Three Years of This

February 25, 2010

Okay, so the comic’s done finally. SHIIIITTT, i wanna apologize for the massive lateness this week first of all. Yeah, there were mitigating factors involved, but still… I guess it mostly just took way longer than i thought it would. There were rewrites of rewrites of rewrites and more paper was used than a, uh, big papery thing tied up with string, and things went into triple overtime, but i needed to Get Shit Right this week, as best i could, for this marks the Third Anniversary of this walls-of-text-with-pictures deal i have going, and i wanted the comic to be at least kind of nice looking and with a monster in it.

Did I just say it was the third anniversary of this comic?

I guess i did! Well, shit. I mean SHIIIIT. Three years ago i was like “maybe i’ll do a webcomic, see how that goes,” and two years ago i was all like “well i guess this is going alright, maybe i’ll give it another year,” and a year ago i was like “yeah this is good,” and now all i can say is that fuuuuck a lot can change in three years ’cause right now i’m ensconced in this here Subnormality thing and I’m pretty happy about it.

I wanna thank everyone for reading, first off. Everyone who leaves comments, one or dozens, everyone who tells their friends about the comic, everyone who posts my work to Stumbleupon or Reddit or Obscure Niche Subculture Message Board #1156 (not an actual message board) or anywhere else. Everyone who emails to say how they felt about a particular wall of text, or wants to do a short film of a particular installment, or who wants to commission some art, or just wants to share a link to something cool that i wouldn’t have ever found on my own. Everyone who shows up to read the comic and say “hey you kind of made me feel less alone a little bit there” and thus makes me feel a part of something too by extension. Good times, high fives all around. Handshakes are on me. Yes!

So now what? Well, that’s the thing. It’s been three years, and recently i kind of had to decide between pursuing this strip further or working a full time job, because there was no longer time for both, what with the comix taking more time to do as things progress. Anyway, i’m still here so you know what i decided, and it was an easy decision to be sure. And i want to be up front with y’alls and say that my plans are now gonna include monetizing the comic a bit more than in the past. Merchandise to follow, BUT it shall be merchandise-in-name-only that is absolutely tasteful and as necessary as possible. Posters are on the drawing board, as well as Something Else that will take probably the rest of the year to get finished. So am i announcing Big Changes For Subnormality here?? Nope. There will be No changes at all to the comic or the site. Advertising will never ever ever ever ever EVER feature on the site; there are few certainties in life, but that is one of them. Happily, because of Subnormality i’ve been able to pick up some freelance work on the side, and the more of that I can do the less i have to worry about turning my site into some kind of unholy Merch Factory with custom salt & pepper shakers and 975 different t-shirts and inessential, badly-made tote bags. Anyway, the gist is that i plan to make Drawing Shit my full time gig, and, despite my massive distaste for capitalism, that means selling some stuff via the site. But when that stuff comes, it will totally be worth buying, that i Promise . It will be cool, and you will be all like “this is cool,” and then we’ll put on our sunglasses and make a remark so pithy that the earth implodes. Good times.

So thanks for reading. It’s been great. More walls of text to follow. Hopefully a few more years’ worth. If a pickle can quickly and easily surpass nickelb*ck in popularity then anything’s possible.

pickles for all,

W Rowntree

168 Responses to “Three Years of This”

  1. Quaylark Says:

    I haven’t been following the comic for the last three years but have read the archives and have to say this is one of the best comics I’ve found. I applaud your work and can’t wait for the coming year.

  2. Dave Says:

    Thanks amigo,

    I know I speak for A LOT of people when I say your work keeps me going with the knowledge that I’m not the only one who thinks like I do. Keep it up and one thousand encouragements from one of your many fans.

  3. msr Says:

    Congrats on three years!

  4. Max Says:

    I remember finding out about you when I randomly discovered Captain Estar (still no idea how…)

    Well, I’ve been hooked ever since.

  5. Waddle Says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for these wonderful comics. In all fairness, I find myself disagreeing with your opinions many a time, but any time I see someone stepping up to the plate with what they feel is right and do something creative with it.. I can’t help but smile and support. Don’t be surprised if I end up buying some merch from you, I support anyone with your sense of freedom (and style, of course).

    Keep doing what you love, intrinsic motivation is the best thing we could ever ask for.

  6. enoop Says:

    Can’t wait to see what another year brings. I love your comics they have to be the high light of my week. I will definitely buy a poster from you in the future.

  7. Leifbk Says:

    Congratulations with the three years, and thank you for all your wonderful comics. And I’d like to say that your pace of work is your own, you should not feel obliged to post on a weekly basis. I’d rather read three good comics in a month than four mediocre ones. That being said, I’m completely amazed by your continuous output of high quality stuff.

    Besides, I’m 57 years old, and never had a driver’s licence, so I totally agree with the Sphinx on the traffic 🙂

  8. Michael Ezra Says:

    Congratulations, Winston, on three years of Subnormality and on your decision to make this comic plus freelance drawing your livelihood.

    I look forward to the upcoming Subnormality merchandise, such as the Pink-Haired Girl, Hobby Shop Brunette and Green Hell Demon RealDolls; the Sphynx Robot featuring realistic philosophizing and obstacle-devouring action; and most of all my very own Wall-o-Text to keep out the barbarian hordes.

    Oh, and if you offer books and posters and such, I’d be interested in those too.

    Oh, and tonight’s comic just rocks. I hate cars. If the various inventors of the automobile back in the late nineteenth century had been able to foresee the millions of deaths and disabling injuries caused by reckless driving, the virtual disappearance of urban green space in major cities to make room for highways and ginormous parking complexes, the air pollution from exhaust fumes, and the overall increase in daily stress, anxiety and rage caused by their “miraculous” invention, would they still have gone ahead with it?

    Yeah. They probably would’ve.

  9. Kyle Says:

    thank you for three great years.
    discovered the comic about a year ago, and i love them all.
    keep up the great work

  10. Steven Says:

    That’s the most educated policeman I’ve ever seen.

    Also, nice touch at the end.

  11. Brian Says:

    Congrats on three years!

    However, I have to get this out. Though I usually find Sphinx strips interesting and thought-provoking, I think this is her at her lowest. Usually her size and strength forces an issue to be discussed because she can’t be brushed aside, but in this case she just seems argumentative rather than insightful. Yes, cars are bad; unfortunately, we don’t have gigantic wings which we can use to travel on-demand. Like, say, to be courteous enough to get out of the way of traffic. She views cars as a fad, as if personal transportation devices aren’t what we’ve always been striving for. Horses and carriages don’t spew greenhouse gasses, but they’re no less dependent on roads.

    Should city transportation be based on trains, buses, and bike/footpaths? No question. Is there more going on to the proliferation of cars than mere convenience compared to less costly and dirty methods? Sure thing. Does she come off as anything more than angry, road-blocking, people-eating monster? No, unfortunately. Sphinx has to learn that eating your opponent is just as lame a debate tactic than brushing it off as complicated: “OK, I’m bored with thinking about the problem now, let’s end this quickly.”

    Also: “yes, the beat cop is a ‘notable figure of history’,” I said in my best sarcasm voice. The dichotomy in their designs is actually subtly swaying me, I think: it’s the cop who looks world-weary enough to have seen it all and accept reality, making the youthful, spitting mad Sphinx seem like more like a teenager who’s angry that she’s being told off for being inconsiderate. Don’t scream at the beat cop who’s directing traffic! Scream at the horde of motorists you’re holding up! Convince them to buy a good bike! Why doesn’t she use her terrifying presence and immense strength to change things rather than, as the title says, wander the earth in a rage? She’s insightful, yes, but causes nothing but misery here.

    Er, I think that turned into a rant. A rant that sort of overshadows my congratulations. Uh, so again, congrats on three years! Here’s hoping for more chances to read your comic and vent, I suppose!

  12. Tom Says:

    If the cop had asked nicely, would the sphinx have been nice in response? I doubt it. The sphinx seems to be just as much of an asshole as the people she hates.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Tastefully twisted – conscience, cynicism, confetti. Unquestionably the best webcomic I’ve ever read.

    You’re somewhere at the top of my list of great writers, and your art is certainly looking a lot better than before. If I had the cash to burn, I’d definitely commission something. Meanwhile, please keep it going!

    For adding meaning to the internet, as well as our sad little lives, thanks.

  14. Levi Says:

    Happy 3rd! Loved the ending, I never cross against the light for the small chance there might be some speeding car to run me down, now I can add pissed off Sphinx to the list, thanks Winston!

  15. Bvz Says:

    Congratulations! 3 years of one of the best, if not THE, webcomics on the web these days.

    Good luck with the merchandise, I’m sure everything will turn out well. The idea of posters sounds appealing, as there are a few I would willingly grace my empty wall with =). Also, some of your more serious ones, such as The Line (Still my favourite), could turn out to be suitable for a classroom environment, I suppose.

    Anyway, it’s nice to see the Sphynx again, her comics never fail to please. I particularly enjoyed the machine gun metaphor, very apt.

    As for the time it took to get this up, I feel that it was well worth the wait. I can’t speak for everybody else, obviously, but I rate that it’s far better that you’re happy with the comic before posting, than trying to pump one out every week.

  16. NickLee808 Says:

    I’m one of the more recent readers, only discovering this site within the past year (I think I was trying to look for a replacement for PBF Comics).

    Since I’ve caught up in the archived posts, I’ve found myself coming back here week after week patiently waiting for the new comic to be released. When there is nothing to be read on Tuesday, I can say “the artist must be busy. I can forgive him.” It’s not in my place to dish out forgiveness and all, but when you understand how incredibly immature and selfish I am, that’s saying a lot.

    I’ve taken years upon years of college courses covering philosophy and religion, yet have not been able to articulate my position well enough in discussions with my friends as well as you can. Whenever a new comic is released, I sit and use that blob of fat in my head for once and something up there actually clicks. I copy the links for your comics and send them to my friends, which usually results in a “whoa” and a lengthy dialogue ensues.

    All I want to say is thank you for three years. You don’t seem to be getting much out of doing this financially and yet you still do it because I know you’re doing it for your readers. I respect such selflessness. I also wanted to say that what you’re doing is incredibly meaningful. It’s no “Mein Kampf” or “Communist Manifesto” (yet), but you do start dialogues for people. Important dialogues about life and society and what side the toilet paper should be put on. You’re comics are life-changing, they really are. I wanna tell you thanks, and keep up the good work.

  17. Ineluki Says:

    Wow, happy 3rd anniversary!
    I gotta hand it to you, between the hundreds and hundreds of webcomics I read, Subnormality gets the trophy for “crazy-awesome-writing” any week! And I should add the best gems in your writing appear in those strips that are not by themselves funny. At least that’s how I see it. Your innate ability to weave short stories and engage both heart and mind in a reader seem sometimes lessened by punchlines – unless it’s a redefining plot-twist. You got quite some of those, too.
    Okay, I’m done with picking things apart now. ^^

    Cheers, here’s to another three years! 🙂

  18. netcob Says:

    Funny how some cartoonists have a hard time accepting the fact that they can make money with their art. Is it that “selling out”-cliché or are you just convinced that making a living and doing what you love can’t ever be combined?

    Just put yourself in our position. We want comics. For as long as you are able to do them. We do not want everything to be plastered with banners, pop-ups and -unders, but I really doubt you would do more than what’s acceptable. There are also some of us who would love to own a Subnormality poster / book or whatever. Win/Win.

    The alternative would be you doing something you are not that crazy about and us getting our fix. Nobody wants that.

  19. bachterman Says:

    that was epic! and congratulations for bringing subnormality this far.

  20. XenoVega Says:

    That police officer was very brave and calm in the face of danger.

  21. Kurdt Says:

    Congratulations on three years man! And I would totally buy a Subnormality book and/or poster. The Sphinx eating Nickleback I’m sure would sell a ton! (In real life and in poster form!)
    But yeah, I love your comics and think you deserve to be successful. Good luck in all your future endeavors!

  22. Benjamin F. Says:

    Yes! It was awesome to see The Sphynx again!
    Anyways, congratulations on the 3rd anniversary of Subnormality, and I’m glad to hear you’re entering the world of freelance illustration, as it’s something that I want to do with my own life as well!
    I wish you luck, and thanks for being an inspiration!

  23. Hafwit Says:

    Many congratulations on the three years. I hope there’ll be many more. You deliver every time.

    For all that she talks and argues, The Sphinx is a predator and a man-eating monster. It’s probably a bit much to expect her to be nice.
    In this instance I agree with her though.

  24. Sam Says:

    You, sir, rock. I’m glad you’ve chosen to make a go at this full-time, and I for one shall be buying some of that merch. I hope and believe it’ll work out for you.

  25. GerryB Says:

    Winston, Congratulations and thanks for 3 years of brilliance, and for choosing the path you have.

    Please don’t make a Sphynx plushy.

  26. scruss Says:

    Print, please!

    Y’know, I woke up this morning thinking it was about time we got more Sphynx. I wasn’t disappointed.

  27. John Hoffman Says:

    The storylines are always thought-provoking and insightful. You could get away with crappy artwork. However, the artwork is amazing good, as well. I suggest your comic to everyone in my circle who’s into comics. You might be interested in how many “old people” like myself enjoy your work.

  28. Adam Says:

    Thanks mate, I’ve always looked forward to Subnormality updates — even if I sometimes wait to go to the comic because I have to be in the right frame of mind to really appreciate it. But what I’m saying I guess is that your comic makes my life a little better than it would be without the comic. So great work to you and good to hear that you’re still going strong with it. Will be looking forward to the merch or whatever.

  29. LeHack Says:

    Well, what can I say? Thanks for the pickle, and good luck 🙂

  30. Meghana K Says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I missed sphinx sooo much!
    I like this comic a lot!
    Congrats for 3 years of Subnormality! And wishing for many more!!!

  31. Happy 3-year anniversary! By “merchandise-in-name-only” I’m assuming you mean vaporware.

  32. Kayley Says:

    Hello W.Rowntree. Long time reader, first time poster. I just wanted to say that I love your comics, and that hey, you kind of made me feel less alone a little bit there. x

  33. Moaem Says:

    Thanks for Subnormality, Rowntree! And thanks a lot for the Sphinx this time, it’s been a long wait!

  34. Really glad to hear you’re going to put all your energy into what you truly enjoy, not least because it means we get to continue enjoying your excellent strips.

    It’s rare that a webcomic is so consistently good, you feel the need to regularly share it with your social media circles, but yours certainly is.

    For what it’s worth, I put you at the top of my Top 10 webcomics list, which I posted last year.

    Keep up the great work!

  35. Cyanin Says:

    God damn man, i can’t wait for any more, this is the deepest non-linear comic i’ve ever read, out of curiosity have you ever read Transmetropolitan? Brilliant series, pick it up if you can.

  36. Kathleen Says:

    I can’t wait for Subnormality stuff I can buy! People are already asking me who the “girl” is, and I’m like, duh, it’s the Sphinx. Now I can proudly wear a t-shirt or show off the salt and pepper shakers saying, “here, educate yourself.”

  37. Chunkystyles Says:

    I’m very happy you chose to do this instead of something else. I will gladly buy your shit. Please allow me to put walls of text on my wall or on my body somehow. That would be great.

  38. mawa Says:

    I absolutely love reading Subnormality, but every now and then there are some strips that are just a tad little too condescending for my taste. I hope this does not become a trend. (

  39. glittermonster Says:

    Just wanted to say congratulations on three years of ass-kicking walls of text, and to say thank you for making the world a more awesome place.

  40. Mike Harris Says:

    It is a brave thing to do, especially with the economy (although it is shakily recovering). Hopefully, by the time you are ready to sell posters and whatnot, I will be able to buy them, as you’re one of a very small handful of strips who are such top-drawer that I’d gladly support them.

  41. Marcus Says:

    I’ve enjoyed the comic for roughly 2 years now, and I’m glad you’re continuing. They’re smart, funny, and take a while to read (good thing).

    I do wish the comics had a high-res option. I find that I have trouble reading the text sometimes, and if I zoom in it gets fuzzy. Any chance of offering a high-res version when viewing the image alone or something? I promise you I’m not an old man, and I can read small print just fine normally.

    Either way, thanks for the comic. I enjoy it every week.

  42. All the comics of the Sphynx are hilarious. I just love the character.

    And I loved the last strip.

  43. M Says:

    I’ve been reading for at least 2 years…never commented, but your work is amazing. Posters and books would be great to have. Your stuff reminds me of my zine days 10-15 years ago and I absolutely love it. Thanks.

  44. Lew Basnight Says:

    Hey, happy year three! I hope there are many, many more to come.
    Two points:
    1) Oh hell yes. I work in a bar and make it a rule not to get drawn into arguments with drunks, but the ‘primacy of cars’ conversation usually makes me throw that diplomacy out the window. I like that sphinx more and more.
    2) I am grateful that you’re not selling ads on your site, and I look forward to the upcoming frenzy of merch. But have you considered the Assetbar model that Chris Onstad is using? It’s not a subscription, since the main content is still free. But for like $3 a month, we get previews, sketches, aborted strips, in-character blog posts, mini-rants from the author, etc. Your comic obviously doesn’t have the same structure as Achewood, but I think it’s much easier to get $3 from people for extra content than $15 for a shirt or other swag. I know I’d sign up…

  45. George Says:

    Wouldn’t cars be even more important in Canada than in the U.S., otherwise, sled dogs are your only option when traveling over miles and miles of drastically melting ice.

  46. davingsbury Says:

    Odd that today of all days was the first time I clicked Leave a Comment…
    Glad to hear that the comic’s working out well for you and looking forward to what kind of merch will be coming. I’ve been eyeing the tshirts a long long time at this point… <.<
    Keep making the awesome walls of text.

  47. Conrad Vandenberg Says:

    Your comic is my favourite thing ever on the internet. I live in an isolated depressing sub arctic outpost where everyone is mean and I don’t like it. But I like you lots, and I can definatley say that I like your comic even more than the X Men.

  48. DoubleW Says:

    The car-launching-machinegun bit gave me a good belly laugh that woke up my roommate, just so you know. I would almost say that it would make a good t-shirt, except that there might be too much going on in the image for the humor to work while walking down the street. Maybe it could be made into a mini-poster/sticker thing that people could stick up at crosswalks? I’d buy a dozen if so.

    There was an interview with the guy who does Dr. McNinja, and among the usual questions about the comic itself, there was a bit about the difference between a funny comic and a funny t-shirt. You might be interested;
    I’m not suggesting at all that you’d be bad at this, it’s just that a lot of your humor is in subtle details and things that take a moment to digest.

  49. KHDN Says:

    The fact that the comic’s rant is utter bollocks aside, the car minigun and brick joke were quite awesome.

    Also, congratulations indeed!

  50. Sekenre Says:

    Alt text: Meet The Creeper by Rob Zombie

    It was playing in my head as I read the comic. Nice

  51. ZeroSphere Says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Second post from me. Still reading avidly, so you must be doing something right! reading the strip(and most, if not quite all, the comments) does lead to a feeling that one is not the only person to look at the world in a somewhat sideways way… a great thing to accomplish and to be treasured.

    Keep it up.

    Loved the returned vet story at xmas 🙂


    BTW Brian – of course horses emit greenhouse gases, how do you think they run? Imagine if there were as many horses as there are cars – how would they be fed? Bio-fuel.. HaHa

  52. Mike Says:

    Awesome… love your comic

  53. Ray Says:

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been following your comic for about two years now, and I think it is the best quality comic I know of (and I follow a lot of webcomics). If there is anyone on the tubes whom I think should be allowed to live comfortably off of his online-product, it is you, sir. I would love to buy your stuff.

  54. Cam Says:

    I went to read this comic while taking a break from researching my undergrad thesis, which is on the role of advertising in promoting the automobile to the middle class and society at large during the 1920’s. Needless to say, I found it thoroughly delightful.

    For some historical information on the situation, there was actually widespread resistance to exactly this kind of thing when the automobile was first being popularized. It’s pretty hard to be fatally run over by a horse and buggy, so streets were much more egalitarian before the invention of the motorcar. Kids played, adults socialized, and virtually every imaginable means of transportation existed in chaotic harmony (excuse the utopianism).
    The invention of the automobile necessitated a transformation of the street, because they move fast enough to kill people. Initially, when it was primarily rich drivers spooking horses and running down poor children, there was widespread public opposition to the car. Once they came down in price sufficiently that they could be marketed to the middle class, advertising successfully cast them as a necessity. Governments adopted this rhetoric, and so roads were vastly expanded to accommodate cars, while being made increasingly inaccessible to any other form of traffic. As for deaths in car accidents-every one of which was shocking and horrific when they first started happening-we just kind of learned to grin and bear them.

    So yeah, I suppose that’s progress for you.

  55. Cam Says:

    Oh, and congrats on your three-year anniversary. I wish you nothing but the best in making your comic into a career. I look forward to being distracted from many future academic pursuits by your work.

  56. SlaughterhouseDb Says:

    I agree with Brian and Tom – the Sphinx comes across as the victimizer here. “I’ve decided to become an unavoidable burden, then murder the first person sent to deal with me.” Full props to the cop for not being intimidated by a childish show of force. For a character who claims to “kill quickly and painlessly” for food, she certainly doesn’t seem to be above brutalizing people who don’t buy into her world view. The saddest part for me is that, with this exception, I love everything else about the strip: the Wall O’ Text(c), the odd insights, the opinions/debate topics, the humour. All awesome. But the Sphinx bits are like Robin Williams doing a skit while clog-dancing on kittens: you want to laugh, but your eye is unavoidably drawn to the gory sadism.

  57. Fernando Says:

    Man, I was hoping the guard would tell her off with the many perfectly reasonable arguments available to counter the sphinx’s flawed, short-sighted and arrogant logic, but he just acted really dumb and accepted her idiocy.

    I’m waiting for the day when the sphinx gets someone to shut her up.

  58. Thomas Says:

    @Fernando: feel free to try to do what the cop didn’t, then. I personally agree with the Sphinx on the car issue. She may be an unpleasant man-eating monster with an uneven track record when it comes to expressing penetrating insights, but who cares. As she says, cars are something mankind has done without for all but 100 years of its history, and while it is neat to be able to travel great distances at high speed at a moment’s notice, we do pay a pretty high price for it, too.

    Also, formerly-pink-haired waitress FTW. 🙂

  59. AlanSmithee Says:

    Happy 3rd year! And I’d just like to add, in addition to hand gestures and use of the word “complicated” the sub-moronic Rumsfeld-style Q & A rhetoric. Is it stupid? Yes it is. Do only douchbags use it. Yes they do. Should these cretins have their heads bitten off by mythological creatures. Almost certainly.

  60. Thomas Says:

    Also, congratulations and thanks to Winston for three years of an awesome comic. Many happy returns!

  61. J Says:

    I can say little that Brian, Tom, and SlaughterhouseDb haven’t already said. It would have been a much more effective pose if the Sphinx had addressed the people behind her instead of forcing herself on the policeman. She comes across as a spoiled brat here, not an insightful monster, just monster in more than one sense of the word.

    That being said, I’m very pleased that you didn’t abandon us. Even the strips that I criticize I still enjoy. I only offer criticism because you’ve indicated that you welcome it and I’m happy to contribute to the creative process in whatever manner I can. I am looking forward to seeing your merch and other overhauls, though I do love the simplicity of your site as is.

    I have only been reading Subnormality for a few months, but I still feel the need to congratulate you on sticking with it for so long. I’ll read, and donate when possible, for as long as you write.


  62. Hexadecima Says:

    Looks like no one bothered to mention Mr. Wharf’s klingon baldric yet. I am convinced that TNG jokes will be viable humour for the next fifty years or so.

    So yeah, DoubleW brings up a pretty good point about t-shirts: if they’re going to be joke-laden, they’d better be accessible.

    However, that being said, it’s probably no cost to you to offer a large number of designs. I, for one, would kill for a good Sphynx shirt. And a Sphynx plush, but that’s probably a little bit ambitious. That’s one of those funny things about the Internets 2.0: idolatry is a penny a pound, and no one’s afraid of it.

    In short—online digital internet webcomic readers tend not to be afraid of merchandise as long as you don’t put on some weird marketing hat and develop an alternate personality for vending your wares (there’s a little bit of the Whizzo Butter man in all of us.) That kind of false honesty is what really puts people off advertising, and a faint scent radiates from even the fairly genuine folks at TopatoCo, but their blunt and silly approach buries it.

    We realise we’re forking money over to you and some suppliers so you all can afford to eat, and if you don’t concentrate on the magical, revolutionary qualities of your great new exciting product (thanks Apple), it’s not going to make anyone feel mistreated—and if you don’t do that, you’re not a so-called sell-out, regardless of what pretensions Indie music critics maintain. If you like, you can think of it as giving gifts in exchange for donations of set amounts—and once you’ve achieved the level of success you’ve got, it’s myopic to think you’re doing your visitors a favour by denying them the opportunity to show you and your art some appreciation.

    As a fellow Ontarian, liberal, university student, et cetera, I understand totally why you’d be self-conscious about this sort of stuff, but as long as we’ve got this silly ‘money’ thing in our society, it’s best to look for ways to work it into your life in the most constructive way possible rather than trying to avoid it. Big shocker—people who say that this kind of ‘selling out’ is wrong aren’t grown-up. (In fact, they may be stoned.)

  63. I wouldn’t mind seeing seeing some ads as long as they were cool and relevant.

    Get your money, brotha. Keep the cheer going.

  64. Chapman Says:

    I really love when the sphinx shows up in your strip. Her viewpoint, from outside this inane jumble which makes up society, is always refreshing. I feel sorry for her, though not having anyone to share it with. Her long years must be so lonely, as anyone she might grow to feel affection for would either be food, or die so quickly that the time spent is insignificant relative to her own life.
    Oh sphinx, i weep for thee.

  65. Miles Says:

    Just sayin’, I wish I was big like the Sphynx so that when I am walking jackasses don’t get mad at me for walking. I have been hit on more than one occasion when some motorist decides they don’t need to be on the lookout for pedestrians or bicyclists. I miss the mp3 player the hit and run driver helped me to break. =(

  66. Christopher Says:

    Been reading for a little less than a year and am very much enchanted by Subnormality. It’s great to read a webcomic that’s willing to toe the line between black humor and moral quandaries without taking itself too seriously. I think it’s good that you bring up the topics you do in the comics, even if some people have a hard time understanding what’s mean to be humorous and what’s not. More importantly, I like how intelligent the whole thing is; the Wall O’ Text, the forays into sci-fi, and the recurring elements. So, long story short, thanks for Subnormality and if keeping this comic alive means distracting us with meaningless trinkets, than I will be glad to lighten my virtual pockets for your cause.

  67. Fernando Says:

    All right Thomas


    We did without cars ever since forever but we also did without modern society.

    I was born and raised in a context of motorized vehicles, in a world built around them, therefore they are important to me. Just like many of the major advancements in modern society with which we did without for thousands of years, such as basic sanitation, electricity, modern medicine, modern democracy, civil rights, etc. Reducing them to fads is ignorant.

    I’m not like the people who lived 200 years ago and neither is anybody else alive. There’s no “us” when I talk about me and the dead from the past, we are not the same.

    Well, Ms. Sphinx, using exaggerations and personal insults won’t convince anyone. No the cop won’t roll in the floor and cry, but he might if you at least gets good with your usual ad hominem attacks.

    Why do you think cars were widely adopted in the first place? They were damn useful. Only reasonable that we use it. You won’t speak english just because you learned it relatively recently compared to other languages you mastered? Of course not. It goes beyond than just “because everyone uses”. They are objectively useful.

    Oh and I’d expect you, who obviously knows history, to not be so naive as to hold our “notable figures” so highly.

    History is mostly written by the powerful or the angry. Save few exceptions, our notable figures were either on top of everyone else or really into killing whoever was on top of them. It is not about being a visionary and standing out from the masses, it is about doing what the masses were ready to do.

    Now, I’ll give it to you. Even though automobiles have changed the world, in a way I can’t say if it was for the better or for the worse, we do need a break from them, even if we are not entirely ready for it. But that’s not how you make changes.

    Getting rid of cars and investing on public transport is a long path. It is about negotiations, thinking smart solutions, actually making them work and having the dough to get all of these plans to exist in the first place. Being a bitch employing failed arguments and cheap shots is the opposite of that.

  68. snap_pop_no_crackle Says:

    Wonderfully cool. Thanks for the past 3 years. Keep it going.

  69. MacheteSquad Says:

    Well, I just think I am gonna ignore the main discussions here, seeing as I’d be repeating points others have made and I just don’t want to get into it.

    I do like the organization (or deliberate disorganization) of the panels, it makes an interesting read. This one obviously wasn’t as profound as some of your previous (ie. ‘A Christmas Eve In the Future’), but the aesthetics (or again, lack of) is fun.

    And I hope pickles will be more popular for years to come.

    In Summation,

  70. Justin Says:

    I’m glad that I started reading your comic a while ago, it’s really good. Your strips have something to say, and they say it in an interesting and thoughtful way. And you also have laughs in there too, which is great. All in all, I like coming to your site.

    Anyway,congratulations on three years!

  71. Buldwren Says:

    Hey Winston, I’m happy to hear you’re satisfied with where the comic has gotten so far, and I wish you the best of luck with the future.

    Also, in regards to more merchandise, I can’t wait! I’d love a poster.

    I love my shirt. More Sphynx is always welcome! 🙂

  72. Schadenfreude Says:

    1) Love the comic, love walls of text FOR EVER.

    2) Poor waitress girl.

  73. dvilla Says:

    Oh Winston, how I hope your name is just a pseudonym for a woman, because I think I love you.

  74. dvilla Says:

    Also, I have to ask why there aren’t any waitress girl/pink hair girl merchandise available. I would give a large chunk of the money I don’t have to have a pink hair girl t-shirt or coffee mug.

  75. Mad_Prophet Says:

    Happy B! You certainly have come a long way from that first comic now when I look at it. Wish you luck.
    PS. Oh, I would totally buy customized salt & pepper shakers 😀

  76. Clayton Says:

    Sir, you have written one of THE BEST comics I have ever had the liberty of reading, and the fact that I like Queens Of The Stone Age more than depicted in the music-map being the only time I’ve read your comic and felt disappointed even a little is testament to your great skill at your chosen craft.

    You are a writer of the highest caliber and I will buy your book if you were to ever put one out, and I look forward to reading Subnormality for as long as you’re willing to write it.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reminding me in hard times that there are people out there worth looking up to.

    Thank you.

  77. RydWolf Says:

    Wouldn’t people treat her more like the sacred cows in India? Maybe mutter and complain a bit, but basically just put up with it as an unavoidable delay?

    I’m assuming that the Sphinx has been proven functionally immortal and that that’s why a dangerous, man-eating animal/mass murderer hasn’t been executed yet.

    This one comic just bugs me, as it highlights the ‘dumb bully’ aspect of the Sphinx, rather than the ‘stranger in a strange place’ that we usually see.

    • Brennan Barrington Says:

      We’ve seen medieval weapons not put a dent in her. I don’t know if they’ve tried modern ones, but they probably did. I think the lack of effort to find a permanent solution is part of the point: in this world, casualties from monsters are just considered a fact of life. This illustrates how what we try to fight is not really correlated with how many people die from it.

  78. RydWolf Says:

    WOAH! Hold on there!

    “…when after millennia of [b]horses[/b] and walking you invent some noisy little machine and then suddenly declare that you’re completely dependant on it!”

    Isn’t the car simply a more modern form of the horse? (With both negative and positive aspects, of course.)

    Sorry, sorry. This’s just got me mildly riled.

    Congrats on the three years anyway.

  79. simon Says:

    Nice one Winston, thanks for more entertainment over the years than anyone could expect for free. Count me in for a sphinx coffee mug or preferably a lifesize poseable FPHG.

    Seriously now, as a pro graphic designer, I have asked before about hi-res scans of your strip being available for (paid) download to take to a local print bureau rather than you being involved in making the prints and then shipping internationally. I personally would love a mounted Rowntree Tryptych taking pride of place in the gallery (I would love to have a gallery too but that’s another topic).

  80. Andrew Says:

    Three years in, and you want to make a living on a comic without a merch circus? Look to a mister William Watterson for example- although it left him pretty biter about the whole business. Still, all I can really do is wish you luck on your endeavours. It’s a noble goal, after all.

    And so, faced with an arguement she cannot babble or intimidate her way through, against an opponent who could match her points and counter them, the Sphinx resorts to crass violence? Suffice it to say, after three years you have revealed the Sphinx’s true identity- that of the very first public forum troll. Well done, sir.

  81. Nearly Says:

    Hi Winston, Congratulations on 3 years of quality and integrity in sharing your vision and talents with us lucky punters on the web.

    I’m sure I speak for most of the visitors to the site when I say that as well as your artistic talents, it is your unique, inspiring and slightly twisted view of the world that keeps us all eagerly checking for your new posts.

    So we have complete trust that you will manage to find a way to make some well deserved money from your labours with absolute thoughtfulness and good taste!

    So stop worrying about it (It will be cool) and get busy merchandising to us!

  82. Muscleman Says:

    Oooh! does that mean I will be able to buy a poster of the Four Horsemen of the Atheist Apocalypse comic? If so that would absolutely wonderful and thankyou in advance and thankyou very much for all the comics and well done for the no ads (which I will likely block anyway).

  83. EthZee Says:

    I hate horses. I just thought I’d put it out there.
    And besides, there’s lots of things we’ve done without for hundreds of years: the internet, computers, television, telephones, penicillin, potatoes, nuclear physics, modern medicine, etc. True, cars aren’t the best things we’ve had, but the good they’ve done for enabling long-distance travel has surely made up for it? (Same with planes, etc.) I do support the idea of making cities bus/tram/train-centric, though.

    On the other hand, I can recognise the Sphynx for what she is; a way of getting your opinions or feelings on a subject out effectively. Shouting about something that makes you angry, cathartic. Plus, it’s your webcomic, so you can go nuts!

    Nice job lasting 3 years. Here’s to lots more awesome.

  84. Theophilus Says:

    On point as always.

    Many happy returns Winston.

  85. Al Says:

    I just recently started reading your comics, but I absolutely love your work! Congrats on hitting the three-year mark, thank ya much for the comix and good luck in your chosen career, dude.

  86. Flavius Says:

    Nice work on the Comic!

    I’ve been a fan for who knows how long now. Keep up the great work, and here’s to another many great years of Subnormality!

  87. Hey, just wanted to thank everyone for the mucho positive sentiments. I’m sorry i don’t have time to address specific comments this week, but i’ve definitely read all of them and done a whole lot of thinking as a result.

    I will say that i definitely don’t automatically associate making money from one’s art with Selling Out, i mean i do choose to live and work in a capitalist society, i guess i’m just paranoid of people thinking i’m in it for the money or whatever, even though that’s totally irrational. Plus i’ve come from the Bill Watterson School of Merchandising, wherein there is no actual merchandise because everything fatally cheapens the original work etc. (THESE KEYCHAINS WILL DESTROY US ALL!!!), but I of course also realize that things are different in the Webcomics Age and if one wants to actually earn a living then one must sell a few things on the side, and i’m totally fine with that (Bill W’s world was not the present one, though i of course agree with him on principle about everything). It ain’t selling out, and there will be merchandise (no plush toys though, sorry), but it’ll be along the lines of posters and a book at some point and another idea i have that similarly involves the exchange of money for something with actual content to it. Plus some new t-shirt designs. All in the future; on my way there now; thanks for wishing me luck!

    Let me also say on the issue of the Sphynx being unpleasant this week, i think she’s allowed a bad mood now and then, so i hope you won’t hold it against the character or assume that i’m trying to celebrate such behavior. She’s intended to be flawed and self-centered, as opposed to a righteous steamrolling mouthpiece for the author or whathaveyou (though i definitely agree about the cars issue). I don’t know, i’ve kind of been fretting about this since wednesday, but then i fret about everything so maybe i’ll just shut up and go watch star trek… Make it so!

  88. Noel Pruden Says:

    For the second time I feel compelled to post on one of these boards, if only to thank you for forgoing whatever job that might have been, and continuing the best web comic I’ve yet come across.

  89. Danzibar Says:

    Loved it Winston. Can I call you Wince? Didn’t think so. Anyway, this particular subject holds a special place in my heart because I refuse to drive despite the fact that I live in the suburbs of Chicago (hopefully movin’ to the big city soon) and I refuse to drive no matter the hubub. Thank you for being so right on the mark with these and the rest of your fine comics. Draw that shit, dammit!!! haha.

  90. b.patrick Says:

    Congratulations and here’s to many more!Yours are simply the best comics on the web. I have to echo the remarks of many others and say that what you do is meaningful and I hope you can go on doing it for as long as you like. The latest is fantastic, by the way. Terrific way to celebrate an anniversary.

  91. Julie K. Says:

    I just discovered this site and in the last 2 weeks I have read *everything* in it, needless to say I love it! And nobody can live without a little bit of money, and I perfectly understand how much work there is into a project like this, so thank you!! I’ll save for a t-shirt.

    And I thought I was a girl who didn’t even like comics!

  92. Tom Says:

    Ever since I read

    I’ve thought it would make a great tri-fold greeting card. Make it happen.

  93. Dusty668 Says:

    3 years of Wonderful!!!!! You are making the future great. Flying cars and the Sphinxie looking all trim from an excellent low impact workout. Definitely time for the cool shades! Thank you Mr. Rowntree, thank you very much!

  94. Hohenheim Says:

    I really hate the idea of cars to. I love walking and using my own two legs to get me somewhere. Quite honestly, I hate the idea that people are somehow entitled to some 2 ton polluting tin can to do their walking for them. Obviously there’s situations when cars can be justified(transporting multiple people at once, getting particularly heavy loads around) but for the most part I just can’t bring myself to view them in a positive light. Everyone seems to think me crazy for this, it’s nice to see someone can see where I’m coming from. Great comic, as usual.

  95. Jeff Says:


    …and maybe a poster/t-shirt combination

  96. sereph Says:

    This is your second comic about how horrible and innately terrible cars are. I enjoy your other comics, and the liberal viewpoint they posit, but cars? Really? That’s ridiculous. Try living outside of a city, or in a massive, very, very sparsely populated country like Australia. Live without a car here? Ridiculous.

    Congrats on three years.

    • Brennan Barrington Says:

      How do you think people got from place to place and lived before, say, 1910? From 1860 to 1910 (even after that for a while, really) it was passenger trains, passenger trains, passenger trains. They were cost-effective because everyone used them, so you had economies of scale (unlike now with AmTrak). I agree there’s a time and place for cars (although more small, fuel efficient cars would be good) but they are by no means an essential part of rural society.

  97. TentacledBeast Says:

    This last comic bothered me. To make an argument for or against the use of something, you have to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. Just pointing out the disadvantages, however numerous, does not make a good argument.

    BTW congratulations on your third anniversary!

  98. Doghouse Riley Says:

    What makes the Sphynx such a great character is that she says so many things that make such a helluva lot of sense – but instead of putting those words in the mouth of some sort of wussy John Lennon/Mother Teresa/Alan Alda hybrid, Winston gives them to a short-tempered, insulting (literal) man-eater.

    The punchline mini-panel totally blew me away.

  99. Enfermero Torero Says:

    Congratulations! Keep up the good work, I really find it excellent.

  100. anon2 Says:

    happy aniversary! goog to hear ur still with us.

  101. Hexadecima Says:

    “i guess i’m just paranoid of people thinking i’m in it for the money or whatever, even though that’s totally irrational.”

    Right! And this is what I’m getting at. We understand. We’re grownups. We didn’t double major in haikus and smoking a cigarette under a lamppost. The Virus Comix Online Empire site is as about as uncommercial as you can get, and if your critics can’t see that you’re not In It For The Money Or Whatever, they’re not critics, they’re ideologues, and you need to not listen to that.

    There’s this horrible sentiment that’s particularly prevalent in Canada that you can’t make money in the arts. It gets boiled down in your pot-headed indie critics to vicious attacks against anyone or anything successful, and your webcomickers pick this up as a sensibility to be wary of.

    But really it originates with a kind of politeness that’s meant to make unsuccessful artists feel better. If artists tell each other that art isn’t about the money, then the penniless don’t have to compete with such unpleasant notions like ‘popular appeal’ or ‘commercial viability’ and are free to pursue the avant garde. This is treacherous to the artists in question because they never get pushed to do exactly what you’re trying to do–earn a living–and you end up with things like arts grants getting doled out. Considering that plenty of artists could make something commercially viable (that is, accessible enough for the general public to appreciate and want to spend money on) in addition to their purely artistic creations, this is pretty lame.

    tl;dr: challenge that paranoia. It’s a cultural preconception that’s far more bullshitty than what you highlight in your comics!

  102. JTWilson Says:

    Has it really been 3 years?? WOw. I tip my hat to thee. That’s impressive. Being awesome is rough, but lOngevity in being awesome is the hardest thing to do. You have my absolute admiration and respect.

    The comic was a really enjoyable read and clever as always. I liked the unwavering adherence to legalese instead of the cop just shitting his pants in fear. “Yeah yeah, in my day”…hehe….old people…;)

    I really enjoyed the last 3 panels, I knew you wouldn’t just let a wandering cop car go astray…nice to see brownhair there too!

    I feel as if you didnt shade the first panel?
    Interesting to see the difference really. I’d actually like to see your process from start to finish, that would be quite great!
    From our previous conversations I am tempted to say you draw by hand and then do the ol’ digital ink & paint?

    Do you do your colouring digitally or with markers or other such implements of analog days gone by? I’m tempted to say it looks like you do your colouring in Flash.
    It gives those nice even fills and makes it easy to shade, that’s how I do it at least (not with comics, but with my animation & illustration company).

    As for the comic, its an interesting topic to mull over. Society (and our reality) is made up of these agreements (ludicrous or not) between everyone else. Even if you dont agree, you’re still bound by that system lest you want to be considered to live outside of it.
    That system can be as simple as “let’s all call this thing on four legs a chair. Agreed? Agreed”. Or “let’s all consider this pickle more worthy of merit than the REAL N word”. Or “let’s all adhere value to these piecs of oddly coloured paper and pretend our lives are worth chasing after them”…

    Winston, my heartfelt congratulations on your run sofar and I can only say that I truly feel it is only getting better, even though it was already thoroughly amazing and highly enjoyable before. I’ve recommended your comic numerous times already to friends and internet people as the best web comic that I know.
    I feel it’s gotten a lot more intense yet still allows for brevity like this week’s strip:D.

    I for one welcome our Subnormality merchandise overlords and would gladly support it for I am convinced your comics and ideas are worthy of bountiful remuneration.

    Keep up the fucking awesome work. Shit.

  103. pG Says:

    Hmm. ‘Max capacity – 3 persons’ Good to know.
    (Note to self – Always go to the sphinx in groups of 4)
    Kudos on doing this for three years Wince. Please don’t stop holding up funfair mirrors to the world.

  104. Sean Says:

    I love the Sphynx. The last 3 panels were especially funny.

  105. Søren Says:


    Congratulations on the three years. I only started reading the comic a few weeks ago, and have finally managed to work through the archive.

    Hope you keep it up.

    Cheers Søren

  106. Rob Says:

    The even greater downside is if you live in a place with no sidewalks at all, it almost forces you to dive a car (i.e. parts of Dallas,etc). Car culture is big and you almost have to buy an SUV because if your car is too small then someone will run you over as well….LOL

  107. Andrew Says:

    I agree Rob, I lived in East Texas for a while in Longview, and there were no sidewalks or crosswalks in most of the city…I saw maybe two or three people biking to work during my four years there. Now I live in Eugene, and it’s like a eutopia of bike roads, walking paths, and nice traffic.

  108. Melvazord Says:

    Now THAT is fucking comedy!

  109. Alex Says:

    Well, you frightened me with the ‘Subnormality VS Job’ quandry there. You made the right choice!

    Also, my university magazine is featuring Subnormality this year (Critic, Otago, New Zealand.) So nice to see some of my old favourite comics in there. (Read: You were mine first!)

  110. EthZee Says:

    Also, I suspect that the car thing is worse in the USA, which has been building around the automobile for the past sixty years. We haven’t really been doing that over here in Blighty (or, at least, for not as long), so we’re more accommodating to pedestrians and cyclists.

  111. Keith Says:

    Thanks for sticking around. I’ve loved your comics for almost as long as you’ve been doing them. I feel somewhat guilty for not telling you sooner. I look forward to seeing what cool things you place on offer.

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  112. Evan Says:

    Fuckin’ A, bro. Fuckin’ A.

  113. GrunthosTheFlatulent Says:

    “What if I were to do…this?” HAHAHA! I have always wanted to do just that, when some braindead zombie in a car blocks the sidewalk entirely, just so they can get out of McDonald’s 2 seconds faster.
    Not that I hate cars as such; they’re just so expensive to buy, insure, and operate that I’ll never be able to own one again. I consider drivers to be over-privileged asswipes with no situational awareness. We really need the Sphynx to tour Canada, and not just hang around Toronto. She’d be welcome here, for sure!
    Keep ’em coming for 3 (or 30) more years, and I’ll be awaiting the merchandise!

  114. kuby Says:

    We have more cars in L.A. than people. Listening to the persistent, mind numbing chatter of “freedom” which can only be achieved through the angriest, most selfish mode of transportation is annoying to say the least. thank you!!

    P.S. can i request the sphinx to eat my boss?

    • Brennan Barrington Says:

      She doesn’t take requests, mainly because she gets so many of them and it drives her nuts. Also, she has trouble opening letters or operating computers because of her paws. I forget which ones that stuff is from.

  115. Noah Coz Says:

    “Everyone who shows up to read the comic and say “hey you kind of made me feel less alone a little bit there” and thus makes me feel a part of something too by extension.”

    Thats almost exactly what i thought when i first read your comics, well sorta probably not word for word. But kind of like that

  116. Dheginsea Says:

    Congratulations on three years! I found the comic recently and read the archives, got caught up with it, etc…
    I’ve enjoyed your work and I always look forward to reading the next issues. There’s not much different to be said in regards to your humor, your fascinating takes on the world, blah blah blah…
    However, at the risk of sounding like I’m not a fan, or perhaps even a troll (the idea of which, disgusts me, by the way) there have been a few occasions where the point you were trying to make either a- felt more like an angry, venting rant over something that, perhaps pissed you off at some point during the week. Or b- was not a very good argument in the first place (whether it was based off of one-sided views of the issue, or lack of knowledge/stereotypes regarding an issue).
    Again, I don’t want to sound like I don’t enjoy the comic. I do. I check for updates, tell my friends to read it, link them some of my favorites and whatnot. Also, I do realize the whole, “opinions are like assholes” thing. I just felt that it needed to be said.
    My few minor complaints aside (and they are minor complaints, mind you), I look forward to reading more of your totally awesome comics, I look forward to purchasing something to show my support of your work, and I wish you luck/happiness in your life (and to my fellow fans as well).

  117. benS. Says:

    Shrug !

    I can’t but identify with this poor, slippery sloping, nice cop. He should’ve used his police baton though.

    What’s wrong with that Shirley Temple-type broad btw? A 3000 y. old bicameral brain ?

    Remember : always walk straight across the street !
    When green !!

  118. Kimberly Sparks Says:

    I just discovered Subnormality via and I love it! I’ve read all the archives and I look forward to the new ones each week. Keep up the good work.

  119. ZonkotheSane Says:

    Your comics make me smile. Mazel tov and thank you 🙂

  120. DNTME Says:

    So how come it’s always a male cop involved when it’s time to die? Why is it never a female cop? Female cops not good enough to take the lumps? I think you artists all share the same brain.

  121. Doom Says:

    > So how come it’s always a male cop
    > involved when it’s time to die?
    This is obvious. For a normal man killing a woman (even imaginary one, even in comix) doesn’t feel right, although the same man wouldn’t mind brutally slaughtering an army of policemen (i.e. male cops). If you dislike this fine tradition, you are free to make your own comic… Besides, if this dialogue was spoken by female cop, it wouldn’t sound right.

  122. SoWhyMe Says:

    I totally disagree with your comments, Doom.

    To begin with it’s a monster killing a man, not a man killing a woman. A female monster. And, it’s clear from other strips she has no aversion to eating women as well, though the artist never seems to actually show that (not that I’ve seen all the comics). Also there was one strip wherein she was playing poker with other people eating monsters, one a minotaur. His speciality was devouring women. He even suggested they get several from an escort service for their dinner. So this artist is very much aware of the reverse situation. Still, I’ll bet he/she will never show such a situation. There will never be “Adventures with the Minotaur.” Apparently equality does not extend to that sort of thing, though it’s clear the artist is a feminist. As usual, equality only means equality in the good things, never the bad.

  123. Sam Says:

    Wow…that mythical beast is kinda dumb no? It’s walking around (I presume) Canada…the Largest land mass where its a necessity to travel with a car for people to get to work, and it doesn’t understand? Or it doesn’t get that there isn’t one city in this world (to my knowledge) that’s infrastructure doesn’t work on roads for transport of people and good’s since horse and buggy.

    Hmm….well, I guess its wings are for show, huh?

  124. john Says:

    Hey, thanks for 3 years of comics, I’ve read every one. They’re all either complete eye openers or beyond david cross funny (if that’s a good thing to you? It’s a good thing to me anyway). They’re definitely some of the smartest of any type of anything I’ve seen or heard, and keep me from getting too complacent.

    Keep up the good work,


  125. TentacledBeast Says:

    @SoWhyMe, to put things into perspective, keep in mind that in *real life* women are way more likely to become victims of violent crime. I’d be more than happy to get “equality” in fictional violence if only the real-life violence against women would go away.

    Incidentally, this monday is woman’s day…

  126. LightHorseman Says:

    Poor FPHG 😦

  127. EthZee Says:

    What? WHAT? She wasn’t even lightly injured! I’m glad she wasn’t injured (she may have been traumatised by the incident, though); but my sympathies lie more with the tired, cynical policeman who probably didn’t deserve to be eaten by the 12-foot mythical beast.
    (Okay, he was probably dumb to argue with it, but since I imagine there probably wasn’t any other thing to do that didn’t end in ‘being eaten’ then he probably did what he thought was right.)

    Although! Reading up on wikipedia:

    “There was a single sphinx in Greek mythology, a unique demon of destruction and bad luck.”

    Which fits here.

  128. SoWhyMe Says:

    Boy, TentacledBeast, have you been brainwashed! Gotta stop attending those women’s studues classes.

    On average, men are more than three times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than women. And that includes rape.

    Men are every bit as likely to be a victim of violent domestic abuse as women. In fact it’s slightly more.

    Overall, men account for three-quarters of all murder victims. Yes, mostly by other men, but that’s not the issue here.

    And that doesn’t even begin to cover the rate of violence BY women, which is steadily rising along with “equality,” or workplace death and injury (98% men).

    So just how are “women way more likely to become victims of violent crime?”

    BTW, most of that comes from government law enforcement stats. I have a boatload of sources to back it all (and much more) up.

  129. Sam Says:

    Just once I’d like to see a larger mythical beast clean the Sphynx’s clock.

    Just once.

  130. TentacledBeast Says:

    @SoWhyMe: I’d really like to see your sources.

    This is the first time in my life that I’ve heard husband-beatings are more common than wife-beatings. Must be because women are physically stronger. Oh wait…

  131. SoWhyMe Says:

    I never said husband beating or wife beating. The topic was violent crime (such as assult). When you hit someone it’s assult and considered a violent crime. Women admit to striking first at least 50% of the time. That’s assult. That’s a violent crime. Even throwing something at someone is considered assult even if you miss. Moving the goalposts in the middle of the discussion does not change the facts.

    Sources include DOJ crime data, FBI, Supplementary Homicide reports, CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and a number of domestic violence studies from America, Canada, and England such as:

    Ackard, D. M. A & Neumark-Sztainer Date violence and date rape among adolescents

    D. (2002), Aizenman, M. & Kelley, G. (1988), Allen-Collinson, J. (2009), Anderson, K. L. (2002), The incidence of violence and acquaintance rape in dating relationships among college men and women. Journal of College Student Development, 29, 305-311

    Allen-Collinson, J. (2009) A marked man: Female perpetrated intimate partner abuse. International Journal of Men’s Health, 8, (1), 22-40

    Anderson, K. L. (2002). Perpetrator or victim? Relationships between intimate partner violence and well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 851-863

    To name but a few. I have hundreds of studies, all saying basically the same thing, but I’m not about to fill up posts here with them. I’ve already taken up too much with this stuff as it is.

    BTW, the level of partener abuse in the lesbian community is just as great as in the hetrosexual. I know this from personal experience and I have proof of that as well. Wanna give me an email address I can send you many, many more, not to mention hundreds of specific examples.

  132. TentacledBeast Says:

    @SoWhyMe: Gladly. Send them to tomegalovlito (at)

    “I never said husband beating or wife beating. The topic was violent crime (such as assult).”

    At one point, you said “violent domestic abuse”, that’s what I was referring to.

    “BTW, the level of partener abuse in the lesbian community is just as great as in the hetrosexual.”

    Sure, I can believe that. I’m not claiming that women are inherently better people, just that they are more often victimised due to a combination of factors such as societal bias, physical weakness, and the fact that they are the ones who get pregnant.

  133. SoWhyMe Says:

    I’ll zip them up and send them. I’ll start with the sources. If you want more you can let me know.

    My apologies to all the other readers out there for so many lengthy posts by me on this, but it is my hot button issue and I can’t ever seem to just let it slide. You’ll just have to suffer until I’m banned from the site (not an infrequent occurance) or until others stop responding. Or until I refill my Xanax.

    What do you think violent domestic abuse is? It’s not always beating to a pulp by a long shot.

    What part of men being the victims of crime about 75% of the time did you not understand? That means women are vicitmized about 25% of the time by comparison. Females are NOT victimized more often then males. That’s a gross misconception fostered by the women-as-victims industry out there. There’s a lot of money to be made and power to be gained by perpetuating that myth. Just like the myth of unequal pay and the glass ceiling.

    Yes, they are the ones who get pregnant. And that means they are most responsible for their not getting pregnant. Not the man, not society, not Surgeon General, the woman herself. Personal responsibility, what a concept. If she has sex with him when he refuses to wear a condom, it’s her fault (outside of rape, of course … less than 2% of pregnancies occur because of rape). Getting pregnant is her own fault in the vast majority of cases of unwanted pregnancy. Condom or pill failure is responsible for a very small percentage of pregnancies, and in those cases they are BOTH responsible, of course. In a large percentage of cases she did it on purpose because she wanted “someone to love her” or to keep the man.

  134. SoWhyMe: Alright, that’s enough, got it? I’m not gonna ban you, but i am gonna suggest you save it for another time and a more appropriate venue. You’re free to post here, just try to keep with the general spirit of a given comments section.

    And furthermore, if you have a history of getting banned from sites then either the problem is that everyone is an idiot except you OR the problem is that you lack a sense of tact in expressing your ideas. Learn a bit of self-control and you’ll find yourself getting banned a whole lot less often. Right place, wrong time.

  135. SoWhyMe Says:

    No, they are not idiots, just ignorant of the facts. Thanks for the non-ban response.

  136. Sagar Says:

    Loved it! It’s amazing how MANY stupid things people do “because everyone else is doing it”.

  137. Richter Says:

    Happy third anniversary Subnormality! Hugs to you (manly ones) and here’s to another three years of the best comic on the web. You’re my favourite artist, and your comics always make me smile, laugh and think. Long live the walls-o-text!

    To everyone who loves WB, let’s donate, okay? 20 bucks, even just 10. Support the indie guys.

  138. Annomenz Says:

    OMFG CYNISM! Happy 3rdaversary.

  139. Qeex Says:

    I find it difficult to appreciate the Sphynx as a character. She represents an annoying, whingy side of society that is given too much of a voice through her. I don’t know, she just really irritates me.

  140. RidePlanet Says:

    I was just forwarded this. As an avid new-urbanist preparing for working in the public transportation network design field, I cannot express how much I appreciate how effectively some points in this were made. Wonderful

  141. Thank you so much for Subnormality! I hope there will be many more years of it! And all the best luck with earning your living from this. You deserve it.

    I hope your T-shirts will be of not-as-bad-for-the-environment-as-cotton bamboo and/or hemp. If so, I’m pretty sure I will buy one. (Spreadshirt offers print-on-demand on ecological bamboo and hemp shirts. Maybe others do too, but just wanted to let you know that it’s not hard to get that if you want it. :))

  142. blargh Says:

    I think Sphynx represents a very interesting feature of modern society.

    Humans’ ability to change the world through technology is and has been increasing at an exponential rate for some time while our values and ability to adapt those values are changing in a haphazard, linear rate.

    120 years ago, streets were as Sphynx remembered them but in 20 or 30 years there is a real non-zero probable chance they won’t resemble what we have now. In 120 years we may not even have streets as it were.

    She may find people to eat hard to find in a relatively short time, depending on what kind of personal capabilities humans have in terms of defense.

  143. punk floyd Says:

    The sphinx is pretty.

  144. Yomathon Says:

    Counting both sides of the road, the width of the footpath on any given road is equal to that of most ancient streets. And Oedipus got run down by a chariot. The Sphinx is talking through her hat.

  145. Carless Says:

    Oh, i love this old lady. Okay, the Sphynx really is in a bad mood, but “who sows streets, will earn traffic”!
    I am thinking of printing this strip in really big for our car-free-university-day 🙂

  146. Sai-Sai Says:

    Oh my GOD do I love the Sphinx. I really do personally feel that she’s the best character I’ve ever seen in a webcomic. I have to say that deducing the capitol of Spain has been my favorite so far, but I love seeing her every time she comes out. This one had me laughing quite merrily~

  147. Andy Says:

    Doesn’t the Sphinx sort of undermine her own argument there in panel six by easily standing entirely out of the way of traffic?

    If there was room for her on the sidewalk, why was she on the street?
    And even if she was on the street why was she blocking at least two lanes of traffic? She’s not wider than a school bus, she could easily stay in one lane.

    Not that I expect the Sphinx to care about justifying her irritating-to-humans actions, but that cop could have made a better case on our behalf before being swallowed.

  148. Steve Nordquist Says:

    Why should we converse with cops in our heads, when Sphinxes can handle common concern? Huzzah top predators! (Wait, does she not want to be called top?)

  149. Rev Says:

    “I wanted to walk a place. I couldn’t because of cars. This means everyone else is wrong and I am special.” Wouldn’t that have been a lot easier to write?

  150. Ed Says:

    Yeah Rev, except that wouldn’t make a very good comic though now, would it?

  151. Bassario Says:

    Yeah another awesome one 😀 I’d really like a shirt with the sphinx on it, like in the large panel in the middle of this comic, looking agitated. I love this author.

  152. Detractor Says:

    Okay, this is the third time I’ve seen this complaint and I would like to offer a dissenting opinion.

    Between work, school, a dozen distinct stores, hospitals, ,airports, and literally hundreds of specialized buildings offered by a modern society, there is literally no way to pack everything tightly enough to have all you need within a walking distance, even assuming you want to carry three bags of groceries by hand. And biking simply isn’t practical. In my town the temperature stays under -10 Celsius for seven months and is in high 20s for three of the remaining months.

    Cars are not a fad. They replaced already existing modes of transportation because they were faster, easier, and more convenient. It may or may not suck depending on your point of view, but we aren’t riding in cars just because everyone else is doing it. We do it because we prefer it that way.

    Great comic, though.

  153. Nicholas Mejia Says:

    I enjoy a lot of your comics, but if your going to make a statement using transportation as a basis, do not choose a winged creature (that can fly) complaining about not being able to walk as your argument.

    • Brennan Barrington Says:

      She’s not allowed to fly either without a pilot’s license and a flight plan filed with the FAA and a bunch of other stuff…see (I think) #1000

  154. SotiCoto Says:

    That Sphynx is such a bitch.
    And the policeman was being uncharacteristically reasonable, for a policeman.

    But what it all comes down to is that it is all too easy to make up stupid excuses for why you’re being a prat when you can just eat anyone who tries standing up to you.

    #1. People want to get places faster and with less personal wear.
    #2. Cars appear, and are better than horses for this purpose.
    #3. Society expands to accomodate cars.
    #4. Society contracts to streamline the accomodation of cars to the barest necessity… so if anything goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Still more efficient than the alternative.
    #5. Some immortal beast from mythology shows up, gets in the way of everything, acts like a spoilt brat… and resorts to physical violence when none of her poorly conceived arguments convince anyone…. much the same as she does for every situation.

    To be fair, if I had that kinda power, I’d probably act like a spoilt brat too.

    I really hope we weren’t supposed to root for the psychotic riddle-beast, were we?

  155. Cheryl Says:

    A voice in the wilderness is not heard, I have a great deal of experience and I’ve done the research. What is the benefit to reaching someone like me? I have no voice, no power, no social clout. I am a thinking person which no one seems to appreciate. I like me. I’ve been on this amazing adventure that I wish everyone got to experience. I’ve been pushed to the limit and then some. I feel I am headed toward a true spiritual awKening but I have no idea how to get others to see what I see. People seem satisfied with Disney life and alcohol and consumption driven existences. I have watched everyone around me prosper and my own life become a narrow existence that revolves around a game. It’s not healthy. I’m dying to get my hands on an iPad we can’t afford to feed my obsession. Just when I’m thoroughly fed up and ready to walk away. You pull me back in. The big question is why? Why me? Why? It makes no sense whatsoever.

  156. Avigail Says:

    Smells like Crime and Punishment…

  157. alarashi Says:

    Man loved the ending, poor ex-pink-haired girl just can’t catch a break. XD

    And, I don’t know if you read comments on older comics but I gotta say I agree with what the Sphynx is saying, like cars have become so impractical now that there are so many, I mean the most practical use I see in them is getting to places faster, but how can you get somewhere fast when there are so many street lights and Oh, so many other cars which get together causing traffic jams, and they can’t make streets wider to let more cars through because of the buildings, and then theres pollution and so on and so forth. It’s kinda like they just make little workarounds everytime some “small” problem arises.

    I still dream of the day there will be flying cars, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon. ^^;

  158. Apathetic Medic Says:

    I’ll finish his sentence: I suppose that’s a fair point, but they were visionaries who fought against injustice in society, not for the entitlement to disrupt it at will, and attempting to liken traffic disruption to the deeds of a hero like Mandela or Gandhi is –
    *is digested*

    • Brennan Barrington Says:

      Really? Look at it this way: car accidents kill 30,000 people every year in this country alone. What would you call someone who fought to save 30,000 people from genocide? We call Miep Gies a heroine because she tried to save Anne Frank and her family, even going so far as to try to bribe the Nazis to let her go (a crime punishable by death at the time). If the Sphinx’s actions cause a few people to swear off driving downtown, that represents a net benefit for society through reduced traffic, reduced pollution, improved physical fitness, and probably fewer deaths due to accidents. All that utility quite possibly equates to that of saving the Franks, particularly long-term. Of course, the Sphinx does eat people, and unlike Mandela or Gandhi it seems to be impossible to lock her up or hurt her, so…

  159. Mystyr Nile Says:

    I’ve just decided to start calling her Pinkie! Hooray!

  160. cover72 Says:

    Though I know it’s pointless, are you guys aware that feminists in the Arab world – which means those feminists who do not dedicate their whole efforts into terrible First World Problems, but to stuff like women being literally locked up to their homes, beaten, being denied the essential liberty to move themselves to their friends etc. – are considering car ownership exactly the thing you guys in US have this great urge to “ironize” and whatsoever? And they’re not alone.

    I know it’s hard for poor liberals and hipsters Stateside, in the worst and hate-deserving society there ever was, to understand, so just let me try explain graphically. From 1948 to 1989, my country lived under communist regime. “Real Socialist”, more exactly. There was state censorship — not the “peer pressure societal censorship” you and Marcuse talk about, I mean physical censorship where the government decided what job you would do, locked you up in prison if you didn’t and therefore, if you “misbehaved”, sent you mine Uranium for sub-minimal wage and barred your kids to have higher education than florist or mechanic. And informers and surveillance were everywhere.

    Now, you usually were able to find, test and eventually even trust some friends. But you hadn’t any freedom with them where you lived, because someone might hear you and GOTO the censorship part: in the city, you were scared into self-censorship.

    But. If you managed to get a car, you could get out of reach of the secret police and informers. While you were on the road, they were unable to track you. And you were able to get yourselves and your friends to a place far away from the informer-infested urban areas, so far you would never be able to walk or bike plausibly.

    And thus, in the late communist era, car ownership equaled liberty at last.

    For women in the majority of Wahhabi/Salafi muslim world, it’s similar. They spend most of their lives locked up in houses where the older wives or men rule with an iron hand. They are completely dependent on men to accompany them on the streets. But if they are able to drive their own car, they have a place where they’re themselves: no one to control them, to spy on them, to order them. Safe refuge, constantly on the move and thus out of reach of the control-obsessed freaks.
    With a car, they also have the means to transport themselves independently on men – after centuries of forced immobility and isolation.

    That’s why arab femminists are risking jail time to fight for the right to drive these darn, horrible cars.

    And even in modern western countries, cars and motorbikes offer the sanctuary, the asylum of being on the move in such a way no one could force his or her way to you: you drive and you’re finally alone with your thoughts. Not locked up in a black hole in the ground, but wandering through the unknown on the sun (or moon) light.

    So, as much as I understand why you hate cars, love bicycles and believe you are slaves to a silly culture, I’d just like to break this message what car could mean to someone to you, if you will.

    * * *

    And that was just car as a means of liberty. Talking about it’s general utility, let’s talk those accidents. Again, what you’re writing, dear westerners, is First World Thinking. Cars may kill 30k people Stateside alone; and bicycles might kill million worldwide. But that’s one side of the coin. To quote Chanin Manopiniwes, “In rural areas, the motorcycle connects villages, it lets you bring your products to market. It takes your kids to school, to the hospital,” he says. “It empowers you.”

    Cars and bikes kill people in accidents, yes. But they save much more people: there are 48,000 ambulances in USA alone. Now, 30,000 lives lost per year vs. 48,000 lives saved at least every month, more likely every day… And these are just lives we’re talking.

    What about the empowerment: when using a car, you could commute to a new job in an awkward location to your home and thus finally stop being a slave of the low-income job that was within your bicycle or pedestrian reach? Is escaping a low income “slavery” you criticize the other day worth the congestions of blue collars in old Chevys and Fords?

    When using a car, you could bring your kid to school safely instead of sending him through gang-infested streets AND still make it to your shift? Is the difference between as-good-as-dead juvenile gang member and educated kid with a chance to live worth the flood of moms in Grand Voyagers?

    Don’t get me wrong: Prague, the city I live in, is boasting one of the world’s finest public transportation systems (and a black hole on money) and I use it every day. But I used to have a car when I wasn’t working mainstream job in a mainstream place, because that’s the only thing public transportation serves well. Again: is having a job at all and getting home at 03:30 instead of 04:20 worth having and using the evil car?

    I am writing this not to convince you to use the car. You know best what’s good for you.

    I am writing this to make you switch on your empathy.
    To understand why car could be so important to someone else.
    To second-though the negative motivation people like you use all the time: the “force the evil cars out of the city” attitude; the “if you don’t have millions for super-ecological Mercedes, you don’t have a right to commute by car or bring your kid to school in it” hypocritical mentality when you entrap the poor people deeper into the poverty because they don’t have the money needed to be super-cool-ecological and make streets less smelly to YOU while they’re trying to grasp a life.

    Empathy. Pure and simple.

  161. CKTrey Says:

    Will this be available in the store?

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