here be dragons

February 1, 2011

Comic for February 2nd, 2011 is complete.


101 Responses to “here be dragons”

  1. YEM Says:

    Brilliant! Poster!

  2. Njam! Says:

    Ever awesome, these comics!

  3. Bill Salem Says:

    Wonderful! Totally enjoyable.

  4. Anna Says:

    Please, oh please, make this into a poster so I can buy it!

  5. ER Says:

    A good comment on the way people act. I just think it’s a bit funny, and maybe ironic, that this is coming from a world where the sphinx regularly eats people.

  6. William Says:

    “Why would anyone need a house that big?” Classic! Though I’m not sure what the storage unit represents. Maybe just any sort of buried treasure?

  7. Otter. Says:

    I feel the same sometimes. I wish I could discover some secrets, some uncharted territory (and live to tell the tale), but we are stuck here in 21st century earth, which is good in a way and bad in another…

    P.s.: Love the Lost Dutchman’s Mine reference. There was a game about it on the old Amiga, man that was classic 😀

  8. Andy Brown Says:

    We really need to be telling one another more stories. Thanks.

  9. bachterman Says:

    superstition, legend-weaving and ignorance. the best trio.

  10. Sol Says:

    Perhaps it simply shows our yearning for the “better life”.

    Or maybe it says alot about our selves, a spark within that expresses our desire for adventure, the lust for new experiences, exotic locations and amazing stories to make us stand out from the crowd, to not just be “another number” in a world where every inch is explored, people are always connected to other people and the only way to sustain ones-self and family is to work in an office and disconnect yourself from dreams to face our dreary reality.

    It wasan’t so long ago we were hunter-gatherers. Some enjoy and thrive in our existance – others feel as there is nothing left to hunt.

  11. steve parsons Says:

    these “old themes” are not only used in such big and mysterious ways, really, how many times have we all heard about that one guys in school who had girls on all sides of him? Though it is true that sometimes such stories reach the ears of the masses, like conspiracy theories, it is a much more common use in daily life. since the first tales were told, everyone has wished they were living in one.

  12. Randy Lee Says:

    Yeah, that is the story of my life. Looking under stuff to find the hidden, better: undiscovered, meaning or thing or whatever. Well, I never found a damn thing, but now I am living that dream, as close as it ever gets in the real world. I won’t be the one who finds it, not in this go round, but I am on the team: Hang in there kids, and never give up!

  13. Owen Says:

    This comic is wrong because this place exists:

  14. Nach Says:

    “L’aventure est le seul moyen de voler du temps à la mort”

    “Adventure is the only way to steal time from death” Paul-Emile Victor

    Adventure is hard to come by these days…

    • Abel Says:

      “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”
      -Helen Keller

      I just like this quote.

    • Will Says:

      both awesome and relevant quotes.

      You need an adventure, Rowntree.

  15. Martin Says:

    Awesome comics, as always!I love reading all your work, you are very talented. Thanks for making these comics.

  16. DoubleW Says:

    You ever seen the El Dorado Personals section?


  17. Esn Says:

    Good grief, this is one of the few comics of yours that I find genuinely depressing…

  18. Will Says:

    I guess the world isn’t a special place.
    My inner child has AIDS, now.
    Thanks a lot, Rowntree.

    p.s. Maybe you should get out of the city for a while. Take a vacation or something.

    p.p.s. Actually, don’t. This is true art, and it isn’t supposed to be pretty; it’s supposed to tell me something true, even if I don’t want to hear it. So thank you. Jerk.

    p.p.p.s. I didn’t mean that part about you being a jerk.

  19. Vole Says:

    The world hasn’t been fully explored, it just feels that way because the popular myths are so flimsy. Some of the old stories DID turn out to be true, you know?

    I mean, heck, it wasn’t too long ago that they got the first video footage of a live giant squid.

    It helps if you have a flexible concept of “dragon”. 🙂

  20. SunC Says:

    Deep and Scary.

  21. Ca1iforniaCat Says:

    Funny, but love the way you wrap it all up.

  22. fishboy Says:

    Wistfully poignant. Love it WR, well done.

  23. Joe Says:

    Good stuff. I find that, living in the Detroit area, the second panel in particular grabbed my attention. Makes me think about how I get skittish about going into the city, even though my own surrounding suburbs are probably just about as dangerous.

    Also, as a fan of space travel, I must say that while the world may have been fully explored, the universe hasn’t. And humanity shouldn’t stop exploring until it has.

  24. James G Says:

    While I do kind of understand the angle at the end of this one, I had to go with others to say that there is plenty of unexplored stuff in this world. Sure, the surface of the earth is pretty much mapped to the centimetre, but the deep oceans are still alien territories, and there are still countless unidentified species, living not only in inaccessible places, but most likely in the soil outside your house. If we can’t culture a bacterium, it is very difficult to study.

    We’ve sequence the human genome, but still have a rudimentary picture of how all those genes actually function. Meanwhile our understanding of the nature of conciousness is infantile. Outside of biology, physicists are still trying to reconcile several models which only work at certain scales or with certain assumptions.

    Monsters and dragons and tales are all well and good, but there is mystery and wonder in this world. The problem with the monsters, if that they sometimes stop as from seeing it, myths sometimes end up obscuring the far more interesting realities. In other cases, people get to the myth and stop looking, as though they have the answer.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy myths, and don’t even mind playing around with them, or doing what you’ve done here and transposing them. I think myths, especially durable ones, do tell us something about human nature, and society. Hell, at the time I am even sometimes guilty of letting my escapism get the better of me, and finding reality incredibly mundane. Yet I always try to bear in mind, reality isn’t mundane, and has its secrets and surprises along with every myth, they are though, like the person living in the undeveloped area, just a bit harder to find.

  25. Simon Says:

    Winston, welcome to Planet Earth.

  26. The Old Wolf Says:

    The thing is, I grew up in New York. And it’s all true. You haven’t seen the scariest thing out there, or the most wonderful. 11 million people, and there are still things out there watiting to be discovered. What’s even more interesting, is that you could say the same thing about Broken Clavicle, Wyoming – Pop. 63. The human condition is a neverending source of surprises, if you know how to look at it cockeyed enough.

    • frag Says:

      If you are talking about the scariness and wonderfulness of people, then I think you kind of come back around to the “WeiRd?” comic. The point of this comic is that people look for mystery and wonder in places. They should be looking for them in people.

  27. Rachel Says:

    I really really enjoyed that!

  28. Tom Says:

    And that’s why I study physics!

  29. Guner Says:

    Panel 3 is me. But unlike that guy, i know where the city is, that it exists, and i am going there. Soon as we get this house sold.

  30. Peregrin Says:

    Terry Pratchett wrote that we practice believing in the small lies so that later we can believe the big ones. Like truth, justice, dignity, etc. So we tell ourselves stories. That’s what humans do.

  31. Jamie Says:

    Ah, well done, it’s once every few comics I’m struck by what I read, and that’s one of em. Nicely done, not much more I can say.

  32. George Says:

    As an urban planner, I love the urban sensibility of this series. Just tweeted this one and connected it to a friend with an urbanism blog (@YuriAribise). Well done!

  33. Angela Says:

    This is beautiful. The new storytelling.

  34. Steve Says:

    Okay, I figured out five of the six legendary places he’s referring to – but I can’t for the life of me figure out the “undeveloped area” legend because (unlike the others) there aren’t any visual clues. What’s that one supposed to be?

  35. Kathleen Says:

    I finally wanted to comment on these comics. They let me know im not the only one who thinks the way i do, so maybe im not so crazy or alone. Thank you.

  36. Scott Says:

    One of my favorites, I would love to see a poster version of this.

  37. HMason Says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  38. DTank Says:

    I really love the art in the last panel, i really like the flavor of a night scene like that, with the one man looking out over all that be.

  39. HarryMason Says:

    This comic is counterproductive. It reveals the illusion at the end, thus robbing it of its power.

  40. Vincent Says:

    Don’t you think the undiscovered lies in the act of creation? You bring something into the world and expand upon it. Culture is an amalgamation of eons of human effort. It’s just not as impressive to the creator of a thing as it is to those who are blessed by its creation. You do a good thing here. I’m always happy to read what you put up good sir. 😀 It’s romantic.

  41. Joe Says:

    “Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.” -Q. From Star Trek TNG [All Good Things]

  42. Richter Says:

    Ungh, now I’m all depressed. Nah, great comic WR 🙂 I second the comment above. You have an ‘urban sensitivity’. It’s one of the comic’s best touches; you’re always on the pulse of what lurks inside our ‘society’ minds, that fine line between childlike wonder and adult realism.

    I loved the last touch of drawing a dragon in the map. When I first read the title, I immediatly thought of Ursula Leguin’s Earthsea trilogy. That’s how it starts, here be dragons. Comforted me all the way through the comic.

  43. TF Says:

    Love it. Well done again, Rowntree.

    I personally believe that there is always something new around the corner to be discovered – consider our relatively small view of space and the innumerable galaxies and worlds that lie beyond out current reach.

    Perhaps those legends and stories humanity makes up are’nt meant to replace that which we don’t know, but to spur us on to new discoveries?

    Let’s just say I don’t think we’ve run out of places to explore just yet, and that those stories we still tell aren’t meant to comfort us and allievate our boredom, but rather to incourage us to see whether or not they are true.

    Either way, this is a splendid comic which has, yet again, proven excellent fuel for discussion. Thanks,


  44. Oh, cheers, baby. This one brought a tear to my eye, and made me sigh wistfully. Bravo, brova, barvo.

  45. anonymous Says:

    Another quality comic.
    You know, someday, I thought “Maybe, here in this big world called the net, I might find a meaningful, pretty and depressive comic… Guess I did.

  46. TSH Says:

    In response to the final paragraph: only in the past 100 years has humanity really pulled back the curtain on most of what puzzled us in the past. The claim that there was “nothing left to discover” from before we were born is partly true, but only of the past three or four generations.

    Prior to the 20th century much of the world really was mysterious (a lot of it still is), lending more credence to stories which would – to 21st century Netizens like ourselves – seem quaint and old-fashioned.

    • Dusty668 Says:

      What has been done will be done again;
      there is nothing new under the sun.

      Ecclesiastes 1:9

      “The claim that there was “nothing left to discover” from before we were born is partly true, but only of the past three or four generations.”

      I say nay to that. Re-entry surfing, photonic sail yacht races, solar corona mining, trans temporal dating, force field tetherball, null-gee full contact frisbee, there’s tons of things we’ve yet to discover, but most of the good parts of them, come from the one doing it. Also I point out that while we have put antimatter in a box, no one has yet to deliver it.

    • Erdosain Says:

      Wow Rusty, pass over some of what you’re smoking… great post!

  47. BMF Says:

    The question is why do you not make that legendary club somewhere or that undeveloped forest and leave it behind to be discovered by someone else and make the fiction true? Even if you won’t enjoy it, you know it will happen.

  48. Dusty668 Says:

    “Here there be Awesome, laddy.”

    The adventures come from the adventurer, that’s what makes the comic hopeful for me.

    Those of you that find it depressing, maybe you should try to edit your tale?

  49. DarkElfa Says:

    As always I’m struck by the pure depth of the writing involved here. I grew up reading comics like Bloom county and Garfield.

    Truly, the internet has allowed diamonds that would never have shined before it.

  50. Tzenker Says:

    This would have been the perfect way to end Subnormality. A definite end, that nevertheless lets you reflect on every past comic.

    …Glad that time hasn’t come yet.

  51. Randy Lee Says:

    ““Here there be Awesome, laddy.”

    The adventures come from the adventurer, that’s what makes the comic hopeful for me.

    Those of you that find it depressing, maybe you should try to edit your tale?”

    Yep, this is exactly my point. Thanks for saying it better!

  52. Anonymous Says:

    First time commenting, but I couldn’t not. This comic hits deep, just like a good deal of your other stuff. I just wanted to say thanks for putting out the best webcomic on the internet, and I hope you keep up the fantastic work.

    • Erdosain Says:

      I second that. Each and every one of them is really special and thought provocking. WR you rule, wish i had access to an international credit card to buy some of your posters… 😦

  53. Dan Plaat Says:

    I can’t tell if you love city life or hate it,…see there a mysteries!

  54. Mongoose Says:

    Urban exploration.

  55. Steve Nordquist Says:

    Making the backstory of an area canny really helps you get out for lunch! It’s making good use of space/gatekeepers/things we find and somehow substituting tips for another 300 square meters of kitchen.

  56. James Says:

    I’m undiscovered.

  57. DigitalDevourer Says:

    You know, some times your work really depresses me—it’s good, and weird and quirky, and sometimes seems sloppy until you take the scope of it into consideration, and it all blends together—but more than anything, it’s piercingly truthful a lot of the time, even if in a silly manner.

    BTW, I love your work on as well—really livens some of their articles up when I see your work there and get a little thrill at the “discovery”.

  58. randy Says:

    Long time reader and I think that this stuff is awesome. Your art actually helps inspires my music. thanks for being the emotional train wreck that we all are. I love you for you being you.

  59. JesterRaiin Says:

    Pięknie dziękuję.

  60. Lizzie Says:

    Somehow I expected this to be titled “Urban Myths”.

  61. Magnanimous Says:

    I’ve probably posted this multiple times before, but this is my favourite so far.

  62. RT Says:

    Hey, there was a storage unit near here that a guy used to hide the loot from an armoured car robbery. Millions. Not exactly the same but if someone had found it before the police did…

  63. benS. Says:


    DAY 1 panel.

    Big Book (BB):
    there’s light and shadow and TWO words in the dictionary (100% inflation already).

    Book Under slow Evolution (BUsE):
    fake runes, a viking helmet and one vandalized hockey stick (floating). From deep in the heart of ….Minnesota !

    Book As Usual (BAU):
    wall murals, surely (3 sigma) from the renaissance period.
    Just a wet dream!

    DAY 7 panel.

    BB: Very good! Resting day!
    BUsE: Where’s my beer?
    BAU: Horoscope says- No jumping today!

    DAY 2-6 panels:

    Totally chaotic.
    Quantum physics introduced.

  64. Cleo Says:

    Hey W.R., would you mind updating the “After Hours” comics page? Those have been very fun to look through so far. Thanks!

  65. Ona Says:

    Truly a pleasure to read, even without your patented Wall-o-Text. I’m surprised so many thought it was depressing; I found it encouraging.

  66. NoVan Says:

    Damn, mate, that map of the Bermuda Triangle must have taken some work! Well done.

  67. Lee Says:

    Thanks for providing me with this wonderful comic!!!! It is truly one of the very few comics that I enjoy thoroughly.

  68. Vorian Says:

    I would love to get out of my apartment, step onto a balcony and gaze out into the late-night hustle and bustle of an urban jungle that never sleeps.

    I think it’s because I’m too tired of the well-tree’d almost-themepark-ish surroundings of the Singaporean heartland that I live in. It’s all clean garden-ness, you know? There’s no nitty-gritty for you to look at and say “ah, here’s where shit gets done.”

    Thank you, Winston, for feeding my imagination.

  69. Sheedy Says:

    Excellent, stunning, amazing, wonderful, rewarding, disarming, charming, smart, funny. And more. Maybe my new favourity of yours.

    Sums up our generation perfectly. I’ve been around the world a dozen times and still had a rant at a friend recently that there was nowhere new to go, until she pointed out something along similar lines to this.

  70. Tomas Says:

    That last sentence is poetry. Love it.

  71. Everdark Says:

    They may sound like urban legends, but these places do exist. I know… I have seen them 😉

  72. B.W. Says:

    This reminds me a lot of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, but with a dark modern twist. Excellent.

  73. Irial Says:

    Forgive my ignorance but does anyone know what ‘LDM Storage’ is supposed to signify?

  74. enactogen Says:


  75. Bill Says:

    I was kind of feeling down in the dumps/bored before I read a few of these comics, but after reading them, I’m feeling a lot better! They’re really really good!

  76. Dan Says:

    Well, I live in Bangkok and after seven years or so it’s neither a drag or mundane. It’s more like paradise and the pit, often in the same hour.

  77. Dead_Parade Says:

    Great work, imo this comic relates to a lot of things people do like religion and conspiracy theories for example. Because frankly, real life is just too shitty or at best, dull that we can’t help but think that there must be something at the end of the rainbow, whether its a God, a government plot or a storage space full of treasure.

  78. David Says:

    This comic comes from the mind of someone who’s never been to the wilderness. Someone who’s never been the first to see a place. Someone who’s never been to a place where nature’s chaos reigns and imposed civilization and order upon it.

    Someone who needs to get out more.

    • Andrew Says:

      This comment comes from someone who has little respect for the musings of a fellow explorer. Someone who hasn’t REALLY discovered something untouched by man. Be considerate please.

  79. Max Says:

    Ah, one of my favorite subjects.

  80. Andrew Says:

    You are amazing. And I don’t mean that in a fan boy-ish way. I mean you know your shit. Roger Waters spoke a lot about empathy and the impact on one’s life possessing that trait can have. You have that trait. And I love it. People like you who speak out, tell it straight, and never falter in your beliefs, help me believe, no, KNOW that I’ll make it. Thank you for just being you.

  81. Nan Says:

    You are very talented, and a Canadian to boot!
    I am totally addicted.

  82. Me Says:

    The little dragon weaving its way through the city map made me want to cry.

  83. ArrozConPollo Says:

    I get the whole Ayn Rand perspective here. So being objective isn’t lost on me. But wonder is what made Einstein who he is today. It inspired Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Nikola Tesla, and so on. Wonder is the seed of creation. Yes you can plot out a city, but can you chart all of the stars in the universe?, can you reach the deepest part of the ocean? No, not yet. And that very idea of “not yet” is enough to spark some great minds into changing the world and or the way we think, for decades to come.

    Wonder isn’t what was, what someone said about something, or what can’t be, it’s about what might be.

  84. wereld Says:


  85. gluefish Says:

    Rand never visited the Vee Dub. The Venice West Cafe. She would have been booed out if she had.

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