webcomic for the people

October 2, 2011

Heyy, new comic for you, finally. This is the one where i finally stop using walls of text and weird panel arrangements and background details and music references!! Nobody has time to read!



For anyone who does in fact have time to read, i am proud to say that my Mom has a new book out this week, which can  be obtained from the usual kinds of places one obtains books from in this crazy, fast-paced world of the future we live in. “Leaving Berlin” is an ultra-fantastico collection of short stories, told with humor and insight (and probably some amusing sarcasm), and is the perfect introduction to the work of an author who deserves to be at least 189 times more popular than she already is, so there you have it. I know it would mean a lot to her if someone was to, say, order 36,000 copies of her book, so why not consider it? Or you could just order one. There’s a book launch in Regina, Saskatchewan on friday the 7th, for anyone who is actually reading this in Regina, so there’s that too (you can email me for the details). All those goddamn words, it runs in the family…

117 Responses to “webcomic for the people”

  1. WCityMike Says:

    Very fun, and enjoyable — if a bit tough to navigate in a web browser. (I pity the people trying to navigate it on a netbook’s screen!)

    • Bill W Says:

      I know what you mean. I didn’t know about the other half of the comic until they collided

    • localvagrant Says:

      I think that was the point Bill. It was a pleasant surprise to me, “oh look at that, it’s like two comics!”

    • Bok Says:

      I read this comic on Netbok, and it worked fine, actually. That’s what the autoscroll feature is for.

  2. Carl Lange Says:

    A comic about the reason I try to smile at people. It might just help them through their day.

  3. Jeff T Says:

    Fantastic. I love your comics that point out the universality among humans. Call me idealistic, but I think a littler perspective could fix the world

  4. Joe Trudell Says:

    I love the content and the layout. And when I read Ethel’s thoughts it’s like you pulled them right out of my head.

  5. The Old Wolf Says:

    Stupendous. I’m guilty of having had similar conversations with myself, and working myself into a fury over nothing. Doing better now, but it’s a wonderful reminder of why it’s such an unproductive activity!

  6. OK, somebody explain to me the Poland bit?

    • Sisiutil Says:

      Ethel accused her of being a Nazi. A pretty good put-down, actually, I’ll have to remember that one.

      I loved the way the layout fit the converging solipsism of the two protagonists. Brilliant, as usual.

  7. Doom Says:

    Interesting, but “emperor of the universe” was better. Story branch on the right is funnier, so they feel kinda “unbalanced”. But maybe that’s just me.

    • No, that’s a fair point, so i’m glad you mentioned it.

    • Harry Says:

      I loved both of them! It was such a pleasant surprise to discover the second comic strip in this one, and I really thought you NAILED the low self esteem with the horror-story-prostitute lady (I forget what her name is). Seriously, it was like you held a tape recorder up next to my brain for a week and took notes.

      The way it was laid out was so innovative, and the structure of the panels actually contributed to the story itself! You NEVER see that! (Or, at least, I never do)

      Winston, you really don’t need to be anywhere near as critical of your comics as you are. They’re incredible. Every single one wows me.

  8. Chris K. Says:

    I liked trying to spot all the REM references.

    And someday, I want to use the Poland line on someone (truly) deserving. Or if it’s funny.

    Choose your own collision. I liked both.

  9. * Says:

    don’t you dare reveal the name of the pink-haired girl. If you do, I’LL EAT YOUR SOUL.

  10. fishboy Says:

    I love you but sometimes you make me sad. In a good way, but nonetheless.

  11. Mark O'Leary Says:

    In Zen, we say, “You make, you get.”

    Thanks for another awesome comic.

  12. ChristianZ Says:

    Most interesting, and entertaining ^^

  13. stag Says:

    Interesting layout. “Converging”. Not sure how else you could have done that trick.

  14. bachterman Says:

    winston a. holmström?

  15. mikey Says:

    Long time reader, first time comment-poster… Love your work, but this one, in my opinion, is better than previous stuff you have done because of it dual nature, and how we all are in certain ways alike.
    Good job, and I’m looking forward to the next one!
    Cheers from Romania

  16. mark Says:

    Initially didn’t notice it went down past the shared bubble, so I thought they were the same person at different ages, or possibly parallel universes, so it was a pleasant surprise when they bumped into each other. We see the theme of this comic in other books/movies/etc all the time but I thought this comic told it quite elegantly/eloquently.

  17. mtvgohome Says:

    I loved the REM references, felt like a memorial/tribute so very moving. cheers again Winston!

  18. Alexander Erben Says:

    And there you outdid yourself AGAIN. oO

  19. erdosain Says:

    Wow, just wow. A fantastic entry this week, WR!
    Also, i’d love to read your mom’s book! The comment on that page picked my curiosity, too bad i live in a faraway land known as Argentina, and i lack any medium to buy things over the ‘net. Good luck to her, though!

  20. DoneBlock Says:

    you know i’m pretty sure “downtown icecream” is sex move

  21. DaveB Says:

    Great. Winston, you have made my day again. Thanks for the effort you put into these.

  22. rustcrust Says:

    Ethel is my favorite character to this day. Well, as far as subnormality goes. Overall it has to be Captain Estar.
    Thanks for providing a quality comic!

  23. Rex Hull Says:

    “Congratulations on your invasion of Poland?” Beautiful, I’ll still be giggling tomorrow…..

  24. Sir Exal Says:

    The R.E.M. references are my favorite Easter Egg ever.

    Also, the ‘Farmer John’s Frozen Peas’ comment brings to mind Orson Welles’s infamous “Frozen Peas” recording.


  25. Sutowato Says:

    You have outdone yourself as usual, pity the subject matter on the left is so familiar to me. Wish your parental unit good luck with their book sale, I would attend in support but am approximately… 20,000km away so it might be difficult.

  26. spade Says:

    at first, this made me smile inside, then it made me cry, then finally, cathartically i realised… it could be worse than being me. i do feel a bit concerned for YOU however being familiar enough with the subject matter to even be able to create this .. but thank you.

  27. Otter Says:

    Man, I so feel for Ethel. (Almost) Every day of mine is like that… and the part about the cooler brother is actually more of a reality then a dream. 😦

    Also, Frozen Peas (after my little emo trip)… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH1PJTY9AVA

  28. LittleJackal Says:

    This was really good- I loved the Easter-egg REM references, I thought that was a great tribute to them. I like reminders that being nice even when you’ve had a bad day is worthwhile.

  29. Niels Says:

    För helvete Winston, du är svensk ju! 😀

  30. Gillsing Says:

    Sinister crime organization? At first I thought they needed voices for their computer game, and had decided to save money by having it done as ‘auditions’. But I guess if you live inside a webcomic, your world may well contain secret headquarters that need computer voices.

  31. kurdt13 Says:

    Subnormality is the way comics should have evolved all along, instead of being slowly crammed into tiny three or four panel newspaper strips.
    It kind of reminds me of the old time newspaper comics that had huge multi-page spreads, is what I’m saying. It’s awesome!

  32. spriteless Says:

    Nice use of, wassit called, infinite canvass. I guess some people feel like shit because they’re wired that way, and some because shitty stuff happens. Not feeling feeling like shit is horrible is enough for me to live with, at least.

  33. “High five”, is that how you say it?

  34. joshua Says:

    You literally, LITERALLY, took my breath away with the way the panels are arranged. I expected them to slide down across the screen in one fell diagonal swoop but when I saw the collide and the return up to the top it made my heart skip a beat as I let out a breathless sigh. Reading the 2nd stories panels backwards was like coming up for air.


  35. Dan Plaat Says:

    Not sure if there is a best way to read it, but once a saw it converge with the through bubble I raced to the other side, but double-taked and continued with etheal side first and read to the finish, now I wonder if that was a mistake. Once again your style and design work leaves me reeling.

    • I’m actually curious how most people ended up reading it, as not even i am sure what the best way is, if there is a best way.

    • Joe Trudell Says:

      I initially read Ethel’s panels not knowing that the other side existed. I feel that’s the way it should be read. I was completely wrapped up in Ethel’s story then BAM! It clashes with this other person’s story that I had no idea was even happening. Kinda like the way that sort of thing happens in real life. Anyway, I may just be making an ass out of you and me here, or perhaps just me, but I figured that was the effect you were going for. A friend of mine said you should have just put both stories side by said, which would have just murdered that wonderful effect.

    • Heather Says:

      I agree, Joe! That’s how I found it, it was so great. I loved this layout. Though the comment button was hard to find, heh.

    • Joe Trudell Says:

      YAY! I like when people agree with me, and I love the name Heather, so you’re two for two in my book 😀

    • Libertariandude Says:

      I read Ethel’s panels first, and then crashed completely unexpectedly with the other side. I think it was a masterful touch on your part, WR.
      By the way, I’m feeling so stupid on not being able to catch the supposed REM references. You often make me feel stupid, Rowntree. Bear in mind, however, I was born and raised in South America and a lot of North American cultural references get lost on me. Don’t worry, I’m studying.

    • Sutowato Says:

      I noticed the scroll bar and jumped from the top panel on the left to the right and so forth, then went back and read it in it’s entirety for each path. It’s nice to know someone is trying new things in a world otherwise devoid of imagination.

    • Mystyr Nile Says:

      Just thought of something:
      Print it out twice, cut it so that you have one sheet following Ethel and one following the other one, give one to each friend(required:friends), they read them, then trade.

  36. Richter Says:

    I love Ethel with all my heart. I hope she finds peace and happiness.

  37. Pinks Says:

    Jesus, guys, you do your damndest to make sure no one can read your comics. what the hell kind of format is this? No, it’s not clever, and no, it doesn’t get the point across any better.

    • According to the comic, you might be having a bad day. My condolences!

    • Harry Says:

      The layout contributes hugely to the way the story is read. Being isolated in one person’s thoughts to begin with shows you how easy it is to ignore other people and focus on yourself; which is exposed when the two stories come together. If both were side by side and neatly laid out, you would never get the effect of two entirely separate worlds colliding just as the characters themselves collide.

      Don’t listen to this douche, WR 😦

  38. Oskar Öman Says:

    Wow another great comic, I really like how you experiment with panels. I think you’re really pushing the envelope when it comes to webcomics.

  39. pbsboy Says:

    You should write a book on one of your characters 🙂

  40. Heather Says:

    Love the format, and the comic. So heartbreaking, yet uplifting at the same time. It kind of breaks my brain how your comics just exponentially get better and better.

  41. Voskhod Says:

    Panel play! Oh yes!

    You sir are brilliant.

  42. SuckMyComment Says:

    This is what they call “making use of your medium”. Take note kids….

  43. Nishido Satsunoyama Says:

    I just got that feeling of excitement informercials fail to provide when they tell you “But wait, there is more!”. Good job!

    • spade Says:

      welllll if you like that feeling, check out “epic rap battles of history #10” on youtube. 😉 they’re a whole series of farcically sent up characters rap battling each other.
      ironically enough, napolean and hitler both make appearances in them.

  44. JSfromAH Says:

    Congratulations, Winston! Probably your best one since “Subnormality gets quietly hammered”! Very enjoyable.

  45. Jason Says:

    Ah, finally found Actress Mom in the archives: http://www.viruscomix.com/page498.html

    Still enjoying the strip! 🙂

  46. Justin Clitheroe Says:

    You know, it’s nice to read a great comment on today’s world (the comic) and then realize that not everyone falls under the stereotype (the commenters) Thanks Winston!
    Great comic

  47. Wulf Says:

    Sympathy for the normal.

    Also, woo! REM!

  48. Adelene Says:

    Okay, apparently the comic loads for other people, but I’ve tried a couple times a day since Sunday, and it’s not loading for me at all. 😦

    • Not sure why that should be. If anyone else is having this problem let me know.

    • spade Says:

      well, since i believe in helping people, here goes. bear with me. IF you are using windows (if not ask someone way more knowledgable than me) first, clear your cookies. this means clicking on disk cleanup. reboot, of course, at any point in time. you can try at each step to load this page, IF it fails i would suggest downloading another browser other than internet explorer. firefox, opera, and MAYBE google chrome (i haven’t used it)
      would be good choices. it takes a long time to get used to another browser (learning curve) but in the end, IF it works, it is very much worth it. good luck! and if all else fails, try to google your specific problem.

    • Line Noise Says:

      i am on an old mac and use safari. the ‘infinite canvas’ crunched my browser ( crunch is like crash only not so bad ) so i “cut&past”-ed the image sight unseen into a picture viewer .. which gave me a thumbnail of the whole comic. So i knew the structure of the comic before i started to read it. i read the dream fork then the audition fork then the intersect and then the aftermaths. Many of WR’s works are better viewed in a picture viewer that in a web browser.

  49. Electron Azure Says:

    Nice job on the format and the R.E.M. references (integrated them into the comic quite well. Although, since they’re all from Automatic for the People – is that your favorite album, the on you grew up with, or has it some other significance?

    • Yeah, i listened to it back in high school, it was one of the first albums i ever got i think (via Columbia House!) so i’ve got some specific memories there. I figured the band deserved some kind of tribute, so worked in all the song titles.

    • Electron Azure Says:

      Ah. For me, the high school album was Accelerate. Interesting to see two generations of R.E.M. fans 🙂

  50. I read all the way down and then all the way back up and I thought they were the same person for a while. Their faces were so much alike. Then I went back down and I sorted it out.

  51. pG Says:

    Now, if I ran a secret organisation bent on global domination (Which I don’t). And I had a secret underground lair (which I don’t). I’d have the computer voice done by John Travolta. (Which of course I didn’t do.) Besides, Kevin Spacey was booked solid at that time…. aw dammit. Condition Lavender, Condition Lavender. Abort! Abort!

  52. Nat Nat Says:

    “Congratulations on your invasion of Poland?” This didn’t work for me – so many armies have invaded Poland over its long history that I wasn’t sure you meant the Nazis.

    • Libertariandude Says:

      Yeeeah… but you have to be a history buff to not catch it. It works for most people. It didn’t work for me, though, coincidentally I was reading about the history of France in the 19th century just the other day, thus “invading Poland” reminded me of Napoleon instead of Nazis.

  53. Dead.juice Says:

    That would have been cool if you hid a small comic in the lower left/right corners.
    BTW I’m viewing this on a laptop with a damn touch pad.

  54. primvirlaux Says:

    Perfect style and form of presentation (I also read until the mother node without realizing there was a 2nd branch to see).

    But I guess I was hoping for a more conciliatory or optimistic ending… I’m not complaining, the story is great, it’s just that some of your other comics have a strong emotional twist in the end, where the whole comic seems to be soul crushingly pessimistic, only to then end on a happier note. This one didn’t, and it leaves a bitter taste behind. Probably that’s the purpose.

  55. Brianna Says:

    I found references to every song on “Automatic for the People” – except “Everybody Hurts”. Am I missing it somewhere, or was it left out on purpose? Maybe some kind of message?

  56. kestle Says:

    I don’t know how you do it sir, but I can’t help but read myself into each of your characters. you capture humanity well I guess. thank you for all your comics, they are amazing.

  57. loosenut Says:

    Brilliant, again. Your understanding and portrayal of human nature is impressive.

  58. The Skeleton Piper Says:

    It’s like you get into peoples heads. . .

  59. Stranger Says:

    Jesus, thats depressing. Not only is life shit, but your suffering isnt even unique!

    Ugh, suicide is looking better by the day.

    • Heather Says:

      That’s definitely one way of seeing it. And I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I want to tell you how I see it.

      I (sometimes) see it as hopeful. Suffering feels so isolating, and thus it feels like one is uniquely fucked up and hopeless and it’s also somehow their fault. I find it liberating to realize that all suffer, in their own ways. It’s just another point of connection and understanding another person, and the more connection and understanding we are able to have in our lives, the less meaningless and bleak this all seems.

      I hope you feel better.

    • stranger! Says:

      whatever it is you’re going through, i think it’ll be ok. 🙂

    • Nishido Satsunoyama Says:

      Really? You seriously feel better about suicide just now when it should had became obvious none of us is ever alone in this world, and that all that would take is for us to step aside a little away from our own selfishness, and try to realize we are not the only ones with problems? Maybe what we all need is to learn to be nicer to each other, and try to be the best possible version of ourselves, no matter how horrible we may feel at a moment. I think it’s all about mercy, empathy and politeness; oh, and learning to realize the person at whom we feel like exploding at, he or she is not the one deserving of our anger.
      You know, I love how this comix makes me talk as Morgan Freeman when he plays God. It does feels nice 😀

  60. SomeoneAwesome Says:

    Your comics are like the modern day Calvin and Hobbes. Different yet brilliant comic layout, funny yet philosophical.

  61. Finn Says:

    I’m sure we’ve seen the woman on the right before. Isn’t she the one hit with the six orgasm surprise at the world’s worst dating agency?

  62. benS. Says:

    In brevity (sigh…) :

    Zed, the blond guy is, except for the necklace, identical to my inner picture of murderer Niedermann, Lisbeth’s psychopathic half-brother in the Millennium Trilogy (Pippi Longstocking genre.)

    Another reason for going stealth?

    By the way,
    this comic looks like a wine glass, so,
    prosit to you and your ISBN-mom, Wr.

    dog bee ben,
    already 1.9 Giga ly away.

  63. a fan Says:

    I’ve been reading your comic for almost a year now, and I’ve been enjoying it so much. Today’s comic touched me, though; the left story felt so familiar. I just had to let you know how much I love your comic.

  64. middle me Says:

    ayap happened to me just der otter day.

  65. Andy Says:

    I love this comic (art form, I guess). Funny deep and serious, without taking itself too seriously. You are exceptional, and I’m quite sure, extremely rich by this point. Don’t let the fame and the millions go to your head.

  66. Christopher Holder Says:

    Wonderful as always! I’ve been reading your comics for months now and love how consistently insightful and interesting they are. Thanks for the amount of time you put into thinking about these things.

  67. Benjy Says:

    I had to guess how to read it, I actually got it right. Definitely enjoyed this one and it would be a cool poster in that exact format because it would make sense more if I could see the whole thing at the same time. ❤

  68. Benjy Says:

    Also, we know your last name now. Give us internet stalkers enough time and we’ll figure your first out Mr. Rowntree (or should I say Mr. Holmstrom!) not for anything nefarious, just curiosity. 😀

  69. Gypsy girl, as I have decided to call her, reminds me of Jaime Hernandez’s character “Izzy” from Love and Rockets. I really appreciate what you have to offer, sir. Keep the good stuff coming.

  70. AlanSmithee Says:

    The awesomeness of this comic cannot be measured by mere human instrumentation.

  71. billy Says:

    hahaah that’s great

  72. ives Says:


    i think you’re web comic is very well written and insightful.

    if you have a book or something like that kindly post it up top so i can look it up and read it.


    you’re awesome.

  73. Dhatz Says:

    You forgot to index the halloween and theres no comment button either, Im very disappoint in you Adrian, there aint no gurren lagann or PSG costumes.

  74. jason Says:

    Oh holy shit.
    The left side is like, exactly me.

  75. julia Says:

    holy crap.
    you are amazing.

  76. Ethel Says:

    I just love the fact that you named her ethel

  77. Tevyus Says:

    This is a remarkably good strip. Big ideas, jumping right past the plausible . . . I think the creator is a genius. Good on you!

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