Shit, a couple hours ago, I got to thinking how much better my life would be if I found myself in a time-loop that let me go back to when I was a kid and live it all over again. I’m not talking knowing lottery numbers or knowing which stocks to buy, but just the wisdom to make decisions a little differently. Maybe do some things a little sooner. Maybe asking for tutoring when I skipped a grade so I could stay there. Maybe choosing to become a chemist instead of a humanities major. Maybe realizing that piling debt on myself is a stupid and self-destructive thing to do.
This comic was serendipitously exactly what I needed. Maybe I need to get on changing my future instead of dwelling on the past. Thanks.
There are some (fortunately rare) mutations that can cause an apparent “natural sex change” in humans.
So you get to see life from both sides.
The Bad news: it usually either causes or cures the symptoms of transsexuality. Sex is defined between the ears, not between the legs.
I’ve sometimes thought what it would be like to make out with myself when I Iooked male (well, *mostly* male). I think I’d be too busy balling my eyes out, knowing how she’s suffering though.
At least I’d get to tell her that 3BHSD syndrome will cause her body to normalise (well, *mostly* normalise) one day. That she’ll get a “Get Out of Hell Free” card.
At least it wasn’t 5ARD or 17BHSD. Those changes are always F to M (SHUDDER!!!!).
In a universe not far from here, I’m a kindergarten teacher, happily married with half a dozen kids…. and wondering what would my life had been like.if I was male. Would I have been a Rocket Scientist? Traveled the world?
I’m not sure whether I’d swap my life for hers, if I could. Life would have been happier, far, far easier,,, but less interesting. I don’t know.
Wow, Winston, you just made my week. :-) A good old-fashioned wall of text, featuring one of your most intriguing characters, and four times no less. As I was reading, I was thinking, this is a lot of fun and all, but how is he going to *end* this? Well, let’s say the ending did not disappoint, either, and provided a nice take-off point for my own imagination.
Great work as usual. As someone firmly ensconced in middle-age, it’s inevitable to look back at your life thus far and wonder about what-ifs and might-have-beens, so this one hit home for me as much as it did for some of those posting above who are young adults and just setting out on this journey. Ultimately, you made the choices you made, so live with them; but also remember, your life ain’t over yet.
ha… been somewhat where the blonde one was, not in community service, but facing to an abiss knowing you have something to do, I was doing the thing where you tell your inner voice to fuck off. Fortunately i grew a pair and now i’m much better. Excellent comic, this is arguably the comic i’ve felt the most identified to.
Wow, that cheered me up like damn. As someone who wants to write something worth a damn himself, this came at just the right time in my life to keep me motivated and push me to write more (and better).
Yay, theoretical museum! That’s one of my favorites of yours; I started smiling before I even read the text-wall. Having just finished reading the text wall, I compliment you on another beautiful, insightful rendering of a great observation. You are so awesome, it’s a little scary.
First time commenter. As someone going through a bit of a quarter life crisis and desperately wishing for a time machine so I could go back and “fix” certain things, the Lesson here was a nice smack over the head.
post number 3. Which makes it the 3rd post after the first.
As I said there:
My eyes are wet from pained laughter. My breath is a bit hard, but not panting.
I wish I could write this good, while being told what it takes.
Someone asked me once, “If you could live your life over again what would you change?”. I said, “Everything”. They laughed and said, “Why, does your life suck that bad?”. I said, “No. My life has been great. I’ve had alot of interesting experiences, learned alot of interesting things, and seen alot of interesting people and places.” “I don’t get it”, they said, “If your life has been so interesting then why would you change it all?”. I said, “Because, then I would be able to have more interesting experiences, learn more interesting things, and see more interesting people and places.”
I’ve gone to college, got a Master’s degree, worked in programming, education, art preservation, bookkeeping, published poetry and fiction, worked and lived abroad. A whole veritable garden of forking paths, ala Borges. Yet in two days I’m interviewing to become a machinist’s apprentice. My father became a machinist after being in the military and working as a blues musician, his father was a machinist after trying other various trades. Does all that diverges converge? I dunno. Funny thing is, I’m pretty psyched.
This was good food for thought…
Also, can I just ask, do you do all your sketches digitally? I’m no expert but do you use a graphics pad and some magical programme right from the start or do you deveop from physical sketches and *then* make them bad-arse?
I was trying to emulate your style as part of some Art coursework last year yet had frankly no idea what materials to use – thus was an idiot an just used a pencil…
I actually do use a pencil, so you were on the right track for sure. Pencil on whatever paper, doesn’t matter, and then i ink (isographs/rapidographs, plus cheapo pens for line strengthening) and scan everything (600dpi and then apply “threshold” value of 169) and color digitally. Pretty old school, i mean i’ve never even been in the same room as a graphics tablet. Somehow.
It’s really weird- every time I come here (every five days) I see the t-shirt thing. Every third time I visit, I actually click on the t-shirt thing. I really like your comic and really want to buy a shirt.
The problem is that, while I really want to buy a shirt, I don’t really like any of your designs. It just seems like there’s a disconnect between what I like about the comic and what I like about your shirts. That said, it’d be pretty hard to cram 2400 words of interesting perspective onto a t-shirt.
I don’t know- does anyone else find this? Or is if just me? Because if it’s just me I’ll shut up and just buy a goddamn shirt.
Oh i know, i definitely don’t have the t-shirt design gene, i’ve just never found it easy to come up with great ideas. I’m forever looking to add new designs though, so any suggestions are more than welcome…(and this would be a good place to put them)
I really want a t-shirt too. I’m looking for a way to support Winston too. Posters just don’t cut it for me because I’m upwardly mobile and generally find posters tacky despite their deep content (I suppose I could find an elaborate frame). Plus I don’t get many visitors to my room.
I’m tempted to get a sphinx but it just lacks the depth. A black and white captain estar galactic bounty hunter military shirt might be neat too.
N.B. If you don’t like the merchandise but still want to contribute, you can also just donate. I don’t care for the t-shirts much either, and I’m not interested in plastering posters all over my apartment (I have one and that’s fine), so I send some cash every now and then.
Ha ha, thank you for the tension killer at the end there. Stellar as per usual, I always walk away from these things with more thoughts than I started with. And, on the T-shirt point listed above, it might just be me, but your Teddy Roosevelt taking out the Time Traveling Neo Nazi’s is what jumps to my mind, but I have the feeling that my Cracked.com influance in showing there. I also like all Black and white/silver images from the end of Subnormality #196 in the same vein.
David Mamet became a conservative, which is apparently an unpardonable sin. I really, really enjoy this comic, and try to look past the liberal slant of Winston, because he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. It crops up so rarely that it doesn’t prevent me from enjoying what I read here. Winston’s grasp of life and human interaction and human frailties is deeper than almost anything I have read, anywhere.
I think the liberal commenters here are far less forgiving, from what I’ve seen. The old saw is true: Conservatives think Liberals are wrong, Liberals think Conservatives are evil. The funny thing is, I can accept that there are people with different opinions than mine. Most liberals I encounter can’t even accept the possibility of a conservative view point: We are either crazy (literally, there are university “studies” claiming that conservatism is a mental disease) or mind-numbed robots or helpless dupes of the evil Big Tabacco/Big Pharma/Big Oil consortium. Believe it or not, I am not crazy, I am not paid off by multinational corporations (I wish!), I have simply arrived at my worldview by a logical analysis of what I have read and experienced. To many liberals, I am an impossibility.
I think the reason for this is that the liberal bias in the media, in academia, in entertainment, is everywhere; so my difference of opinion stands out. I think a lot of liberals surround themselves in a cocoon of like-minded people and don’t even encounter those with a different viewpoint.
I’m not trying to pick a fight here, politics really doesn’t come up a lot on this site. I just had to make a comment about the ‘Mamet going crazy’ line. Maybe Winston just assigned it to that character, I don’t know. Peace.
A big part of the problem with the conservative “brand”, if you will, particularly in the U.S., is that it is unfortunately used to describe two political viewpoints that are in many ways diametrically opposed to one another, but remain uncomfortably united against their opposition. On the one hand you have the fiscal conservatives, advocates of smaller government, free enterprise, and so on; on the other hand, you have the social conservatives, generally motivated by fundamentalist religious views, who actually want a bigger role for government (whatever the cost): specifically, increased regulation and enforcement of their definition of morality, even if that includes stifling business and industry, clawing back civil liberties, and curtailing scientific and technical advancement. The latter tend to be more vocal and get more attention from the media, and are of significant enough numbers to force fiscal conservatives to accommodate them. Opposition to conservatives will, naturally, attempt to paint them all with the same brush, so the more rational fiscal conservatives (who probably have a lot of good ideas that centrist liberals would agree with) get lumped in with the scarier religious types. Kind of the same way that conservatives lump in liberals with socialists and communists.
Please don’t assume such things of me, if in fact you were– however sick you are of the increasing polarization of politics, regular people being artificially split into two sides and demonizing each other instead of listening to each other and working together etc., (all of which is to the benefit of the power elite) i guarantee you i’m even more sick of it. In recent years i’ve really started to see the dare i say beauty in refusing to define oneself, in striving to be nonpartisan, a free thinker, and that’s always going to be my goal moving forward. If you’ve ever listened to the podcast “Common Sense” by Dan Carlin, that guy’s practically my hero right now, so tar me with that big nonpartisan brush if any (friggin’ common sense is definitely the ‘ideology’ that most interests me). People are not either liberal or conservative, and though my early work might suggest i think otherwise, it is no longer 5 years ago and i’m no longer interested in demonizing people based on their particular -ism. When you say “I have simply arrived at my worldview by a logical analysis of what I have read and experienced,” then that’s something i can definitely relate to. Because we’re all pretty similar in the end. I’m sick of people demonizing each other, because then it leads to the worst thing of all– the ASSUMPTION that the other side hates you, and thus the preclusion of any meaningful debate, the vicious circle.
So yeah, i’m definitely not trying to, like, quash you here or anything, i just wanna deflate the implied notion that i or any readers around here would hate someone just because they’re conservative (or just because they’re anything else). I think we’re a little better than that, as are you. But I understand where you’re coming from, and when you say that people “surround themselves in a cocoon of like-minded people and don’t even encounter those with a different viewpoint,” well that’s true of most of us, in all groups, and thus a very valid point indeed.
PS: As for david mamet, yeah, it was a throwaway line by one of my characters, and i just thought it was funny. But i’ll admit that if he went crazy, it wasn’t because he changed his beliefs, it was because he decided it was Really Important for everyone to know that he’d changed his beliefs, and to demonize those who think how he used to, and to generally be all paranoid and unpleasant about it, i mean i’d hate to run into the guy at a dinner party…
Tomas, just what is your definition of a troll? Here’s a hint: A troll is not just anyone who disagrees with YOUR opinion. I was responding to a throwaway line in the comic, which Winston said was a throwaway line. I think this is an interesting discussion, and no one is calling anybody names, so far. As I said in my post, I am a big fan of this comic; and for the vast majority of the comics there is no political red meat at all.
Winston, I completely understand what you are saying. It does seem that political discussion has gotten more polarized. The last thing I want is for this board to get all left-wing/right-wing. I think that we all have a lot more in common than we realize; and a lot of your comics address that. Everybody has the same fears and insecurities, and it’s hard sometimes to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Sisutil, I do recognize there are different flavors of conservatism at work; the social conservatives should put more of their effort into changing peoples minds rather than writing laws. I have never met a conservative who wants to bring about some Christian version of Sharia Law, I suppose Pat Robertson would be the closest to a theocrat; I think he is completely misguided and I am glad he has withdrawn from the political realm for the most part.
I would submit that the social conservatives are more reacting than acting, when it comes to legislation. Liberal groups push for more government spending or control in a certain area, and the conservatives push back. They don’t think federal taxes should be funding abortion, or stem cell research that comes from aborted fetuses, for example. By the way, not spending federal tax dollars on an industry is NOT the same thing as banning it. To read the media reports, George Bush banned stem cell research, when he absolutely did not. Private companies can still spend all the money they want harvesting stem cells from dead babies. He just turned off the federal spigot, or at least cut it down to a trickle.
I maintain there is a difference between legislating your morality, and resisting somebody else legislating THEIR morality. If the media wasn’t so left-biased, more people would understand that, but it’s easier to paint us all as Puritan bible-thumpers, I suppose. I’d be happy if the federal government wasn’t in half the business it was in, and we argued these things at the state and local level.
@Chris The polarization you say you dislike is what happens when people overreact. Overreaction piled on top of overreaction. And you yourself are a prime example of that at the moment. Two long-ass rants about how we (people commenting on this blog) and the media have this left-wing bias and conservatives are just misunderstood etc. — all because of one line disparaging some playwright who changed ideology to the side you happen to like. And meanwhile in *your* diatribe, you display some serious ignorance and indifference of your own. Whether you want to talk politics or want to complain about public discourse being too politicized nowadays, you’re doing it wrong. How do you go from a comic about the courses life can take seemingly randomly, and, without any prompting from anyone, you end up ranting about stem cell research, abortion, states’ rights, and moral relativism, is totally amazing to me.
Thanks for the feedback, Thomas; I reread my lengthy post and can’t quite find the “serious ignorance and indifference” you cited. Maybe just having a difference of opinion makes me an ignorant troll in your mind, I don’t know. I fear the more I pull at this thread the more it unravels; I appreciate Winston’s reply to my comment, and I’ll just leave it at that.
So, I’ve been reading Subnormality for a while and I absolutely love it. But this one really spoke to me. I got to the end and found myself in tears. I mean it’s scary how relevant this was to my life. So, thanks.
Goddamn it, you have got to stop writing about the Theoretical Museum. :( It makes me so sad that it doesn’t exist in real life. Fuck the Tesla museum, I’d give any amount of money to make something like this happen.
I’ve read every one of your comics, and I honestly think this is the singular one that has truly gotten me. I’m going to walk away from my computer now for a while to let it sink in, nice and deep. Thanks Winston.
Very in depth, soul searching stuff. I spent a good hour staring at a black computer screen, trying to think of what I would be like if this tiny thing happened here, or I hadn’t overslept there. Very deep, though provoking comic. Thanks for breaking the tension with the joke at the end though.
Love it as always! Just one quibble: Does blondEthel’s cigarette turn into a cigar all of the sudden or is she that hard of a smoker that she finishes it, smokes a cigar, and lights another cigarette without us noticing?
you know, I’ve wondered if you have a divine gift of touching lives at the right time with the exact comic.. more than once I’ve seen this “OMG you really nailed it there” or “this is SO just like my current situation” comments.. and for once, I got myself reflected on one of your stories.
Right now, I’m nearly 300 pages deep on my first novel (having already completed a few dozens of short stories and a couple of novellettes)… and even tho I believe I’m pretty good (and very rare, for a Mexican writing sci-fi) I recently came upon one of those “what am I doing with my life?” crisis.. I really love writing but making a breaktrough inside the (very limited) hispanic sci-fi scene may prove quite… complicated.
the point is.. life crisis and yeah… I came across your work and I’m pretty sure you have some kind of superpower or something to answer people`s questions about life and stuff.
I just wanted to say thank you. Now I’m sure my novel will not stay unfinished.
To whoever is pursuing the dream of writing : it’s hard, hard, hard. So don’t think about the audience, just write for yourself. I published my first book when I was going nowhere, in the pits of despair, ready to quit forever. I was so sick of it, I said “fuck it, screw the whole world, I’m writing a story I’ve never read before!”
I wrote like a madman and didn’t stop till I was dead in the middle of the night, every night, for a month. Every time, I wrote what I felt I shouldn’t write. I purpously destroyed my self-censorship because I could : I had no other readership but myself.
Seven years later the book is still my publisher’s best seller. I still can’t believe I wrote the damn thing. And I can say I’m a published, paid author.
So, to all aspiring creators : the world wants you to give up. It’s the only test. They don’t want to see who will write the next Lord of the Rings. They want to see who quit and who went the distance.
So write, write, WRITE. Cross your boundaries. Go wherever it feels the most uncomfortable. Write where it bleeds.
I have done this meeting but we had to book a place in my mind, with all the cobwebs that entails
My issue wasn’t whether we would make out (we wouldn’t – I would not be the slightest bit interested in kissing me. Other humans aren’t, why should I burden me with that onerous duty?) instead it would be when does the fight start?
The rationale was it turned into a cigar when she was talking about being successful, and then a toothpick when she was saying the part about feeling like an outcast regardless. I was just kind of thinking out loud with visual metaphors, or, uh, something.
Hehe, funny, I was just re-reading the comic and I also found myself thinking, is blonde Ethel smoking a doobie in row 7? A sorta big one, I guess, and the brown color is unusual (though possible if you roll one using a tobacco-and-hashish mixture in those almost-transparent Rizla Blue rice papers like I did in my misspent youth). But yeah, it being a cigar makes more sense in the context of what she’s saying, although cigars aren’t rolled like that, I don’t think.
Most web comics enter meat-space in the form of a book, but I think it’s more fitting for your comics to become posters, not just because of the non-standard shapes, but because you comics usually contain a theme that deserves to be seen every day until it burns itself into the very soul.
“There’s no singular right answer. There’re just answers.” That’s a good one.
just found your comic yesterday. read this one and had to read more. I really like your work it makes me think. my favorites are the ones with the spinx and the former waitress. i was really happy for her when she quite her crap job.
My bestfriend howed me this, saying that soe of your charecters and story lines reminded her of me; She was completely right. This one is my favorite, I mean really, a few different versions of the same person, all vaugly different, just talking to eachother about their lives and how they differ. The best part is, they all remind me of me! It’s uncanny! You are a fantastic artist and writer!!!
This reply is way late to the party, but I loved this one for another reason than most people have: I’ve fallen in love with this character.
We’ve seen her love of writing when you first introduced her, (in 106) we’ve seen her wrestling with her psychoses and self confidence issues, and I was really enjoying seeing the evolution of her character, but very sad for her state of mind, and not sure if she would make it through.
Sending her to the museum of the theoretical to get some answers was exactly what she needed to break through her miasma, and I’m just tickled pink that she seems to have gotten exactly the confidence boost she needed.
She’s probably my favorite character now, followed by PHG, the Sphynx, and the green skinned demon lady.
Just working my way backwards after having stumbled upon #159 from a random article on language and pundits during a random search/browse on the subject of I-don’t-even-remember and I’m in love with this comic. In love. and I mean the site when I say “the comic” but this particular one – #569 – just sealed it for me. This probably isn’t “just what I needed” but I’m going to bet that it could help me, another lost, derailed, soul, continue to get my act together again.
the old unused tomes of 1980s philosophy at Dalhousie are unearthed in my mind when I read your work. You make me stop and think about deeper things. Thank you for the knowledge that we are not truly alone in our thoughts.
And apropos of nothing…..Tragically Hip rules!
Topatoco, the site that sells your prints, apparently does not have a live person who can answer my question. So I’m throwing my question out here. I would love to order some prints, but the shipping costs to the Netherlands, where I live, are kind of ridiculous. Plus there’s tax on any packages. Can’t anyone send me your prints folded in an envelope? getting out some creases (I’m handy with an iron), for me, is worth not having to pay 63 dollars shipping plus 30 dollars tax.