I once read that when europeans would go to africa and force the africans into clothing, the africans would become obsessed with sex _immediately_ thereafter. Considering how the europeans were likely to be full of missionary hypercrazies, this surely went over well.
It seems quite reasonable to think that we humans are wired to see other humans, and that if we don’t, we become… the world we see today.
i don’t get it… i liked the first one, it was kind of like “hey, that guy is totally exploding cause this womyn is talking about something that’s coded masculine while being conventionally attractive”
but the joke here is… what? look, womyn are OMGSEXY? womyn are stupid cause they don’t realize what they are doing to men with ther OMGSEXINESS? womyn are evil because they do realize and behave this way intentionally? men are stupid cuz they react stupidly to womyn who are OMGSEXY?
heteronormative gender roles are OMGFUNNY?
It’s about time you exposed this phenomenon, Winston. Many good men have spontaneously combusted by meeting this woman who happens to be sex incarnate. They should probably teach duck and cover drills for running into her.
Many good men have died needlessly, but some of them were just assholes.
– Panties are in no way functionally obsolete for women. We’ve got an extra hole down there that often secretes I-don’t-want-to-know-what. Guess where that ends up.
– Nude beaches are cool, it’s amazing how easily the nude=sex correlation is gone.
– Nobody dresses sexy “to feel good”… “sexiness” is meaningless if there is noone around to see it. You want to be sexy for other people. Whether or not that makes you a “slut” is up for debate, though.
Wow, is it getting hot in here? I think your comic just made me combust. Although that may have something to do with the fact that i’m a 17 year old male and your comic made reference to nudity and sex while flashing cartoon boobies and some fine cartoon ass…
Lots of text, which kinda dominated it while the joke was really the combustion and re-evolution, which got a tad lost behind the great walls of text. A good joke in theory, but in practice hard to do effectively. Nevertheless you did a good job of it and it did make me laugh.
Which is that, even if it is clearly labeled, walls of text are really abhorrent and destroys the joke that is trying to be conveyed. They drown out the images.
Doing something wrong and then labeling your comic as having done it does not make it OK.
By your logic, if I were to do a comic that consisted of stick figures saying ‘scrotum’ over and over and then putting at the top ‘doing stick figures saying scrotum since 2007’, then it suddenly stops being a bad idea?
fy: You just be a little more careful what you accuse people of, alright? Yeah, i think women are evil, which has clearly just been the overarching theme of my work all these years, so let’s just let that one fly without hesitation!! Read it again maybe.
What’s the joke? What’s it about? You’re reading it, it’s up to you. Evaluate it in the context of my body of work if you want help. To me personally, if you want to know, it’s an autobiographical-in-multiple-contrasting-ways stream of consciousness, uh, Thing about hot weather, the equating of nudity and sex, collective progress at the expense of individual progress (in ultimately trivial ways), and the sometimes crippling sexual attraction men feel toward women. Plus the guy lights on fire and, y’know, it looks funny. And there’s a monkey and a fish! One day it will remind me of a particular time and place in my life and mentality. If there’s a sinister, judgemental undertone in there along the lines of what you’re suggesting, it sure wasn’t on purpose. So how about the benefit of the doubt?
Sorry, i’m only going on and on like this because i’m really bothered by what you’re suggesting.
Charlotte: What’s going on is sometimes artists will disappoint you. This is what motivates them to Do Better Next Time. Even if it drives them crazy (lucky for me i was crazy to start with).
Beegee: Sorry, but Dave’s point is that he goes to Slipknot concerts and then walks out in a rage when they don’t play any piano ballads. You don’t like metal, don’t go to a fucking metal show. What are you even doing here?
I actually got caught in one of these earlier today. I’ve never seen such a hot girl at work, and then she started in on hot comments like this! What in the world is the proper response to that? I was afraid to say something because…I mean come on…wheres the line between understanding and creepy here?
Although I’m fine with the idea of some comics having little text, I think that just maybe us regular visitors here enjoy a little literature with the jokes. And…I say this as someone who…well, likes Garfield. So much for my good taste pedigree.
Anyway, the second someone makes something more complex than battered and fried chicken breast nuggets, there’s going to be some people who don’t find the product to their taste. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, or good, it’s just different.
I was going to make a word play about people thinking the recipe needed a little more breast and a little less banter, but I realized there’s some things people just shouldn’t have to put up with.
The whole too-much-text thing is just a matter of people misunderstanding Winston’s role. They’re thinking in terms of a comic artist, when he’s actually an author who happens to draw in the margins. Shame about the doodles getting lost, but you don’t read Sherlock Holmes cuz you’re looking to see Arthur Conan Doyle’s sketches. And unless you’re aiming for disappointment, you don’t expect pictures to matter in Subnormality. Think of it as *writing*, cuz it almost totally is.
Winston, another wonderful event. I have to admit, I sympathized with the hockey fan more than I did with the salesman. When she was at the model store, it was really a true fan, clueless as to the torture she was administering. Here, (If you hadnt seen the prior strip) she could be seen as a cruel harlot just out to tease and destroy.
I wished you a fair trip to the Great White North on your last trip. Today, I bid you adieu on the same journey. Up to Saskatchewan! At least I can get some good perogies and poutine.
man, I loooove your comic, I have been reading it for like a year and its the first time I write a comment, anyway, I just wanted topoint that maybe the sadows in the sexy girl in the 6th panel make her look fat, or its me? also the hand in the 5th panel looks big big, maybe the pose makes it look big or my mind is playing me games again, 😄 I hope you update wth more awesome comics soon, (i love the one about jail for the jerks, and all the sphinx comics) thanks for making these awesome, very funny and extremelly full worded comics!
Hey, Mr. Rowntree. Don’t be sad if *I* didn’t get this particular comic. You have a track record of awesome and I love your work.
To both Mr. Philip K. Ellison and Mr. Rowntree, ignore the trolls’ cry for attention, but don’t forget they’re readers too and maybe they have a reasonable suggestion from time to time.
I like the stream of consciousness you were writing. I don’t wear underpants either. Oh, and it’s fun to write in female voice, even if this articular female is talking more like a man in woman’s body. It’s like choosing a female character in a role playing game or an obviously female nickname on IRC. Lets you be what you love. You get to think differently for a moment, even if superficially differently.
I hate to admit it, but I’m a sexual attraction cripple too. It’s a problem I have hard time managing. I guess it runs in the (Y chromosome) family…
I’ve loved this character since 7 Dichotomies in a Bar. It’s all sorts of tragic really. She thinks she’s not attractive and, gods, fat, and there are no men to contradict her because they’re either scared away or going through the whole spontaneous combustion fishy evolution process. [Loved that mammalthing. Very enticing!]
fy kind of has a point, actually. If the protagonist doesn’t realise that she’s making the salesman uncomfortable, she’s naive; if she does realise it, she’s cruel. Previous comics (dichotomies in a bar and the one in the model store) point to the first case. However, I wouldn’t equate naivete with stupidity like fy does.
Also, since it’s been mentioned, I’d like to say something about the walls of text. My main grip with the text is not that there’s a lot of it, but that it “drowns the images” as someone said above. This didn’t happen in The Line, where text and images were cooperating to convey a message (and not competing for space) or in The Apartment, where text and image each had its own well-defined place. Speech bubbles were invented to hold very little text surrounded by images, and they don’t work well here.
I wish I had a useful suggestion what to do when a character talks a lot, but I can’t really think of anything. Try experimenting a little with the placement and form of bubbles.
“Beegee: Sorry, but Dave’s point is that he goes to Slipknot concerts and then walks out in a rage when they don’t play any piano ballads. You don’t like metal, don’t go to a fucking metal show. What are you even doing here?”
Well, Dave’s comment was actually a small criticism regarding the high text density, and a way to improve it is to simplify it, which is what I expanded upon before.
And your analogy is somewhat flawed regarding people who criticise your work. It would be more like someone walking down the street and coming across buskers playing in a rock band. And the bass player’s amp is turned up to 10, and the lead guitar is set down at 1.
And then the person talks to the band after they have finished their song and points out that maybe their bass amp is set too high, drowning out the rest of the music.
To which the band responds: fuck you, this is how we play. This is how we do it, and that’s that.
Which is exactly what you’re doing. This isn’t a matter of taste, it’s a matter of breaking a pretty fundamental rule in musical performance (and in your case, in creation of narrative structure). Words should compliment the text, not batter it to death – and this is what Dave, myself and many other people are trying to tell you.
Some people might (and apparently do) like what you’re doing, just as some people really might want to hear the band – this is unfortunately drawing you into a false sense of security and letting you fool yourself into thinking it’s a good thing and does not need to be improved upon.
Regarding the ‘if you don’t like it, don’t read it’ argument – I’m not here because I’m a regular reader or fan of your comic; I am not here because I’ve actively been seeking something to criticise. I stumbled across it while browsing in my lunch break.
Regardless of how I found it, I have to say don’t like it at all (for various reasons, the chief one being the text problem, which occurs with uncomfortable regularity). As a consequence, I won’t be back. But before doing so, I wanted to post something on your comments board. I am not a troll, nor someone looking for vindictive pleasure from ribbing someone’s work; I merely want to offer a frank opinion about your comic and sincerely hope that my comments can be taken on board.
However, you seem to be particularly sensitive to criticism. Tell me – if you don’t want it, why have a comments board? Is it so that you can have a vast legion of fanboys regularly pat you on the back and tell you how good you are? I’m sorry to break it to you, but that is simply no way to go about getting feedback and critique. How are you ever going to improve if you are not challenged to do so…?
My ultimate point is that your comic, whilst enjoyed by a few people in its present form, could be enjoyed by a much larger audience and to a much greater degree if you just refined your writing more, and gave up on this text thing you’re so keen on. Don’t be so tenacious.
i just stated the ways i could imagine interpreting this strip, all of which made me feel uncomfortable (in ways your comic usually, refreshingly does not – otherwise i would not have commented). not because it made me believe that you are a raging misogynist man-monster!, but because i happen to experience and see sexism every day in my every being and sometimes in forms that seem to me to be resembled in this strip. i am not going to apologize if you feel offended by this.
i think it’s kind of contradictory of you to on the one hand want readers to interpret your work on their own, but then feel ‘attacked’ when these interpretations suggest something you don’t like.
“However, I wouldn’t equate naivete with stupidity like fy does.”
actually, i wasn’t really saying that i think she’s stupid (our would be so), but merely reproducing the way people usually talk about such behaviour.
how much criticism does an artist need? I can understand some of it being helpful but generally improvement comes from practice and constantly honing your natural talent.
You can take into account what people like and don’t like about your work but in the end it’s all up to you what you like or dislike about it. If you’re just creating to gain approval from invisible Internet people or for money then you’re not really doing it for the right reasons.
Thats my two cents anyways. This seems to have been coming up on a few other comics sites I read regularly too…
“Thanks for the free ice-cream. I didn’t ask for the chocolate flakes.”
“Thanks for the free chocolate flakes. It was my lunch break and I came for something to trigger my allergies.”
“Thanks for the Towering Allegory, I prefer my similes lying down, like, metaphors, y’know?”
“No Thanks for Going On, My TwitterGland is Full.”
“Fool thinks just because he can evolve thoughts through ink into words and paper and steer minds to action he isn’t Gonna Get Some Idiocy In Return.”
Turned me on Winston, entirely. Never seen evolution so quickly analogued as a sidekick to a monologue. I will now grow hats purely so I can harvest them, wear them all and take them off simultaneously.
But to the point: the d(e-)evolution of Man to Primal by the lissome and manifold Lovelinesses of Woman, whether innate or socialised, gets so fucking gloriously unbearable in Summer: be it the Woman’s naivete in the soliloquy in front of her gender opposite, or his combustion in the face of Glory, my ‘reading’ of this Event (in Reyvolution’s excellent coining) is thus:
Have a great Fucking summer if you can: every size fits someone in this ‘… 7 billion now?’… planet.
Hey beeege, the text complIments the art perfectly, almost symbiotically were I wont to spin words as one used to using them: perchance you mean ‘complEment,’ in which case maybe learn to use a plastic spoon before wielding your upside-down axe.
Um, just read the ‘follow-up’ Randy’s hobby shop; maybe I rode my horse too far above: Winston I’m surprised you resisted the temptation to change the 20-30% discount sign from panel to panel in the first one; and to change the 28.75 in the follow-up from panel to 73.34 later on.
Am I the only one who is confused by the fact that hot women in this comics are constantly shiny? Like, is the de facto assumption that gorgeous girls rub themselves down with baby oil every day before they go out?
I’m just trying to figure out what is causing this girl to become a giant reflective surface.
Like Dawn, I just wanted to say that I love your comic too. I forgot about it when it went on a brief hiatus, so I had a little bingey catch-up just now! Sometimes I don’t get it…but that’s my problem and I really don’t get it when people complain because you haven’t entertained them (the troll star one, were all of those real flames you got?). So even when I miss the mark, I still appreciate that a lot of effort has gone into the quirky drawings. Ode to Embarrassment always comes to mind on the (frequent) occasions when I find myself in a situation like that. Cheers me up to no end!
Please keep doing what you’re doing, even if the tools manage to get you down.
I can’t help but notice how much this woman’s vocabulary has expanded since her debut in the hobby shop strip. (Yeah, she rambled a lot in that one too, but it was more “average Joe”-type rambling about hockey and such.) Let me guess: since her getting laid off, she’s been spending her free time studying for the SAT?
Beegee: “My ultimate point is that your comic, whilst enjoyed by a few people in its present form, could be enjoyed by a much larger audience and to a much greater degree if you just refined your writing more, and gave up on this text thing you’re so keen on. Don’t be so tenacious.”
Shorter Beegee: stop making Virus Comix. Make VG Cats instead.
Wow, this comment thread has trolls apologizing and pretending not to be trolls. And then trolling more.
My $.02 is that if the artist drew it the way he did, that’s the way he wanted it. Criticizing that based on the conventions of the form is silly, like criticizing Picasso because his pictures don’t look accurate (like Michelangelo), or criticizing e. e. cummings because the words don’t rhyme (like Shakespeare, not to mention the capitalization). Let’s not forget, when we troll comment threads, that we’re just grammar nazis on the internet, not fricken’ ART CRITICS!
“This isn’t a matter of taste, it’s a matter of breaking a pretty fundamental rule in musical performance” Puh-LEASE!
Also, I pretty much was like the guy in panel 3 for the whole comic. Nice to see that her bodyfat is correlated all over her body, I actually prefer a natural full figure to an artificial one sometimes.
Initial comic reaction: really happy that Winston is no longer drawing breasts like two circles plastered on a lady, as in the earlier comic! I feel terrible nitpicking art that is so fully awesome otherwise but that was kinda bizarre. (second reaction: considering splitting my grad school savings account into a grad-school-and-breast-implants savings account, fucking a-cups. fuck! (angst goes here))
I love the way just about every comments section since my discovery of the existence of a comments section has been mostly devoted to the WORDS debate. I particularly like the guy who wrote a whole bunch of boring words about how annoying Subnormality’s entertaining words are. Nicely done.
Zifnab: “Like, is the de facto assumption that gorgeous girls rub themselves down with baby oil every day before they go out?”
This is exactly what they do.
George: “Make the next one of these in a music shop, if she’s a Stones fan, she’s the perfect woman.”
The perfect woman for creepy guys too lazy to discover any of the way better musicians who have formed more recently than half a decade ago, maybe. That’s right, I went there. Let’s go. I’m ready for a flame war about something BESIDES short fiction-to-comic art ratios.*
*I am not actually ready for a flame war
I suspect both the “confident, enlightened, gender role defying woman” (ummm.) and “stupid slutty objectified caricature of a lady” interpretations are reading too much into a completely apolitical joke that shows up everywhere, all the time: LOL THAT HOT LADY IS SO BONER-INDUCING AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW. Here, have a link to a reference that’s even nerdier than wikipedia: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IDidntMeanToTurnYouOn
I will continue to enjoy and appreciate your visual (and text, lovely lovely text nom nom nom) slices of life, but from now on I might give the comments section a miss, it’s full of pretentious wankers who want you to draw YOUR strip THEIR way without having commissioned you to do so. People, it’s free! Pay the man and THEN dictate how his strip goes.
in the second last panel you can see just a little bit of nipple (or areole if you wanna use that word).
*in a southern accent* I like that.
And since anything more intelligent I could add has already been covered in other comments, I shall say no more.
Ok, so this has bothered me for a while, but since when does all criticism equal trolling?
Next we’ll start referring to people as movie trolls and music trolls. Literature trolls seems most fitting considering the context…
Then again, it can be really fucking hard to see if someone is actually giving you a suggestion, or just wanting to be right and trying to convince you that’s the case.
Well… if someone is hating on a comic for being exactly what it claims to be, then at the very least, it’s a horribly stupid person for being here when they obviously don’t want what they supposedly knew they were going to get.
Guys, Philip Bliss, I truly sincerely love this comic! REALLY.
donuteyes, I am rubber you are glue. I am sure that some of the jokes you’ve been told you didn’t get.
When I said I didn’t get it, I was hoping someone would explain it to me.
I’m not trolling! I love Subnormality! but it so happens that I didn’t get this one strip we’ve got here. It happens.
So I’m trying to analyze the punchline. Something to do with how sexual attraction is bad for the individual but good for the species and that’s why poor salesperson’s temperature is rising so high he gets spontaneously combusted?
I agree with Illogic’s criticizing =/= trolling. If everything is being done in good spirit and not for the “lulz”.
“To which the band responds: fuck you, this is how we play. This is how we do it, and that’s that.”
I don’t like those band members. The guy was just pointing something that MAY have been an error but wasn’t and he gets the f-word. I’d have expected something like “thank you, Mr. Person, for your help, but this was a conscious artistic decision.”
For the record, i of course view criticism and trolling as two vastly different things (the difference being Intent). Criticism is welcome, and there’s been some very good criticism this time ’round. Troll posts, on the other hand, get deleted (but there are usually very few of those, and they’re usually about five words long, only two of the words spelled correctly). Also: hugely verbose comments about how evil it is to have hugely verbose comics will go unread by me, for obvious reasons.
[The gist of it is that i’d never want this to be one of those creepy, insular clubhouse-style webcomic sites where people who show up and offer fair criticism are shouted down (though if people show up and play the “too many words” card at this stage in the game then i won’t be upset if people continue to politely tell them to fuck off.)].
You forgot about all of the marketing and entertainment industries out to exploit that little point of friction. As if it’s not bad enough to feel weird about being naked, TV has to remind us nudity is the worst thing ever (blurring out normal human backsides, but showing gruesome deaths, surgeries, etc.) and all those ads that like to tell us any (female) skin always means sex sex sex. Which isn’t to say they don’t fixate on particular body parts, like when action movies have to slow things down for a moment just so the audience can contemplate that what they’re seeing is a woman’s chest. Geek culture is almost worse that mainstream media with this stuff. We can’t have games where everyone gets practical, functional looking armor, it’s always some kind of bizarre sexy fashion statement. And of course people get to freaking out when ever these things cross the line with the nakedness, so people get to thinking it’s edgy or something.
I mean, don’t even get me started on comic artists that throw in scantly clad, improbably shiny women who just happen to cater to the interests of the passive male characters around them.
It’s like they’re trying to make fun of themselves or something.
Oh, I agree that geek culture is so obnoxiously obsessed with Breast Plates. But… realism isn’t everything. I wouldn’t want to play something TOO realistic. I get enough of realism in reality. 😛
Oh, and I really love those weird costumes you see in games like Final Fantasy, even if they’d never be worn by real fighters.
There’s a lecture on ted.com about “supernormal stimuli” you should all watch. It’s about this comic, guys, even if Dan Dennett (the lecturer) doesn’t know it is.
Loved the comic! I think it’s different from her two other appearances, though it has some similarities.
The way her speech and the images both goes together and in two different directions at once is a really nice twist.
About critique and bashing:
To me giving critique is saying “I experienced the comic this way and it didn’t sit well with me. [List examples]. Perhaps you could try doing it this way [list examples] instead.”
While bashing is saying “You’re doing it wrong and people won’t like it. Do it this way [list examples] instead.”
Constructive critique in my eyes should recognize that it is the critic’s own interpretation that is the basis for the critique and from that make suggestions to the creator.
Bashing is putting your own view into the eyes of everyone else and then demanding that changes are made.
(Trolling is just making insults.)
Ok I have been thinking a lot about this, because Illogic’s excellent question made me doubt my knee-jerk reaction of labelling those two guys “trolls.” There definitely needs to be provision made for criticism, so it’s not helpful to shout down everyone who disagrees with your views–let’s not forget that the word troll is itself an insult. Of course it’s very easy to insult people you disagree with (like i find it easy to take exception to people who dislike subnormality!). But I think that we forget that the etiquette of criticism on the internet is not as developed, as etiquette in other spaces, which has been evolving for thousands of years.
In traditional media, criticism is usually offered by the critic in their own space. Theatre critics, for instance, write in the newspaper. You never find a serious art critic going to an exhibition and spitting on a painting, just as you don’t see Ebert picketing cinemas or an atheist waking in to a mosque and telling the imam that Allah doesn’t exist. Debate is good, but it’s done in a shared space. This right here is Winston’s space. If you don’t like subnormality, (which is exactly what it says on the tagline) then blog it, where everyone who cares about your opinion can see it. Better yet, discuss it in a webcomics forum where people can weigh in without the debate being hosted by one of the debaters. But don’t come in here and say, without reading the archive or engaging with the work, that you know more about making comics than Winston! That would be presumptuous and rude for an anonymous person to do in RL, and it is here too.
Of course if it were Ryan North (of http://www.qwantz.com) saying that there are too many words in subnormality the story would be different. But he, far from being anonymous, is a celebrity of the webcomics world. I seriously doubt he would make such a comment here, even if he felt that way (not only because he in particular has a credible platform from which to criticize the number of words in other webcomics ;). As an actual creator he’s got to think differently about how to approach a criticism of someone’s comic conception, if you know what I mean. I’m not a huge fan of dinosaur comics, so I don’t know that this isn’t the case, but imagine how ridiculous it would be if every comic had comments on it telling him to draw different pictures from comic to comic. Guess what? He’s made up his mind about that one already!
@Curious Inquisitor: The character in this comic does have the same skin tone as Priya Rai, and they both have gorgeous, lascivious bodies. But I’m afraid I have to call you out on this one: you’re just obsessed with Priya Rai! 😉
*omg, I had such a nice retort to the “too many words” discussion, but maybe a little bit too trenchant.. so I will skip that, for the sake of the larger audience 😉
pictures do best, what pictures can best (e.g. showing shiny female bodies and inducing an irresistible meta-spiral of combustion in the reptilian brains of the – male – readers/commentators – since W.R. actually was portraying us ;), words do best what words can best (e.g. communicating thoughts to others, be it ideas, insight or opinions). all people nagging about too many words expressing what is best expressed in words, next time draw your comments (without using any words, and not missing any points), and I might fall for your side
The truth of the matter is that we’re in a society that is so Politically Correct, where we’re trying hard to stifle the reality that most men groove on hot chicks. We LIKE checking out nice tits and fine asses. It may not be appropriate, but it sure can be fun.
If we haven’t been told it’s not nice because of religion, it’s because it’s supposed to be demeaning to women. There’s always a reason why we can’t scope out the hottie in the swimwear department, even as we get a nice long look at her cleavage. The comic might be from her perspective, but frankly, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at his, either.
And, yeah, I’ve been there. It’s kind of a bitch driving down the Interstate, checking the mirrors, and seeing a very attractive young (or old) woman driving up alongside you, dressed to thrill, and showing a pair of legs you’d kill just to lick from the heels on up. (And you’d be surprised just how often these sweet things do OTHER things while they drive by. Yeah, they know damn good and well we’re looking.) 😉
I don’t mind the amount of text, but the intersection of colloquial, idiomatic speech and analytical monologues are absolutely unpleasant to read. If it were spoken out loud, maybe the timing and cadence and speed could make it entertaining, but I just can’t stand reading something like this.
The more text in the comic the more ill love it. Of course loads of text can be a chore to read. But not this one. Your comic is funny and insightful and your vibrant writing style is thunderously creative. Not to mention the general quality of your production.
you ask some really good questions and make some excellent points. still having a hard time getting on-board with the sphinx, no matter how many points that she makes that are acute to the point of piercing bone.