Down at the Beach

August 25, 2009


Comic. Sorry for the vacation and then the delay. I said i’d be back and then i was and then there were some walls of text, but not as many walls as there could have been. Huzzah!

Erm, anyway,


80 Responses to “Down at the Beach”

  1. Chutney Says:

    It is great to see a new comic. Is there a reason why your characters use hey at the end of a sentence like people use eh?

  2. No Hablo Ingles Says:

    Uh, yeah, Winston. Great, thanks. Owls stealing cars. Love it.

  3. Yeah Says:

    Hahaha, I love Pink-haired girl even when she is brown-haired.

  4. Yeah Says:

    Oh man, itΒ΄s really late.

  5. Mark Says:

    When writing a comic, the average artist would go from point A, the setup, straight to point B, the punchline. And yes, they would be rewarded with a laugh, for what that’s worth. But Rowntree, he would go from Point A, the setup, and take a lovely drive down to the woods, where he would perhaps stop to feed the ducks or maybe take a dip in the lake to refresh himself. And then, he would jump back in the comedy car and he would drive around completely bypassing point B and ending up at the infinitely unpopular* point C, simply because the baguettes are fresher and less expensive!

    *I suspect, as is true for myself, that most of your regular readers find point C to be much funnier and more satisfying than point B.

    Keep up the excellent work!

  6. Rob Retter Says:

    I’m never certain there are actually any distinct points, A, B, or C…more like one big fuzzy haze, which Winston tends to get lost in, buried under way too many words. The occasional comic where there’s an actual progression of story line or discernible humor, that’s increasingly rare here. Wonderful moments do still happen, but flatlined dreariness seems to be filling up Subnormality fast.

  7. stephen Says:

    hurray for subnormality! And hurray for people who sound like people and think like people.
    And beverage logos to puzzle over and I wonder why she brought the ball with her and I wonder whether the trees can really grow that close to the water line and it looks like volleyball girl got ditched too.

  8. BLee Says:

    @yeah: Oh right… pink haired girl turned brunette and she’s taken a sudden drop towards cynical. Wow. Apparently her friends only hung around her for the pinkness.

  9. Michael Ezra Says:

    Too many words, Rob Retter? Too many words, you say? (Original comment, BTW; no one else in the history of this comic has ever said that like a googolplex times.)

    Well, I say: Bring on the words! Bring on the walls of text! Dreariness? No! This…is…SUBNORMALITY!

  10. Michael Ezra Says:

    Okay, now that I’ve got the requisite pwnage out of the way: We’ve seen Hairy-Legged Volleyball Woman before, haven’t we? The strip about trolls, the one that concludes with the beach party. Why, this strip could well take place on the same evening.

  11. void Says:

    Oh, stop apologizing for the late comics. πŸ™‚

  12. GlitterBerri Says:

    @Rob Retter: The comic seems to be more of a vehicle for the author’s thoughts on life than a collection of humorous anecdotes. It’s the bizarre ones that make us laugh.

  13. Nol Says:

    I love the sunset backdrop and I like the flatlined dreariness because it is done with such style. Boston loves you.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    You, sir, made me giggle. Punchline and img’s title attribute.

    BLee: I think she was also at “the alien invasion due to annoying radio signals from earth comic” and “the one in which they ridicule others of their weird clothing comic”

    I don’t remember those comics’ names, though…

  15. Lin-z Says:

    Hey, I don’t think I have commented on your blog before but I want to say thanks for posting super awesome comics all the time–walls of text and all.

    I really appreciate that you draw all types of people (e.g. girls who don’t shave) as it normalizes all the different ways people are, as opposed to the one or two ways that we see people in most media.

  16. thefacelessheadlessbeingthoughtofsingularityanddestroyeditsmind Says:

    people grimace alot in this comic. seriously, do people ever show that much teeth in RL?

  17. LafinJack Says:

    I think the owls are working for the trees.

    Why a tree would want a car, though, I have no idea.

  18. Basil Ramley Says:

    As a young writer as well as a fan of more cerebral and surreal webcomics, seeing your work always brightens my day. You can mix the cute absurdity of owls stealing cars with existential angst so neatly that I’m left in envy. Good work as usual!

  19. bachterman Says:

    the blonde has really nice, hairy legs. πŸ˜‰

  20. RelativisticGeologist Says:

    How many owls would it take to lift a car into a tree?

  21. Drew Craven Says:

    I just came across your comic this weekend (and subsequently spent the rest of my weekend catching up on your archives).

    What I wouldn’t give for a mere ounce of your talent for writing and / or drawing…

    I’m torn – I love you but you make me sick.

  22. Alex Says:

    Car stealing owls? Really? C’mon, you’re better than that. Random absurdity makes for kind of a weak punchline.

  23. Voskhod Says:

    I thought i read the car-stealing-owls bit wrong as well

    I love Subnormality. =D

  24. Brrrrrring Says:

    Love the hairy-legged woman, πŸ˜€

  25. Theophilus Says:


  26. Charlie Says:

    Subnormality is one of the finest webcomix. It gives us what great story telling does, “The human heart in conflict with itself.” I am glad it tells its story instead of always following the conventions of the medium.

    It would take approximately 1100 Great Horned Owls to carry away a 2200lbs Toyota Corolla. That is why one is always nice to owls.

  27. Charlie Says:

    98 Civic = 2351lbs (roughly)
    That would take about 1176 GHOs.

    Be nice to Owls.

  28. Nat Says:

    Now I want the backstory of the car-stealing parliament of owls.

    Nice touch with the crab and snake trying to eat PinkHairedGirl’s toes.

  29. dodoman1 Says:

    I have seen many a comic with dozens and dozens of giant text-walls.

    I have never seen a comic that actually said something meaninful in those text walls, until I found Subnormality.

    Good show.

  30. Ethan Says:

    lol wow hairy legged volleyball girl also has quit manly and hair arms too. is she hiding a secret? lol

  31. Great to see you back and active, my good man!

  32. Chris Says:

    Welcome back from vacation, and nice punchline!

  33. EthZee Says:

    Well, I would assume that you’d only need about three or so owls. One to operate the pedals, one on the gear-stick and one on the steering wheel. You might want two on the wheel, though.

  34. Yeah Says:

    Ellen Ripley, how I love you.

  35. Tefferen Says:

    That girl really depresses me every time I read about her. This is really amazing.

  36. No Hablo Ingles : I…can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.

    Mark: Thank you. I should put all that up on the home page under “comix with too many words.” Made my day with that little description.

    Rob Retter: You’ll have to be more specific or i can’t help you. Throw me a bone here, don’t just cry “the end is nigh!!” and shuffle out of the room assuming nobody’s listening.

    Michael Ezra: Ha, congrats for using “googolplex” in a sentence. Well played.

    Lin-z: Thanks! And thanks for commenting.

    RelativisticGeologist: Ask that Tootsie Roll owl. “Three….”

    Drew Craven: Thanks, but don’t feel too sick.

    Alex: I assure you, i do the best i can every week. Some weeks are just better than others.

    Charlie: I agree: be nice to owls! Owls are awesome, i do declare.

    Tom: Cheers, my good man.

    EthZee: Reminds me of my favorite joke (which i finally have an excuse to mention):

    Q: How do you get four elephants into a sedan?
    A: Two in the front, and two in the back.

    And if you think that’s bad, you should hear my second-favorite joke…

  37. LightHorseman Says:

    Are they African or European owls?

  38. jaeclassic215 Says:

    Barn Owls are assholes. There I said it.

  39. Matthew Says:

    FINALLY! I’ve been going crazy for, like, two weeks here.

    God. It’s like my life is back.

  40. Gabe Says:

    Se should consider herself lucky that it was only owls. When I dropped on the food chain I was mugged by cockroaches.

  41. Max Chaplin Says:

    Oh dear, more whining to complete strangers about her miserable life. This time it’s her inability to stand for herself. Such an annoying character. Kill her off, Rowntree, and focus on the sphinx please!

  42. Kellee Says:

    Haha. I love how you turn the insight into absurdity with one line always tucked in there. And I love the people you draw. Hairy legged ladies for the win.

  43. Cristi Says:

    Max, why do you say that she’s whining? I mean, between the constant use of periods instead of exclamation marks and the facial expression, I get the impression that she’s being resigned and just stating the facts instead of whining about them.

  44. No Hablo Ingles Says:

    The pink/brown haired girl needs a good dicking. Just kidding, but seriously, she needs to eat some cheese and fruit.

  45. Sean Says:

    They can smell weakness.

  46. Mark Temporis Says:

    Looking at the beach scenery, I can attest that trees and shrubbery can grow that close to the beach. Beach as drawn reminds me of this one area in Kihei across from the Maui Lu hotel, actually.

  47. Ben Says:


    I only got the reference because I just finished going through the Kids in the Hall DVDs on Netflix. Winston, being Canadian himself, should have caught it too, but something tells me he didn’t.

    Made me chuckle though.

  48. Blatant Coward Says:

    Epiphany, thy name is pain. Eventually.

    WR! Welcome back! Hope you had a great vacation!

  49. Ryan Says:

    I hope you had a most excellent vacation. But I’m glad you’re back!

  50. erik Says:

    why is there a snake on the beach?

  51. Thabang Says:

    This is good, made me smile.

  52. boB Says:

    Welll, Mr Presedent, its the bees and the spiders again, they stole my food stamps and sold them to the rats.
    And i tried to get down to my car for da honk the horn for help but the snakes have gotten it for the cockroaches.
    I go back upstairs but the spiders have jammed the police locks.
    I ain’t been inside in a week and I know my wife is sleeping with the bees!

    ‘Could you state that as a question?’

    Sure Mr Presedent, where can I get a job?

    LOL, Sir you have to be a fan of Firesign Theatre……

  53. simon Says:

    But why is she at the beach in the first place if not looking for validation from her peers? I’m not american, do I have this wrong?

  54. Yenner Says:

    I’m enjoying the comic, with one question: While one is examining the socio-political climate of our times, will one be providing viewers with original ideas, or more regurgitated conversations overheard amongst undergraduate philosophy/psychology/sociology students?

  55. LafinJack Says:

    But why is she at the beach in the first place if not looking for validation from her peers?

    Because the beach is pretty and smells nice?

  56. simon Says:

    Yenner: Oh you’re so brainy, you can’t create so you criticise and such a poor criticism it is too. Wake up to yourself, you sad sack.

  57. simon Says:

    LafinJack: Fair enough, but why then in a bikini? And don’t say ‘because it’s warm’.

  58. LafinJack Says:

    Because it’s warm.

  59. No Hablo Ingles Says:

    And because being in sandy / wet clothes is generally uncomfortable and highly unfashionable.

  60. Olivier Says:

    Dear Mr Rowtree,
    I hereby represent the Group of Loving Readers who Crave to Know the Second Favorite Joke. “Be prepared” is someone else’s motto but it’s a fitting statement.

    Thank you in advance


  61. Olivier Says:

    I suppose missing a letter in the previous comment makes me eligible for eternally bad web comics.

  62. Gwyn Says:

    I like that she has hair.

  63. Michael Says:

    Its really great I’m glad you’re back. Its kind of sad seeing pink-haired individual girl forced to conform to society’s measure though.

  64. brashieel Says:

    I’ve read this comic three times now, and each time it made me chuckle. And then feel melancholy. Well done!

  65. Gerry Says:

    Hope you had a nice hols Winston, welcome back and thanks for the lovely comic.

    Did this scenario happen to you on day 2, or was it straight from the hotel to the pile of shoes and other people’s coats on day one?

  66. Yenner Says:

    simon: Interesting that you have some knowledge of my productive capability, I did not realize I had communicated any to you.

    Nor did I realize it invalidated my commentary

    Mr Rowntree has illustrated a strong grasp of basic contemporary philosophy, I simply wondered, when will he elaborate? When will we see more that what I can find in my textbooks now?

  67. Gerry Says:

    @Yenner: hey, just as a point of basic grammar-grasp, I’d counsel you that to ask whether ‘one will be providing viewers with…’ would imply that you’re asking yourself said question.

    Just saying, like. And gleefully, my understanding of Winston’s autonomous creativity volcanoes are that they tend to coruscatingly spurt whichever magma is hottest beneath his surface.

    Also, just saying: I’ve no idea whether this is a Hegelian construct or even a reflection of Lacanian mirror-stage feminism, but I like comics so I try not to let my highbrow verbiage get in the way too much.

    Except on Tuesdays which is daddy’s lolly and Iscream day.

  68. anon2 Says:

    blee, i totally agree. pink haired girl has no consistent personality! (i’m a poet and i didn- o god that is such an overused phrase). Yea, despite being one of very few recurring characters, and despite being perhaps the most recurring character and having a speaking role or even a lead in a large portion of the strips, pink-haired girl is, i think, primarily a stock character. she is their when Rowntree needs a sympathetic character in his strip, and it seems he is not terribly discriminate as to what role she gets. she is familiar and so people like her. but it doesnt seem to me that she really has an individual personality or character. The Sphinx is a recurring character because she has a distinct and individual personality and people like her. The other recurring characters exist because people like familiarity.

    @lin-z: Have u ever seen Rowntree draw a fat woman? Q.E.D. He’s just pandering to his feminist readers πŸ˜›

    @ramley: read SMBC and XKCD too, they are quite cerebral!

    @M Chaplin: HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA. i cant say i agree w/ ur proposition but i most certainly agree w/ the way u said it

  69. anon2: What is with people assuming the worst of everyone?? Yeah, i’m just pandering and manipulating the audience and trying to provoke specific reactions because i’m just completely ill-intentioned. Here’s a thought: not everyone is completely disingenous!! News flash: some people MEAN WELL!! OH MY GOD!!

  70. simon Says:

    Yenner: no, you were just being disingeniously snide, and using retroactive commentary for passive-aggressive delusionary self-justification. Or did I hear that from regurgitated conversations overheard amongst undergraduate philosophy/psychology/sociology students?

  71. Tracy Says:

    Uh…did that chick shave her thighs but not her shins? That’s a totally inversion of reality, in which many women shave as much of their legs as they expect to show, i.e. shins.

    • Katherine Says:

      True, but the hairs on your thighs tend to appear finer anyway, especially if you’ve never shaved them. Shave your shins once and they’re all the more visible when they grow back.

  72. Line Noise Says:

    I hope some day to see PHG once again pink. It is a commonly held myth in our country that kindness = subjugation. Since we pride ourselves on our consideration, manners and civility this myth does Canada a disservice. The winning stratagem is to find behaviours that are equally beneficial to you and those your behaviour effects.
    Personally i am still trying to refine behaviours the don’t harm myself or others…

  73. carl lewis(yes, the carl lewis) Says:

    @Line Noise it’s not just in your country. I think it’s a world wide thing kindess=subjugation. Quite sad really

  74. MH_Loto Says:

    Hey, that’s MY car!! =/

  75. Carlos Says:

    Great strip, but I couldn’t help notice…did you purposely draw hairs on the girl who came over? Sorry, just a subtle thing and I was wondering if that was what it was.

  76. Helen Says:

    I was actually going to comment it was nice to see a girl with hairy legs and no apparent joke about hairy legged girls.

  77. Helen Says:

    I liked the comment too πŸ™‚

  78. Helen Says:

    I liked the comic too πŸ™‚ And i should get some sleep…

  79. Eric Schissel Says:

    This one (like quite a few others) seem[s] to want to have a prequel or sequel (I haven’t read ahead, maybe it gets one) πŸ™‚

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