The Glamour of making webcomics

March 17, 2011

Getting blogged on Glamour magazine’s site is definitely sexier than a lot of things, so have a look at their feature on the Sexier Than comic if you’re interested. I’ve posted the interview text below for anyone who can’t access the site due to regional lockout or whatever it is that’s preventing some people from seeing it. Huge thanks again to Rosemary for the opportunity to appear on their site!



Meet Sexier Than, the Coolest Comic You’ll See All Day!

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The other day I came across an incredibly cool and inspiring comic strip. Even if you’re not into comics, I think you’ll get a kick out of this one. It’s all about being sexy. Plus, it packs a pretty powerful message.
So often we’re told that being sexy or having sex appeal is about looking or acting a certain way. But more than anything, I think being sexy has to do with the people we are—not how we look. Earlier this week, graphic artist Winston Rowntree posted the comic “Sexier Than” on his site Subnormality to show that there are a ton of ways to be sexy. I was so moved by Winston’s work that I just had to ask him a few questions.

Rosemary: What’s the story or inspiration behind Sexier Than?

Winston: The comic was actually directly inspired by the website, a “humor” site that features pictures of women with facial hair alongside jeering captions like “this is what nightmares are made of.” I ran across the site last week and was just absolutely disgusted by it and what it represents–the kind of brain-dead ultra-juvenile sexism that’s unfortunately so easy to find on the internet–and so the idea for the comic came together pretty quickly from there.

I really wanted to make a statement in the other direction, as well stick up for comics as a force for positive messages (the site is incidentally the creation of one the most popular internet cartoonists going today, which is the other aspect of it that’s so offensive to me personally). Beyond that, I just generally feel like the popular stereotype of “sexy” and what people are actually interested in in a meaningful way are completely at odds, and that’s to no-one’s benefit, hence I really just wanted to convey that sexiness maybe could be thought of in a different way.

Rosemary: And what sort of reactions have readers—or friends and family—had to the comic?

Winston: As for reactions to the comic, taking a look at online feedback on my site and others it’s been pretty wide-ranging (which is typical of almost any comic though), from “Hell Yes” to “this is cheesy.” I do think there are many people who are personally skeptical of the message in the comic, but in terms of my core readership though they’ve definitely reacted positively.

The audience I’ve built is kind of one that’s open to new ideas, or is at least maybe a bit disillusioned with certain aspects of mainstream culture and the way it places value on some things and not others. That is, I think I share with my readers a sense that maybe the mass media doesn’t necessarily do a comprehensive job of conveying what people are really like and what they really care about–they get excited about ideas that they don’t see in the mainstream, and that kind of vibe has definitely been evident with the Sexier Than comic as well, I reckon. There are a lot of people who either appreciate that kind of message, or at least appreciate the effort taken in making it, so I’d say that reaction’s been positive overall.

Rosemary: Awesome. What’s your artistic background? Do you work primarily with comics?

Winston: As for my background, I work in comic strips, primarily online, as well as the odd longer project or freelance illustration job. I’ve been publishing my sort-of-weekly comic strip “Subnormality” since 2007, and have built a pretty great audience over these past four years.

I know for most people “comic strips” are probably still defined as those that you’d find in newspapers, but the medium’s increasingly migrated online in the past decade, and I’m just happy to be able to take advantage of the creative freedom offered by the internet to make comics about whatever I want and have them seen by people all around the world (something that newspapers can’t offer). The money’s not great, but everything else about it is, which is more than good enough for me.

Thanks Winston!

18 Responses to “The Glamour of making webcomics”

  1. bpatrick Says:

    This is the coolest thing I could imagine! The Venn diagram of Subnormality and Glamour readership just took a step in the right direction.

  2. Congratulations Winston! That is far out.

  3. Joe Says:

    That’s awesome! Congratulations on some much deserved exposure!
    That being said, I hope that’s the only time I ever read Glamour

  4. YEM Says:

    Congratulations! Get used to that kind of exposure. It’s only the start. The world is recognizing your genius.

  5. Stef Be Says:

    Hey Sir,

    I wanted to take the time to once again tell you how much I love your work. Also, I’d like to thank/ curse you for pointing me towards hitmen for destiny. Thank you, because it’s really awesome and curse you for how much time I spent reading it.

    Then again, I enjoyed every minute of it, so I guess my cursing does not have a lot of substance.



  6. radiant Says:

    The new comic about videogames on Cracked is winburgers with awesomesauce. The girl’s facial expression in the article heading is particularly charming.

    Poor Vishnu ))))

  7. Ben Says:

    Awesome! You’re gonna get the recognition you deserve the longer you stick to this. I even noticed the cracked commenters gave you a warmer reception this time around. Lots of love WR!

  8. Marc Says:

    “…disillusioned with certain aspects of mainstream culture and the way it places value on some things and not others. That is, I think I share with my readers a sense that maybe the mass media doesn’t necessarily do a comprehensive job of conveying what people are really like and what they really care about”

    Oh, how right you are…

    The statement also reminded me of Bill Hicks, who I believe you mentioned in passing in one of your interviews. He would be proud, I’m sure!

    Keep up the great work Winston, I hope you continue to get more and more exposure.

  9. Jason Says:

    Why has no one pointed out the delicious irony that your “Fake” magazine in the comic that Glamour was so pumped about is pretty much a parody of their magazine? i can’t be the first one!

  10. Alberto Says:

    I totally agree with Jason on the irony issue. You raise an interesting issue with the mainstream media and its lack of understading of its viewership. But they are businesses, and we are obviously paying for their upkeep. Do you think the general public would still pay for our culture if underground values broke through the overground media, without it becoming watered down? Nirvana did become a merchandising empire, for example.

    • Jason Says:

      i recently found out an extremely funky local band that i love is opening for kid Rock on a national tour…and while it’s a totally bizarre match i don’t begrudge them…because i’m sure they’re getting paid out the ass and they’re gonna blow the kid Rock fans’ minds and hopefully turn them on to the glory of the current New Orleans music scene…

      Likewise i’m sure the combination of Winston and Glamour is going to blow some unsuspecting minds…

    • Alberto Says:

      Jason, I wasn’t talking about Winston per se, I love that he’s getting exposure. I was more talking about North American culture in general and consumers relation to that. I seriously doubt Winston will start watering down the walls of text for a gig with Glamour or otherwise. Maybe I just misinterpreted your comment

    • Jason Says:

      i meant it more the other way around…but it was probably wishful thinking…

  11. Jason Says:

    i meant it more the other way around…but it was probably wishful thinking…

  12. 1 Bears are pretty much the sexiest.2 Yeah Id totally that handyman work my carpet.ETA 3 I think that Toned Mind pole dancer might be the author of Edited at 2011-03-13 03 57 am UTC . I think finding a group of people that is OK with their bodies anywhere is difficult Im not sure what choir youre referring to.Why do you think this is sex-negative? . And sometimes I will have a great conversation and that will lead to sexy times.I can also relate to the stack of possibilities.

  13. ADD Says:

    So, I understand you have beef with the Oatmeal dude? 🙂

  14. Innogen Says:

    I agree with you Winston. I like the Oatmeal, but the whole mustache thing was pretty fucked up and distasteful.

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