The Race

October 17, 2010

Oh my god, it’s a new comic. Thanks for your patience.


191 Responses to “The Race”

  1. Carlos Says:

    Wow. Just… wow.

    You totally hit the nail in the head this time.

  2. Mainge Says:

    Been going through your walls of texts from India for the last two years, you hit the spot every time WR, Cheers.

  3. Mox Says:

    I was actually waiting for this.

    I am more than satisfied. Incredible.

    Well worth the wait.

  4. Andrew Says:

    Good stuff, as always.

  5. Dran Says:

    So the last pitfall was pride, right, and dependence wasn’t actually an obstacle? Though the presence of the ‘shamed’ cars on the dependence car just makes me think it’s more of a the-losers-are-the-real-winners type thing.

  6. George Says:

    This was a good comic, concise, no wall of text, well drawn, well colored, greatly conveyed your message, but I disagree with the message nonetheless.

    The man in the yellow car was alone, but he still completed a tremendous feat. It carries a reward and sacrifice, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing to reach the top alone. A lot of people hate other people, and the fact that a single person can make a trip to the top like that is a testament to the human spirit, not a fools errand.

    • Sam Says:

      that would be true if the obstacles were set up as a challenge for one person (i.e. like a race) but life doesn’t have a start and a finish line outside of birth and death (unless that was the idea, in which case, of course there’s no one at the winner’s circle, everyone’s dead.). “life isn’t a sprint, its a marathon” and other cliche quotes. maybe you’re looking at it like its an actual race, where winning would be a “testament to the human spirit”. i’m not going to say what i translate it is right, or what you said is wrong, but try to look at it from different perspectives.

  7. TheBrummell Says:

    This is one of my favourites, nicely done.

    I don’t disagree with George, but I think this comic really puts together a message well. Thanks for putting this up.

  8. Dan Says:

    I’m not sure I see it as implying such a pursuit as a fool’s errand, there certainly is no denying that such an accomplishment warrants respect. I think he’s right that it can be sort of lonely at the top though, especially if your only reason for getting there is to be at the top, due to the common (and in my opinion, misleading) belief that doing so is/should be the end-all goal for everyone. If you reach it, it can be disappointing if you were somehow expecting more than just the respect that comes along with being #1. Everyone’s different, and what ends up being most important is knowing what you want…if being the best is it, then by all means shoot for the stars, but don’t go along with it just because you’re told to do so.

  9. E. Dejeva Says:


  10. Tim Says:

    Great comic. I like how the prize at the end is just a crumbly old trophy, that looks like it’s about to fall apart in his hands.

    One thing: maybe it is time to ease up on the long-winded apologies for not having drawn any comics in a while? You are getting to the point where you won’t just be worrying about drawing the next comic, but also meta-worrying about whether you’re worrying too much about drawing the next comic. Speaking from experience, this worry-feedback-loop will only interfere with your creative process; it certainly won’t help you produce comics any faster.

    Remember: you don’t owe us anything. Just work through your ideas at your own pace, and new ideas *will* follow on from each previous one – that’s actually how the brain works, provided you don’t interrupt it by trying to force it to happen. It’s just a question of trusting that it will continue to function in the way it is supposed to.

    • Jimmy Says:

      Good Sir,
      is your last name Buckley?

    • Richter Says:

      >>> One thing: maybe it is time to ease up on the long-winded apologies for not having drawn any comics in a while? <<<


      Please Mr Rowntree, try to stop apologizing all the time. You're awesome, you're talented, your comic is great, you don't owe us anything. No need to undermine yourself on your own blog. Self-confidence is about doing your best and who cares what people think. We're your fans. No one will ever complain that you're late or whatever. Heck, you're not even charging us for any of this; no need to be sorry.

      Next time you feel like apologizing to us for not getting us a comic, slam our faces in the car's window and shout : "YOU'LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT!"

      Like this :

      Oh, and awesome comic. Didn't understand the ending, but awesome nontheless. ๐Ÿ™‚



    • Tim Says:

      @Jimmy: That is an outrageous accusation!

    • Tim: Yeah, i know, i’m already there with the meta-worrying so maybe i’ll just kind of shut up for now. Having said that though, i really do hate to miss updates and i don’t wish to ever be comfortable with such absences.

      Jimmy: Whoah, let’s not say anything we can’t take back!

    • Quirel Says:

      Now, Winston, let’s not be /too/ harsh. After all, the esteemed Mr. Buckley DOES manage to update regularly, unlike others around here.

      There, I said it. Now you do yourself a favor and quit harping yourself for not working on a timetable. Mr. Four-Panels-Two-Days can do it because he’s using a format that he likes for it’s familiarity and economy. YOU, on the other hand, are not using stock drawings, are not sticking to a single layout, and are not cribbing backgrounds from Google Images. Admittedly, Mr. Buckley doesn’t do that as often as he used to, but I digress.

      This is coming from someone who is also releasing (Less professional) content on the internet with a small following. Your fans come here because they like the comic, because they like what it has to say. You are taking time to make a quality comic, and they understand that. And I’m sure most of them would rather hear tidbits about what you got your inspiration from, what you were thinking while you drew this, rather than “I’m so sorry for not getting this out sooner, please don’t lynch me.” Because that’s not what we’re here to do.

      As for the content… Well, I guess I get satisfaction from being a little uptight. I try not to make a fool of myself (Shame), I come from a family of alcoholics (vice), I’ve yet to dabble in romance (Heartbreak), I battle depression and I absolutely fear dependence. You’re afraid of being blind? Try not being able to go for a minute without thinking about your next high. Try needing someone else to feed you and wipe your butt after you go to the bathroom.

      Will I need to engage or fall into these things to make friends and achieve satisfaction? Maybe. So far, not really. We’ll only know for sure at the end, and I’ll race you there. Last one there is a rotten egg. First one there loses.

      Oh, and good job integrating the comic number with the truck’s license plate. Twas a nice touch.

  11. Pete Says:

    I really liked it. Perhaps the simplest – in the best meaning of the word – comic you’ve done in a while. I live in Shanghai, which is an incredibly ambitious place, full of incredibly ambitious people, and career success has its tangible rewards, the message of the comic rings true.

    Besides, we don’t know whether the yellow driver recovered well from his surprise at the lack of acclaim and strolled off whistling, pleased with himself and already setting new targets. Remember, he can’t see the dependence truck.

  12. GerryB Says:

    The big question for me is whether ‘dependence’ is purely on others, as evinced by the couples/talking pairs at the end, or is also of the ‘substance’ variety. If purely the former then this parable’s a comparitive one of the loneliness of ‘eyes-on-prize’ versus ‘enjoy-the-ride’ journeying.

    If it’s the latter, and we’re talking drug/alcohol dependency, then I wanna know who’s driving that truck and are we nearly there yet?

  13. Colin Says:

    Just to reinforce Tim’s comment- much as I keep looking at the site in the hope of seeing a new comic, don’t sacrifice quality to quantity.
    Brains are casseroles, not microwaves- they come up with the goods in their own sweet time.

  14. TF Says:


    I’m not entirely sure what the message behind this comic is.
    As a person who tries very hard to be like the yellow racing car driver and avoid all those obstacles as much as possible (or at the very least learn from them after having slammed into some of them), I can’t tell whether the message at the end is that I’m having less ‘fun’ and missing out on some non-descript ‘thing’, or that there are so many people in the world who immediately give up that I can’t avoid feeling like I’m completely alone.
    Perhaps it is a question of pride? Maybe I am proud…

    Either way I’m miserable now.
    Your comic has made me miserable.

    p.s. hey, could you be a pal and help me set up a paypal account at some point? Thanks. Obligatory Smilie, xoxoxo, LOL and some other internet-speak bullshit.


    • Jen Salik Says:

      Seems to me more like if you haven’t endured any hardship through your live you will end up “alone”.

      You will be on top you will have accomplished so much but it’s lonely on top.

      Plus if there’s nothing you need to be comforted for, then there’s no one to comfort you. Hardships are those things that bind people together.

      And there’s always some negative aspect to every positive thing that happens. Without it you wouldn’t even know it’s positive.

    • DH Says:

      To me, the comic’s message seems to be that all the vices, emotions, trials, and hardships are a natural part of life, and to try and fight them in hopes of winding up above all of it will leave you alone and ultimately unsatisfied.

      In short form: To pursue perfection on these terms is to avoid living one’s life.

      In another sense… You’re human, so why try to be above humanity?

      Honestly, as someone who spent most of their life (until a couple years ago) trying to be the driver of the yellow car, this comic hit me pretty hard. Sometimes I still have trouble just letting go of the arbitrary restrictions and somewhat misguided superiority complex that I place upon myself and just enjoying the imperfections of humanity. Because really, what are pride and self-assuredness when they come at the expense of happiness and meaningful relationships?

  15. Dave Says:

    I’m really impressed with this.
    Like Tim said above, you don’t owe us anything. In addition to that statement, you and other readers gave me something for my brain to chew on. For free. Unless you fall into the cycle that our praises when you do something meaty for the mind are heaped upon a man undeserving or grow an ego the size of a blimp about it and either of those makes you crazy I don’t think anyone’s gonna be bitching about the rate of updates.

    All that said, Dran gave me something to think about concerning the Dependence truck and the presence of shamed cars on it. I’ve had a hard time lately with the dual nozzles of shame and embarrassment, but I’ve also been getting a helping hand from those close to me to pull me out of the muck.

    So, maybe I’ll think about that last little period of a panel a bit more than the winner’s journey.

  16. NATHAN Says:

    i agree with tim, i love this comic strip and i think your doing awesomly amazingly awesome, dont worry about when you update, with you dont feel it then it wont be good, you just need to work on it when you can and try to find muse

  17. I’ve been reading comics since the early 1970s, and IMO yours is the only comic today worth reading. And this one is one of your best. Like all great art it can be read in different ways, and each way gives a clear and powerful message. Definitely poster fodder.

  18. Otter Says:

    I wish I could finish my race, but fact is I’m stuck somewhere, and I know the problem I just don’t know the answer to it. Everybody thinks I’m just hypochondriac and wants to help me with stock phrases and clichรฉs, but it doesn’t help sh*t and they are there with there pink glasses still on thinking that “Well I did all I could” not even trying to see the roots of the problem.
    You see, in my country if you suffer some mood disorder or mental problems you are automatically a nut, a lunatic madman and should be in an asylum. Psychology doesn’t have respect here, they treat it like something magic. I seen advertisements for “Aura seeing” and other Bulls**t like that in a psychology clinic, that tells it all.

    I want to continue, but I can’t no one helps.
    The person who said “Humans are naturally born evil” was right.

    So this comic means something very different for me right now.

    • Barnacle Says:

      I think it’s like that in most places. Illness of the mind is also a taboo where I live, and victims are shoved out of the community.
      I think it has to do with predictability and trust. Somehow people don’t trust other people, when they can’t accurately predict how they would react in a certain situation.
      BTW: You already seem to have begun solving your problem, as the first step is always to identify it. Most people have problems and never realise it.

      I wish you good luck.

    • Abel Stearns Says:

      What an unexpected place to find this kind of comment. Culture in society can cause a lot of backlash for people who (legitimately) suffer with “dis”orders and who are totally marginalized.

      In my experience the people that have the most success in dealing with difficult situations also happen to be the people with the most effective support groups in place.

      Good luck, it sounds like you are *not* getting your needs met where you are.

  19. Jen Salik Says:

    Just brilliant!

  20. LafinJack Says:

    I was expecting the finish line to be the edge of a cliff.

  21. GK Says:

    Great comic. And it’s absolutely true – the loneliest place is beyond the finish line. Always ๐Ÿ˜

  22. Leif Czerny Says:

    Even more remarkable, since it’s using only few words. You’re quite a trickster with concept visualization. It’s some kind of grace to us that you’re around.

  23. Doom Says:

    It is lonely at the top, I guess…

  24. Sean Curry Says:

    Great comic, Rowntree. One of your best.

  25. Adrian Says:


  26. Coco Bear Says:

    TF, i don’t think the message is that you are prideful to avoid all the pitfalls, or that you are having less fun, or even losing by avoiding them. The message, to me, is that we shouldn’t worry about avoiding everything life has to throw at us, because no one is going to avoid it all. The people on the truck aren’t having fun, or being happy, because they fell to a pitfall, but rather because they are surrounded by others who share experiences with them. So the secondary message is that “Happiness is other people”.
    Also, i don’t think that everyone who falls to a pitfall has “given up”. The people on the “Dependence” truck certainly haven’t given up on finishing the race, they have just decided they can’t do it alone. Which isn’t bad, accepting your limits, and help from others, is a giant step forward, not a show of weakness.
    Anyway, just my two cents and, as always, i love the comix Rowntree!

    • TF Says:

      Yes, I guess I can see that. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

      I also forgot to say that you’ve outdone yourself once again, Rowntree. But I believe that was already obvious by the number of people here whom your comic has inspired.


  27. Those fuckers! Says:

    Our shit!

  28. Andy Brown Says:

    Just discovered your blog (though I run across your graphic off and on.) And I thoroughly enjoyed this. I hope you get more satisfaction from finishing a comic than your driver did from their gauntlet. Here’s hoping you enjoy your lonely success for just long enough, before grabbing a six pack (or whatever) and flagging down the dependency truck for something less pure. Cheers.

  29. Robin Says:

    Shit Happens and it Sticks, but not only to yourself ๐Ÿ˜€

  30. TentacledBeast Says:

    I didn’t like this one. Companionship and dependence are related, but they are still two different things. You can be independent and still able to connect to people.

  31. Ogre Says:

    Incredible as always Rowntree.

  32. alter ego Says:

    “What have I become? My sweetest friend,
    Everyone I know goes away in the end.
    You could have it all, my empire of dirt…”

  33. Leo .W Says:

    This is amazing. More than worth the wait.
    Stop worrying about reaching deadlines Winston, take you sweet time and then the comics will be better.

  34. Leo .W Says:

    Want to say something else real quick.

    All the obstacles in the race are perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone deals with them at some point or another, it’s part of being human. The key to overcoming them is not to try and avoid them, but to embrace them.

    And I don’t think the dependency thing refers to one person depending on everyone, but everyone depending on each other. Co-dependency brings us closer together. There are a lot of people who say “It’s ever man for himself”, but wouldn’t it be so much nicer and more rewarding if we could learn to take care of each other? Community, I think it’s called.

  35. Melanie Says:

    Excellent! One of your best, which is saying a lot.
    I would love to have all my favorites collected in a book that I can leaf through whenever I’m feeling lonely.

  36. thedrawrf Says:

    Very clever, as usual. Dependance is so often labeled as negative now that we forget that it’s really not too dirty word. Still, “interdependance” might have been a better choice. At least in psychological terms (no, I am not that guy who took a psychology course once and then drew his phd in crayon), dependance has a negative conotation and the fact that the guys are “having a free ride” if you will doesn’t help your message if you are saying that relationships are more valueable than complete individualization, which is definetly true. Still, good comic, good times. I think more while reading this weekly than I do in all of those dang core classes.

  37. Jimmy Says:

    This I know is true artwork, for the subject behind this peice is so subjective,so many many different opinions about its meaning being formed, and none of them neither completely right or wrong

  38. Innominate Says:

    So if we avoid all the pitfalls of human experience, we necessarily avoid humanity itself?

  39. Milo Says:

    what a nice birthday present.

    spot on sir, and beautiful as always.

  40. Fur Trader Says:

    This is one of the very best Subnormality comics, ever. Thank you.

    I very much wish to purchase a poster of this one.

  41. Kim Says:

    Life is no fun and very lonely if you rush through it without any real human experiences, emotions, or mistakes.

  42. Trevor Says:

    Love it, would love to buy the poster!

  43. YK Says:

    I guess it’s lonely at the top?

    Also, I wrote a short poem (or the start of a long one) a few weeks ago. Not to plug my own stuff, but it’s nice to see some of the same ideas from smart people.

  44. Christian Says:

    short, sweet, and oh so true. one of my favorites.

  45. Sila Says:

    Great comic, as usual.

    The way I interpreted this was much like the way Coco Bear and Leo did. All of the pitfalls along the way are things that everybody goes through at one time or another, and while they’re inconvenient, they’re quite universal, which I think the last couple panels represent nicely.

  46. DNTMEE Says:

    Thank you, Capt. Obvious. It also seems to me that most of the great things done in the world were, and are not done by social or dependant/interdependant people. It’s the oddballs who set themselves apart who tend to do the most remarkable things. Most of the rest of the herd just keeps grazing the grass and engaging in endless small talk.

    Now, on the other hand, if you’re talking about the race to gain wealth and power for their own sake, then I would agree with you and the comic, that being the most futile race of all.

    • Barnacle Says:

      The futility of the race is probably intended by the artist, but that doesn’t mean the comic has to be understood this way. Like all good pieces of art, it is open for interpretation.

      I think just because you got no real trophy and there is no crowd there to cheer you doesn’t mean you’re not a winner. In fact, I think that most wins in life are like that.

  47. Kalina Says:

    fwiw, this is the only comic that has me just as interested in reading the comments discussion as seeing the comic itself.

    The only other places I do that are blogs and Hacker News. Maybe this isn’t a comic, but a social commentary blog in a comic format. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  48. Moaem Says:

    JPEG compression isn’t at its best this time. What’s wrong?

    • Good eye! Thanks for pointing that out, i had my settings adjusted for something else and then forgot to change them back when i made the comic i think. I’ll fix it when i get a chance.

  49. William Says:

    Ha! Clever! At first I thought you were going for the more cliched, cynical “life is a meaningless race” angle, but this was a welcome subversion!

  50. Max Navajo Says:

    My interpretation is that it is by the aches and pitfalls in life that we find each other and become closer. Many think that if they can just get to the top then everyone will love them but there are always stories and fables of rich people who have everything but are lonely.
    The people who “fail” learn the most, see the most, and live the most because they’ve been through a lot but it isn’t all bad because they learn through their mistakes and by living their lives and continuing to move on despite the rough parts, they are happy and find others. My best friends are those who’ve I help though bad times and they’ve helped me too.
    Finally, this comic fills me with a lot of hope because it tells me I don’t have to be perfect and wildly successful to be happy because no one is perfect and in any case, the top isn’t great, but in fact lonely, so don’t worry about it.
    It’s in the ditches and dusty corners that we find our humanity. And it’s our humanity that brings us together.

  51. James G Says:

    I think this comic ends up catching a few universal experiences, including those of the yellow driver as well. Life is not a single race, but its own series of challenges, and at times I expect most people have had that feeling of empty achievement. Whether its because of a lack of recognition, disillusionment, or just the emotional crash which comes with achieving a long strived for goal. A few years back, I read an article looking at the depression that often follows achieving life goals, finding that there is another page after the end. It made me realize how under explored a topic it was, at least in the media I had been experiencing. Whenever goals are presented as being empty, this is generally presented as something inherent in the nature of a particular goal, rather than something more fundamental to attaining a target.

  52. Me Says:

    A book titled by Paulo Coelho, once said:

    “the winner stands alone”

  53. Gonzolizer Says:

    I read it like this: you expect life to be a race – you get a race. You expect life to be a funride – you get a funride. With all that your choice entails.

  54. Fai Says:

    “The race is long and at the end, tally with yourself” -The suncreen song

    Ditto on poster.

  55. Meghana Says:

    I always never found a way to describe this exact feeling till today… Thanks for an incredibly simple comic for a very complex issue!
    Your comics are worth the wait.

  56. Meghana Says:

    the human race!

  57. DNTMEE Says:

    After thinking about it some more, I see the comic as showing the quitters of the world and how few actually try all the way. The race to succeed at something was just too hard for most and they gave up and went home. “Ah heck Orville, this hunk of crap will never fly, let’s just go back to fixing bikes and go home.” “Gee general Patton, fighting the Nazis is too hard, lets just quit and go home.” “Who are we kidding, President Kennedy, we’ll never get to the moon.” “Land a robot on Mars? What? You must be kidding!” Overall, I think the winner was given short shrift in the comic and the quitters praised. But that is the liberal mindset.

    • JG Says:

      What is this “liberal” mindset I keep hearing so much about?

      Anyway, the comic seems to be about people who just sacrifice everything to become (what they perceive to be) perfect and lost any social connections they ever had. If being alone and successful is something you want to glorify then what ever, the nature of the beast is that nobody else really gives a crap. It does not seem to apply to our great inventors, who mostly did in fact keep their humanity. The exceptions to this (people driven mad by their work), this could be seen as a warning to.

  58. DH Says:

    Wow, Rowntree.

    I really don’t see how your comics are so damn good so consistently… Maybe it’s because you don’t try to make something out of nothing on some regular schedule… And likely because you’re also just a smart guy with a strong bit of insight into human nature.

    Seriously, though, please don’t feel pressured to provide content at any particular interval. You’re the artist, make the art on your own time, for the sake of quality if not the sake of your own sanity and artistic integrity.

    Also, this particular comic was the final nail in the coffin that inspired me to not only comment here, but to give you some money (you sure as hell deserve it). I don’t even need a poster… Though the artistic journey one is still incredible, so I suppose that works out.

  59. JP Says:

    My thoughts on the comic: you don’t have to succeed to be happy.

  60. anonymous Says:

    There is no material reward for living correctly. He lived well, but expected recognition for doing so. He is a fool. The right path is walked for its own sake.

  61. benS. Says:

    Our yellow-car Hero has finally mounted the white T, waving his decaying braun/beige Trophy…Hmm..No sign of any ongoing party! ???

    I can’t see any real problem here. Well, a fistful of existent-ial ones, maybe. Nothing serious.
    The setting sun is still warming his back. There might even live rare fringe-toed lizards and pink windmill bats here.. Beware every irritating moth! !

    Now, let’s forget about depression/vice/sloth*/hell-fire/ and shame. And SUSY.

    This is part of Reality Zone. A real, pastoral idyl.

    * a deadly sin!

    ben, the jelly frog.

  62. dan Says:

    just amazing. thanks, keep them coming.

  63. RandomReader Says:

    The right comic at the right time. As always.

  64. breathesleep Says:

    I’ve been reading this comic for a few years now, and I have to say this is one of my favorites so far. From reading other comments, it seems like a number of people were interpreting it differently from how I understood it. To me, the message is that by avoiding the pitfalls of life (or by simply never experiencing them) a person misses out on a huge part of the human experience. The people who ended up on the “dependency truck” HAD experienced things, like the oil slick and the shame goo, and were shown communicating with each other, perhaps sharing in their mutual “failure.” For me, the comic was saying that its human nature to be imperfect, to experience hardship, and that those experiences (And in particular, being able to depend on others) brings us together. Isolating yourself from pain will, in turn, leave you lonely.

    Sorry if I’m rambling. TLDR, great comic, keep up the genius ๐Ÿ˜€

  65. Someone Says:

    Very well made comic, with a great thematic being shown. Is not just the final objective that matters, is the journey that’s more important and interesting, besides of the unactrativeness of the negative points, it’s all part of the experience.

    How much value would you give to a good situation/moment if you didn’t know the worst part of life?

    Truly, a comic that shows many things in just one page.

  66. Rafi Says:

    I have self-actualized and am a Human, Being completely on my own. I can do whatever I want; as a wise old Jewish man told me back when I was slicing meat at the deli, I don’t have to do anything but die. I feel free. I have faced myself.

    Where are the others who feel like this so I can share existence with them?

    Oh, right. They’re all the way back there. Still getting here, but slower because larger bodies don’t move as quickly as Independent ones.

    Did I do it wrong? Should I have just attached myself to others, and reached my destination later, but in comfort and security? I would go back, but I don’t think I can because I have already been here. And now I am doubting my independence, because like Randy Newman says, Oh, it’s lonely at the top; and wouldn’t a true independent not feel lonely?

    It is good to know others feel like this.

    In gratitude to your understanding, my webcomic friend, I have written you a brief poem. I hope you enjoy it, but if you do not I will probably love you anyway.

    And yes, I’ve swum the thrifty cataract
    and landed me upon a beach
    where I can count ten millions grains of sand
    in two heartbeats;
    and yes, the sun sings songs whose chords I hear,
    and yes, all shades of light caress
    with vibrancy my chattering fingertips.
    My dears, my heart still jumps
    to go to sleep alone. My dears,
    the day I see your eyes inside the sea
    will be the day I’m slaved to being free.

  67. yarteries Says:

    I think the message here is it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. life’s about experiences; even if you fuck up it’s better to live with that rather than not take part at all

  68. Can i just say that this is like the Best Comments Section Ever? Reading all this has just been friggin’ amazing. I’m really glad that the comic turned out to be so pleasantly ambiguous, and my only regret is that i don’t have time to properly join in on the conversation just now. Helping out at my old day job this week, manual labor etc, rather a bit tired, mental state best described as: “grooooooooooooooooo… Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh..” Must…go…to…bed… I’ll be back though..

    • mechagodzilla Says:

      Interesting how everyone’s main deal was like, “This is what it meant to ME”. Can’t help but think there’s something cultural there.

      Glad it was the ambiguity that made you happy though. Reading the titles it felt as direct as a 19th century political cartoon, but I am delighted to assume that things are not so simple.

    • Those fuckers! Says:

      Actually I kind of thought I would be instantly lambasted as a troll and expelled for pointing out what machodogzilla has now also pointed out. Not that the 19th century political cartoon thing isn’t a common occurrence here, but I guess I’m less accustomed to it. Would people mind being informally polled as to how they feel about it? Inquiring mind wants to know.

  69. Natalie Says:

    I for one am hanging out with the sloth gang.

  70. Walkerofskies Says:

    excellent use of the right angle

  71. Acting girl Says:

    Wow, that was epic! Right on! I’m sending this to all my friends…

  72. parsec Says:

    The only truly independent people I know of are those creepy mountain men who grow/hunt all their own food/clothing, live off the grid and never return to civilization. I imagine even “self-fulfiiled” people (those who seem to be the ones who would consider themselves “winners” in my interpretation of the comic’s metaphor) go to the grocery store or buy clothes made by someone else. That’s a rather semantic explanation, but darn it, that’s just how I force it to conform to my previously held beliefs.

  73. Leeland Says:

    I stay in the vice part

  74. Line Noise Says:

    A touch of vice, or virtue, like life’s spice, will not hurt you.

    Or to put it an other way.
    “Those where not obstacles but just reasons to join the race.”

  75. Ato Says:

    Wow, I love this.
    the surface symbolism is fairly obvious
    that life is a race, and there’s lots of things we need to avoid. but wow, at the end there, how you showed that the “perfect” ones end up so lonely. Powerful.

  76. Mitchell Grosz Says:

    Awesome ideas in most of these comics. This is I believe is saying, don’t kill yourself to win, because no one will be there to be with you celebrating.

  77. Kayley Says:


    The ‘punchline’ (as it were) is simply perfection.

  78. Spike Gomes Says:

    Eh, I understand the concept, but don’t necessarily agree with it. I’m a yellow car driver. I don’t expect anyone to cheer my successes (or failures, because no one is perfect and succeeds at everything they try). I don’t even expect anyone to care. It’s the challenge. I fucking thrive on the novelty of doing new things that are challenging and not really rewarding either monetarily or socially (in fact, I fully recognize that the outcome of my lifestyle leads to a very truncated social life, due to amount of time studying and training). If the race is over, then there’s the mountain to climb, the language to learn, the new skill to master. If others want just cruise and connect with others, well, more power to ’em. We’re all motivated by different things.

  79. NoobSauce Says:

    This was amazing
    it has touched me on a level your comics generally don’t reach

    I’d always heard of “carpe diem” but I was like “eh I shouldn’t use that as an excuse to do stupid things”
    but then this comic is like “haha yeah, sure, go on and be perfect, have fun with that, meanwhile, every real person ever is gonna go over there and have common ground”

  80. Vaskezz Says:

    Pure fucking wisdom. Great colors. A very fine piece of art.

  81. Tomas Says:

    And here’s my interpretation:

    The sight of all that emptiness hit me harder than anything else you’ve done since “Captain Estar Goes to Heaven”. It was the first cautionary fable I’ve read that actually described me.

    Mr. Yellow thought he was doing something, but it wasn’t until the end that he realized his “victory” was worthless, that he had literally done nothing. He wasn’t having an adventure, he was avoiding one. He had lived a life of caution, too much caution. I know this, because I made the same mistake. I can say from experience that a life spent avoiding every potential danger is not worth living.

    Buy the way, did everybody notice what what was covering the ground around the track? That’s right, flowers; the ones you’re supposed to STOP AND FUCKING SMELL.

  82. Tuco Says:

    I wonder how much thought people put into all those overwrought explanations. It’s a webcomic!

    I only have one question: what about the blue transport truck?

  83. Manel Says:

    yeah! life is a tuff race

  84. Tim Says:

    Having read through people’s responses, I’m wondering if anyone would have reacted differently if the truck had been labelled “interdependence” instead of “dependence”? Because dependence implies a certain level of parasitism, which is obviously considered a negative quality, whereas interdependence is more representative of the sort of symbiosis that has made civilisation such a wildly successful adaptation for the human species. It certainly reflects my interpretation of the comic more accurately, anyway.

    • I guess i’d say i was kind of thinking of the two words as interchangeable, trying to find a positive aspect to dependence. But yeah, it could easily just say interdependence.

  85. cruiser Says:

    bring me the s clay williams…sphinx and deamon girl…cant see jack shit outta my eye

  86. Terry McCall Says:

    Ooh… no alt-text.



    I think what everyone else thinks and has said before me. But also:

    * The yellow car passed the truck, so maybe it’s going to the same place. After all, we’re but tiny specks on a tiny speck in and infinitely large universe. Dust in the Wind and whatnot. Then again, I heard there’s one hell of a party floating around somewhere…

    * The blue truck is both (+&-)? The lower section says “Caution!”


    Thanks again. But really though: I dunno what these other louts are talking about, but you need to stop slacking off. What do you think, that this is Hell or something? =p

    • Dave Says:

      You know, much as everyone’s ascribe their own meaning to this, myself included as you might’ve read, you bring an interesting thought to the work: What’s it mean to Rowntree?

      Maybe our intrepid comic artist is being a bit more introspective than usual… if that’s possible.

    • Dave: To me it was about the folly of trying to be perfect, of trying to avoid risk and similar such lessons i need to learn. It was phrased perfectly by Innominate in a comment above: “if we avoid all the pitfalls of human experience, we necessarily avoid humanity itself.”

  87. Hey sweety! Any chance I could get a request strip for my birthday? It is Sunday, and I would adore a strip with the Sphinx!

    I know it is presumptuous to ask, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?


    • The request is much appreciated, but i can’t provide this week unfortunately, i’ve already got something else in the works. For what it’s worth though, happy birthday, and i’ll try and have a sphynx comic for you in the next few weeks at least..

  88. Russ Says:

    Don’t know if anyone else has asked but I’d love that as a poster for purchase…

  89. Alex Says:

    I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it (didn’t read all the thousand comments) but I think the comic is also saying that although most of us fall to vises/depression/etc, we are not too worse off, not being #1. The imperfections in us make us have things in common and help us bond. The people that can become #1 are strong, fast, smart, etc… but they don’t need anyone and therefore can be lonely. One example is a monarch who, with all the privileges and an upper hand is still often lonely as he cannot identify with anyone else around him.

  90. JD Says:

    Lol. Very witty.

  91. NoVan Says:

    Fuckin’ A, that was a *good* one!

  92. monica Says:

    the human ‘race’, lovely

  93. Remy Says:

    I love this. Your comics are one of the true few reasons I love the internet.

  94. Alathon Says:

    Maybe it’s just me.. but I imagine that guy stepping down off the podium, and looking behind it. He finds a comfortable chair and a side-table, the table containing a good cigar, a glass of good scotch, and a folded copy of the New York Times. He sets the helmet down, seats himself, takes a sip of the scotch, unfolds the newspaper and puffs intermittently on the ‘gar while enjoying the paper and the vista in turn.

  95. Joe Says:

    I like how the guy in green has his arm around a girl dressed in yellow on the truck. I’m guessing that she was yellow-car-drivers girlfriend. I like to think so anyway

  96. Dan Says:

    love this. makes a lot of sense.

  97. Said Says:

    Very impressive. How about illustrating philosophical principles? Ethical or metaphysical? I’ve always wondered if it is possible and it seems that, if anyone could do it, it would be you.

  98. Greg Says:

    You need to stop making comics. You suck at it.

  99. jonhx Says:


  100. Firstmate Says:

    I simply DON’T GEDDIT!
    Whatever you you were trying to say I couldn’t hear it.

    (I do listen…)


  101. StClair Says:

    So that’s where the teleporter in #525 drops you, right?

  102. Well done, great stuff!

  103. Garrett Says:

    I love you, comic writer person. Not in a creepy internet way, more in like a Dalai Lama way. It makes me happy that there are people out there with minds like yours.

  104. Mitchell Says:

    What good is winning if nobody is there to see it?

  105. Anonymouse Says:

    I think the comic is more about growth then anything. The yellow racer manages to avoid pitfalls and obstacles but a the end realizes that he might have missed out on something unlike the other drivers.

  106. Exx0dsus Says:


  107. Toms Says:

    I love your art work. Please keep doing this!

  108. Andrew Says:

    This is my favorite comic ever of any I’ve ever read/visually interpreted. It means a lot to me now.

  109. Tom Says:

    Is the last panel greed? Is this irony? If the race is life everyone finishes.

  110. Stefan Says:

    This was the Best thing I’ve seen this year! Mindblowing! Thank you for clearing things out in a beautifuly artistic way!

  111. Omar Says:

    You know I’ve just discovered your comics thanks to stumble upon and… WOW they are amazingly drawn, but the message on them… This one hit me like a bullet in the head to be honest… I really like the message you set at the end of them, kudos and keep the brutal work you do to get people on their tracks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  112. Aducutlas Says:

    Very interesting, in avoiding all the worst have to offer, we can end up alone. I like.

  113. Verlier Says:

    Amazing concept.

  114. venu Says:

    Gr8 very true .. ๐Ÿ™‚

  115. spade Says:

    this reminds me of a line from devotchkas clockwise witness:
    If you win the rat race
    If you come in first place
    Then a rat is all you will be

  116. Cherie Says:

    I kept hoping to see “disappointment” written somewhere when he got his trophy.

  117. Allthingsingoodtime Says:

    I immediately thought of the song “The Distance” by Cake

  118. sad how tru this is you never do nothin but do you your all alone with fake people around you

  119. nick Says:

    “the race is long. and in the end it’s only with yourself.” baz luhrman. LAAAAAAAAAAME!!!

  120. Mike Miller Says:

    Well done update of PP! Thank you!

  121. spider42 Says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how absolutely amazing I found this simple one-pager!
    Remarkable work, I will definitely be pointing other folks in your direction.

  122. Mandy Says:

    I stumbled upon your work and I instantly fell in love with your work. You are very talented.

  123. Ben Says:

    The moral, don’t try to excel, instead succumb to all the pitfalls of life and make friends who are likewise failures.

  124. Emily Says:

    Make the most of what you have with the people around you, even if it means falling behind. Don’t try to rush life.

  125. pern5150 Says:

    that’s stupid.

  126. Bosco Says:

    Guess nobody thought this race was interesting enough to watch… kinda like your facebook page.

  127. Clare Says:

    I really like this comic, can relate to getting bogged down by all of those things. A nice reminder to keep driving and not expect any praise if I do “make it”

  128. charles hickey Says:

    I liked it.more!

  129. Floooow Says:

    I never ever leave comments!

    But you deserve it, you rock man. Seriously

    And this comes from france

  130. This is brilliant! ” Failure is a part of life. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t lived” …Don’t know who said it, but it’s the universal truth! Good work!

  131. Nohemรญ Says:

    re: Perfect.

  132. Elias Garcia Says:

    I really enjoyed it… I dont think is that lonely over there, actually it doesnt matter

  133. System-Weckschney Says:

    Like most good art, the message its trying to convey is whatever message you receive from it.

    I see a man, focused, driven, talented pushing for excellence, while leaving everyone else behind without even realizing, he has failed. He is alone with no one to share the satisfaction of winning with. How do you win with no one to lose?

    If you look at the drivers on the “Dependence” truck, you’ll notice one has his arm around the other, another is waving, two seemingly having a conversation. Not to mention a free ride…

    Not saying loosing is good, but apparently neither is winning at times.

    I’d rather be a loser who keeps good company than a winner all alone.

    OR everyone jump on the band-wagon before you’re all alone!!!! I don’t like this concept as much…

  134. Tom Says:

    This is incredible!

  135. Horizon Star Says:

    Everyone has his own troubles, doesn’t matter win or lose. It’s not because he’s winning or losing.

  136. How powerfully apt this all is.

  137. Aiarashi Says:

    *applauds silently*
    Man, geez, I cannot express enough how much I like this page in particular. lol
    I mean, I love the “race” analogy/pun, but looking at the whole thing it really makes me think of the paradox that exists in human existance. Like how concentrating too much onbeing successful means you’ll have to leve a lot of things behind that you might enjoy, as opposed to doing more mundane stuff that you nonetheless like, but at the same time feeling kind of unfullfilled. I just love the fact that someone drew a comic that made me think of that. So, thank you. ^^

  138. ava Says:

    thank-you. you put in pictures what my brain only sends to me in scattered waves of feeling.

  139. Sam Flowers Says:

    Its about not avoiding the shit feelings that everyone gets in life. Without the sour what would sweet be?

    • tony Says:

      Amazing bro! You inspired me to now put in words what you just put in drawings. I give you my respect because finding a concept to put this idea on drawings is much harder than using words!

  140. Eliot Kemper Says:

    Just want to say, I keep coming back to and thinking about this picture all the time. Reminds me to remember to enjoy life and be fine with indulging in normal human pleasures, to find time for friends and games and watching tv, not just spending my whole life stuck in a study-work-sleep-study-work-sleep-wash-rinse-repeat cycle.
    So, yeah, thanks. I love your comics. Keep doing what you do.

  141. Vinay Says:

    Brilliant . Loved this. Makes me feel a lot better about myself in some weird way ๐Ÿ˜€

  142. david Says:

    OMG this is so brilliant.

  143. Doc Boyle Says:

    I have watched the motorheads pollute and destroy the Baja desert for years. It’s still happening. Great piles of trash and tires left behind to never rot in that climate. Insensitive, mindless destruction of another country.

  144. jer Says:


  145. Fawaz N AL khunaizi Says:

    Don’t be selfish.

  146. this is an awesome way to put it. thanks

  147. asd Says:

    OMG this is so brilliant.

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