Are you in some sort of horrid depression these days? There’s usually a twist or two in your not-funny strips that still suggest a wry sort of humor lurking in the background. But this one was just seven shades of *bleak*. I’m not objecting to not-funny strips as a concept, and a change-up occasionally makes good reading. But wow… seven panels filled with black would’ve been a relief compared to this week’s strip. I hope you’re not living this dichotomously nowadays.

  48. dougbert Says:

    I how recurring characters in Subnormality are. They’re in one comic strip, and they’re memorable, and then suddenly they’re in another. They don’t seem to have major parts, either, so it’s kind of nice to see new characters mixed with older ones.

  49. Rob Retter: The Winston Rowntree is not living in a horrid depression, so fear not.

  50. Thaif Says:

    I’ve been reading this comik for some time. It has introduced me to Richard Dawkins and his merry pals. The Atheist Apocalypse strip was so good I practically forced my friends to read it. The furious veiled stabbing towards Canadian election was just grand.

    And now this. If someone ever utters “Comik’s aren’t art” I’ll smack them. The first pannel was how I feel most of the time(the guy’s perspective). Dispite this I know some very attractive gals, but the good old “Sorry they’re taken” flag is waving. Ah, well I’ll bide my time…muahaha.

    Seriously tho…the quality hasn’t sunk one bit it’s been steady and strong all the way.

    “The Gift of accurate observation is called Cynicism, by those who lack it.” Can’t remember who said that, but it fits this comik well.

  51. This is a disorientatingly good strip.
    I was looking for Khachaturian found Lichtenstein and then F86 Sabre then here.
    I saw Jarvis Cocker last night and have already passed on the Gig audience strip to people


  52. Suntiger Says:

    Heh, humans at their tragicomic finest.

    Well, at lest from the developed Western world perspective, which is what most of us readers are familiar with.

    An optimist is at worst someone blind to reality.
    An optimist is at best someone who inspires others to make a change for the better.
    A pessimist is at worst someone blind to reality.
    A pessimist is at best someone who is prepared for the hard knocks of life.
    A cynic is at worst someone stereotyping people based on their prejudices.
    A cynic is at best someone who is good at reading people’s motivations.

    The questions isn’t how you look at the world, it is what you do and how you act based on what you see that is important.

  53. bob Says:

    nice one man

  54. Milton Burrows Says:

    fuck that was depressing..

  55. zucchini Says:

    @dougbert–Exactly! I love the pink-haired girl 😀

    This webcomic is amazingly well-done; I’ve read them all and I will certainly re-read them. At first I thought, “wow these have lots of words,” but then I realized what an idiotic thought that was, and read them.

    This will become the second webcomic I regularly read, along with Toothpaste for Dinner.

  56. Ziliuse Says:

    Ehm … I hope this is the right place … I just wanted to say that there is stupidity, there is intelligence, there is genius and then there is you.
    Oh … and I’m pretty sure I got the right order.

  57. d36w111ams Says:

    your last frame reminds me… this one time I left a bar and had no cash. These homeless dudes asked me for change and I told them I had none. They asked me for water and I had none. Then they asked if I wanted to get high and we spent the rest of the afternoon smoking weed they had been growing, hidden in the streams that wind hidden through out the city.

  58. William Says:

    You geometrize around a negative ideal.

  59. Jack ABC Says:

    Hilarious. Brilliantly observed.
    I am new to this comic but have just finished reading your entire back catalogue!!!!!!

    I am basically the guy in panel 1.

  60. Sam Says:

    Amazing. I like your comics that speak the depressing truth that is life.

  61. Lots42 Says:

    Oh god, now I’m never going to look at Applebee’s the same way again.

  62. Chris Says:

    This comic was my introduction to your site. I read all of the others after that, and while I loved most of them, I’d have to agree that this is really the best. I was a little bit disappointed at first, because I thought all of the comics would have this kind of dichotomy. But it’s all good stuff. I don’t see it as depressing at all…recognizing truths (sad or joyful) about human existence is beautiful. That feeling of “Yes…he got it right…”

  63. mu Says:

    I think I’m the guy in panel 5 who is the only one among the revelers to notice that SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!

    Oh well, at least hobby shop hottie is alive and well.

  64. Francisco Says:

    Like lots of people have said don’t usually comment on strips but this one just touched me more so than most things I’ve read.. Seems like such an accurate portrayal of humankind

  65. Zeke Says:

    Do a lot of bars let employees drink on the job? If she’s doing it as much as she says, she’ll get fired anyway for being falling-down drunk by the end of her shift.

  66. Tom Says:

    The first one is known as the jerk reaction. Men see an insanely good looking woman, and automatically assume that she’s either taken, or a bitch.
    The only men who go up to her are men who are so used to rejection that they don’t care, and she’s so grateful, she accepts.

  67. Hyetal Says:

    We’re all at least one of these people. We all probably deny it, too. Or at least regret it.

  68. mary catherine Says:

    i love this.
    i love this website.
    this and the ones about changing your hair color for a shit job, excellence.

  69. tom payne Says:

    someone obviously doesn’t like alcohol (gascans, antifreeze, etc.)

  70. egyptrepublic Says:


  71. gary Says:

    Such is life.

  72. Ace Says:

    You seem to be quite the misanthrope, but a thoughtful one, and that’s something I can get behind. Looks like I’ve got another comic on my RSS feed. 🙂

  73. Ghosty Says:

    Hyetal: That’s probably true, but I wasn’t comparing them to me… Hmm… That would be interesting, wouldn’t it? Try to figure out which one of these people you’ve been?

  74. R² Says:

    Truly, this is the human comedy in a nutshell. One might consider this strip a distillation of Gauguin’s “Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?” Many moments both hilarious and grievous reading over this incredible strip. Many thanks. R²

  75. RoboCop Says:

    This was a very profound little comic, thank you very much for the read.

  76. Javier Says:

    My favorite panel…(is that what you call them?) is the one where the guy is walking by the bar….wishing he could have empty friends to throw his money away with. Good point, sir…..loneliness ain’t so bad.

  77. I don’t know if I’d want to talk to the girl in panel one, if I knew that the last guy she talked to exploded violently.

  78. Derek DeCoux Says:

    Very deep. Really made me depressed how that is the state of the world. I don’t ever take action so this comic really spoke to me. I find it very relatable as I’m sure many others do as well.

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