Christmas Eve

December 22, 2009

Okay then, here’s this week’s comic. Back again with my galloping black hole of humor and restraint or whatever it is. A nice, straightforward christmas comic for the family to get Big Laffs! Got a new comic over at Cracked too, if anyone’s interested. As for me, i have to catch a train right now so i’ll catch YOU next year!

Thanks to Everyone for the thing that was 2009. Much appreciated. Handshakes all around, and merry new year/happy christmas for sure.


winston rowntree

329 Responses to “Christmas Eve”

  1. Sili Says:

    Okay, now you’re just fucking with us.

    Happy Monkey! And may your goats catch fire.

  2. Pedro Says:

    this was just too good, man, love it beyond what words can express!

  3. Karhe Says:

    You should be writing novels! Or stories at least. This is way better than at least 60% of the shit they publish as sci-fi!
    (Not saying comics are not a good medium though, but every time I read a new comic of yours, I feel frustrated that I can’t share it enough… In that sense, books speak to a bigger audience.)

  4. Andy Says:


    Also, this story would make a great movie!

  5. Leifbk Says:

    Oh my. This one was totally wonderful. I agree with Andy that it’s a great movie script. Merry Xmas to WR and everybody.

  6. Sue Says:

    I lol’d hard at the soap billboard.

  7. Uncleben Says:

    I have to agree with those who call you to write novels/screenplay. The depths of despair, cynicism, observation of the human condition and the humor cry out for a wider audience. Merry Christmas!

  8. Tayrtahn Says:

    Wow… biggest wall of text ever, and also one of the best I’ve ever read.

    I’m loving the story. The twists are great, the tone of the narrative is great (maybe a bit “fuck”-heavy at times), and you can really feel the emotion in there. I think this storyline deserves further exploration – there are clearly some great side-stories to be told here.

  9. MatthewT Says:

    Great comic, its beautiful in a really fucked up way.

  10. Brian Says:

    Oh, man, I’m exhausted after reading that. Screw the people at the sex shop; *I* need a cigarette.

    Best wall of text yet. Nice job.

  11. Benjamin F. Says:

    Well I’m happy you posted it, making this page must’ve been really time consuming so not posting it up would’ve been a waste. And you should totally illustrate that guy’s story some day!
    Great to see you on Cracked again as well! Merry Christmas, looking forward for more inspiring comics from you next year!

  12. Lew Basnight Says:

    That was full of nice little details that complimented the main story nicely. The SexStop uniforms, for example.
    Thanks a bundle, man. I’m going to tell that story to the kids around the tree on Christmas Eve. “Can you imagine a cemetery coming alive, like a great single entity and holding you down and screaming into your soul for seven hours? Huh? Can ya’?”

  13. Oh my god, those sex worker outfits are *awesome*.


    holy shit.

  15. Hexadecima Says:

    a) blown away.

    b) I like the flap on the outfit; it’s very Star Trek II-VI era!

  16. fanmos Says:

    man, you should have 20 lives and more to do all your great stuff… you alone would have enough creativity and inspiration for a medium sized, cozy (but not stuffy, more in the sense that people value good intentions and authentic, open-minded social relations) country with hills and maybe even some remarkable snow-covered mountains, part seaside, with traditions, that stay open to change but also offer a core of true wisdom and insight from the past, molten into a form that every time in its celebration enlightens the mind, frees the body and chafes the heart ^^

    yeah, and the thing about the cemetery screaming into your soul…. makes me reconsider my complaints-to-come about the Christmas season. Well, Merry Christmas anyway and thanks for this gift


    Some link issues:

    – homepage does not show current comic
    – last comic does not link to this comic
    – last comic does not link to homepage

    Did I leave anything out? FIXEM.

  18. Worthstream Says:

    This is the best Christmas gift!
    It’s unbelievably good writing, thanks for making it! πŸ™‚

    And btw, Happy holydays!

  19. Tomora Says:

    As others have said, holy shit.
    One of the best yet, this is.

  20. Holy shit. I wanna know more about that story… you could seriously write a book about that shit.

  21. JTWilson Says:

    Winston….I’m-a agree with everything anyone else has said. Damn. I haven’t been this creeped out by a non-movie in years. Man, that was riveting!! You are on fire!!

    I am always so incredibly awed by these societies you create, where the strangest things happen (A cross between McDonald’s and a brothel, brilliant! I love the two hairy dudes too by the way) and the details set my heart on fire.
    The art is gorgeous as usual (moreso?), such wonderful facial expressions and ‘camera direction’ on the guy…. but this story just has me blown away. This is a better science fiction story than I’ve read in many many years…….slash horror story (no pun intended). Absolutely top shelf man. I can’t convey my impressedness with this week’s comic…… really knocked it out of the park…Great setup, art, society, innovation, STORY, WALLS OF TEXT, emotion, humour, and a great punchline. Sheeit. Merry Christmas indeed!

  22. Alex R. Says:

    Wow, that was the best wall of text ever. I’m not even a big fan of science fiction, but that was some great storytelling with a nice message too. I love walls of text!

  23. Tyler Kirtley Says:

    it was like reading a comic it was like reading the best comic written story ever, you should definatly post this.

  24. Mr. Klaw Says:

    The story within a story here is incredibly vivid. It hits on a number of different areas. One of the best I’ve read. Way to go!

  25. bachterman Says:

    merry christmas! the wall of text was too much for me, sorry.

  26. ken Says:

    this was really very good. and you weren’t sure about it? you’re lucky you have all of us to set you straight on this important matter, then.

    you’re a good man, mr. rowntree.

    ps i think it’s spelled ‘cemetery’

  27. richard Says:

    i enjoyed this. i think the underlying story would have made an excellent mini-series. still could.

  28. EA Says:

    I enjoyed the story, I was pretty caught up in what was happening at Wonte IX. The conclusion provided is different than most of you’re other work because I believe its supposed to be more than just funny. I like how you tie in what the girl with the battalion motto. I thought it was kind of uplifting; and the whole setup is well worth reading. In conclusion, keep up the good work, much respect and am I glad I found this site! πŸ˜€

  29. Clayton Says:

    Holy crap dude, that story right there is the kind of writing I think writing should be. It seems like you really cared about what you were writing, you know?

  30. Jo Says:

    I love your stuff, he writing and the drawing. Its all really super good.

    One thing though. Even the best writing is really hard to follow when it is just a big block like that. I would find it really helpful if it was separated into paragraphs. The walls of text have never bothered me before. But that was a whole lot of text.

  31. dvilla Says:

    That was… awesome. For sure the best x-mas present I’ll get. Thanks, Winston!

  32. Ed the Bedspread Says:

    Sweet Jesus. Don’t let Micheal Bay get his hands on this idea or he will totally destroy its perfection.

    Thank you for the great present and have a Merry Whatever!

  33. Brice Robbins Says:

    Excellent story, It’s alive and vivid with details that begs for more.

    This would work very, very well with a ‘Chronicles of Riddick’ type of universe.

    I get this feeling that there’s alot more details that didn’t make it’s way into the comic and I hope it would be fleshed out more in the (hopefully) near future.

    There’s a reason why I keep up with the wall of text that tends to accompany this comic – It’s worth the effort, it’s like a reward at the end of the ‘wordy’ maze.

  34. Leak Says:

    I just hope “SexStop” doesn’t mean that it’s a place where sex stops… πŸ˜‰

  35. Damn, son. This needs to be pitched as a movie, and fast!

    Truly excellent strip, Winston. Merry Christmas!

  36. No Hablo Ingles Says:


    I’m totally sorry, but that’s just about the most intelligent thing I could muster to describe how fucking AWESOME that was!

  37. damian Says:

    Winston, I’m proud to say I live in the same city as you…whatever that’s worth to ya. Another great one. Don’t ever stop.

  38. Dusty668 Says:

    Freaking Awesome! Merry Christmas!

    Oh and COVIZAPIBETEFOKY, get back to mopping the spooge, you wanted to do it so get busy.

  39. Brian Brown Says:

    Damn.. fantastic as always.

    I’m in agreement with everyone else at the Wall O’ Text awesomeness.

    I like how you think sir.

  40. Amanda Says:

    This was fantastic. I want to see more of this story or this character. My curiosity is just too damn perturbed.

  41. CC Says:

    …wow, that was…really good…I agree wtih Amanda, I’d like to see more of this guy…

  42. Parry Says:

    That was really, really good.

  43. Adam Says:

    That was incredible. A truely unique sci-fi story mixed with the old “hooker with a heart of gold” story. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside despite the horrific story of this mans past year. Love it. Thank you for this πŸ™‚

  44. CZ Says:

    Holy. Shitfuck.

  45. Jake Says:

    This is honest-to-god one of the best things I have read in forever.

  46. Ian Says:

    that might be the best use of the wall of text i have ever seen. it worked really well to tell the story we did not get to see. glad to see more space stuff from you, you do it really well.

  47. tdelicious Says:

    amazing. well told big and real story in short space and best use of time. comix not bad either. (ha ha) i tease.
    love the coincidental need of use of flashlight as well.
    merry christmas.
    as to one of the last comments: oh… we saw the story all right. oh yes we did!
    well done!!!

  48. Kin Says:

    Absolute brilliance. This story line would make an incredible movie…if it could avoid getting mutilated by a bunch of egotistical hacks. Sadly, I have zero faith in the film industry to be able to do your work any kind of justice…but damn! CRAZY good stuff! I got chills!

  49. the BCth Says:

    You really outdid yourself here, Winston. Best comic in a good long while. πŸ™‚

    Merry christmas and all that to you too. ❀

  50. The Last Melon Says:

    Me again, and while I appreciate many of the other factors about this comic that others have pointed out – you do have a talent for creating strange and humorous worlds, and every time I look at one of them I find something new to enjoy in it – the wall of text presents another problem for me.

    The story is great. The frame is great. The problem is, these are both great elements on their own, and mashing them together unfortunately subtracts significantly from both.

    I want to stress that I’m not against the walls of text because I am dur-hurr stoopid and can’t figerr out whatcherr talkin’ ’bout, but I’ve been through the archives and have yet to see something where they actually really worked. I’ve seen plenty where I can’t figure out how you would work without them, but I have yet to read one of them and find it inherently amusing – I’ve never gone, “God, what a hilarious wall of text!”. This is a pretty textbook example.

    I am not saying that the soldier’s story should have been funny – on the contrary, it’s an excellent scifi-horror idea and trying to make it funny would just result in a mess of bad humour. The problem is that you attempted to reconcile the story with a joke that, by itself, is honestly not particularly funny and not particularly directed. Where’s the joke? Is it in the fact that he actually has something to complain about for Christmas? That the woman’s gesture of kindness will be followed up by wild, raucous sex? The former could be handled much more quickly and the latter isn’t actually particularly funny.

    This is on top of the fact that you’ve sacrificed the story for this joke, which does it a horrendous disservice. I would love to see the story done in a graphic novel like Captain Estar Goes to Heaven; it’s a textured, deeply interesting story with definable, sympathetic characters that is both a spooky horror and a commentary on political events. You could simply tell the story from the point of view of the soldier as it happens, or you could follow him at this point in time and tell it in flashbacks, maybe even following his story further as he tries to deal with what to do now that he’s on his home planet. When you compress it into a wall-of-text monologue, though, you cut out the dramatic elements and turn it into a dull, hard-to-read monologue delivered in a monotone, which I imagine the character does.

    So, to sum up, in response to your wall-of-text I have produced one of my own. I don’t mean to be the one asshole in the back of the auditorium screaming “You suck!” over the hordes of people throwing their underwear at you, but I think that you often undersell yourself, which, knowing what you’re capable of, is incredibly painful to watch. You’re an amazing storyteller (Captain Estar) and you actually can tell a succinct and to-the-point joke (Abnormality); watching you decide to avoid doing both is painful.

  51. DJ Maniak Says:

    Why aren’t you writing sci-fi? This shit is brilliant!

  52. SeannyJay Says:

    Heheheh, MacTavish brand soap. Tango sucka!

  53. suddenthump. Says:

    I just read every one of your comics with more lack of self control than I’ve had since I was 8 years old reading Calvin and Hobbes. I’d compliment you, but as a crappy, unpublished author I figure I’ve already given you a hellofa compliment. My only beef: it ends at page 324? What happened to 1 through 323? It’s like reverse-christmas here, I thought I was only around halfway through.

    and Last Melon,

    Joke? They’re literally about to fuck like no one ever has before. Think anyone’s ever gone into the bedroom under that set of circumstances? Doubtful.

    Yeah, I’m pretty damned literal, but that’s what I got out of it; it doesn’t really have to be taken as a joke unless you’re already committed to the “the author’s going to use this awesome story to frame a joke that cannot possibly match up with the setup” mindset… After reading the soldier’s story, which is probably a better concept for a scifi horror novel/film than anything I’ve seen in either, I knew the joke was gonna be there as an excuse for the story…

    So what?

    That was a fuckin’ awesome story! Screw the joke!

  54. tantekoo Says:

    Thanks for the story. Like everyone else, enjoyed this week’s Wall o’ Text. Made a crap night better.

  55. BunnyRocket Says:

    Merry Christmas.

  56. Malk'Zameth Says:


    My very favourite to date good sir. Just simply awesome. Loved the
    story. You simply outdid yourself.

    Just two observations (feedback from a fan, with love):

    1 – The last panel is kind of ambiguous, one could understand either the
    soldier posing the question and the prostitute answering or vice-versa,
    as their bodies where on one side and the heads themselves in another
    (crossed in the hug), either the soldier or the prostitute could have
    said the altered motto, and I do believe there would be a slight shift
    in the sense of that panel depending on whoever said the motto.

    2 – It is my personal theory that people complaining about the walls of
    text are not really put-off by the amount of text itself (the average
    blog discussion will give you 10 times the text to read).

    I think the real culprit here is typography:

    2.1 – you write in small caps a paragraph in small caps or all caps is
    always harder to read, it strains the eye, normal capitalisation would
    greatly enhance the comfort, that is the main reason why legal
    disclaimers are written in all caps, it is not to make the text seems
    more urgent or important but to deter reading.

    I do realise that you write by hand; that the writing style you picked
    (your “font”) suits and complements your art very well; that it is
    really easier to write in caps than it is to do a decent beautiful job
    using normal capitalisation and also that the small caps give a crammed
    feeling overall that is way more beautiful when you see the page as
    whole without trying to read the page at all.

    But the reading comfort (and speed) would greatly improve if you
    switched to normal capitalisation, finding a way to make this shift and
    still keep it all visually pleasing is of course a work for an artist
    (such as you).

    2.2 Leading, just a tad bit more of leading (heck, a pixel more of
    leading) would greatly improve the comfort.

    Aside from that, I will reuse that story (with full credit) tonight in
    my RPG table. Ooooh yes I will.

  57. Malk'Zameth Says:

    I apologize for the newlines that were taken in consideration in the last comment, since I cannot edit it, I will repost a correction and then you can erase both the original and this comment

  58. Malk'Zameth Says:


    My very favourite to date good sir. Just simply awesome. Loved the
    story. You simply outdid yourself.

    Just two observations (feedback from a fan, with love):

    1 – The last panel is kind of ambiguous, one could understand either the soldier posing the question and the prostitute answering or vice-versa, as their bodies where on one side and the heads themselves in another (crossed in the hug), either the soldier or the prostitute could have said the altered motto, and I do believe there would be a slight shift in the sense of that panel depending on whoever said the motto.

    2 – It is my personal theory that people complaining about the walls of text are not really put-off by the amount of text itself (the average blog discussion will give you 10 times the text to read).

    I think the real culprit here is typography:

    2.1 – you write in small caps a paragraph in small caps or all caps is always harder to read, it strains the eye, normal capitalisation would greatly enhance the comfort, that is the main reason why legal disclaimers are written in all caps, it is not to make the text seems more urgent or important but to deter reading.

    I do realise that you write by hand; that the writing style you picked (your “font”) suits and complements your art very well; that it is really easier to write in caps than it is to do a decent beautiful job using normal capitalisation and also that the small caps give a crammed feeling overall that is way more beautiful when you see the page as whole without trying to read the page at all.

    But the reading comfort (and speed) would greatly improve if you switched to normal capitalisation, finding a way to make this shift and still keep it all visually pleasing is of course a work for an artist (such as you).

    2.2 Leading, just a tad bit more of leading (heck, a pixel more of leading) would greatly improve the comfort.

    Aside from that, I will reuse that story (with full credit) tonight in
    my RPG table. Ooooh yes I will.

  59. Simon Says:

    Winnie, you know me, i have been reading and commenting for a while, but this one? Seriously, I’m typing through tears now. I don’t have a fraction of the story this guy had but the power of the hug?

    /me will now be visiting a prostitute this Christmas holiday.

  60. Simon Says:

    I posted my comment first and then went back to read the preceding comments (sorry!). To be honest I don’t think the majority of your readers got the point of this one.

    Yes, in your infinite awesomeness you have written a sci-fi blockbuster (or maybe a trilogy) using well established movie tropes, ie corporations are evil and don’t care about lives versus profit, but the last two panels are the whole point of the enterprise. The grunt’s soliloquy could have been just any other extreme hard luck story, hell it could have been mine or others I know from last year, it’s the last two panels that hit me hard (like a hammer). Well done sir. I guess some people just ain’t as smart as they like to think they are.

  61. Ash Says:

    Wow, possibly the most poignant and meaningful punchline ever committed to webcomic. I agree with everyone else: you should write an illustrated sci-fi novel.

  62. MH Says:

    Quick question: Who says one in the final frame?

    Other than that, I echo all the aforementioned praise. Man, I just made myself almost late for work reading this shit.

  63. GerryB Says:

    Superlative, Winston, eleventy-twelve out of 5.

    Merry Christmas & happy New Year!

  64. jdanryan Says:


    Just, wow.

    The story he tells is an amazing piece that could easily fill a longer work more fully; my hope is that someday, if you’re looking for a new project, you go back to this soliloquy and turn that into something (graphic novel, novel, screenplay); that’s just too good to leave there.

    And the fact that you’ve got this great frame for it, the present day tale in the sex shop, with probably the best reaction to the story imaginable, just makes it work so well.

    Again, wow…

  65. toronto Says:

    Glancing at the first couple of boxes: “hey, great! not too much to read” and then…. jesus. loved it though. best comic ever. cheers πŸ™‚

  66. Obi-Wan in Atlanta Says:

    I always look forward to your comics. This one was definitely worth the wait. Simply stunning.

  67. Keith Says:

    Wow! That was one of your best. Will you please get to writing some science fiction novels? Your writing talent is pretty incredible.

  68. Jenny Says:

    Thank you so much for going ahead and posting this, in spite of your doubts!
    It was absolutely awesome, and at first I was a little intimidated by the text, but once I got into it I couldn’t tear my eyes away. An absolutely captivating story, made all the better by the personality in the way it’s told. The little details, the weariness.
    And the last comment made me laugh, in spite of everything.
    Absolutely beautiful.

  69. Leak Says:

    In case anyone’s still curious – Bruno’s speech bubbles are actually light gray, while Eunice’s speech bubbles are bright white.

    IOW – it’s the guy asking the question in the last panel.

  70. Nick Says:

    Amazing, seemed kind of a mixture of Captain Estar and ‘Horror Fiction Lady of the Night’ ( and just like last weeks (very different) comic, it could have come from no other writer than yourself.

    PS, the decor of the sex stop is hilariously, shockingly unappealing. And that thing about the power cut is spooky as fuck.

  71. Anonymous Says:

    Wish I could see the whole story in comic-form.

  72. LaZodiac Says:

    Holy crap, I was wondering why it took so long to load!

    But damn was it worth it.

  73. Mel N Says:

    Transcended the term web comic. Fantastic.

  74. Philip K. Ellison Says:

    Imagine the comments becoming, I don’t know, an entity, and holding you down and screaming into your soul for seven hours.

  75. Maxsbt Says:

    Delightful to read. Once again you’ve made a comix I can really relate to. Love the hug; that tied it up superbly at the end.

    Looking beyond the brothel themes, it was very charming and almost heartwarming in a way. You know what I mean. During a time of the year when we’re just sick of the same Christmas garbage is wonderful to have something new and deep. A wonderful present; it’d be bunkum to ask for more.

  76. Chris Says:

    Thank you. That was just perfection. Have a good xmas.

  77. George Says:

    Really good, and really honest. But the truth is, even though we’re running out of oil as fast as we’re turning Canada into a Carribean paradise (assuming you survive the floods and food shortages), if we had enough nukes to bomb a planet, and a compressor to age the mass, we could easily just disassemble the nukes and the compressor, and use them for power.

    The world is very complicated, but the complications work in different ways that some interpretations lead you to think.

    However, if it was more efficient to do what the Operation W guys did, it’d be done in a heartbeat. In that respect, you’re totally right, Winston.

  78. Sask. Says:

    Absorbing. Fantastic. Peanut butter. Superb.

    Only one of those words does not describe your latest comic. Can you guess which one?

    Happy Holidays!

  79. Megan Rose Says:

    That was actually really sweet. And an excellent if hard-to-read story.

  80. Dawn Says:

    Another amazing tale. Have a great Christmas sir.

  81. J Says:

    This is one of the best comics I’ve ever read. This storyline just screams out to be embraced in graphic novel form. Also, I think anyone complaining about the joke is really missing the point. The rephrased motto is like the cherry on the sundae, not the ice cream.

    You are a brilliant writer and artist, but I really think your talent could find even greater impact in novella or even novel form. I would miss the art, but at the same time you paint such a vivid picture with your dialogue that the art is nearly superfluous.

    I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next.

  82. William Brust Says:

    I don’t know what’s more depressing. The fact that modern day soldiers go through similar trauma, or my idea that, as one who believes in some forms of supernatural bullshit, the scenario presented in this comic is one which may very well become a reality in the far future.

  83. Laancelot Says:

    Subnormality is still my favourite webcomic. Raw quality like this is quite a rare thing to find, and it’s always worth the wait to read – hell, I visit daily when I’m home.

  84. mike Says:

    Yay! Very engaging, beautiful work.

  85. TentacledBeast Says:

    I hate to be in the minority here that is complaining, but I have to say this: You did your story a huge disservice by cramming it in those speech bubbles. Basically what you wanted to make was an illustrated story, but instead you presented it in the form of a comic. In my opinion, this doesn’t work; heck I almost skipped the story (mostly because of the strain it put on my eyes), and I love reading sci-fi!

    IMHO… With the frame/speech bubble scheme, text takes a backseat to illustration. That’s the use it was intended for. When you want to have a character telling an entire story, you should either tell the story in comic form (as in, show us what happened in pictures while the person talking becomes “narrator”) or switch to a different mode altogether. Kind of like what you did with “lady of the night”.

  86. Bill Swears Says:

    I really liked the story, even though I am like tentacledBeast about the text. I think, though, that the impression it gave of a guy glurging out the stuff that’s haunting him works very well. I’d have used a more font-like text for the glurge though. I had a hard time reading the soldier’s horror story.

    Story-wise though, the sexstop thing really framed this well, and I got a real kick out of her last comment.


  87. Sirrus Says:

    The Wall of Text technique is brought to its final and glorious conclusion. Amazing story, excellently done.

  88. Robert G Says:

    Wonderful, i loved it, it was a really good story with a nice little happyface at the end to break the sad mood.

  89. DrJota Says:

    Gotta say,considering the timing on this it definitely hits home.There’re people I know(undoubtedly everyone here to an extent does)who are still fighting a war over oil half a world away,and the comparisons just seem staggering.Here’s hoping they can come home,and if not,at the least we can send some Christmas Cheer their way.I’ll drink to that.

  90. Hafwit Says:

    That was very moving and well-written, kinda like listening to an Eric Bogle song. Thank you.

  91. David Says:

    Holy shit, that was brilliant! In your face, James Cameron!

  92. He Never Says:

    Oh man, would this make an awesome movie πŸ™‚ Excellent, excellent.

  93. JmanRomania Says:

    This is godly.

    Best wall of text ever seen.

  94. Floyd Gondoli Says:

    Easily the best one yet. It makes me yearn for more Captain Estar.
    Thank you.

  95. Alex Says:

    Dude, you could update once a year and I would still worship you for creations like this.

  96. Leonard Says:

    Unbelievable in any context. Kudos a million times over.

  97. FennecFoxz Says:

    One of the best Winston, I laughed so hard at the Modern Warfare 2 reference, didn’t know u were a gamer sir Rowntree
    Thanks for the amazing strip

  98. Ricardo Says:

    Mate, this is the first time I leave a comment on any of your comics, despite enjoying all them thoroughly; but this Christmas one couldn’t pass away without one. Thanks for providing some of the best semi-weekly Internet experience I have in life.

  99. Rose Says:

    THIS is sci-fi gold, reads almost like a Michael Cricton novel.
    Expand on it! Make it into a graphic novel or something. I’d totally buy it!

  100. dodoman1 Says:

    This is sci-fi gold, but everyone’s said that already.

    The line “You’re corpsin’ up on me here, dude, and i don’t do necrophilia” raises some interesting questions. Do zombies come in to SexStop regularly?

  101. TylarOfTheSnowPeople Says:

    WR, long time reader but first time commenter, love your stuff. Especially Captain Estar, wow.

    Anyway big props on this weeks comic, not gonna nitpick it because honestly it just struck a chord with me, just perfect. Not trying to get into any kind of a flame war or anything but some (looking at you Last Melon) seem to overanalyze your stuff, especially with regards to the “punchline”, if such a term can even be properly used to describe the conclusion of a subnormality comic.

    For me anyway, “nobody has fucked like we’re about to” was pretty much the most fucking awesome thing this kind-hearted lady of the night could have said to our beleaguered hero in that moment, and made me laugh just by merit of its grimy, fractured beauty.

    Just fucking perfect.

  102. moaem Says:

    WHAT THE FUCK? THIS IS AMAZING πŸ˜€ Really smart!

  103. Justin Case Says:

    *Classic* Twilight Zone quality, this one!

  104. Owl Says:


  105. xian Says:

    I’m blown away. Mr. Rowntree, you should be trying your hand at a novel sometime.

  106. dannykins Says:

    That is probably the best short story i have ever read, i say, bravo, good show, i am thoroughly impressed, blown away, i’d say speechless but clearly not. A master piece.

  107. SongCoyote Says:

    Holy crap that was awesome. It’s a great story all by itself, and one that should be published in some anthology some time.

    But really, the last panel made this from something really nifty into something beautiful. It was… well, exactly the right response. That’s going to be some wild, animal, grunting, not-stopping-when-the-75-minute-timer-goes-off fucking, and I think they are both going to feel better after.

    Light and laughter,

  108. misty Says:

    Loved the art and design, thought the story was great and found the ending was poignant, funny and sweet.

    However, the geek in me has a couple of technical issues with the story (tech issues being more important in sci-fi than most genres).

    It seems odd, even illogical, that a civilisation capable of skipping across the galaxy via wormholes, with control over the very flow of time itself, would have any use for oil.

    I’ve read enough of your comics to see that this might be a intended as a cynical story element, that we’re still destroying entire planets for gooey, black burnable shit. You sort of allude to this in one of the final panels, where the guy says “all oil’s good for is building oil rigs,” but this doesn’t explain why so much time and effort would be invested in procuring the stuff.

    Ultra-smoggy futuristic skies could have been an interesting story element that covered this anomaly – showing that despite the space travel, time manipulation and all, earthbound people were still locked into using hydrocarbons by the controllers of the world.

    All in all, it might have been better to use a symbol of oil – a polluting, difficult-to-obtain future fuel that was required to run the jump drives and time devices of the GDF. The metaphor would be very clear and it would avoid the anachronism of oil. If the anachronism was intended, it might have been good to show the effects of *another* century or two of burning fossil fuels down on Earth.

    Also, nukes probably aren’t the best thing for turning organic matter into oil, what with the vaporisation. Disease-bombs might have been better. Can kill a planet just as fast (especially with time acceleration) and leaves all that valuable organic matter in a nice, mushy state.

    Finally, the shuttle full of black-ops troops was a dream/hallucination, right? Otherwise, how did it land on the planet’s surface, rather than crashing when it hit the no-power zone? It could have been deigned with power failure in mind, and might have been able to glide in the 0.5 grav pull of the planet. But if eradication was the point, why not just a few more nukes from orbit?

    Sorry if I’m being a dick, but the inconsistencies (if that’s what they are) only bother me because I think this is a really good piece of work in every other way. I even enjoyed the extra-large walls of text, as they add to the ‘fevered monologue’ feel of the soldier’s speech.

    Love your art, writing and view of the world. Please keep it up in 2010 and have a great end-of-2009.

  109. William Says:

    Absolutely brilliant. My favorite one out of all of them so far.

  110. V Says:

    That was absolutely touching! Totally appropriate for the holidays. I’d say by far one of my favorite comix. Happy Holidays. =)

  111. Luis Says:

    Wow, that was truly epic.

  112. Illuminatus Says:

    Blackness hits me around this time of the year. This has lifted my spirits. Absolutely outstanding.

  113. pG Says:

    Awesome. Avatar for intellectuals, with sex too! Dude. Don’t ever sell out to Hollywood. For the sake of all that is Holy Shit! Don’t sell out. I need my reality check too much.

  114. YenRaven Says:

    +1 votes for a screen play of this. Really you have some amazing elements to a movie in this. The whole thing with the lieutenant going crazy and locking herself naked in a room, going through a psychological pregnancy. Its horrifying! So perfect for a movie.

  115. nobodez Says:

    Wow, that was a wonderful comix. I loved it, and I’ll probably read it a couple more times before the next one is posted.

  116. Tullio Says:

    Man this one is fantastic O_o

    greetings from Italy

  117. vanetz Says:

    Scrolled down, saw a wall of text, took a deep breath… started reading…

    Goddammit, Rowntree.

    There should be a movie made out of this, seriously.

  118. Suntiger Says:

    That was really something…
    Very good story and setting!

    The thought of pay-for-sex turned into something like fast-food seems both plausible and really sick and perverted (not the kinky kind of perversion, more in the abominable sense).
    Even prostitution as it is today isn’t that bad.
    This… it just takes every ounce of romance and intimacy out it. It’s like a mechanical yearning you need to fulfil in order to get more work done, like eating.
    And sex reduced to that is really abominable to me. Maybe I’m too much of an incurable romantic.

    And yet you also subvert it with the poignant reply and reaction of the girl at the end, because what is that if *not* intimacy (on more than one level)?
    To me the last panel wasn’t funny, it was powerfully bittersweet.
    After that confession their lovemaking is something the girl wants, perhaps even needs to give; something the guy needs and something they need to share.
    Well, that’s how it seems to me. πŸ™‚

    I’ll also go against the stream and say that this should *not* be made into a film or graphic novel.
    The reason is his descriptions of the deteriorating situation in general and the nightmares in particular.

    It’s hard to do a descent into madness well on film with just the characters, but it can be done.
    However, with the nightmares, you simply can’t make that have the same impact in a film where you see them as you get when you read it.
    Now every reader gets a vivid impression of what those nightmares must be like. Film it and it gets tied down into the vision of one man, and it won’t have the same impact anymore, since people have different images of it based on the descriptions.

    A graphic novel would fare better because drawn and animated media is not limited to the same constraints that a live film is.
    However, it will still get tied down to one man’s vision, and even if Winston drew it himself (and we know he can draw some really freaky stuff based on the earlier strips (the tripping teacher comes to mind) it would still have less impact than it has as text and our imaginations.

    Thanks for a wonderful comic. πŸ™‚

  119. w00t Says:

    Well told Story for the most part,
    when I reached the end, I got a little teary-eyed before I could catch myself. Awesome work! (Yes, I am probably a pussy)

  120. Psycloid Says:

    OK, I’ve read several strips in this comic and I have one question to ask you all:

    It seems that every single unsubtle statement made by these strips on how life is supposed to be uplifting and admirable. I ask: WHY? What is the point of having such a bleak outlook on life? Why do people read this stuff? Every time I see stuff like this, or the “Service” strip or the “awards” strip, etc it makes me want to ask “If life sucks this much, then why don’t you KILL YOURSELF?” Are you simply AFRAID TO DIE? I am tired of this mentality going across several mediums on how “Dark and edgy” is the way to go because it’s more “realistic” and “That’s how the world works”. WHY does fiction have to be that way? I’m not saying that fiction has to be ALL about entertainment but if you want any kind of respect these days you HAVE to get across a nihilistic vision since everything else is “mindless junk”.

    George: “(assuming you survive the floods and food shortages)” WHY TALK THIS WAY? I’m not saying it COULDN’T happen but why do people discuss things like this so lightly? Do you think you’ll be dead by then? If not, what’s the point of scaring people like that? Why not say stuff like “Well, if disaster is to be averted, then mankind must shape up and I’m sure it will.”. You know, A HOPEFUL message?

    I know I’m not making much sense but I just want to know: how can you live hating life so much? What are your reasons to live? Because I hear so much of these opinions every day and sometimes it feels like people only live because they are scared to die.

  121. Brian L Says:

    Excellent use of the wall of text. Anywhere else my eyes would glaze over, but knowing subnormality, it’s well-worth the effort to trudge through that to the end.

    BTW: Hey Winston, is this yours?

  122. Leak Says:

    @Brian L: Absolutely…


    Yep, you’re making absolutely no sense. Please kill yourself, now. KThxBye.

  123. Doom Says:

    I liked this one.

    “It seems that every single unsubtle statement made by these strips on how life is supposed to be uplifting and admirable.”
    It is not what this strip and other strips from subnormality are about. You confused this strip with something else or you are delusional. Have a nice day.

  124. Line Noise Says:

    It is nice that for a brief wile she got what he asked for “To forget _my_ troubles for an hour” … i wonder if the fact that the two companies mottos are so similar is because they are owned by the same parent company? I also wonder if SexStop gives out stims with their paycheques?

    The parallels in both employers values and methods would have been even MORE apparent if the salesgirl at the counter had offered to “time compress” the hour to just 30 seconds for $5 more…

  125. JimmyTH Says:

    That’s a great story and if I remember correctly, pretty darned accurate.

  126. James Says:


  127. Radwaste Says:

    Go look for the blog, “Grace Undressed”. You’ll be amazed.

  128. dnkn Says:

    “Picture a cemetary or something becoming, I don’t know, an entity, and holding you down and screaming into your soul for seven hours and maybe you’re in the ballpark of what we were experiencing at night.”

    That, sir, is the best, and most horrifying description of a nightmare I’ve ever read. It brought me chills down my spine.

    Oh, and since everyone else are talking about a movie adaptation, let me suggest the director: Neil Blomkamp. He’d pull it off, if anyone.

  129. Nathan Wilson Says:

    Very Impressive comic. I liked this story much more than Horror fiction lady of the night’s story, (Which I thought was kinda predictable) I skipped to the end first, so I’d know how long it would last and read the punchline before I read his story. That was a mistake, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it a little more if I’d read her last line at the end. I also think this should have been another comic with several pages in it, kinda like Captain Estar, but even as is, you added some great dramatic touches.

    I think I kinda get what you are talking about, but I think your difficulties are your mindset clashing with the mindset of the author.

    Subnormality is a great example of subversive thinking, challenging and questioning conventional wisdom. And this type of thinking appeals to some people. Some people like questioning theirs and others worldview, and these people end up being more optimistic and hopeful of the future after doing so, than people who are uncomfortable with questioning their worldview.

    For some people it stabilizes and reinforces their convictions, and for other people it does the opposite and makes them uncomfortable about their ideaologies.

    Most fans of this comic are the former type of people, including me. I thrive on subversive thinking. Another wonderfully subversive webcomic, (but in a different way) is Sinfest. Right now he’s running a “Satan Claus” story line. Is that subversive or what?

    Many posters here have mentioned “Captain Estar Goes to Heaven” : Don’t read it. It is incredibly depressing and was almost too much for even my own worldview and preconceptions to enjoy it. But when I read the comments people have made in response to that story, I was impressed by the number of people who affirmed their lives have been changed for the better.

    In conclusion, I doubt many of us are really depressed and nihilistic. What some people take as inspirational and heart warming, probably just doesn’t make any sense to others with an opposite mindset.

    Sometimes when I see a message that is meant to be hopeful, it actually depresses me, because problems seem to be glossed over and not addressed. A too happy picture is painted and it becomes unbelievable. some things that you see as inspirational wouldn’t be so for me, and as you’ve expressed, vice versa. No offense is intended here, and if you actually read this, I hope you didn’t take it that way.

  130. Max Chaplin Says:

    This is the best sci-fi story I’ve read this year, one of the best Subnormalities out there. Well fucking done.
    It’s like Avatar’s emo cousin or something (haven’t seen).
    Still I wonder how come long after earth’s oil has been depleted people still go bonkers over it. Aren’t they like, “no fossil fuels plz, we’re all sustainable now kthxbye”?

  131. Ian S Says:

    I have nothing creative to add, but this was spiffing. Many thanks for a truly engaging comic.

  132. OjnoTheRed Says:

    Great story. In a strange co-incidence, I’m just re-discovering a sci-fi RPG I loved as a teenager – Traveller (hell, it’s THE sci-fi RPG as far as I’m concerned) and I’m on the hunt for inspiration for stories.

    I did read from the start, and I loved the last line. I’m a sucker for the hooker-with-a-heart story as well.

    Psycloid, I’m afraid the simple message to you is that you don’t “get” subnormality. It’s really not a bleak outlook. It’s just truthful and having a laugh at how silly life can be. Have a re-read of “Weird” a couple of strips ago. I think that’s an extremely positive outlook on life – it’s about accepting people for who they are and what life is really like. In that way, I like subnormality because it’s about loving life for what it’s really like, not only loving life for the good bits. That’s good honest writing.

  133. Frank Says:

    This is one of the best short stories i have read this year.

  134. LightHorseman Says:


    Now… about the sequel?

  135. Aeron Says:

    Long time reader, best Subnormality yet. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you.

  136. snap1415 Says:

    “I wanna give you something and it’s not gonna last…..”
    Brilliant. Once again, thanks for a great comic.

  137. hellblade Says:

    DUDE! I loved it! Just WHOA,y’know? This would be like the best SF movie in decades!

  138. maggie c Says:

    I don’t say this alot, but that was truly mind-blowingingly good. I have been a longtime Subnormailty fan, but this far surpasses any thing i have seen out of you. Hell, it surpasses ANY webcomic I’ve seen. the pure creativity that flows through your work is truly something to behold. People, tell your friends about Subnormailty, and tell them to tell THEIR friends. This shit needs to be seen.

  139. Heyyy, sorry wasn’t able to get on top of the comments and answer a few of y’alls questions before they started piling up (i’m “out of the office” right now, xmas vacation and all), but i will say i’ve read what everyone has to say and i really appreciate everything said, both positive and negative (except for that one guy towards the end). As to some of the very constructive criticisms (some great critiques this time round, i’m excited about that), i do agree that some more time would have been ideal to think about formatting, ie: paragraph divisions and such. I have the same problem when i write emails, i just kind of go and go and then hit “send” on a huge mass of text that definitely could have been divided up a bit for better reading (apologies to anyone i’ve ever emailed…). And so yeah, the comic definitely could have been easier to read, but i think i’ve learned my lesson.

    But i’m happy that tons of you obviously had no problem looking past the gigantic amphibious landing of text, millions of letters streaming ashore from one horizon to the next, so thanks for plowing thought it all and letting me know what you thought. Happy new year; see youse in January.

  140. Writer Says:

    Awesome comic. Absolutely brilliant.

    Rugged space marine + prostitute with a heart of gold = merry christmas!

  141. Writer Says:

    Edit : what’s the girl’s left hand supposed to be doing in panel 7?

  142. Buldwren Says:

    Wow. Reading all that was a real commitment! Great payoff, though.

    I would definitely call this the archetypal “Subnormality” comic.

    – Deep, intricate story or moral used to explain a seemingly simple situation.

    – Brooding and troubled, yet likable characters.

    – Light-hearted and satisfying ending that wraps it all together.

    This comic utilizes all of these, and I’d like to call it the best one yet. Great work, Winston!

  143. JonnySwo Says:

    I’m blown away. It was like an entire novel, compressed into a small, visual space. I honestly can’t tell if there were too many words, or not nearly enough. It was, too over-simplify the matter, amazing.

  144. Ray Says:

    Fucking brilliant.

  145. Tanen Says:

    This was brilliant and a great read but it was really very hard to read. There were too many words, in a small space, with not enough space between them where it became a daunting task to actually focus on the words.

    I can understand wanting to hand write that but i feel like typing it out would have made it much easier on the readers eyes.

  146. JesusDiablo Says:

    OUTSTANDING! “Too many words” Hogwash! The crowded text helps convey the claustrophobia that will be systemic in a Kafka-Capra-Gibson-Orwellian future dystopia. A vision of the future that looks more likely and less fictional with every passing day…. or not.

  147. Levi Says:

    Absolutley brilliant! I could vividly picture his story in my head the entire time, gave me chills. Well done sir, well done!

  148. Hwip Says:

    The wall of text means nothing. The visual writing you do creates a movie’s worth of imagery. The story is both familiar as a gamer and fresh as a writer/reader. How had you planned to top this?

  149. Slow Runner Says:

    Dude, fantastic story. I was very impressed.

  150. Jay Says:

    Wow, that was an incredible story.

  151. S. A. Ravenheart Says:

    Mr. Rowentree, you really know how to push the envelope of the comic medium. A short story, joke, and message all rolled in to one beautifully illustrated and well-imagined strip. Well done!

  152. Kain Says:

    Wow, that story was both chilling and to me, quite original. Keep up the good work.

  153. Kurtis Says:

    Never read a short story that had me hooked like that one. You are a prodigy.

  154. XenoVega Says:

    I don’t usually read your walls’o’text so it took me a while to make myself do it. Did it cause the punchline was funny. It was worth it.

  155. Deke Says:

    I’m reminded of something Larry Niven said about how marijuana ruins potentially great science fiction authors. They get a great idea for a science fiction story, tell their friends the idea, soak up all the praise, and feel like they’ve already written and published the novel and collected the check. I’m afraid this comic strip is keeping Mr. Rowntree from being a great SF author – he has great ideas for stories, but instead of actually writing the story, he has a character in a comic strip tell a summary of the plot, gets tons of praise from his fans, and leaves it at that. Not sure if marijuana is involved or not.

  156. And i might reply that larry niven is doing a really shitty job of being a cartoonist. I mean, it’s just page after page of words without pictures. Unless he’s, y’know, not trying to be a cartoonist…

  157. Divine Right Says:

    Yikes man, just yikes. Then the ending, couldn’t stop laughing.

  158. Alex H. Says:

    Well, regardless of what you might think of Niven, that would be an awesome, great story for you to tell in its entirety, Winston.

  159. Michael Ezra Says:

    Winston, this is an ingenious and moving story, but I must agree with those who say that, this time, there was far too much text, too tightly-spaced and uninvitingly formatted, for easy reading. That is, incidentally, the original and proper meaning of “wall of text,” not the “durr hurr me no like reading” sense that it’s devolved into, and which accounts for most of the backlash against Subnormality.

    I had to digest this strip in small chunks with breaks in between, kind of like how Mark Twain suggested long German compound words should be presented if German writers insist on using them.

    I know people, including Winston himself, get their back up at comments along the lines of “This would’ve worked better as a prose story than as a comic,” but I’m sorry; it really would’ve.

    That, or a long-form comic like “Captain Estar Goes to Heaven,” a comic which actually illustrates the events of the story, rather than having one of the survivors recap the whole schmeer. True, it wouldn’t then fit the Subnormality format, but that’s what the overall Virus Comix site is for, isn’t it?

  160. Dei_biz Says:

    Been following you for a long time, but this was the first time you really moved me. Great story.

  161. Writer Says:

    >>>Winston, this is an ingenious and moving story, but I must agree with those who say that, this time, there was far too much text, too tightly-spaced and uninvitingly formatted, for easy reading.<<>>I had to digest this strip in small chunks with breaks in between<<<

    Dude, it takes barely a few minutes to read the whole thing. It's not the comic's problem you can't read for a few minutes straight.

    The text is clear, it's well aligned, it reads normally from left to right (I'm looking at you, Penny Arcade and CAD crap) and it tells a nice story. It just takes 5 minutes instead of 30 seconds. Big deal. Stop complaining.

  162. JoeR Says:

    Cool idea mixing vengeful alien ghosts with resource motivated imperialism. Good stuff.

    That said – I think the text needs to be clearer if there’s going to be this much reading. Maybe all caps isn’t the best choice?

  163. Michael Ezra Says:

    “Dude, it takes barely a few minutes to read the whole thing. It’s not the comic’s problem you can’t read for a few minutes straight.

    “Stop complaining.”

    Sir, or madam, I happen to be one of the readers who comments in a positive and enthusiastic way on pretty much every strip. I’ve been reading and enjoying Subnormality for two years and am always generous with my praise, something you would have discovered if you had taken a moment for the merest skim of the comments on this blog over time. Therefore, I have the right to offer constructive criticism of a strip once in a while.

    I am not one of those “durp hurp reeding wurdz iz teh hard” trolls, and I must insist you do not lump me in with them. Good day to you.

  164. Ramses Junior Says:

    Oh, my. One of the best so far in my opinion. INteresting story, lots to read (<3) and a fucking awesome ending (the hug almost got me crying, the last comments almost threw me on floor, laughing).

    I loved it!

  165. Alex Says:

    The soldier’s story would make for an awesome graphic novel.

  166. Michael Ezra: Don’t worry, your criticism is appreciated by me at least. And you’re probably right, the “Wonte IV” (read it backwards…) story would probably be better as prose or as a graphic novel, in a perfect world that is. Unfortunately we live in a world of compromise, and given my long-term goals there’s zero chance of me ever writing a graphic novel based on that story. And so i decided to get it out there by doing something Else with it, and so here we are.

    Writer: I appreciate the support, but don’t be rude to people who leave legitimate criticism (especially those who leave super-excellent and hugely appreciated comments on a regular basis).

  167. Michael Ezra Says:

    Winston: I love you, man. πŸ™‚

  168. Martin S. Says:

    that wasn’t a joke at the end. i think it would probably be the most natural thing to do at that point in time. πŸ™‚

    best. hug. ever.

  169. No Hablo Ingles Says:

    Zero chance? I’m going to cry.

  170. GlitterBerri Says:

    Deke, there’s no one to define how a webcomic should be. No rules to limit the number of pages or the layout, style, or size. No word count that must be reached, no minimum sentence requirement.

    Winston can do what he likes with his creation, and if he chooses to tell his stories in images and words, all the power to him.

  171. LeHack Says:

    Hey, sorry I won’t be original here, but this was absolutely brilliantly fucking awesome, and I can’t even find the strong enough words to describe how much awesome..

    Reminded me of the horror telling girl comic – that was also awesome, but I guess science fiction horror stories appeal to me even more.

  172. grawk1 Says:

    Oi Winston, I’m just wondering what exactly you meant by “read it backwards”. Do you mean the name of the planet? (Vietnow? some sort of Vietnam reference?)

    Can you help me out here?

  173. Line Noise Says:


  174. dodoman1 Says:


    Wow. I think I get it. That’s awesome.

  175. Writer Says:

    Allright, apologies to M Ezra. Won’t happen again.

  176. I just got blind after reading all this… But it worth it. He totally deserves a Break… full of hot sex.

  177. Michael Ezra Says:

    Writer: You’re all right. Apology accepted.

  178. Aaron Says:

    You’re comic series always seems to take online comics further into the unknown. I never expect just what the next one will truly be:P

    This one in particular I found amazing, as it appeals to all people’s feelings of displacement or loneliness, and delivers a sort of ethical commentary. Most of all, this is terrific science ficition.

    Whatever problem a reader feels with any story, the ideas you have are always powerful enough to make me keep reading. Thanks Winston.

  179. eevanisko Says:

    nicely done. cheers. -e.

  180. Natalie Says:

    What a fantastic story! Thanks very much for making such an awesome comic.

  181. J Says:

    While I am disappointed to hear that this will never be a graphic novel, I must say that the disappointment is far outweighed by the sheer awesomeness of the concept. If it means that we get more of the awesomeness that Subnormality represents, well, it’s a sacrifice I don’t have a problem making.

    Well done all around, Mr. Rowntree, well done.

  182. Maddog Says:

    Wow, If you write SciFi, I want to read it. That was a great story.

  183. Diego Says:

    Honestly? People that said that there’s too much text: Ever read a book before?
    No? Well, it kinda looks like the comic. Just words on paper. Check it out.

    And that was awesome, as always, good job! πŸ˜€

  184. Sloth Says:

    Hard read words make head angry. derrrrrp. like the whores tho.

  185. Quag7 Says:

    You rock, Rowntree. Thanks for making these. They’re depressing as hell but they make me feel better for some reason.

    Hope 2010 is a good year for you.

  186. Kim D Says:

    Beautiful. Amazing and creepy and beautiful.


  187. Liam Says:

    Seriously amazing.

  188. Foiled Says:

    Damn near cracked a tear at the end there, beautiful response from her, excellent comic, As Liam said: Seriously amazing.

    I’ve returned to this one several times now, just to read, once again, the compassion and humanity in this strip. Thank you, you touch something deep here.

  189. Vladimir Z Says:

    Man, it’s awesome to start 2010 finding your comics. While reading through your latest I goggled and wondered. Pure and simple – it’s may be the best short story I’ve read (and I’ve read tons of them). You’ve got talent, buddy – the serious type. ThankX!

  190. Writer Says:

    Some consolation from 2009… some people do have taste. Shitleback is #4 in ‘worst things of the decade’.

    Still needs a couple more burns from Subnormality though. How about the Sphynx eating them? πŸ™‚ Nah, wouldn’t want the poor gal to get sick.

  191. Michael Ezra Says:

    Even the Sphynx has standards.

  192. Leak Says:

    @Michael Ezra: so thanks to the Sphynx gradually only the worst of the worst will be left? Eugh.

    I guess I’ll better schedule an eating with her soon to spare me the horror…

    np: Gravenhurst – Trust (The Western Lands)

  193. Likes war movies too Says:

    This is like the bad ending of Avatar, awesome story!

  194. Monarch Says:

    That was the most beautiful and intriguing thing I have ever read.

  195. Ted Daniels Says:

    I’m nearly speechless, a very rare condition in my case. It took me three tries to get through it, mostly because reading lettering as dense as that requires focused effort. The story is absolutely worth it. This is tomorrow’s hell with eternity’s solace for the lost and desperate. I’m in awe.

  196. josh Says:

    I’m very moved by this. it was beautiful, in a very odd way.

  197. Schulze Says:

    I almost cried at the end. I just stared in shock for a while when the guy ended his story, then I feeled fucking tears in my eyes. You are awesome.

  198. Mike Says:

    I really enjoyed this. Like, I REALLY liked this a lot haha. Idk, it was interesting to read.

  199. Sebastian. Says:


  200. anonymous Says:

    I’d just like to point out that it is very clearly the man asking if they’re going to fuck.
    1) They have different coloured speech bubbles. Hers is white, his is a very light pink.
    2) The reply is ‘Dude’. Since ‘dude’, 90% of the time, refers to a male, it would only make sense if she was saying it to him, not the other way round.

  201. reallyniceguy Says:

    insane (:

  202. Chicago Sometimes Says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Just wanted to add to the well-deserved calls of AWESOME and GREAT JOB. And I loved the ending!

    Just wow.

    Sorry to those who don’t like the wall of text, no offense but I wish I could make you understand how it feels to lose yourself in such a damn good tale.

  203. fastandsloppy Says:

    I like that you are willing to piss people off to develop mood and stretch out a joke nearly (or past, occasionally) the point of breaking. Plus your artwork is fantastic, I sometimes go back over old strips just to look at them.

    Also, I thought the ending to this strip was oddly very touching.

  204. Emme Says:

    Best Avatar sequel ever! πŸ™‚

  205. woundedduck Says:

    unbelievably awesome

  206. Elle Says:

    That was brilliant. It could have been anything, this comic. A short story, a novel, a film, and you chose to condense it perfectly into those (not-so-)little boxes. I can’t really comment, I’m too impressed by it. The ending ‘stop bitching about how much christmas sucks for you’ moral seemed almost random compared to everything above it.

  207. ThePober Says:

    Winston Rowntree,
    a delicate and sensitive soul such as you has much to offer mankind. Use more than one sheet of toilet roll, and wash your hands thoroughly before stirring your coffee with your fingers. How do I know you do this? I am The Prober – I see all.

  208. Jonathan Says:


  209. Lars Says:

    That was some of the most intense webcomic writing I have ever seen. Nice work. I really enjoy your bubble-gum style art. Some of your stuff is a bit ranty, but that’s cool sometimes. I bet you’re totally a white guy.

  210. Jake Says:

    Get a fucking movie deal. Seriously.

  211. Andrew Says:

    that was great. it could make an AMAZING movie

  212. Ben Says:

    That was the craziest story I read in a long time ! GREAT !

  213. sfury Says:

    Hell, I’d like to watch that instead of Avatar.

  214. roger Says:

    This deserves a movie.

  215. jorge Says:

    seriously, just awesome.

  216. FreemDeem Says:

    You should 100% make films. Do it!

  217. Dave Says:

    Have you ever written a book? if not you have to!! jesus christ

  218. Mudora Says:

    This comic is without a doubt the scariest fucking horror movie I have ever seen. Ever. Ever. Ever. Also that power outage mention scares the shit out of me.

  219. Kuzyn Says:

    Holy freakin’ bejeezus.

    Terrifying, gripping, absolutely amazing from pretty much every angle.

    By the way, best closing line ever.

  220. ava Says:

    This is a great science-fiction story. It would even make an awesome movie, because it has a well-contained premise with lots of strong imagery.
    I agree with the other commenters that you should also try your hand at writing. Because, otherwise, you feel like you’re doing “comics with too many words” and it may feel a bit restricting, maybe.
    Love your comics too, tho.

  221. Tigre Says:

    OH MY! This was fairly acceptable.

  222. Alexxarian Says:

    Awesome, you should really turn that into a graphic novel, perhaps from the point of view Banicek

  223. Raishi Says:

    One of the best stories I’ve read, all in the space of a single comic page (well…sorta.)

    If only more writers had the same kind of inspired genius.

  224. ksym Says:

    I really wish prostitution was legal in my country … sigh.

  225. UD2000 Says:

    I never knew something so awesome was on the Internet. I’m glad I found this website. : )

  226. anon Says:

    This is my favourite piece of work you’ve done so far. Hats off to you, sir, I check this comic everyday, just in case you thought it was Monday and updated early.

  227. RydWolf Says:

    This here? This is an excellent story.
    And as other people have mentioned, would probably make a good movie as well.

  228. sinabun Says:

    This makes me want to be a new Ghandi. You sir are a philosopher. I would make literature students read that.

  229. Steven Says:

    Thank you for this.

  230. Da Says:

    “VI etnoW” is… what, a Vietnam reference? A Rage Against the Machine reference? Because… oil companies wiped out life in Vietnam? I don’t get the analogy. Aside from leaving soldiers with emotional scarring, there are no significant parallels between the situations. Also, backwards words are a really edgy way to name things in science fiction.

    What’s a “brick brickhouse?” Did you mean “brick shithouse,” a term describing a physically imposing person (even though this character’s ability seems to be more in the realms of emotional and mental fortitude than physical strength)?

    Also, I’m going to be one of the few to say I really didn’t like the story much. Corporations turn a planet’s biomass into oil, the security team is stranded and tormented by the ghosts of the dead organisms… I mean, talk about heavy handed. I’m thinking this must be a Rage Against the Machine reference, because it has the same kind of overstated cynical bitterness as their lyrics, albeit lacking any of the emotional power or excitement that comes from the music itself.

    First of all, the premise is about as plausible as the one in Space Balls. The technology exists to bend time around an entire planet, and yet fossil fuel is still in high demand? It seems like a planet’s worth of nukes and time-compressors and robot oil rigs (by the way, they have robot oil rigs, but no robot security guards?) and interstellar flights would take more energy than you would get out of the oil. Is that the point? That the corporation’s business model is completely ludicrous? The only way I can really see this story working is as a satire, so overblown is the premise and angst.

    You know how sometimes, in a novel, when someone starts speaking in a pages-long monologue, their style of speech changes from something that sounds like normal dialogue to something much more poetically and gracefully stated? That’s because it’s absolute trudgery to read through all the “I mean”s, “just… fuck”s, and “like”s. I know you’re subversive and don’t submit to conventions and all, but this sounds incredibly awkward, and constantly pulls me out of the narrative.

    And the trope of the hooker who says, “you’re the first person who’s tragic story has broken through my jaded exterior and touched me personally?” Jeez-louise. This narrative isn’t intended to be taken seriously, right? The joke is that the excess of this man’s suffering is so hilariously exaggerated that it leads to a cliche emotional climax, subverted by the assurance of some crazy fuckin’, right?

  231. this guy Says:

    dude. i’m not gonna lie i didn’t have the 30 goddamn minutes it would take to read this shit. And I know it would have just been some bizarre liberal propaganda anyways, so… yea.

  232. this guy also Says:

    but you do get originality points for making your grungy miserable communist lowlife look like… wait. he looks exactly like curt cobain…

  233. Mathew Says:

    As previously stated…………


  234. Jay Says:

    Very cool. I usually hate text heavy comics, but that was totally worth reading.

  235. Sentience Says:


  236. Brian R Says:

    I have been a fan of your work for a long time, but I never thought a one shot strip could suck me in so well. I had to bookmark this one because I was at work, but I had to comment and say kudos, well done. You have some serious talent. Also, I didn’t notice the bit about the flashlight/lettering until after I read the last bit. I loved it!

  237. Lorin Says:

    I am going to be one of the rare people who speak FOR your “wall of text” approach as it creates a higher barrier of entry for those who wish to read the story, and gives a small sense of reward when done, knowing few others survived the gauntlet πŸ˜‰

  238. colin Says:

    thank you

  239. Patrick Says:

    Man … amazing story …it feels real with a bit of dark humor

  240. Chester Says:

    I actually already sent an email about this cause I didn’t notice the comment box before…

    But anyway. This is seriously, so fucking good. You’re my hero(es) for the next fifty fucking years.

    I think the thing that really gets me, is that if we ever got to that point of technological and space-age advancement, this sounds like a very, very likely and believable scenario… And in the midst of all that greed and need for more wealth and power, average joes like Bruce in the story get fucked really really hard by a dildo made of chainsaws, and have to suffer for it. Even though it’s fiction, I’m still so happy he got off that dune-ball alive. And… yeah… Thank you for making this.

  241. Stephen Says:

    I found Subnormality because someone posted this comic on a forum I frequent. Lots of text is great; hell, I read and love novels, why not a wordier-than usual comic?

  242. Nic Says:

    This is the first comic I read of yours and I have to admit I was totally blown away. I pretty much devoted the rest of my day to reading everything you’ve ever done that I could find. Just wanted to say you have incredible talent and I am stoked to have found out about you.

  243. Bob Garrish Says:


    You’re always good, but there are times when you’re so good that I feel indebted just reading it. This was one of those.

  244. michi Says:

    Thank you. Sometimes when you read something really good, you just fall into a daze, you really sense the emotion of the characters rather than your own. I had to take a moment to come back to reality after this one. wonderful stuff.

  245. Alex Says:

    I love you. And I love that you have Eleanor Ripley up at the top of this comments / post description page. Can I send you $20 USD? Would it help? Or should I keep it for beer and cigarettes? I have been reading your comic for a long time. My words are stupid, but I want to give you a few of them just to show how much I value the results borne of the effort you put into releasing Subnormality, here at Viruscomix. Thank you so much, please keep them coming.


  246. Alex Says:

    I just had to leave an addendum. I also spend my money on beef noodle soup from my favorite Chinese joint, and I buy new boots occasionally. You’d be the second donation I’ve made in my entire 14 year career as an Internet surfer. The first 20 went to the guy who’s doing the Symphony of Science auto-tuned music videos, I was so moved by those. The primary purpose of this secondary comment was to plug SoS… Good day.

  247. Dizz13 Says:

    I would pirate the crap out this movie

  248. Michael Says:

    First panel (upper-left corner) MacTavish Soap! Someone’s been playing Call of Duty!

  249. Michael Says:

    @Da, In case you didn’t notice, you’re critiquing and applying literacy rules… to a Goddamn web comic. Let’s get one thing straight- taking the time out of your day to type up a wall of text dissecting a web comic doesn’t make you look intellectual, it makes you look like some Ivy League asshole that has nothing better to do with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. Lighten the hell up and let the rest of us enjoy our “cliches”, or at the very least voice your opinions plainly. No one likes it when someone flaunts their vocabulary, beating around the bush like that. Get to the point, would you?

    P.S. Don’t post your pet peeves either. I’ll say “like” all I want, you uppity, wide-brimmed asshat.

  250. Michael Says:

    @this guy, Oh, a tin-foil-hat wack job. Watch out, or them Bilderberger Illuminati Reptilians is guna com in their black helicopters and probe ya liek they did tuh Unkle Cletus, hyuk. For the love of God, please, PLEASE crawl back into whatever Appalachian incest shack you were birthed in, and take your moonshine with you. I didn’t even know you could type with webbed hands, you mistake of nature. I prefer my Internet unsullied and with some semblance of the ability to spell.

  251. Russell Jackman Says:


    I don’t have the words.

    I started reading the entire archive early this morning as a random link-hop to this site. On reading this one… I had to take a break. Very rarely have a read books that broguth me to the edge of tears with thier power. Never with a webcomic… until today.

    This one short (but perfectly long enough) tale is easily the best material I have read or seen in any medium in at least 3 years.

    I had to stop and say something about this. Whatever you are doing now, however you were inspired to create like this, keep doing it. Either here, or in another media, but do not ever stop. Our culture would be weaker for it. Thank you for your addition to it.

  252. jordan Says:

    damn, that was good.

  253. Half-Blood Quarian Says:

    That was beautiful.

  254. j Says:

    Reminds me of Dead Space.. Only written beautifully. This is what that game SHOULD have been like, and I’d love to see the story adapted into film or novel or the like. Simply awesome.

  255. Inertia Says:

    this was incredible. holy crap. i don’t even have the words to describe how much i enjoyed this one.

  256. Shadows Says:

    You should really make that a movie, it was amazing I know that this is what everyone else is saying but, please, please, make that into a book or movie. It’s basically giving the same message as Avatar, except it is actually an original story, instead of a retelling of Pocahontas (it’s better written too).

    Love your comic,


  257. Nick Says:

    When I was reading this, I really wanted to stop because it looked like way to much text. But the story was just had me hooked and I couldn’t stop reading until it was over. You definitely should try writing this into a novel or something along those lines. Keep up the amazing work.

  258. Brian Says:

    Your combination of writing and artwork creates a fantastic medium, and as everyone said the story overpowers the “too long didn’t read” urge. The one thing you could do to improve your work is letter in sentence case rather than all caps for heavy-text panels.

  259. GerryB Says:

    I dunno; I could always like reading. But reading this for the nTh time reminded me of the first time I saw your walls of text and momentarily balked at the climb.

    Thank fuck for your perseverance in making this mountainous artwork work Winston Rowntree. You’ve definitely got summit to be proud of.

  260. Grandine Says:

    This is either the beginning or ending of an amazing “web graphic novel, I hope you decide to include web graphic novels in your repertoire (or paper ones)
    Stephen King would still be decent if he wrote like you, though it reminds me somewhat of Dean Koontz “Seize the Night” trilogy which were also amazing reads.

    Amazing job

  261. Malcolm Says:

    Oh..My..God, that story was amazing I mean you should write a screen play for that because it was Awesome. Not only did it involve our oil crisis, but it involved the nature of humans, and the idea of Christmas!?! This is Oscar worthy right here!

  262. Nick Says:

    Oh hell yea! You listen to Malcom there… That was fucking amazing!

  263. Vonthako Says:

    Wow – awesome comic, Winston. Very compelling story – one of your best walls of text yet.

  264. Steve Nordquist Says:

    He has to have inspiration to make up a cover, I think. Medicine by the century, eh?

  265. Rex Says:

    great comic!

    I kinda skipped all of the text (it’s like a book!) but the punchline ended up being hilarious!

    good work.

  266. Ghosty Says:

    Holy shit that is an epic story. All you tl;dr’ers need to man up and read it– It’s well, WELL worth the patience.

    Seriously, this could be a movie and it would be the movie of the year.

  267. Nick Says:

    hey i just submitted this comic to you guys should jump on the bandwagon and digg it just sayin.

  268. Nick Says:

    sorry i accidently put the wrong address in the comment. here it is

  269. Mr Gask Says:

    I reminds me a lot of a short science fiction story a read as a kid, and now I cannot remember the name. It had a very simular premise though. (minus the tie in with the Irag war and the evil corporation angle)

  270. Mr Gask Says:

    Wonte IV is a homonym (or whatever) for “What For.”

  271. AndrΓ© Says:

    Did I just read the script for the sequel of avatar?
    Would sure make a whole lotta sense.

  272. Mike Says:

    When I was reading this I couldn’t help but to wonder about what your influences for this story were. As a pretty avid SF fan I noticed some similarities between this story and Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War.” In it he uses both the idea of humans inflicting physical damage on a different world and receiving a psychological response and the whole if you take stimtabs for too long you lose the ability to think.

    He also tackles the theme of a militarization of space exploration, so I was just wondering if his work was an inspiration. If not I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read SF that looks at really interesting themes

  273. Arvandus Says:

    This story from a guy sitting on a bed has caused more emotion in me than almost all of the scifi epics I’ve read in the last two years…and I’ve read lot of scifi. All I can say is that I hope I can write half as well as you one day and hope you continue on with your great stories and social commentary. You have a fan for life.

  274. Ryan Says:

    Unbelievable. I have read your stuff on and off for months, working my way through the archives, but when I came to this, I still had to blink. It is a wall of text. Because I knew you do smart writing, I plunged in, and fuck…all. That was the best sci-fi short I can remember ever reading. The pictures just brought a reality to the story that really helped to enhance it, too, which for a book guy like me was startling. I am officially a fan, and you need to get on the movie rights to this stat.

  275. Derek Says:

    Wow, you are an amazing writer, and the ending still cracked me up alot. As someone planning to take an english major I think I’m in love with you. Normally I’d bitch about the walls of text, but you sir are amazing

  276. D Says:

    Please write a novel. I beg you.

  277. V Says:

    I usually don’t read too much sci-fi, but this is possibly one of the most poignant and disturbingly pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long while. I absolutely love the way you’ve done the framing of the narrative, and the fact that the planet in question or the nightmares aren’t illustrated just adds to the suspense and allows me as a reader to imagine them for my self.

    (If Cameron had you as a writer-on-staff, he might have actually made a good Avatar. Or even better, if you had him as a director-on-staff. With his budgets, of course)

    I work full time at the Literature department at the University of Oslo (Norway), and I have added this comic to a short story course I’m outlining for the next semester. Truly great!

  278. Corben D Says:

    This stuff (the entire site) is genius. I love it.

  279. Raja B Says:


  280. StClair Says:

    One year later, still awesome.

    This strip was actually my introduction to the site/comic – someone linked it for me, and I’m glad.

  281. This was AMAZING! I’ve been a long-time fan, but I always am re-reading this one because, frankly, it’s the best. I agree with everyone else: do make a graphic novel. I will love you forever if you do!

  282. Michael McCusty Says:

    i just want to let you know that that is one of the most inspiring and well written pieces of short fiction that i have read in my life

  283. QF Says:

    Wow! An amazing story, and then BAM! I laughed so hard at that last part.

  284. Andrew Says:

    It’s hard to read several large blocks of handwritten text, but I’m glad that I did. This is a very beautiful story.

  285. Alex Says:

    I really like this.

  286. Turner Xei Says:

    That was so awesome. Somehow the few images tied the whole thing together, and the story is dark and noir, I love that shit I can’t help it.

  287. Bernardo Says:

    Though you must hear this a lot, this story would do a damn awesome movie. The setting reminds me of David Lynch’s Dune.

  288. Mike Zornes Says:

    I stumbled across your art this morning, I have no idea where. Clicked a random link on another comic I think, free-floating through comic pages. That was 9 hours ago. I have been reading your archives all the day long. Leaving comments like this is not something I do often, and I don’t think I have ever done so without knowing name of the creator. But that last was just… brilliant. To the point that just needed to send you a deep bow from another stranger in the world. I just wanted to say thank you, for writing so well that I had to say it. :>

  289. HeadyJ Says:

    Wow! I’ve never ever spent that much time reading a webcomic before, but that one was worth every second. I almost had an old yeller moment there at the hug frame but it was narrowly averted by “nobody’s ever fucked the way we’re gonna fuck” and the subsequent fit of hilarity. so well done that words don’t do it justice. bravo!

  290. Edddd Says:

    Oh my god this should be a movie
    dome in the style of amedeus, maybe, where they cut back and forth between closeups of the story teller and flashbacks showing what he is describing

  291. Kikimaru Says:

    This would’ve been better/easier to read if it was using good fonts.

    Decent sci-fi at least.

  292. Jack Says:

    Could You possibly make this available as a print? I’d love to hang this on my wall!

  293. R_G_ Says:

    You are a fucking genius. I can only say that. And thanks by the way.

  294. Brazouck Says:

    Very very very good story, hard to read for a french, but it worth the effort, thanks a LOT !

  295. Seraph108 Says:

    Wall Of Text but… that’s completely pure Awesomeness. It would make a really brilliantly fucked-up movie \o/

  296. clearstrike Says:

    make this a movie, cause it’s fucking brilliant.

  297. White Hawk Says:

    My favourite strip yet- I can’t put it any better than has been expressed many times above.

  298. Giuseppe Says:

    Holy Living God! If you ever write a book about Colonel Banicek I will buy the SHIT out of it!

  299. Mike Says:

    This strip is inspiring! You have come up with a story that would be amazing to expand on! If I weren’t a moral person I would steal this idea and write a novel about it.

  300. Some Random Loser Says:

    This is one of the greatest walls of text ever produced.

  301. Jawara Says:

    Please don’t ever have anything like this made into a movie, or it will totally mind-fuck any sane person >.<

    Amazing stuff WR, fantastic… and laughed at the alt-text (i would have died if i wrote that story and the power went out at the same time lolol)

  302. Paul Says:

    Damn, you are an incredible storyteller.

  303. Luke James Says:

    Just noticed the MacTavish brand soap. Brilliant. These aren’t comix with too many words, I’d say they have just the right amount.

  304. thehappyphantom Says:

    Wow. Just wow. It is rare to read material containing this much brilliantness πŸ™‚

  305. PinkyPie Says:

    Should be expanded into a book

  306. Katherine Says:

    Dude. You should write Doctor Who.

  307. Freaking Awesome! Simply Brilliant.

  308. THIS, fuckin THIS, what a read, seriously, this NEEDS to be a movie, better fuckin history that most sci-fi flicks IΒ΄ve seen in a while, HATS OFF

  309. Esben Tipple Says:

    That was incredible. I’m glad I read all of it!

  310. Shoshana Booth Says:

    I just stumbled across this, and I can’t get over it. Fucking incredible.

  311. Frank Says:

    To long did not read. Did not apply for me wow what a read. Glad i have read it πŸ˜€

  312. Jesse Amaya Says:

    I normally don’t comment but this particular one hits hard. Way to close to a can happen/probably would happen.

  313. Rich Hobson Says:

    That story was incredible, felt like crawling into a modern Phillip K. Dick story. The ending was brilliant!

    Been hammering through these the past few days in my down time and your work is insanely wicked.

    If ever you wanted to fling a Kickstarter campaign (or another site, can’t quite get behind Kickstarter even though I use PledgeMusic… Ah well, c’est la vie) I’d fling cash at you (both literally and figuratively, I suppose).

  314. Matt Weems Says:

    Not to be clichΓ©d or overly-terse, but that was fucking epic.

  315. Brennan Barrington Says:

    If we have space travel at that level, we’ll certainly have controlled fusion by then. Not to mention the energy density of oil is too low to be useful (i.e., would take more energy to transport over interstellar distances than you’d get from it at the end), although, you could get around that by using the energy to generate and store antimatter. I don’t know if this would actually happen if practical; if it were done secretly, it probably could, but it would be stopped pretty fast if there was any public exposure.

    • Ben Zyl Says:

      Yeah, people’ll probably stop doing stupid ill judged pointless stuff in far distant lands that retrospectively ends up being a horrible idea at some point. In the far distant future if ever, I have my doubts though.

    • AckAckAck Says:

      My theory is that they still need the oil for other mean of production like plastic, polyethylene, polypropylene, food preservative, fertilizers, nylons, Aspirin, Glycerin, and many many more.

      Also rich people who still want to drive petroleum cars.

  316. Ben Says:

    Thank you, Virus. This is ricockulous place to say, but your work helped make me happy enough to get through a divorce and the aftermath.

  317. Jerrick R. Says:

    Why is this not a book, a video game or at least a comic book yet!? It’s so well written!

  318. Ernesto Yip Says:

    Awesome comic is awesome!

  319. AckAckAck Says:

    I came here thanks to TVTropes’ topic “Death Planet.” Holy shit man this story can be turned into a mindfuck horror movie worthy of Guilermo Del Toro direction. It was a wall of text but I just can’t stop reading.

    Also plot twist what if that comic is his dying dream? Like they actually failed to escape and he’s in the wreckage of the shuttle with his friends and he keep struggling not to fell asleep and when he’s busy fucking the girl turned into a monstrosity?

  320. cajva Says:

    this was great, i really enjoyed this comic, thank you for sharing

  321. Scott Perry Says:

    The whore who seemed to truly understand, yet who still truly loved him, after all of that, hit me the hardest. For my own twisted mind, she was a goddess, or maybe even The Big Guy Himself!

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