An artist paints (or draws) what he sees. How it is viewed is what makes it interesting.
In this particular case, aside from the remarkable artwork, the subject is interesting. I think most people can relate to someone who sabotages their relationships like that. Ya just wanna help, but ya can’t!
first time commenting, not for the lack of oportunnity but lack of courage,everytime i’ve wanted to comment, i’ve felt that someone else had said everything i wanted to say, so i just read all the comments and fell glad that someone else things like me…
about your comics, a simple and beatiful artwork with a simple and deep message, not a neutral opinion, not something anyone as never thought about…what makes it wonderful is that so many people can identify with your comics, you just make obvious what so many people are thinking but are too apprehensive to share
about this particulary comic…made me really sad…reminds of so many old people i see everyday that try to start a conversation with random strangers…everyone needs to be heard, and i’m sure everyone has something interesting to say…
and sorry for my english, i’m not from an english speaking country
I suspect that, if you go around interviewing people at random, you certainly would get a bunch of interesting stories, not because everyone is interesting, but due to self-selection. Interesting people would be the only ones willing to talk, or the only ones you’d notice to talk to. We boring folks would just ignore you and be ignored in turn.
This is the ‘show-don’t-tell’ version of Cat and Girl’s ‘Freedom means having nothing left to lose.’
I wish I could really believe that everyone is full of interesting stories. Whenever I get a long story out of someone, it’s always a tirade tainted with selfishness and projected judgments, punctuated by “and then he/she left me!”
This is a pretty awesome strip. I’ve always wanted you to round out more of your characters.
simon and schism, I think, are actually onto something.
I’m actually finding it really tough to like this character now. She seems just too self-absorbed for me to identify with. She also doesn’t do a very good job of justifying her lack of ambition. She obviously wants to matter, or else she wouldn’t act out this fantasy by interviewing herself. She can’t believe what she says in the last panel, or she’d solicit stories from other folks instead of simply archiving her own. She looks cute enough that she could get legitimate interviews with real subjects, and in this digital age, even make a name for herself (however obscure) for it. If, of course, she really believed this idea and had the ambition to pursue anything outside of herself.
I’ve worked in outreach, and this calls to mind the basic lesson nobody really figures about homelessness: there are as many reasons to be on the street as there are people on the street. This and “The Little Signs” are two of my favorites for that reason. Just keep writing with your heart!
I’m totally with WR on simon’s comment. I mean, from the moment you’re old enough to know about yourself you start cataloging thing… Things that I specifically don’t know, and never will unless you tell me.
Even if you just sat in a box for ten years, I’m positive you had some interesting thought that no one in the history of the planet has ever had before. I want to hear about that.
Everyone’s filled with information. Information is what makes that awesome computer game you play, or those amazing CGI in that movie you saw. What happens when you put together all the information contained in everyone in the world?
this comic was kind of a cross between that last comic you did a while back where the girl that was supposed to be working at the restaurant was actually homeless, and becoming “Heavyhanded: the comic” which a LOT of your comics are, no offence, but i’m pretty sure you’re aiming for that, what with the walls of text and all, so it’s ok. this comic just kind of…exists. i don’t really see a message, it’s just some lady who i’m not entirely sure is homeless, maybe just really poor, talking about shit. it’s just kind of there. i’d like to see a filmed version of this though. or possibly an NPR version, with maybe some gorillaz in the background, like that guy above said, or possibly some stuff like “ceremony” by new order or something that sounds like that, and look at this, i’ve become what i’ve criticized, a gigantic wall of text, but it’s ok because that’s the whole point.
I still don’t like the girl, and I’ve read the comic plus several comments maybe a dozen times over and thought about this a ton. I’m finding her to be one of Subnormality’s most believable characters in recent memory, though, and I’d like to thank you, WR, for making me think this much.
I feel like you know me O_O. Or maybe people are more similar than I assume. Your comics are my therapy.
For a short while I felt alright, but my self-absorbed social anxiety came back today. Reading this helped me get my focus back, her dialog is exactly what I try to think when I’m freaking out. Priorities. Thank you sir.
Let me add my applause and the traditional internet cry of “awesome” to those elsewhere in this thread!
I do find people interesting – everyone has an interesting story. I like this character – she reminds me of a couple of friends (one female, one male) from different angles and they are both superb non-judgemental, warm and accepting people.
By the way, I don’t think you need worry too much over the reveal. It’s not like the story needed a ‘punch’ line – I think the whole thing was the punch-line as it were. It’s a great life viewpoint.
Great pacing, if that’s the word people knowledgable about comic-theory use. Great depiction of a complete person with very few pictures, and, in fact, very few words.
However, and don’t see this as criticism, I saw a documentary once that in fact interviewed a homeless person. Interestingly, it was not about homeless people in the first place, but about a different theme alltogether; mixing his statements with those of people from all other strata of society.
Winston: Yes it worked pretty well — in terms of me digging who she is and what she’s doing — the last panel rang a little false though since I got the sense (and this may be wrong) that you were trying to deliver an O Henry type twist ending. My dream version of this comic would probably have the focus widening several panels back from the end so there was no false impression of an intended surprise.
Through the entire comic I kept getting flashes of Spider Jerusalem. By the end I was sad, a little depressed, but you were definitely channelling shades of Transmetropolitan. It also reminded me of my year at Alan Memorial.
I hardly know where to start. I’ve been hooked on this strip since I stumbled on it way back whenever. The dude who said he wanted to marry the girls you draw was right on. I even want to marry the demon chix. Okay, I’m already married so, never mind, doesn’t matter. More to the point: Winston, shit, man, your art is brilliant, your ridiculous walls of text are brilliant, your style and sense of color, composition, all the art-school stuff, it’s all there. A+ to you and fuck-all to anybody who doesn’t get it.
So I never really got the idea that she was just interviewing herself until I read through the comments. Of course, that may just mean I’m dumb as toast.
With regards to her personality, I think J. Rhode does bring up a good point about the character being self-absorbed. After all, she isn’t interviewing other people; she’s interviewing herself. Yes, she does have a story, but as so does everyone else. In a sense, we OUGHT to be absorbed – in people and their stories. By focusing in on her own story, however, she falls into the same trap that everyone else in the world is doing. She ignores the other people around her, focusing her attention inward. Why didn’t she tell her date’s story? Why he’s using online dating? Why does he like Star Trek? How does he feel about homelessness? At the end of the day, she’s little different from the rest of us, who are all wrapped up in our own little worlds.
Also, there is the issue of whether she is refusing to judge herself. I would say that she IS judging herself. She just isn’t using the metrics that most of us use. Take her comment near the end: “If there was some pill you could take to fix all your physical issues… I would never fuckin’ take that pill.” She revels in her weaknesses and failures; she incorporates them into our being just the same was as we incorporate our merits into our sense of self. If she truly wasn’t judging herself she would say “physical issues or no physical issues… it doesn’t matter either way.”
Perhaps at the end of the day, it is impossible not to judge oneself. In order to go about our day to day lives, we have to make choices, we have to have ambitions and goals (even if those goals are to be opposed to having ambitions and goals). In doing so, we make judgments that certain things are better than others. “I’d be a better person if I conformed to the norm” and “I’d be a better person if I didn’t conform to the norm” are both value judgments, and ultimately judgments of the self (our self-value would be dependent on how well we conformed or opposed the norm). To truly abandon self-judgments, we must adopt a sense of total apathy. We must love nothing and value nothing. And that’s not a model that most people would embrace.
One big question I had at the end of this comic: why is she homeless? It seems like she is deeply dissatisfied with her life as is (Winston says she wants to matter, yet she also notes that she doesn’t fit in.) Maybe the lack of resolution is for the best, though. The story kind of ends on a superficial note. She’s spent all her time musing on the importance of our individual stories, but never got around to fixing her real problems. I think to some extent we can all relate to that… like how I just spent half an hour writing up a monster comment rather than searching for a job. Self-absorbed, self-judging, desperate to matter yet unable to find one’s place in the world… I think I can really relate to her, and that makes this comic a truly wonderful one.
I know I’m just adding to the clamor of approval that you get all the time, but if everyone has something to say, even if it’s the same thing sometimes, it must be worth something, right? Your webcomic is my favorite; it’s meaningful and beautiful and has frequently moved me. Thank you.
For all you psychonauts out there on the eff emm channels, some timely advice. Don’t buy a Logitech G13 for gaming: the hardware is wonderful, much like Sony stuff, but the software suck hockey players’ pet donkey’s balls, and they don’t give a rat’s hoot for support in any meaningful way.
Winston, do you game? Is you an RTS fan, RPG or FPS? Is the graphics card in your PC a Sparkle FX5200, or are you running triple SLI 480s? Do you work on a Cintiq or a do you sketch in crayon and colour in photoshop?
The Modesto Kid: I was kind of originally going for the big twist ending, but i then contented myself in something less abrupt. But you’re right, it could be even less abrupt than it is and still work, or even work better.
Mark: I’m glad you had so many questions, you clearly got a lot out of it and that makes me Rather Happy, i reckon. “Self-absorbed, self-judging, desperate to matter yet unable to find one’s place in the world…” well said indeed, really glad you took the time for the monster comment.
Trenino: Elementary, my dear Trenino. And based on your own work, not overthinking is a tremendous ability to have if you ask me. (check out his blog, it rules). As for the recipe, it’s a combination of insanity and porous skin. And massive overthinking, sadly.
PS: The article that she talks about on the second panel is Ebert’s article about video-game and art? Because if it is, I agree: it’s rather stupid. Or maybe not. I don’t know, my opinion doesn’t matter ^^
Mees: Naw, I don’t see much chance of that I’m afraid. If you want to make your own though just send me an email and I’ll see what i can do vis a vis high res files.
PS: Don’t feel silly asking!
Arthur: That article was just beyond stupid, don’t even get me started on roger ebert and his Crusade Against Joy or whatver his deal is. For the leading film critic to show that he has no understanding of art on a fundamental level just blows my mind. I’m not big on insulting people i don’t know, but when it comes to attacks against Art i get fuckin’ mad. Mass Effect stayed in my mind longer than any movie i’ve seen recently, therefore end of story.
Plastic Beach is alright. It plays a lot like a continuation of where “Demon Days” was heading, but much heavier on the prog-like ideal of the concept album.
It doesn’t have the astounding tracklisting that their debut had (though “Empire Ants” has quickly become one of my favorite Gorillaz songs), but like their sophomore album, it grows on me a little more each time I listen to it, turning an early dismissal into head-nodding approval.
I’m with you, WR. Ebert missed the point this time. He just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because of his old age, maybe it’s because he has a completely different definition for art, maybe it’s because he’s just… wrong.
PS: Sorry for the english errors. I’m brazilian, so… ^^”
Na, a comic I can enjoy! It took me some jumping around to figure out that she was interviewing herself, and then I connected the blond hair and glasses with the Christmas comic.
What caught me the most (In trying to understand was ist going on) was that it was the same character in different situations, talking about slightly related things. The ‘glue’ that held the different situations together wasn’t really revealed until the second-to-last panel. Good job.
As for Roger Ebert, his definition of art is what keeps him from considering video games to be ‘art’, and I can live with that. Video games are a fundamentally different way of telling a story than movies or books, so they might not be art in the old sense. On the other hand, video games offer a way to explore and build universes that books, movies, and TV can’t achieve.
Gods, I love this all. She’s so beautiful and so smart and at the same time she’s humble and simple. I believe beauty is self acceptance + personal improvement; getting better at what you are without going out of your way.
If Star Trek guy doesn’t call her again, he’s a frickin’ idiot. I hope that ST Guy is a character from a prior strip, and that we get to hear him talking about the same date.
I used to hang out at a homeless enclave on Maui because my dealer lived there. He went out with this girl from New Zealand who vaguely resembles your character. She wasn’t quite as interesting, or perhaps just interesting in a different way. Certainly nice enough, up until she tried to kill him in his sleep.
Winston, please fulfill my inner geek tendencies, unless it compromises your privacy. I am interested in the technical aspects of your creative process. Sketch’n’scan, and retouch in gimp/photoshop? Sketch fully realised from the start with a Wacom Cintiq? Mouse and MS Paint (just kidding 🙂
You really ought to think about having high resolution PDFs of your strips available from on on-line store, for people to download for a nominal fee and take to a local print bureau for print, framing, lamination if required, etc, or tee-shirt printing of whole strips or individual frames (I can think of a few that would go down well, personally I would love to have some WR tee-shirts).
One is the premise that “everyone are interesting”, but that few actually get to tell their story/get interviewed.
This ties into self image and self worth. Many people believe they are uninteresting and have nothing to say to others.
That’s not true of course.
The caveat is that while everyone aren’t interesting to everybody else, everyone are interesting to someone else.
Also, because Zoe has a sense of ego and self worth, she wants to tell her own story.
It’s a natural desire with everyone. Everyone wants to be seen and cherished.
However, since she lives on the street, she’s part of the invisible people who other people mostly ignore. Ergo, she doesn’t get a chance to tell her story, much.
In part because, while she can talk to anyone not everyone can, or want, to talk to her (which ties into the ‘Little Signs’ comic btw).
This touch upon her situation as homeless.
Being satisfied with what you have is not the same thing as being lazy or not having any ambitions. Likewise, being ambitious and working hard to realize those ambitions doesn’t automatically mean you are a ruthless sociopath climbing over the backs of your fellow men at all costs for empty material rewards.
If either of those extremes were the norm, our world would be a much harsher and unpleasant place. Something to keep in mind considering the usual hyperbole bandied around on the internet and in the media.
Which brings us back to Zoe. She says she has feelings of not fitting in, and that combined with being happy with what she has made her choose to live on the street (or that’s the impression I get). The ambitions of “regular” people did nothing for her, so why be part of the system?
At the same time she doesn’t live in a vacuum, and to get contact with other people she has to interact with those that are part of the system. Which opens her up to the preconceptions and prejudices they often have about homeless people.
It seems she doesn’t judge people too harshly for it, though she seems a bit sad that those people don’t rise above their prejudices more often.
This ties into why we don’t see her interviewing other people (in this comic) I think. Simply put, without a situation where they don’t realize she’s homeless most people won’t talk to her, even though she is interested in their stories and is capable, perhaps even eager, to both talk and listen to them.
You can’t have a portrait of a character who says she is interested in other people’s stories and then directly shift to her listening to other people’s stories. Then it’s not a portrait of Zoe anymore – the whole dynamic of the comic shifts.
‘Little Signs’ was an example of her both talking and listening to “other people”. That exemplified how she is interested in other people.
This comic doesn’t have that focus; this is a portrait of Zoe. How she perceives herself in the world.
That means it is going to be egocentric around her – that what a portrait is.
Blaming her for not talking to other people like she claims to like is to miss the context of this comic, I feel.
It’s like watching the summer olympics and complain about them not showing hockey. ‘Isn’t that a valid sport too!?’
This doesn’t make Zoe any better or more moral than anyone else, but does make her people. And because the homeless stigma, most “regular” people don’t look on the homeless as people most of the time.
That is further complicated by people being people.
Ergo, Zoe is likely more bitter and cynical occasionally, even if this slightly sad but easygoing manner we see here is her default.
Likewise, most “regular” people will consider her people and talk to her now and then, before reverting back to putting homless in the ‘invisible people’ category again.
After all, people being people means they don’t hold one attitude all the time. It shifts; with the mood, with new experiences, remembering old experiences, by forgetting things, encountering people and things in different contexts (‘Little Signs’ again)…
People doesn’t come with a manual and doesn’t respond well to “this is how [insert name] is”. Mood, personality, it’s all a dynamic process that is in constant shift.
‘Interviews’ and ‘Little Signs’ has shown two parts of the person Zoe.
That is far from the whole picture.
Still, I think she’s pretty awesome. Most of Winston’s characters are, one way or the other.
Jeez, if more people spent their efforts working on the problem rather than ‘having an opinion’ maybe there wouldn’t be such a problem. Suntiger, a word to the wise. After a comments thread gets over a certain number of posts (and the comic is more than a few days old) most people just look for replies to their own posts and ignore any new comments. It’s too much work, and it befuddles their feeble wit. Dunno, blame MTV, cable TV whatever. It looks like your comment actually has had some effort put into it, so I feel bad for you (sorry, I skimmed it, I was just looking for replies to my own posts), so maybe you should save your future efforts to when you can post them in the first thirty or so if you want people to actually read it? Yes, thanks for asking, I am actually a turnip, don’t let that put you off.
Henry Turner: I disagree. There’s no bad time to leave a comment here, and there’s definitely no bad time to leave a huge, insightful comment like Suntiger’s. Even if “most” people may not read it, some people will, including me, and some is enough. If a comic isn’t worth commenting on after a few days then i might as well just pack it in right now.
I occasionally drift back to your comic as I aimlessly wander the internet and I am always drawn in to your dialect on society and its norms. Your comic is engrossing and very interrogative into our current times. Keep up the good work.
And re: the preview image from the next strip? Holy carp, imagine barbequeing those thighs.
It’s the fat that adds flavour to meat, right? So you would expect the Sphynx to eat mostly obese individuals, which would result in thighs larger than Oprah’s. I reckon KFC would commission a squad of mercenary commandos to take her down, pluck her and douse her in the Colonel’s special recipe (ooer!), and step 3, profit.
I’m uncertain whether I’m sexually attracted to the Sphinx or not. For one, she has fur (rowr!) but against that the sharpness of her nose would puncture your skull. Soft, fluffy and cuddly versus eat you afterwards.
Winston, you should make a strip where she tries to score some catnip.
Your webcomics are some of the most awesome ones I’ve seen on the net. Ever since I saw one of your contributions to Cracked, I’ve read and re-read most of these webcomics several times, and I love them.
I should say congratulations on your success, but I’d rather say thank you for making me laugh and think so many times!
A thorough kind of sadness where you are torn between accepting yourself and submitting to biological impulses for acceptation. Then again we all interpret according to our experiences. Kinda makes me want to wrestle with my own introspection and categorize myself in an effort to direct life efforts. Kinda makes me want to talk to homeless people – talk to everyone. Good comic
I’m a little late but I have to wonder if *any* of you readers are women.
If this woman had been homeless for any length of time she would have almost certainly been raped, probably more than once. That’s why you don’t see a lot of non-insane, lone, homeless women. It’s just too dangerous.
She doesn’t even have a dog.
I call fantasy. Interesting, but sheer imagination.
selenology: For what it’s worth, i’m definitely aware of such things, and i don’t feel there’s anything in the comic that contradicts or precludes any of what you mention. You’re absolutely right about what you say, and i’m really glad you brought it up, but in my defense this comic was about being alone and so having a dog pictured in frame, for instance, would have undermined that somewhat. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t have one though. I feel there’s sufficient ambiguity to allow for plenty beyond what’s pictured.
Hey Winston, I occasionally find myself coming back to this page every couple weeks via the odd chance encounter on cracked (which I’m usually led to via facebook anyway) and though I’m terrible at maintaining a habit of revisiting interesting websites like this, I’m always profoundly glad that I get at least one hyperlink to your comic every month.
I’ve never commented before, probably won’t comment again, but I had to comment this time to tell you that this strip hit me particularly hard, though I’m not sure why. Maybe I relate to the character in some obscure way (perhaps it’s the Kurt Cobain complex from the first panel) or maybe I was just interested in what she had to say.
I wish I could make a more in-depth analysis, like other comments here, but my hangover isn’t letting me think very straight right now, so I’ll just leave it at this;
Thanks for creating such a brilliant comic. It feels like it meant something to me, same as a good song or movie can.
Keep up the fantastic work & who knows? Maybe I’ll comment again someday (perhaps when I’m a little more sober)
Hey. I really like your thoughtful writing and its always a pleasure to (literally) stumbleupon your comics. The only problem I have with them is that they’re hard to read due to the massive amounts of all-caps text. I’m not really sure what you could do about it. But I figured I’d mention it, because it probably deters other people from reading your fantastic writing as well. I mean, more fly’s with honey than vinegar, right?
welp… sorry for the douple post.
anywho, this is how it was supposed to go.
thanks for your comic versions of everyday life; hell, this is defintly what most people contemplate at the end of the day. hell, as i get older, these are them things i go over day after day in my head. its good to have someone around who can put into words.
I’ve read this strip several times, and it didn’t ever occur to me that she was interviewing herself until I read the comments. I thought the whole point was, “Everyone has something to say (even homeless people, who are people too).” The fact that the interviewer wasn’t pictured just seemed appropriate because the topic is Zoey, not the interviewer.
Anyway, now that I’ve read perhaps EVERYTHING on your site–including your old syndicated strips–I’m just sadder because I know that Zoey was a college student in another life (or even this one perhaps).
I was rolling it around in my head the other day, and I know I’m still a kid, but being homeless wouldn’t be too bad; I could collect enough welfare to eat, and then the rest I could give to charity. No job and no commitments, I could do whatever I want; volunteer, be a punk, whatever
holy craap, this is absolutely amazing! thank you so, so much for this! I used to be homeless and this is so incredible, it’s really accurate or at least i can totally relate it to my experiences and the people I met… you’ve really ‘captured’ it, even though there isn’t really an ‘it’, but honestly this reminds me very much of my own experiences and living on the street and it’s just unbelievable how well you… er… understand, basically yeah, and it helps me make sense of my experiences too and it’s so goddamn refreshing to find a bloody piece of something about a homeless person that isn’t some variation on ‘poor homeless people they need our help’ or ‘they are deranged druggies’ or ‘they are dirty freeloaders’. So thank god for that and thank you.
this comic literally changed my outlook on life. And like the poster before me, thanks for so many of the previous strips. this is a fabulous comic, and sometimes I feel like you’re inside my head, because some of the things are just too well timed to be coincidences.
Sorta get this one. Except for the homelessness thing.
I’ve got an alright home in a ghetto part of London, and a pretty decent job which I know is awesome but STILL feels constricting…
BUT that isn’t what this is about, is it?
Not 100% on what it IS about, but I’m pretty sure of a few things it isn’t.
And I don’t think anyone is worth interviewing. Nobody at all. Which is the same as everyone being worth interviewing, because at least everyone is the same that way. I just don’t really give a fuck what any of them think or are doing… because they taught me not to. And that is fine too.
I’m over 60% more genuinely insane than most people who call themselves insane. Trufax.
Also nobody gives a fuck, so I make sure to shout louder.