the tradeoff

December 24, 2010

Heyyyyy, one more comic for whatever year this is, hopefully it has some merit or something ’cause it’s all i got. And now i have to go! But i will see you in whatever year it is that’s up next.

merry Zagmuk,


PS: Huge thanks to you out there who made 2010 just an awesome place to be. Thanks to everyone who plowed through the Walls of Text, and left comments, or emailed to say “YO.”, or bought a poster, or sent a ridiculously generous donation (you know who you are). And thanks for being the kind of people who are willing to put up with my every-two-weeksishness of late, it means a lot to me. So just…Thanks. I hope y’all have a really good holiday season. Handshakes all around, and the promise of more comix to come…

147 Responses to “the tradeoff”

  1. Joe Says:

    Laughed out loud at “Goes To Eleven: Discount Watches”

    Thank you for another great comic. Just what I needed to make my Christmas complete.

  2. MRH Says:

    Thanks for a great comic to end off the year! Keep up the good work!

  3. Mechman Says:

    Those who check the filenames wish you a merry Christmas in turn.

  4. hellblade Says:

    love the analogy. nice one.

  5. Nick Says:

    Merry Christmas WR, and here’s to another year of you making my day.

  6. Morty Says:

    The geek in me is compelled to say that it’s 93.333%/6.3333% rather than 93.75%/6.25%. But I’m sure you know that, and are just tweaking the geeks.

  7. S. A. Ravenheart Says:

    One thing I’ve noticed in webcomics as large as yours is that the act of scrolling down can actually be a dimension of the art form. In this particular comic, you start with a rooftop view and pan down like how many holiday movies start off. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but I’d like to see you play with the unique aspects of a webcomic a little more, perhaps with rollover scripts and whathaveyou, as one visual artist to another.
    And like everyone else, I think the sliding puzzle simile is absolutely genius. Merry Christmas!

    • Yeah, i definitely agree about the scrolling down thing, i’ve kind of done it by accident a couple of times, but i may kind of deliberately work with the idea in the future. I hadn’t really even thought about it, but a couple of people’ve mentioned it now and i’m glad of that for sure.

  8. DNTMEE Says:

    The problem I see with the “we eat animals, so I can see why you eat people” part of the conversation is that if my sushi started talking to me, I would not eat it. Assuming I’m not going insane and it really is communicating with me. There is a definite difference between eating an animal and eating a sentient being, no matter the shape or relative size. So the sphinx eating people and people eating animals is not at all the same. The only thing I don’t get is why someone doesn’t kill the sphinx. The legend of the sphinx at the gates of Thebes died just by throwing itself off a wall. A high powered rifle and it’s over. Being immortal is not the same as being invulnerable.

    • Tzenker Says:

      I don’t think mythology features a sphinx that was killed. Assuming an element of magic, it could be very possible that they can only die through suicide.

      Anyhow, animals clearly communicate, and you frequently see little signs that they’re not as dumb as we think.
      I remember when a friend of mine bought a little statue that resembled a stylized cat, which she put down by the corner of the hallway. When her cat walked around said corner, it spotted the statue and leapt back as if it had seen a demon. It was very obviously afraid.
      In my opinion, that involved some kind of abstract thinking on its behalf. The statue didn’t look like a real being, and can’t have smelled like it either.
      There are many (better) stories of animals behaving in ways that suggest some intelligent and abstract thinking (see Google for examples).
      There is, of course the communications aspect, but animals clearly communicate with us, even if not through a clearly formulated language.

      (And no, I’m not a vegetarian.)

    • Esn Says:

      The notion of sentience is not black and white, but a sliding scale. There are many animals who are more cognitively aware than young or disabled humans.

      This National Geographic article may be eye-opening:

    • TS Says:

      It is just a comic strip, albeit one with a rabid fanbase that always takes it as profound – whether or not an individual comic is profound. He is just using characters and pretty pictures to expound on points.

      @ESN – That’s why in general humans don’t eat great apes, dolphins, dogs, or other critters we view as having some degree of intelligence.

    • Rob Says:

      “in general humans donโ€™t eat great apes, dolphins, dogs, or other critters we view as having some degree of intelligence”

      Um, given that Asia actually contains *most* of the humans, you might want to reconsider that statement. It only holds up on this side of the Pacific.

  9. vlad Says:


    aslo thank you for another great comic

  10. Random Reader Says:

    Merry Zagmuk! to you as well. And another great comic, ty.

  11. YK Says:

    Lovely stuff. I’ve definitely had conversations like this, except I was mostly missing classes instead of buses ^^;;

  12. Yayyy! The Sphynx, the Sphynx!

    I bought a cup of coffee for you, not because I was all that fond of it, but because it would make a nice gift for someone else who needed that message. And in doing so I came to a realization that I thought that I would share with you.

    A lot of your strips deal with alienation or an examination of the human societal condition or what have you, but to my mind none of them quite sum up your work as well as “Oh the search for solace”.

    I have it printed out at 11 X 14 on my wall, framed, but even at that size it is a bit too small to really effectively read unless you are right up on it. Really, it needs to be poster sized. So, with that in mind, for what it is worth, I offer you this for a return holiday gift.

    We are all of us unique in our own minds, and there are a LOT of us who get tired of people staring and pointing and whispering and what have you. But in this one strip you have explained a philosophy that needs a refresher ever so often to keep going and deal with it while we wait on the endless lines and fight with one another as we delude ourselves about free will.

    You should offer this as a poster at a size that would make it easier to read, thus easier to refresh that lesson. Maybe a 16 X 20 if not an 18 X 24 or 24 X 36. Please and thank you.

    And no, I’m not kidding about it being up and framed.

    Happy holidays hon. And here’s to a fantastic new year. And thank you for giving me something to look forward to every 2 weeks or so that is stimulating, challenging, insightful, thought-provoking and entertaining!

    Sabrina Pandora
    Atlanta, GA

    • Thanks so much for the pictures, that’s really awesome and i am honored for sure. Happy holidays to you as well, and thanks so much for the exceedingly kind words! I think back on certain comix and i’m like “oh, nobody liked this one, it was rubbish,” and then someone comes along and tells me it’s their favorite one, and that most assuredly makes my day. The possibility exists to make a lot of the comix available as prints, so i’ll consider that for the future as well..

  13. schtroumpf Says:

    D’awww, an intellectual and heartwarming comic for the holiday season.

    Speaking of which, I really want to know what the (I’m assuming) prehistoric Zagmuk festival was like. My guess is that its observance involved dressing in animal skins/horns/antlers and hopping about while chanting, and sacrificing some poor, I mean honoured, schlub. That’s all I got.

  14. Tibi Says:

    have a fantastic holiday season and an even better new year, winston. thanks for making this wonderful comic.

  15. Michael Eklรถf Says:

    Thanks for a wonderful 2010, and keep the walls of text coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. You’re pretty proud of that little sliding puzzle simile, aren’t you? ๐Ÿ˜›

    (It’s a good one.)

  17. GerryB Says:

    I wanted to save this until tomorrow so I could say “Christmas has come early!” but then I… oh.

    Winston, this isn’t your usual golden Frankenstein’s mirror held up to other artists to do better; it’s better – the best present you could give to regular readers who know the history of these two: the ability to love what’s going on. Happy frickin’ Christmases all round to you and yours, and to others here on the downstairs seats of the Subnormality bus to brilliant. Keep on drivin’ sir, and happy new year!

  18. GeoX Says:

    God bless us, every one!

  19. paranoide Says:

    It’s OK (about the every-two-weeksishness of late). I always procrastinate the reading of your comics about two weeks myself, so we’re even.

    Thanks for all the laughs and merry whatever-you-celebrate.

  20. Danielle Says:

    Great, thought- provoking comic as always ๐Ÿ™‚

    Merry Zagmuk or Yule or whatever it is and can’t wait for next year’s round of comics

  21. No Hablo Ingles Says:

    Fukkan dig it macksimum. Luv u winstun.

  22. bfwebster Says:

    Merry Zagmuk to one of my favorite and most articulate web-philosophers. ..bruce..

  23. Mark Sundberg Says:

    Yes, it does rule. Most assuredly.

  24. YO. (which Means “I” in spanish)

    Yay, they are friends.

    Have a good 25th of December and an excellent end of the year.

  25. rainycity1 Says:

    Merry Christmas to those to *make* the file names as well! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Jack Says:

    Great comic.

    Did anyone else notice every few panels that he was counting them? i.e. โ€œGoes To Eleven: Discount Watchesโ€

    • Deckhouse5 Says:

      I went back and re-read it; you sir are a genius,

      Also that should be Rowntree Marmalades!

    • Ancillary Character Says:

      There’s actually a hidden number in every panel I think. I couldn’t find 14 and 17-19 though.

    • Joe Says:

      Dude! that’s awesome! and the panel where you see them through the window, the window forms an “8”. You rock Winston

    • Leak Says:

      That’s probably because the sliding puzzle metaphor only goes up to 16 and needs a missing tile… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Great job on that, Winston… ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Tzenker Says:

      There is one in 14. Check the center of the pink hair.

      I haven’t found any for 17-19 either.

    • Jason Says:

      What Leak said. The comic has a 4×4 layout and has the 15th number missing, similar to the puzzle in the title

    • Joe Says:

      there’s no frame around 12. That’s the missing tile

    • Jason Says:

      maybe I was mistaken. It kind of looks like a 15 on the sphinx’s wing

    • Lance Says:

      I couldn’t find five personally, but I thought I found all the others x.o Course might just be a case of finding something specifically because you were looking for it, like a self fulfilling conclusion.

      Either way, off topic but I โค the sphinx. I'd have been her friend too, maybe her house wouldn't have burned down xD

  27. Deckhouse5 Says:

    The roleplay of the king and son is entertaining enough, not to mention the ceremonial sex with a high priestess and the criminal to be crowned king and then executed.

    Merry Holiday, WR, thanks for the laughs and deep life stuff that I can’t seem to get anywhere else

  28. LafinJack Says:

    “The legend of the sphinx at the gates of Thebes died just by throwing itself off a wall. A high powered rifle and itโ€™s over.”

    Well, in one comic our Sphynx said you can’t believe the legends, and in another they sent a tank after her and she’s still kicking around, so…

    • No respectable monster would ever throw itself off a wall.

    • Yamara Says:

      Certainly no wingรฉd monster working on a career in scourging. No more than answering one riddle makes someone a hero.

      But women in ancient myth (and sometimes in ancient life) were expected to kill themselves as soon as they were no longer useful:

      Sounds like what Wikipedia describes as “black propaganda” to me ( ) — a convenient excuse for murder, and the threat of its future use.

      Making an immortal woman look stupid enough to kill herself is not unlike the French libel about Catherine the Great’s horse– a lie about a woman who dared to earn the words “The Great” after her name. These ‘legends’ must delight enough people to persist so long after anyone who invented them is dead, so it’s pretty much just as disturbing as if…

      Surprise Ending, indeed. Thanks again, WR, for importing all the much-needed sanity back into this universe from yours. And Happy New Year.

  29. Basia Says:

    I love the little smile of the Sphinx in the last panel. Another comic well-done, even if I have a feeling there wasn’t a lot more actually added to the idea.

  30. Kurdt Says:

    Thank you so much for all your hard work in making these comics to entertain us unwashed masses!

    And for what it’s worth, Merry Fishmas!

  31. RAIV Says:

    The moment Pink-Haired Girl commented on her own probable lifespan, I expected the next panels to be gory. Fortunately they were not. Thanks for the excellent closing of an excellent year, W.

  32. Sir Nooney Says:

    Great stuff as always! Looking forward to your comics next year, keep it up!

  33. oh Says:

    Please stop. You hurt the soul of things that aren’t you — shoot, I realize that you probably don’t read these things, that more likely I’ll be attacked by semi-random, semi-rabid commenters for subjectively true but arcane reasons, like everything else on the internet. And that’s okay. That isn’t something that should bear a grudge out. But all of this is. This a wrong thing you’re doing. This onanism and posters and things. Move on. You know you should — you’ve got other things percolating, I’m sure. Kill the Buddha, if you’ll pardon the expression. Kill it right good and make something better.

  34. Usoki Says:

    I wouldn’t have seen the file name, except that I happened to see it as the page loaded. But a Merry Christmas all the same, even if I don’t regularly check.

    Actually, some of the really good puzzles do have the full sixteen pieces. Like, the bottom corner piece slides out part of the way out of the frame, so that you can’t lose it, but so that you can still slide the other fifteen around. And if you want to pause, or you get bored with it, you can slide that panel back in, and it locks everything in place. So, you can safely lock the jumble away so it doesn’t slide around, AND you can have a complete picture when you’ve solved it. They’re legit.

  35. Marc Mielke Says:

    I love the James Tiptree Jr. reference. One of SF’s greats.

    • I just put that in there for my own personal enjoyment, but i’m definitely glad someone else noticed. My new year’s resolution is More tiptree background jokes, i think. Just because.

  36. Ben Says:

    Normally I’m not the type to comment here; just had to say this is particularly solid artwork. Did several double-takes, as the text so distracted me.

  37. mainge Says:

    I love the fact that you always end the year on a very real humanistic point of view that leaves this warm afterglow once the comic touches the last frame. Many thanks from India WR

  38. Livvispatula Says:

    Oi. Stop complaining about how your comics are probably worthless and what a loser you must be for being a few weeks late. We all come here because you’re *awesome* and so are your comics. So what if we have to wait a little bit longer than you said it would take? It’s just as much worth waiting one week for as waiting ten.

  39. somedude897321897321 Says:

    ty for another awesome comic and merry xmas to all you folks out there.

  40. Christopher Norton Says:

    ‘Goes to Eleven Discount Watches’ I laughed until it hurt, then I laughed a little bit more.

  41. lynchy226 Says:

    โค every time ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. forrester Says:

    And again, you hit the chord. Thanks for the moment of peace and friendship for these two great characters.

    Merry Zagmuk y’all!

  43. Yamara Says:

    Love, unconquerable
    Waster of rich men, keeper
    Of warm lights and all-night vigil
    In the soft face of a girl:

    Sea wanderer, forest visitor!

    Even the pure Immortals cannot escape you,
    And mortal man, in his one dayโ€™s dusk,
    Trembles before your glory.

    Season’s Greetings, Winston.

  44. Richter Says:

    Whoa thanks Winston, you didn’t have to deliver on Christmas day. Hugs for that. Didn’t expect the plotline to continue, but I’m glad it did (great nod to Alice Sheldon too).

    There’s no ‘her’ in hermit? Sure there is! It’s right there at the beginning of the wor-OH I see what you did there. ๐Ÿ™‚ (maybe I should finally talk to that cute casheer I like at the grocery).

    Happy Yule to my fellow Pagans, and Merry Whatever to everyone else. If you drink, please don’t drive. Cyall in 2011!

  45. fishboy Says:

    Superb Winston, touchingly superb. Thank you for adding some happiness to this otherwise fraught time of year.

  46. MagnaMusica Says:

    Great. I love what you’re doing, always looking forward to the next one, whenever it appears.

    Don’t stress it, we love you no matter how long you take on each strip.

    Happy holyday to you!

  47. Natalie Says:

    I love these two! You are an artist, you are. And I love the way you do profiles, always.

  48. Quirel Says:

    Loved this comic over last years. Good job, Winston!

    -Gargoyle with a Santa hat, looks like a goat from a few months back.

    -Goes to Eleven Discount Watches… because we’re too cheap to paint on the 12. Good spin on words!

    -93.7% is 15/16. Didn’t catch that the first time!

    -Well, people rarely comment on the artwork, but I’d like to draw attention to Line Four, Panel Three. Look at the relative detailing on PHG’s face and the Sphynx’s. Having immersed myself in modding recently, it brings to mind LODs in a game, except exaggerated.

    I guess I kind of like it. I’m not sure, but the less detail there is on a face, the more that can be read into it from context. And the Sphynx fighting the flying rats for a heating vent? Priceless.

    -Also priceless: The Sphynx smiling in the last panel. Life is very long* but everybody gotta die some time, Red. ** To be happy in the time that we are given is better than to be bored, and the Spynx may be patient, but it’s good to see her experience something that she can enjoy.

    *The Hollow Men

    -Play 4… cocktails?
    Lol, just messing with you. It came across.

    -Meta 4 license plate = “Metaphor”. Something that’s done at Viruscomix ~every two weeks, with varying degrees of subtlity.

  49. Frank Says:

    Hey – This has fast become one of my favorite places online. Thanks.

  50. brashieel Says:

    That was both encouraging and intellectually honest at the same time. You sir, are awesome.

    Merry Whatever You Prefer, and may you have an excellent new years!

  51. michael Says:

    yo your comics make up 93.75 of my personal philosophy. also your art style is mad underrated simply by virtue of not receiving more wild and eccentricly worded praise. as well, your humble and professional attitude means you deserve this respect and that you are probably a reasonable dude to chill with in a variety of situations, congratualtions on these things mr. Rowntree!

  52. ajm Says:

    I bought a poster, even though I know you’re a Communist and don’t believe in the free market. You’re welcome.

    Looking forward to a splendid 2011!

  53. MythicFox Says:

    I just wanna say that just when I didn’t think I could love PinkHair and Sphynx more, you surprise me.

  54. Ferwde Says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say that this comic is awesome and that you are awesome for making it.

  55. Jo-ou Says:

    No, thank YOU, wordsgirl, for doing this shit. I always feel kinda funny when someone thanks me for appreciating their work. That’s not how it’s supposed to go.

  56. sam ketner Says:

    love the tiptree reference. I can’t get enough of that.

  57. Manu Says:

    This was awesome. Great way to end 2010 with a smile. I feel happy for PHG and the Sphynx, there was a lot of character development for them this year, and it was great to see.

    Thank you for your art, Winston, I check every week for new comics, and I’m never dissapointed when I read a new one.

  58. Anonymous Says:

    So many many moves does it take to fix the scrambled puzzle in the title to the correct solution: PUT-DOWNS AT THEBES?

  59. Human Unit #686748937 Says:

    When I first started reading this comic years ago (Princess Washburn graced the front-page, if I remember correctly) I had this odd impression that the author was a woman who only claimed to be a man so she’d be taken more seriously. Over the years, I completely forgot about that first impression. But that James Tiptree Jr. reference just brought it back from the dead.

    I really appreciate the small background gags in this strip. You must have packed more good billboard jokes in here than I’ve ever seen in one place before.

  60. Tomora Says:

    Io, Saturnalia!
    A slave admires your work.

  61. Harrymason Says:

    Very nice, no more words… hrrrm hupp hupp! I like..

  62. Ben Says:

    Winston, if you ever end up in Denver please for the love all that is good send me an email. I want to buy you dinner for bringing such an awesome comic to the interwebs. My coffee table is begging for a Subnormality book as well. Any plans for 2011 involving that?

    • Sam Says:

      I second everything in this post (fuck yeah, Denver Subnormality readers?).

    • Yeah, i definitely have plans to pursue the whole book thing in 2011. We shall see what materializes..

    • James Says:

      Fuck yeah Denver Subnormality readers!

    • Ben Says:

      James I vote we throw a Subnormality-themed gala here in Denver. But there aren’t really any recurring male characters except for the time-traveling nazis… hmmm… maybe I can be the Bionic Lime Nuclear Guerilla Civil War With A Sprig Of Parsley from “Unpopular Halloween Costumes II”.

    • Sam Says:

      I’m actually a girl so I’m just gonna go ahead and call the sphinx.

  63. Sam Says:

    This is legit my favorite comic in all of the vast lands of the internet. Thanks for another great year!

  64. Drgals Says:

    Loved the background (specially the flow of time, the fact that it’s barely dusk at the beginning, but after the whole conversation it’s already night). Happy Holidays! (quite lately) and may you have an awesome New Year (in the “western world”, at least). Thanks for the comic/gift!

  65. LightHorseman Says:

    Yay! FPHG won one!

  66. Bob Says:

    Dear Winston,

    I would like to tell you that you are quite possibly the greatest person I have ever found and not known. You manage to take my innermost thoughts and ideas and change them into beautiful, hilarious art. Please never stop making these masterpieces.

  67. Jim Dubya Says:

    Another comic that has made me smile and made me think.

    Wonderfully thought-provoking, as usual, and also has given me a bit of hope that decent human beings actually exist.

  68. wvh Says:

    Hello! Thank you so much for Subnormality. It takes a whole lot to get me excited about a comic, and to start reading it faithfully, let alone to go back and read every single one in the archives. You’ve totally done that. ๐Ÿ˜€

    One small thing that has tripped me up, and I’m sorry if you totally already know, is that the comic won’t show up on an iPad. Probably because it is presented as a gloriously huge, memory-chugging image. I wonder if three or four images seamlessly stitched together on the page would solve the problem. Anyway, I am still more than happy to just email myself a reminder to check out the new comic the next time I’m at a desktop compy.

    Be well~

    • LafinJack Says:

      What happens when you try and load it on your iPad? Does the page itself load but the image doesn’t? Have you tried loading the comic’s link directly? (i.e. for this week’s)

    • wvh Says:

      The page loads, but the “image loading” text just sits there and where the image should be is instead the missing-image icon. Interestingly, the direct image link does work. So if I could somehow get at that link for each comic, I could read it!

    • LafinJack Says:

      Hmm, odd. In Windows and the regular Mac OS you can right/control-click on an image to get a contextual menu, and most browsers let you use that menu to view just an image from a web page – even when that image hasn’t loaded, and you click on the placeholder where the image should be. I haven’t used an iPad, do you know if you can access a similar kind of contextual menu?

  69. So when is the Sphinx going to eat Pink Haired Girl?

    • You might be waiting a while for that one.

    • Leak Says:


      Also, I bet the Sphinx would get a lot of cheers from the public if she acquired a taste for corrupt politicians, sleazy lawyers and annoying celebrities… ๐Ÿ˜€

      np: Sistol – Hac (Sistol Remasters)

    • Nile Says:

      Replace “while” with “forever”?

      I think I’ve officially scoured each comic in Subnormality’s archives at this point, and really, really love your work. And seeing your style’s progression is incredibly satisfying. I can honestly say (and I’m sure it’s been said before) that I can’t remember being so engrossed in a strip since Calvin & Hobbes. I liked the two of them escaping the Reverse Pandora’s Box, by the way…

      Anyway, I think I might enjoy Pink Haired Girl and Sphynx’s conservations most of all – though I also loved her getting Quietly Hammered (that whole comic was worthy of multiple read-throughs and musings). So, yeah, don’t let the Sphynx eat her. Not that I ever thought you would. Keep it up! Write a book! I’ll buy a shirt when I’m less poor!

  70. Sto Odin Says:

    Apparently, Rowntree’s is a brand of fruit gums :'s


    • GerryB Says:

      They were most famous for their Fruit Pastilles in the UK. Oh and they invented KitKats and Aero bars, handfuls of chocolate delerium before Nestle ate them.

  71. I want Sphinx and the pink-haired lady to be incorporated into The Vestibules’ “Bulbous Bouffant”.

  72. benS. Says:

    Is this BEFORE or AFTER supper?
    How long will our pink-haired Sheherazade (PHG) survive? Where’s the deadline?

    There’s their relationship:
    acquaintances – friends – good friends – or bestest personal friends?

    There’s PHG’s entertainment skills like:
    smalltalks, telling a frame story with cliffhangers, all the way down to the Planck rhombus size or so, if needed.

    There’s also the question of emptiness – in Sphynx’s stomach, I think.

    Sphynx : You may soon kick-ass with your housing heating system. Watch the trend:
    2010 dec.-nov. is the hottest year ever recorded.

    Ship ahoj !
    Noah from Ararat.

  73. Edwin Says:

    Your comic is always a high point in my week, after almost two weeks with cold and without Internet access it really uplift my spirits.
    Is there any chance to have Sphinx & PHG plush dolls?

  74. James Says:

    Little hat on a gargoyle! Yay!

  75. TentacledBeast Says:

    Happy new year, everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

  76. MathDSL Says:

    Not sure if I should laugh or cry at the Don Cherry reference. Happy new year, Toronto !

  77. Stone Taggart Says:

    This is just so bloody adorable. If only the sphynx would not have eaten me… she’s so relatable.

  78. What does Tiptree’s slogan mean? Are they apologizing for the poor quality/unappetizing appearance of their packaging? “No really — try it — the label is misleading!” Seems like the money spent on that billboard would be better put towards a label redesign.

  79. Ben Says:

    Hahahahaha….. I just found the “nickleback” link on the front page….. Hahaha… Good show Mr. Rowntree.

  80. Richter Says:

    Mr. Rowntree, if you’re not too busy, I’m curious about a few technical details.

    –Why isn’t there a yellowish paper frame around the first and last bunch of panels? Is it a meaningful detail or did you just not crop it out of the big page in the middle?

    –In extreme closeups (ex : PHG in panel 6), do you use thick pens for the big outlines (hair, jawline, etc) and finer pens for the nose and eyes, or is it all the same pen and you just fill it out later to make some lines look thicker? There are so many different thicknesses of lines that I have a hard time imagining you’re switching pens every 2 minutes. Must be a hassle.

    • Not too busy, i need a break from struggling with the upcoming comic anyway (GODDAMNIT ROWNTREE YOU HAVEN’T UPDATED ALL YEAR).

      -the yellowish border around the middle bit tied in with that section generally being vaguely laid out like the sliding puzzle, with 15 sections and a blank space (represented by the bus), so that’s all it was.

      -With extreme closeups i might switch to a bigger pen size, but i generally use one pen for all the initial inking, and as you surmise the subsequent line thickening is all filled in manually. I have one main drawing pen and one main lettering pen and then a couple sizes of extra pens for such unglamorous thickening grunt work. Yeah, there’s a bit of pen switching, but it’s no hassle. The only hassle i’m having right now is with goddamn computer programs. How i wish i’d just clung to windows xp… Oh well.

  81. dillon Says:

    i wish these could be up every single day, love your work

  82. WHOCARES Says:


  83. WHOCARES Says:


    Robert Silverberg had poor tastebuds.

  84. Entropy. Says:

    You know if this updated five days a week, the sheer awesomeness of the PHG and the Sphynx becoming friends would kill the comic within a year. Luckily, however, this updates much less frequently.

  85. Simon Says:

    Mr Rowntree sir, for a novelty maybe one day we could have an action based strip rather than a words based one, perhaps with PHG riding on the back of the Sphinx flying away from a SWAT team and not looking back to watch large explosions behind them, that kind of stuff?

    Or, you know, like, not? Either way, thanks for the strip!

  86. stag Says:

    IS there a number three or five?????

    • Sam Says:

      3 – made by the meeting of the white border and black background around PHG’s hair.

      5 – a crease in PHG’s shirt in the lower right hand corner.

  87. Uhclem Says:

    Great cartoon, as (almost) always.

    Q: I’m in Toronto, and I want to buy a monstrous discrepancies poster. Can we do this directly, rather than paying S&H in US $ to some company?

  88. Richter Says:

    Thanks for the info Winston, much appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

  89. Gask Says:

    I keep waiting for the Sphinx to get fed up and eat her already. Maybe next week.

  90. Baeraad Says:

    Er, so a human cannibal goes to hell and suffers eternal torment, but the Sphynx is perfectly within her right to munch down on as many humans as she likes, and anyone who says otherwise is just close-minded?

    For that matter, the violet-haired woman is fine with killing and eating humans as long as she isn’t the one who gets killed and eaten, and that’s supposed to be a heart-warming sign of a loving, inclusive personality, but if you find yourself in a tyrranical regime you have a duty to speak out against it and get executed or else you’re cowardly scum who’ll spend your old age hating yourself (which is worse than dying at age 21, somehow…)?

    Of course, I’m not actually sure to which extent this comic is even meant to have a consistent moral message, and how much is just the moral-philosophy equivalent of technobabble, to justify in-character why these two characters are hanging out together and being friends… ๐Ÿ˜›

  91. sciencegun Says:

    Are you sure that puzzle isn’t supposed to say “Shaped Butts Town”?

  92. Aiarashi Says:

    I never thought of it like that. Really good analogy, the square puzzle thing. ^^
    I think there are ones that have the picture behind the tiles so you can see how it’s supposed to look like or something. So even if you do have the whole picture, one part of it still looks different, or obscured or like it doesn’t belong too. *nods*

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