2nd Anniversary

February 16, 2009


Okay, some text for you. I swear to god there’s a typo in there that i lost track of between the inking and the photoshopping and can’t goddamn find now, so please point it out if you see it so i can chase it through the park with a flamethrower, cornering it by the ice cream stand and finishing the job. (update: It has been found and eliminated, thanks to one of the Heroes out there)


And that marks the 2nd anniversary of this goddamn comic strip. I celebrated by doing another overly-long comic that i was petrified to publish once i’d finished it, but since i’ve gone through this every week for two years i’m just ignoring my fears at this point. Ah yes, the glories of an anniversary. To look back upon the scorched, barren earth of your life stretching off behind you and ask yourself “what now?” A year ago i moaned in despair that the success of year two would determine whether there would be a year three, but then a year ago i had literally seven readers and could not predict the surprising fact that a bunch of people would show up and say “hey, this sucks less than some other stuff, see you next week.”


So, thanks for showing up every week and for reading and for leaving comments and for emailing in to say “believe it or notย  i enjoy your comics” and for sending beyond-beyond-generous donations and for just being beautiful in general. And i’ll leave it at that. Just did the 100th comic a couple months ago, so i don’t wanna get into anniversary overkill here.


Moving on then. As for me, i can be found in a couple other places worth mentioning. Doing an interview exchange with a colleague of mine who does some nice drawings here on the world wide internet. My interview of him, during which i am attacked by a variety of wild animals and hired assassins, can be found here, and then he’ll be asking me some similarly confusing and uninformative questions some time in the future. Also, i’m doing another weekly comic over at Cracked, which is a humor website for those unfamiliar. They were all like “Yo,” and i was all like “S’up,” and then we agreed on some new comics, so now you can read said new comics over at their place. The strip should run every Monday, and, uh, that’s pretty much it. Look, i’m not a salesman, alright! I went to the Bill Watterson School of Marketing, where the only way to graduate is to not show up.


Stay beautiful, handshakes all around,


104 Responses to “2nd Anniversary”

  1. Brandon Says:

    That was beautiful.

  2. Michael Ezra Says:

    First, congratulations on Subnormality‘s 2nd anniversary. Too Many Words FOREVER!

    Good campfire story there. Though I have to say I find the prospect of Alanis Morisette performed by a one-person band far more frightening.

    • Shaquan Says:

      lol even more frightening is the low-cockroach rates she settled for lmao. At least break a buck, lady! #SelfRespect

  3. Alex Says:

    The comic was hilarious. I read the interview You’re clearly a literary genius.

  4. Yuri Says:

    Awesome, can’t wait to continue reading for the next year. This is one of my favorite webcomics (:

  5. Kiwi Says:

    Haha, wow, that was beyond rad. I love the comparison, and the story was actually really engaging (…I. I want to know the end. DAMN YOU AND YOUR PREMATURE FREAK-OUT, RENTING GUY :((()

    Congrats on the second year. ^_^

  6. John Says:

    Fantastic. I love your comics.

  7. Evan Says:

    That story was fantastic; scared the crap out of me.

  8. David Says:

    Hah, spectacular. I was latched to my screen.

  9. msr Says:

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Bogdan Says:

    Greetings from Romania.
    Your comic strips are briliiant . Keep up the good work.

  11. Erik Says:

    It certainly does suck less than most things on the internet. Here’s to another year. Also, I found the typo. It’s at the bottom of the big wall o text. ‘Now it moves around the to west…’ I can’t believe that you do all of the characters by hand? Very impressive.

  12. bachterman Says:

    argh! textboxman strikes again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Kaael Says:

    Happy second anniversary, I’m from the mean people who reads webcomic but never says hi to creators ๐Ÿ˜›

    Anyways, I’m with the guy who said that the one man band alanis morrisette gives the creeps.

  14. Sahanavic Says:

    Well done, and an awesomely good comic. I know this is pretty lame, but I’m going to take a shot at guessing the identity of the mysterious whistler.

    Was it just a bird, and the man had never heard it before or had forgotten how it sounded in all that time in silence?

  15. Questo's Dad Says:


    There is no such thing as too much text, only a lack of patience. Seeing as how I am drawing upon an infinite pool of patience, keep it coming.

    It’s a big pool.

  16. CC Says:

    I…I need to know the end! I NEED TO KNOW!! *breaks down into uncontrollable sobs* lol

  17. Bengo Says:

    I like this one. I felt like anything could happen. That’s a rare achievement.

    If you can, get ahold of “The Whore of Mensa” by Woody Allen. It’s more than the “same thing only different.” Just similar in enough ways to give you a few laughs. Great minds and all.

  18. JDT Says:

    Fantastic. My favourite yet.

  19. Iron84 Says:


  20. Dusty668 Says:

    Two years! Woooo! Thankya man!


  21. Ogre Says:

    Brilliant! 2 years!? Good to hear. Keep up the great work dude. Love it.

  22. Terry Says:

    I bookmarked this place right when it first started, but the Walls and my school schedule didn’t mingle well. So thought I wanted more, I pushed it aside.

    School & Webcomics still don’t mix, but I sat down a few days ago and went through every strip.


    Happy 2 year! I’ll be around for the rest.

  23. topopardo Says:

    I’m pretty sure the whistling came from the Sphinx!

    Thanks for another amazing comic.

  24. lifeandtimes Says:

    Been reading this webcomic for awhile now.

    Know that somewhere in Canada you are truly appreciated for your work! I look forward to another year of literary ingenuity!

    Keep up the good work eh!

  25. kobraski Says:

    congratulations! and thanks for all the wonderful comic strips ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Camille Says:

    Wonderful. I can’t find another word, really.
    If you were a webcomic prostitute, I’d hire you all the time!

  27. Martin S. Says:

    well worth the wait. ๐Ÿ™‚

    you’re in top form, sir!

  28. jdanryan Says:

    Happy Second Anniversary! It’s strips like today’s that keep me coming back.

    There but for the grace of well-you-know… I’ve had a couple of “enablers” who allowed me to slide and keep up my habit. I’m sure without them, Ethel and I might have a throw-down for that corner as well. Of all the “Why am I a writer anyway?” pieces I’ve seen, this has to be one of the best!

    Thanks again for two years of SUBNORMALITY!

  29. Erik: Thank you! I could not for the life of me find that goddamn typo. It is now fixed.

    Questo’s Dad: Well said. Best wishes to the pool, may it be well-lifeguarded.

    topopardo: Ha, i never thought of that. She doesn’t use the door though, so maybe not.

    Everyone else: Thank you so much for the nice comments! Up next: Year Three.

  30. Cliff Burns Says:

    Winston: this is fantastic stuff. The combination of the art and the story was terrific and it’s also a deft send-up of “women of the night”. You have a Gift, no question, and I encourage you to continue to explore your subject matter with insight, humour and all-too-apparent glee. I’m very impressed…

  31. Stuart Says:

    Congrats on Year 2 of X. Funny thing is, that my mom (who has a bent sense of humour) always said that she’d sooner say I was a drug pusher than the software developer I actually am.

    So I imagine my work to be dirty, demeaning, and not spoken about in polite society.

    And I work for cash.

  32. Arlen Says:

    Big fan of your work. I enjoyed this little slice of the surreal life and the campfire story within. I tip my hat to you sir and to your literary prowess. Congrats on coming to the end of your 2nd year.

  33. arkonbey Says:

    I curious. Is this just a funny little tale of a Jasper Fforde-style alternative universe, or (as we could assume based on past strips) a thinly-veiled comment on the state of art and money.

    Creatives of any medium who can’t sell, are sometimes jealous of those who can. Selling out is a matter of context and perspective.

    Well, every one’s a prostitute, it’s just a matter of the amount and form of payment.

  34. Lew Basnight Says:

    Holy buckets! Two years, eh? Well good on you. I have great admiration for your comics– both the illustration and the subject matter you choose. Based on some of the strips you’ve done I gather that you’ve had to slog your way through more than one crummy day job. So I hope doing the comic is a sort of balm for the soreness of working (unless you are supporting yourself by drawing, which would be even better.) If you haven’t read Murakami’s “Dance Dance Dance” I would recommend it, if only for the “shoveling snow” conversation.

  35. Heilman Says:

    That was awesome! It was very engaging and I was hooked into the story. I wish we’d found out what had happened, although I don’t blame the guy for bugging out.

  36. Eric Says:

    Woo!! Happy anniversary!! Great comic, and i hope there’s many more to come!!

  37. Philip K. Ellison Says:

    Reminded me of the $12 Million Stuffed Shark, which I’ve just finished reading and recommend highly.

    Winston Rowntree, this is the moment when I *knew* you were goung to be HUGE!

  38. Paul Says:


    I love the little details in your comics, like the “Instruments of Destruction” store and the billboard split between the first and last panels. You really have impressive talent, I hope you keep at it. Congrats on the second anniversary of your comic!

  39. Suntiger Says:

    That was quite a comic…
    It was like an onion; lots of layers. ^_^

    The creepy story in itself, which I found genuinely creepy, though not on the same level as the ‘client’.
    The simile of authors to prostitutes and publishers/pimps as well as addiction – both very funny and quite disturbing.
    The little art cues with ‘Instruments of destruction’ and ‘The Rob Liefield School of Art next 3 exits’ and the ‘Too many words?’ note of the fence.

    And let’s not forget the characters themselves; quite interesting, both in the similarity and difference to a client and prostitute selling sex.
    Oh sorry, that should be ‘lady of negotiable affection’.

    Congratulations of 2 years with Subnormality!

  40. Mark Says:


  41. Kiolia Says:

    There’s something really good going on with this comic – the metaphor works perfectly. With my screen resolution I thought at first the comic ended with the group of panels and I stopped before the last of them and said “okay, she’s not a whore, just something silly…” and then, well, there was ever so much more.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m absorbing more than I want to in this grad program but I immediately wondered if the story in the comic is the author inserting his own work, or the author writing from the part of this woman who wants to write but is reduced to prostituting herself. It struck me as (purposely) overwrought…and the adverb buildup as the tension grew was funny.

    Anyway, two years is awesome, so don’t stop!

  42. Leak Says:

    Dude, I want those 5 minutes I’ve spent reading that story back! Or I at least demand an ending!!1!elven

    *shakes fist*

    Oh, and keep doing what you’re doing however you’re doing it… ๐Ÿ™‚

    np: Distance – Magnesium (Repercussions)

  43. Tartapple Says:

    It’s a treat to read every week, man. Happy anniversary, and here’s to more walls of text and man-eating mythological characters.

  44. Chris S Says:

    Happy anniversary!

    And this comic was certainly epic, definitely worth the wait!

  45. Patteroast Says:

    I figure that anniversary time is the right time to finally make a comment: Been reading for a while. Read a lot of the things you have other than Subnormality. It’s all indescribably awesome. And in some cases incredibly disturbing. Which may or may not be the same thing in some cases.

    Keep on with the doing stuff.

  46. chris Says:

    I quite liked this one — and just about laughed my head off at the alanis.
    I’m very glad you aren’t letting the idiots who are afraid of text dictate what you do.

    Many more years!

    PS The bright part of a crescent moon goes on the bottom because the sun’s below the horizon.

  47. Great concept, beautifully executed, love the background jokes.

    One annoyance: It took me a while to figure out that the little skull was a zoom in of the john’s pupil.

  48. Thomas Says:

    I was disappointed that there was no comic last week, but boy, this one more than makes up for that! Wonderful, wonderfully surreal stuff.
    I am eagerly looking forward to many more years of Subnormality! Congratulations on an excellent comic.

  49. Thiago Says:

    Is there any chance you will start updating twice a week?You know, ยดcoz we want to suck you dry.

  50. Sean McCabe Says:

    Fucking genius. I fell upon your website by accident..I surely wasn’t looking for a web comic to read…and since, I’ve devoured everything you’ve written that I can find.

    This one may have been my favorite. I don’t know; I guess I have to re-read everything to decide.


  51. K Says:


    I’ve shown your comics to a few people and they all enjoy it.

  52. Rob Retter Says:

    All right, there’s now officially *no limit* to how big a wall of text Winston can throw at us. And we all need to stop mentioning it (lauding or bitching, both), cuz we’ll just make him determined to do it even *bigger* next anniversary.

    By the way, an all-nite screen door shop? How do you come up with this stuff? Wow.

  53. Bengo Says:

    @ J McCabe

    Next time you are looking for something other than a comic, visit mine and tell me honestly whether you see commonalities with Subnormality. I’m not looking for charity readers, or for anyone to commit hours of time, but you sound like a smart,no-nonsense bunch and I would find comparative reactions of interest.

    Mine is about Cold War Russian politics, as told my demons and talking cats. http://www.lilnyet.com

    If no one bites, thanks for listening to my invite anyway. Subnormality is slack.

  54. happy anniversary Winston. as someone who was similarly infiltrated by the the writing/ creative bug, I must say that this particular comic strip is depressing in many ways, but its execution is so perfect that I’m able to laugh rather than cry. I feel that way about a lot of stuff you write, so I thought I’d finally take the time to comment, and let you know that what you do is appreciated. here’s to another year of weekly updates featuring walls of texts, nefarious nazis, and mythical beasts.


  55. mike Says:

    Third year, third year! Yay

  56. Jeff Says:

    Great work.

  57. Randy Lee Says:

    Now that PBF is gone, you and Achwood are the only two that I read. Thanks for great art and hip-deep irony! Randy

  58. Jack ABC Says:

    Here’s to the next two years!

  59. Cliff Burns(!): Wow, thank you very much!

    Chris: Regarding the moon, so noted.

    Again, thanks all for the kind remarks. Back at you.

  60. Stefan Says:

    That must have been the most awesome and too-muchest worded comic of your serie ever.

    You can know, that you will hardly write something that good again.


  61. Nate Says:

    Wow, nice story there. The only trouble was I kept thinking there would be some sort jab at a musician, but there never was.

  62. Michael Says:

    I think that this comic, or possibly “Some People Like Them” are perfect examples of what Subnormality is. Also, this one was particularly funny to me, as I spent 38 hours awake, doing little but writing.

    @Nate: You mean that last panel wasn’t?

  63. Ben Says:

    GREAT comic. You’ve gained a new regular reader ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. Anonymous Says:

    Awesome comic as usual, but one thing that really makes me rage since iam a graphic designfag: why did you use papyrus in the title panel?? You could of used a better font like celtic garamond or even poetica.

  65. Aaron Says:

    From one art-whore to another, Bravo!

  66. Kinch Says:

    I’m deeply impressed. You’ve got a new regular.

  67. valis Says:

    Wow! It’s times like these the walls text are worth it. That was a great story but what was making that whistling sound?

  68. M Says:

    Even though i just found this page, i can tell you you have a very original drawing style, very detailed. Ans even more impressive scripts. Yay for you
    (If i fail to describe actual admiration please excuse me, im not good at writing ^_^)

  69. Ariel Says:

    I’ve been following the comic for a while now, but haven’t really had reason to leave a comment… until now.

    >< How does that story end?

    • Cassiel Says:

      Do you really want to know?
      Sometimes it’s better not to know. That way you have nothing to miss, nothing to yearn for. But that’s just me.

  70. Phrank Says:

    Hehe, I’ve got to say, I scrolled down a little when I anticipated how much text there was to go through. I thought of skipping past the whole comic, going to the comments and asking “Hey y’all, those of you who’ve read the text…is it worth it?” and waiting for a response before embarking on such an endeavor.

    But nah, I said, who needs sleep? I read it. And in retrospect, I really don’t know that I needed to. That “fiction stranger than fiction” Panzertext? That was good. Felt underwhelmed by this’un.

    Winston, my thought is that words shouldn’t be there just for words’ sake. Did that sub-story advance the mini-plot of your larger one-page story? Did it inform? Did it comment? I think you could’ve plagiarized several paragraphs of any Steven King novel and it wouldn’t really matter in this case.

    Granted, this *is* the “too-many-words” comic. However, just because I intend on reading your comic next week and the week after, etc., don’t mean I’m gonna let you off the hook. ๐Ÿ˜€

  71. Bengo Says:

    Been following the comments, and I think that just because millions of people do an effort vs. value calculation before tackling a block of text doesn’t mean it should influence your strategy one bit. If you were a poor editor, it would be a different matter.

  72. JustMe Says:

    Nice. Thanks.

  73. Nick Welp Says:

    congratulations on getting to two years, Winston… if that IS your REAL name.

    (we all know you’re the secret Identity of Dr Who)

  74. J Rogers Says:

    This was incredible. Congrats on two years, and I look forward to much more in the future. I have so much respect for your originality and creativity!

  75. SAWells Says:

    Somebody’s been reading Lovecraft lately, no? Nice work.

  76. K_Thompson42 Says:

    I have to say this is one of my favorites, well worth the wait. Silly as it sounds, I think I’m now going to hammer out one of my creepy short story ideas…

  77. michael Says:

    Thought I should let you know that the bottom half of this comic isn’t rendering properly in chrome. I have no idea why. Anyway, keep up the fantastic work; here’s to at least 2 more years!

  78. snail Says:

    This is the best comic of anything, ever. Thank you.

  79. Anna Says:

    Baaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMAZING.

  80. gagagooga Says:

    that is the best fucking punchline ever. EVER.

  81. Eric Says:

    Ha-ha! I always wondered what happened to Alanis… no, wait, that was somebody else. Never mind.

  82. Leon Says:

    Hell yeah, that is the most awesome comic ever. Love it.
    Just started reading through your archives, this is some amazing stuff. Keep up the great work!

  83. Matt Says:

    A book of this would be great

    this was the greatest thing I ever read

  84. These just keep getting better. (I say as I make my way through the archive.) This one seems to have definite strongly recognizable hints of E.C. art in it and now I’m thinking I should check how much of that I can see in your other cartoons.

  85. Drew Says:

    Hey, have you ever read Daniel Clowes? I think you’d like his stuff

  86. Azaroth Says:


  87. Kim Says:

    Brilliant, WR! It’s a shame that art and creative expression aren’t appreciated enough to allow everyone with a creative urge to be successful and live comfortable lives on the fruits of a labor that they actually love.
    They optimistically tell you in college to “MAJOR IN WHAT YOU LUUURRVVVV ^_^ !!!” but what they try to gloss over is that 99% of the time you can’t make a decent living on your own with a degree in art, music, creative writing, or any of those types of things. I’m an artist and a writer at heart, but I’m going to school to get certified as a math teacher so that I will be able to support my own addictions. Sad, isn’t it?

    • Isaac Says:

      Very sad. I’m not going to conform. I’m going to school for film. I’ll work at block buster for the rest of my life if I have to. AT least I’ll be close to movies ๐Ÿ˜›

  88. Steve Nordquist Says:

    Let’s just license this as the job description for Writer In Residence, shall we?

    Here is the blueberry confit of anticipating the comic about returning CFLs that burned out prematurely to their maker in Kentucky, with or without complete paperwork, for replacement and postmortem.

  89. Steve Nordquist Says:

    No, it’s not sad. It’s wrenching, and making meter on the wrench for people who don’t fit waste piping (….. just suppose we say today’s not the day) is wonderful David Foster Wallace provenance, and others’ too; just get your thanks taken when it comes. Late in the night.

  90. Alizabith Says:

    LOVE this. I’m one of these, but on the internet. I can’t believe no one else has already thought of this metaphor.
    You know, what’s really eating me up inside is that I’d love to write this down as a story… BITCH GET OFF MY CORNER!

  91. where's my paracetamol Says:

    I usually love walls of text, but reading them in your handwriting gives me a headache.

  92. DSL aRe you serious?? Says:


  93. LiliannaByron Says:

    I wish you could actually do that as a job. Honestly, live audiences beat the shit out of hearing reviews and such secondhand.

  94. LiliannaByron Says:

    Also, now I am picturing Lovecraft as a prostitute. Thanks.

  95. Gerald Fnord Says:

    I like it (and many of your other pages, especially anything with the Sphinx) a lot, but (due to my eyes’ misbehaving today) I literally can’t read the actual story…if you have a link to the text as text, I’d really like to read it with a more printerly font—but perfectly understandable if you don’t or just don’t want to.

    anyway, keep up the good work, please.

  96. Mystyr Nile Says:

    Reading this again with a completely different attitude now that I’ve read all the way to “The Rude Stranger”.

  97. I’ve decided to write an ending for everyone who’s desperate to hear one: The knob begins to turn- you push desperately against the door as the knob rattles. You think back to the day you first heard the sound and wish and wish that on that day you had run as far away as possible- but it is far too late now.
    You look around for something to use as a weapon: a book? A pen? A hairbrush? None would fend off this demon for very long- you scan around the room helplessly, you don’t scream or make any noise, hoping against hope that whatever it is will get tired and decided you aren’t in there after all.
    Your brain feels like it will explode with the urge to scream, to run, to cry out for help from anybody, anywhere- then you see the phone.
    You reach out for it, but it is just out of your grasp, you relax your push on the door for a second and grab it!
    You dial frantically for the police- you whisper into the receiver “Help, there’s someone here! They’re, it’s trying to get in- please help!”
    The voice on the other end tells you not to worry, help is coming soon, as relief washes over you notice something- the rattling on the knob and the pushing on the door has stopped, and the whistling- the infernal whistling that you now fear more than anything else in the world- is ever so slightly louder. Slowly, slowly, you turn around.
    About an hour later police arrive at a shack in the wood after a distress call.
    All is empty, no remains, no nothing- just some novels and camping equipment covered in the dust. As they pack up and drive off a young officer chats to his seargent
    “Might try seeing what the rent is on a place like that- seems like it would be good for a holiday, get away from all the modern rush- y’know.”
    The seargent nods, his eyes on the road- neither see the dark figure waiting in the shadows.
    A wind blows over the trees and an eerie whistling fills the clearing- nobody is there to hear it.

  98. mamagotcha Says:

    I’m late to the party… slowly reading through your work as I catch up. Great stuff, so glad my son turned me on to it! I was wondering if you’d ever heard of Poetry Whores. I went to a Poetry Brothel in Chicago a few years ago. It’s a fascinating event and not terribly far from what you’ve depicted here. They are in other cities, too… definitely check them out if you have the opportunity. http://www.chicagopoetrybrothel.com/

  99. gridsleep Says:

    If the Roaches move in, shouldn’t they be singing “If You Go Down To Hammond”?

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