October 20, 2011

Heya, new comic for you at last. Something something infinite canvas something kickbacks from the scrollbar industry something something.



136 Responses to “chaos”

  1. fishboy Says:

    That wikipedia spiral? I am it.

    Also: I am totally cutting through dark alleys all the time from now on. Even if she eats me I’d love to meet the sphynx.

    PS: Duct tape FTW.

  2. Gourab Basu Says:

    Your comics are definitely not smartphone friendly

  3. gt7h1 Says:

    Now I have afraid to make a comment. And not to make a comment..

  4. Patrick Says:

    “She gets home”


  5. DoubleW Says:

    Babies on a conveyer belt

    (there’s an arrow below that bubble that connects to the end of another path, nothing major, maybe just a confusing artifact, just sandwiching it in the adorable silly of)

    Babies on a conveyer belt

  6. Utterly brilliant. Thanks!

  7. Sisiutil Says:

    It always impresses me how your comics are so rich in detail that I keep scurrying back to them after one of the comments inevitably points out a choice item that I missed on the first read through. Or the second. Or the third…

    Bravo, excellent as usual. I, too, can totally relate to the Wikipedia spiral.

  8. Questo and Quistis' Dad Says:

    That was awesome. I try not to obsess too much about being a positive force in my students’ lives, but there are a lot of times when I wonder if I shouldn’t have just stayed in bed that day.

    A little disappointed that Garland, Mr. Chaos himself didn’t get a mention. (Ooops, I guess I should have had a spoiler alert there….)

  9. DH Says:

    Honestly, Winston, I wasn’t expecting much from this setup until I got to the side-scrolling bits. I’ve always kind of hated the chaos butterfly because of how often people use it as a fairly shallow thought experiment, and I generally expect something much deeper or resonant from your lovely comix.

    But then I got to the chains of events, and while I, much like the characters, still think it’s a bit of a silly thing to think about, you definitely did something cool with it (particularly everything that came from the guy taking the last newspaper).

    Plus, any “likely to be eaten by a grue” reference is guaranteed to win me over. Glad to see the sphinx at least gets a happy ending here.

  10. SAI Says:

    Part of the point of chaos theory is that most minor perturbations will cancel each other out, while a few will be amplified. Due to the complexity it’s effectively impossible to determine which is which. I’ve always found the Smale Horseshoe Map to be pretty easy to understand and a good intro to chaos theory.

  11. Jen Says:

    Your comics make me so happy. I just know everytime there’s an update that I’ll look at the world a little differently when I’ve finished reading it. Please do a book – I don’t have enough walls for all your posters!

  12. maldine Says:

    Bravo, just bravo !

  13. bart Says:

    Subject is chaos, and it’s about an apple? You sure you’re not getting messages from Eris?

  14. Nick Says:

    Excellent one!

    If you make a poster, I will definitely buy it. I bought the goats one, and it is the pride and joy of my home office 🙂


    • Dusty668 Says:

      Needs moar Text!
      Seriously I love it, I would like to get it as a poster too but my state is too small.

  15. Dominic Says:

    Haven’t laughed so much in a while. Thanks!

  16. mus Says:

    “hey, last one”-punchline: genius

    sadly, even staying in bed will affect the world, just differently – the only gripe I have with the ending of this strip.

    you simply cannot avoid to be the butterfly; it’s like how you cannot avoid to influence your children, even if you abandon them totally or let them explore everything by themselves, never punishing them, never rewarding them. it will always have an effect.

  17. I love the horseshoe nails reference!

    • David Says:

      Yeah, I think Poor Richard showing up is the real punchline. That and the hotel in the background 😛

  18. WCityMike Says:

    Nice Beatles reference. 🙂

  19. Mike Says:

    Awesome that is!

  20. Brad Says:

    How could the child of fans of a rock star who is not even born yet be old enough to drive by March of 2041?

  21. Leak Says:

    So another side effect of being startled by a chaos butterfly is that you start speaking German?

    (Works for me – then again, I’ve been speaking German all my life so I’ve got a head start… :D)

  22. Alexander Erben Says:

    Even more wonderful than the last scroll-bar challenge! 😀

  23. Benjy Says:

    Woah. That was awesome. I’m thankful to be on a laptop with one of those little all-direction scrolling nub things in the middle. Loved it. ^_^

  24. Nishido_Satsunoyama Says:

    There is no scape. Go hiding under the blankets is also an action, which therefore will cause consequences; by instance me not having my next comix fix, which I’ll need very much.

    Hey, did you know that by a loose interpretation of chaos theory, magic is logically possible? If I recall correctly, the thing went: “Think of this: if being possible that a butterfly flapping it’s wings could cause a tornado, and given that the same could be true for any two events no matter how unrelated they may seem, and yet the first may still be the cause of the second. Then why wouldn’t be possible to physically alter reality in some way just by chanting ‘klaatu-barada-nikto’?”

    Sounds convincing, eh? Pity I said that only to prove I can sophism circles around anybody and win a bet of 50.000 Bolívares. Hahaha, Oh, my scoundrel years… However, I still so wish it was true, though ;D

  25. Really, truly awesome. Thanks once again for an amazing work of art, philosophy and humanity rolled into a beautiful and funny vessel!

  26. Hello. Says:

    Thanks again, Mr. Rowntree, for another heady read. Placebo effect from prior expectations? Maybe. Awesome? Of course.
    Take care.

  27. C. Eagle Says:

    Liked the Ivan Kupala reference/Last iWeekly on the box, just awesome. I guess it shall be better for the mankind to avoid deep thinking about posibilities because you know, infinite outcomes, mate.

  28. Oyfinth Says:


    (Oh and the Nobel peace prize is awarded in Norway, not Sweden).

  29. Sutowato Says:

    I used to do this as a child! I would move a tiny pebble from one place in the road to somewhere else then write down what consequences it would have years from now. The best one was how unscrewing a piece of a random bicycle 1/3 of the way would lead to the assassination of Vladimir Putin in 2012, He wasn’t even president then so I guess I will have to see if it pans out.

    Also, people don’t leave $50 tips? No wonder the waitress last night was happy. I just don’t understand tipping.

  30. Zonadow Says:

    Damn I love Virus Comix. The comics are always well drawn, long, well thought out, well written and make you think for a while. It takes me about an hour to go through any regular older web comic’s entire archive and less than 15 minutes to go through the newer ones but each Virus Comix comic takes me a good half hour to go through just one, and the entire archive took me a good week to get through.

  31. Innominate Says:

    This is one of your better ones, and that’s saying something! The question is, are all of these possibilities simultaneous or exclusive? Is it a choose-your-own chaos kind of deal, or a “Chaos for everyone!” affair?

  32. Calvin Says:

    Wow, you are an amazing writer! Thanks for being incredible!

  33. Chris Says:

    holy shit BALLS that was good.

  34. The Old Wolf Says:

    Superb, as usual. Every moment is a choice, and every choice has prices and benefits. And consequences.

  35. Benedikt Says:

    Great as always and even funnier because only two hours ago I watched Community 304, which is a different take on chaos theory (and very recommandable).
    I especially did love the crossings on the right and the contrafactual “One takes last paper from paper box” which is still possible from the view of panel 6, but not anymore from panel 7. Extra props, too, for “He is likely to be eaten by a sphinx”.

  36. Otter Says:

    Scott McCloud wouldn’t like how the main story’s panels are laid out, but otherwise it was still a good one 🙂

  37. John Loo Says:

    Another brilliant one by you. Thank you! But.. I was hoping some of the events that happened would be more depressing… oh well.

  38. dvilla Says:

    Mind blowing.

  39. One of the best you’ve done in a while.

  40. Marty Says:

    I’m never disapointed and sometimes amazed… this one’s amazing!

  41. Joseph Baltazar Says:

    Generally not great.

  42. TentacledBeast Says:

    Morale: Don’t litter.

    What’s with the arrow under the 2439 kids?

    I like how the pedestrian gets home safely anyway, because the same line of events that caused her to miss her light also caused the driver to miss his.

    Tipping point label made me chuckle.

    PS – I admire the patience of those who managed to scroll their way through this maze of a comic. I had to download it and open it locally.

    • TentacledBeast Says:

      Ooh, I just noticed the reference in the last panel: “Horseshoe nails – You’ll want one”!

      “For want of a nail…”

      I love these details 😛

  43. Stephanie Says:

    THIS IS FANTASTIC. so perfect. please please please make it available for printing.. i’d wallpaper my room with it

  44. Chris S. Says:

    I’ve enjoyed the spatial liberties you’ve taken with this strip and the previous one. Awesome!

  45. This one was reeeaaalllyyyy good! Mindblown when I went down some of the “threads”. Amazing!

  46. Bob of Bob Says:

    The problem with chaos theory is that there is no initial event.

  47. Tintinnabulation Says:

    Your comic makes me happy. I enjoy all of the posters that are available, but I don’t know if I love them enough to buy one. THIS I would buy as a poster.
    Also: keep up the good work, etc. =]

  48. Daniel O. Says:

    Absolutely brilliant! That comic had everything! No wonder it’s my favorite. I would totally buy this as a poster.

  49. Darkiush Says:

    wow, reading this was…. messy and chaotic XD
    Great comic, like always

  50. Joe Trudell Says:

    I’d just like to add my voice to the chorus requesting that this comic be made into a poster

  51. Jenny Says:

    That was bloody brilliant!

  52. Jason Says:

    94 bubbles of fun! (Yes I had to count.)

    But I want to hear more about this “pantsless society”!

  53. Migue Says:

    Great, as always.
    I really like when you do this non-convencional comics.

  54. Nick Roberts Says:

    When is the earliest date that we can get this into poster format? Regrettably I have not purchased a poster yet, but I will buy this in a heartbeat once this is a poster

  55. GlitterBerri Says:

    Teehee, I was smiling the whole way through this. 🙂 I’m glad most, if not all of the events, were for the positive rather than the negative like I was expecting. The world’s a tangled mess, but not necessarily a bad one!

  56. Trilly Says:

    Suddenly, GERMAN!

    I love this comic. So much. ^_^

  57. Dan Plaat Says:

    I noticed she moved the apple core to the trash, good message in the end. I would say yes everything is interrelated, but this is cool, not scary, but also that it takes many small things to do something big. For one of those links to work many other variables must be accounted for, another apple core could change anything else involved. Thnaks

  58. Ben Says:

    Brilliant as always.

  59. Erma Bombeck Says:

    You have too much time on your hands….

  60. kris Says:

    Good man, Mr Rowntree.

    I have a nice little toy butterfly right here. I found it by the roadside. I wonder about its past. I could equaliy well wonder about its future.

  61. Sheedy Says:

    That was excellent – thanks.

  62. Fultron Says:

    Wait, they still get married though…right?

  63. Julien Brightside Says:

    This one made me think. I think the cogs in my head are spinning so hard it hurts.

    Oh well, if you affect the world in every possible way you do, at least we can do an effort to affect in a positive way.

  64. Şp♠Ɖę Says:

    this is one of the better comics for the art alone. now i’m going to go read it. and methinks “yeah, i’ve been there”

  65. Nathan (Wilson) Says:

    Comics like this, where you put the infinite canvas to such great use, are very fun to read. This one is great, it both encourages and discourages me at the same time. I’d still love to help out by transcribing them on , even though this one in particular would be very difficult. Please make an account. 🙂

  66. Phoebe Says:

    Mind officially blown.

  67. GerryB Says:

    As a fumed boil in advertising, ignoro-sauvant in decision trees, I love your blue butterflies Winston; too long this shit has been used for logic – seeing it as necessarily compartmentalistic expression of your inward explosion of outwardly-pointed art: F*CK YES.


  68. GerryB Says:

    And I moth remember my lepidoptery thomtime.

  69. William Says:

    Heh. Horseshoe nail company. Gotta love the Easter eggs.

  70. Yamara Says:

    In my town, there is a raincoat under a tree.
    In the sky, there is a cloud containing the sea.
    In the sea, there is a whale without any eyes.
    In the whale, there is a man without his raincoat.

    In another country, with another name
    Maybe things are different, maybe they’re the same.

    Back on the train,
    The seven soldiers read the papers again
    But the news, it doesn’t change.

    -Brian Eno
    “Mother Whale Eyeless”

  71. aliph1toronto Says:


  72. Bill W Says:


  73. Finn Says:

    Rowntree, this isn’t just art, this is a work of genius. Utterly magnificent. You continue to push the boundaries of online comics in a way other utterly lazy ‘writers’ would never dream of.

    • I wouldn’t call them lazy. Some people are more creative than others. Some do it for jokes which means that they have to appeal to a lower comprehension denominator. And some are just bad 🙂

  74. Tian. Says:

    Ich kann kaum in Worte fassen, wie sehr mich deine Werke immer wieder berühren. Einfach grandios!

  75. Johannes Van Acker Says:

    You’ve got one more fan right here. Great work, I love what you did!

    Let’s speak in my mothertongue for a while:
    C’est magnifique, excellemment pensé, dessiné et écrit! Très impressionnant! Je suis tombé dedans comme parfois on découvre un endroit qu’on aime: je marchais au hasard, et j’ai trouvé… wow!

    Wonderfull ^^ Carry on, it’s a pleasure to the eyes, and the mind

  76. I’d like a shirt with the apple on it, at least, if not a full-blown poster.

    Added bonus: Easily identifiable Rowntree fans.

  77. r10pez10 Says:

    The possibilities are endless…

    P.S. I bought the Cracked book on a whim today – nice work on the illustrations Mr. Rowntree!

  78. Daryl Says:

    I loved it. But could I make a special request for the return of Jumbo Ranger, even just in a small way because I havn’t seen enough of him.

  79. Nat Nat Says:

    I’ve never considered an apple core in the bushes to be littering. That is, after all, exactly where the apple tree wanted it to go – in a bit of understory with leaf litter and filtered sun. Even if no passing chipmunk, squirrel, skunk or raccoon eats the apple’s remaining flesh, the core will be gone after a couple of winters, composted into the ground; and there just might be a wild apple sapling in its place.

    Gum wrappers, on the other hand, are totally littering.

    PS. Nicely rendered Canadian ballot, eh!

  80. Frank Says:

    But that means the Sphinx has nothing to eat tonight!

  81. Indecision 2012 Says:

    Inaction can affect the world as much as action! Her choice to stay home under a blanket could change the world might be more influential than tossing the apple core. Can you imagine what the world would be like if Hitler had just stayed home his whole life? Actually, you probably have already.

  82. benS. Says:

    A tiny biopsy from this mastodon, updated on a THURSDAY! , “apple core”- comic:

    Duck tape girl is looking back at something like… today’s Sodom and Gomorrah. Let’s hope her name isn’t Edith.
    Also, two of my lucky numbers, 316 and 22, are there.


    P.S. Slightly O.T. : Wr !,
    I’m currently reading your mom’s latest book (the fourth story out of nine.)
    So far I like “The Blue Album”-story best, while easily identifying with Gordie.

    Apple never falls far from the tree

  83. Robert T Says:

    I love any of your comics in which the Sphynx makes an appearance, even if it’s just the tip of her tail. 🙂

    Hehe “Titanic Hotel”.

    I really like how you’ve been “spreading out” your layouts recently; a good use of the web medium. And this was a great break in the 4th wall without beating the reader over the head with it.

  84. JW Says:

    Who tosses things like that, over their shoulder? Tosses are typically made with a backhand flick of the wrist. Tsk, ruined the whole comic for me.

  85. Nan Says:

    you. are. brilliant.

  86. will Says:

    fantastic. thanks.

  87. Magnanimous Says:

    So. Amazing.

  88. Mercè Says:

    That was pretty damn awesome, but I’d lie if I said I hadn’t thought pretty much the exact same thing before. I guess your talent lies within the fact that you can put things everyone has thought about on paper, and yet make them look refreshing and awesome.

  89. Sean Says:


  90. johnmayerfan Says:

    holy shit this made my night

  91. grandexandi Says:

    These are prime quality comics, I really admire the person or people responsible for them.

  92. Elias Campos Arreaga Says:


  93. Bob Says:

    I cried from joy.

  94. Parker Says:

    Great stuff. I think about this concept constantly, every day, and try and predict at least a few tiny steps into the possible chain reactions that may occur with everything I do(even though Chaos Theory means they’re by definition unpredictable).

    This was especially active when I was working at Blockbuster – every film reshelved or given a more visible spot at a certain time was a possible chance discovery – life changed, so I tried to make the best stuff stand out.

    SPEAKING OF WHICH: Everyone needs to see the movie Mr. Nobody, which came out in the past year. It’s allll about this sort of thing, from the perspective of a 118 year old man who’s relating his multiple pasts before he becomes the last human to die of old age, humankind having become immortal within this century. Mesmerizing, beautiful film.

  95. Aakash Bakaya Says:

    That was wonderful
    Excellent work!

  96. Maria Says:

    i read this and now i’m happy that i don’t know anything about any consequences of my existence. that’s good, ’cause normally i’m all “maaan, i wish i would know more about the future, what will happen when i do this or that? i want to be more sure about things and i can only be sure if i know about consequences, can somebody guarantee that everything will be fine? that i will be fine if i do this? please? i really don’t want to do anything without guarantees”, subconscious of course, so most of the time i don’t even notice how stupid it is and IT SUCKS. so, yeah, now i just hope that someday i can do something that brings two squirrels together so they can have cute squirrel babies and then there will be cute squirrel babies and that’s all that matters.

    and one more thing i also wanted to say: i am in love with your “comics” (as in “philosophical thoughts about everything, expressed in a comic-like fashion”). they are on my “things that make life more awesome and worth living”-list and i’m not saying that to flatter you but because it’s true.

    by the way, speaking of flattering: do you have a flattr-button on your blog i haven’t found yet? i would totally click it.


    (p.s. i’m from germany and i really don’t know if my english is any good, but i really wanted to say something.)

  97. Naresh Says:

    the LoL’n sperm – brilliant

  98. Ian Says:

    the fact that the friend also contributed to the web of possibilities made me laugh the most.

    a good job is you during.

  99. ebonicplague Says:

    Not since Alan Moore’s Promethea have I seen such a fantastic use of the structure of the medium of comics to elevate the story. I regret that I have but two hands with which to applaud you.

  100. Mystyr Nile Says:

    Winstown Rowntree makes webcomic
    Thousands read it
    One of them looks up chaos theory on Wikipedia
    He sees a picture on the article that he thinks looks awesome
    He links to it on this website

    Others see
    etc. . .

  101. Lubin Louis Says:

    This was some spectacular entertainment.
    You are the best man. This is just the best web comic I’ve ever stumbled upon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: