Six years

March 7, 2013


Hey, new one finished. Don’t worry, every comic’s not going to be people having huge conversations in the exact same bar, i’m just trying a thing.


And let me add just  a belated acknowledgment of the 6th anniversary of this here comic strip (hurrah!). I cannot fully express how strange it is that i’ve been doing this for so long, but i’m sure glad i have i’ll say that. I decided to celebrate by finally getting finally a large-format 11″x14″ scanner finally. Six years of scanning all the art in tiny sections was quite enough. The future be most welcome.


So yeah, thanks infinitely for the past six amazing years of readership, i can’t express enough what a pleasure it is to have an audience, let alone one so great. Thanks for reading, and for buying posters, and for the donations (oh lawd some of you are stunningly generous), and for the email and comments which never stop feeling special to me. Handshakes all around, y’all are Tha Best.

And thanks massively to those who’ve assisted hugely over the years– Jack and everyone at Cracked, Jeffrey and everyone at Topatoco, and everyone else who’s made my life a lot easier by sharing my work or commissioning some art. I look forward to drawing more things for more people.


So yeah, cheers, and here’s to Year Seven (startingggg….. NOW!). And here’s to a lot less scanning. Ah yes…



77 Responses to “Six years”

  1. “The people who aren’t afraid of becoming bad people end up as bad people.” This is a great truth. My formulation is “the difference between nice people and jerks is that nice people worry about being jerks. Jerks think that they are doing great.”

    WR, part of the great thing you do is to model good behavior. It is far more effective than preaching. Seeing your characters struggle and succeed and fail and keep going is an inspiration to all of us who struggle.

    Here’s to another six years and another six after that, and another…

  2. JamesG Says:

    Aww, sounding like PHG may be in a good patch for once. But wow, thank you for the six years, although don’t think I’ve been following you that long. (Still probably longer than I care to think about though)

  3. Jose Leon Says:

    HOLY *****!: Somewhere in the world this moment is my birthday, which makes this comic the best birthday gift I’ve received in a long, long time.
    (Now, please, allow me to actually finish reading.)

  4. a Says:

    That comic was excellent. 10/10 would read again.

  5. Anubis Bard Says:

    Excellent. Thank you. Makes me want to go out and talk to someone.

  6. Joe Trudell Says:

    Thanks Winston. You have an uncanny ability to always manage to post just what I needed. 🙂

  7. Anarcissie Says:

    It is difficult being from another planet. But quite interesting sometimes.

  8. Jose Leon Says:

    Hmm… It’s the first time that (I can recall right now that) I’ve finished reading any of these and I REALLY want to know where exactly this comix is going to go next. And it’s not something impulsive: I have read this thing like two or three times in order to really grasp it.
    As usual, it is great; thanks. A lot.
    PS: Congrats as well for the six years!

  9. Sisiutil Says:

    You portray friendships remarkably well. It makes me think and hope you have some good ones yourself.

    Congrats on 6 years, looking forward to 60 more!

  10. Spike Says:

    Has, uhhh, the angsty one ever mentioned who her favorite horror writers are? My favorite is Thomas Ligotti. Just looking for more to read, if the fictional character has any recommendations.

  11. r10pez10 Says:

    Congrats on six – here’s to many more!

  12. SuckMyComment Says:

    i lumpin’ love you.

  13. The Old Wolf Says:

    I wish I could talk like that, so it’s comforting when I can turn to Subnormality! and see your characters saying the things I would love to be able to. Thanks for six years of delicious good sense, Winston, which is frighteningly lacking in so many other places.

  14. Harry Says:

    holy fuck
    the “Just… fucking… WRONG!” is so damn accurate. Being told for so long to be yourself even though realistically everyone can’t just BE THEMSELVES because some people (yourself and myself and etc. etc. included) can turn out to be real shitheads upon inspection.

    infinite love for these comics, WR
    they’re amazing and best of luck on year seven
    If I had money, i would give you some

  15. Peabody Says:

    I see such diverse humanity in your work. It has helped me through rough times. Thanks.

  16. Henry Turner Says:

    I wish I had friends like that. Either one. In fact, any friends would be nice.

    But thanks for the 6 Winston, you’ve given me much to think about (and read!).

  17. RAIV Says:

    Cheers for these six years, W! May many more follow!

  18. Andy Taylor Says:

    Awesome as always! Here’s to many more years of what is possibly the best thing on the internet.

  19. Phil C. Says:

    I am SO happy these two are extending their friendship. I think they’re both good for each other.

    And congratulations on six years. Here’s a deal for you: you keep writing and drawing and we’ll keep reading as long as you keep going. 🙂


  20. Sergeant Major Tom Says:

    My first impulse with a formalised term/expression/shorthand for sympathy is to point out the probably-obvious inevitability of it becoming meaningless or close to meaningless over time. On the other hand, I’ll admit it’d be particularly useful in IM, on the phone and in other forms of communication that are limiting in some way.

    • Sergeant Major Tom Says:

      Oh… almost forgot to mention, but allow me to give some minor-detail love for the… straw vacuum thing, whatever the correct term would be for that. I will proudly count myself among the legions of those who do this thing, even though it quite often indicates a person to be fidgety, zoned out, or in some other mental state that conventional social wisdom probably advises against advertising too much in a public space.

    • Straw vacuum! I was wondering what to call that…

    • Ben Zyl Says:

      760mm of Mercury, but since it’s nearly water more like 10300mm.

  21. inkygo Says:

    I love you. Not in some creepy way, but like I love sunsets and birchbark and my best friend. Thank you.

  22. Stephanie Says:

    Just amazing! This just perfectly explained one of my friends’, one I had a REALLY hard time explaining to my other friends that she was not hateful towards other just herself. This really helps me put some of those thoughts into words! THANK YOU SO MUCH! 🙂

  23. Tisha Says:

    Ah, so good. Thank you, Mr Rowntree…

  24. Michael Biebesheimer Says:

    For comix to suck less than they did six years ago, they would have to have sucked in the first place.

    Great work (as ever).

  25. Danielle Says:

    It’s going to sound odd, but you write women so well. You write every other sort of character…male, monster, abstract well too, but you somehow really get under the skin so subtly of the female experience, the universal one at least, and make it so relate-able, and yet wholly unique.

    I just really appreciate seeing these sorts of relationships and characterizations time and time again in your comics.It’s refreshing to have someone not focus on these tropes or idealizations, to subvert something to normalcy. Guess that’s why it’s Subnormality, I suppose.

  26. Ome Says:

    I always feel as if I’m watching a short film with this comic… even though I’m reading it… anyway, great comic!

  27. The 483 Says:

    Heh, it’s nice to see Ethel finally finding someone to relate to.

  28. Alex Romanov Says:

    It’s out-canny how much i needed to read this right now. Thanks for writing for the selfaware unadapted

  29. lichone Says:

    Discovered this comic a few weeks back and really appreciate the energy that goes into each strip. For this particular one, I thought I came to the end three frames from the real one, and then scrolled a bit and saw the three more frames, and was inordinately happy 🙂

  30. Manda Says:

    Your comic is like a really good friend. It always leaves me feeling better about people and life; I think that you have so many loyal readers because you truly help us.

    Congrats on 6 years, I hope there are many more to come. 🙂

  31. brashieel Says:

    I really, really loved this comic. Captured socially awkward friendship so well.

    Thanks for 6 years of this!

  32. Sulaiman Daud Says:

    Thank so much for your work, Winston. I love both Ethel and PHG, and it was so nice to see them again.

  33. Hafwit Says:

    Thank you! That comic gladdened my heart.

  34. Lupo_13 Says:

    I don’t think I have a heart anymore. You just melted it, Rowntree. Hope you’re happy. :_)

    Also, six years already? May you keep going on for sixty more!

  35. Seconding the love for this comic, and I just want to say I want that shirt. 🙂

  36. orion1836 Says:

    Going through school, our motto was “suck less tomorrow.” Once you come to accept the fact that you suck, in some shape way or form, every improvement seems bigger, and ever mistake more understandable.

    Cheers, and thanks for the great comment.

  37. Old Brit Says:

    Six years! Congratulations! It doesn’t seem that long. Oh, for me, it was only two years, but after the archive binge I’ve been eagerly awating every strip.

    Back then I read somewhere that you didn’t use recurring characters, now you’ve even got recurring locations in consecutive strips. If you;re not careful you’ll be producing sequential art soon.

    Great art and story as always, here’s to the next six years … and many more after that.

  38. Mj Says:

    Your comic is my therapy. ❤

  39. Francis Reed Says:

    Congratulations on your six years! You never sucked, yet you are keeping better everytime time… and thanks

  40. Léo Zaffran Says:

    I love your comic, and I don’t think there are too many words.

    I don’t have much else to add to that.

    Congratulations on your sixth year!

    A usually quiet reader.

  41. strange music Says:

    Six years… that’s a long time to do something, especially as well as you do. Thank you so much!

    As usual, this was a quality read, and has much within to ponder over the next little while. It’s so good to see Ethel and PHG getting into the nitty-grit with each other, in ways that are honest and just a little painful, the kind coming from embarrassing vulnerability. Or vulnerable embarrassment, however one wishes to put it. 😉

  42. psychanaut Says:

    Thank you! Been reading your comics since the very beginning. You’re a rare person who creates thoughts/art that resonate with my own very odd mind.
    ..And I love how the apocryphal rap-metal band from way back when, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is still finding its way into conversations.

  43. Duder Says:

    You should totally make that “SHIrT” thing an actual t-shirt.
    I would buy the shit out of it.
    Mostly because I love this comic, and everything you make.
    But I would really like it.

  44. jennibrock Says:

    Since Ethel doesn’t realize that she’s half of PHG’s social circle and not only 10% their friendshop is still in its infancy. It will be amazing when she finally introduces her friend the horror writer to her friend the giant cannibalistic monster.

    • stonehawk Says:

      Oh MAN! THIS! I really hope the Sphynx doesn’t eat Ethel. Or maybe that’ll be our beloved artist’s trump card for The End. The ‘Abort Button’ gambit.

  45. Olivier Says:

    I’m moved to tears by the exchange; it it was a movie I would this scene is the perfect demonstration that a cheap décor and a trivial story are of no significance whatsoever, since the actors are so incredibly, delightfully good!

  46. Grimm Says:

    New Ladies of the Canyon album Spring?? WOOOOO!!!!

  47. Sir Exal Says:

    Oh, my god, do you realize how much I want the “problem gesundheit” as described by the girls here? “While I am unable to provide any solutions or even healthy analysis to your problems, and in fact am currently struggling to not mention my own (almost certainly less serious) problems brought up in my mind as related, I wish you all the best in dealing with it, sympathize as best I can, and hope things get better” just doesn’t cut it.

    And neither does my current answer, “Er…that sucks.”

  48. Fernando Says:

    I get a feeling the glack haired girls next book will be on “your planet”

    And whoo! Six years! May there be six more!

  49. stonehawk Says:

    … Actually… I too want the problem gesundheit. That’s what I’ll call it. The Problem Gesundheit. I will share this comic with my friends and try to have them help me come up with a Problem Gesundheit. A general and genuine positive and encouraging response to someone else’s plight. I’m surprised we DON’T have something like that.

    Those social situations really are kind of like sneezes. Really long, painful, awkward sneezes.

  50. Anon Says:

    Dear Winston,
    Thank you for six years. I’ve been reading since 2007 (though probably more like June than March).
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that, even if you only have like two friends, it’s OK. You’ve got hundreds or thousands of fans that can give you validation on the Web.



  51. pG Says:

    Stop reading my mind and using it as your source material!
    Am I going to have to start wearing a tinfoil Fez? (Always wanted a reason to wear a fez, and a tinfoil Panama hat would look stupid)
    Nice one Wince – spot-on as usual.
    Btw – ‘Your planet and its customs intrigue me’ – So going on a t-shirt.

  52. Alan Says:

    I love Subnormality so, so much and it’s definitely ahead of me, I don’t understand all the comics sometimes but all of them are absolutely spectacular, you are very wise and you make the most awesomest comics ever!

    Congratulations on six years and I hope there are many more! These comics are honestly one of my favorite things in life. I gotta get some posters! Keep at it! 🙂

  53. Ronnie Davis Says:

    Hey i would really love the buy one of your shirts but I dont want to be a pain. I want the one that says Big words are cool, but im just not a huge orange guy, i was wondering if there was a way to get it in another color? if not thats fine, Ill just buy a different one.

    • Yeah, definitely! If you click on the design it takes you to the product details page where you can choose from a number of different shirt colors. I should probably mix things up regularly with regard to the default colors on the store page, which i’ve just done for a few designs.

  54. I fucking love you, WR. You give me hope for the human race, and you bring me in contact with the other people who feel and think the same way. As it has been said already, as long as you are writing these, I will be reading them. ❤

  55. mort Says:

    I just awoke from a dream. As most dreams its beginnings are somewhat muddled, but I know that I was not in the dream rather I moved as a third-party observer, and there was a story about relations I think. One guy, two girls, possibly one of the girls possessed by a deamon. Something like that. But then, at the end of a scene, I lost the plot. I figured I could find it again by finding the protagonist (that would be the guy). He had hanged out at this bar a lot so I swept my covers around me and headed out.

    As I headed out an up the street the scenery took on an unmistakable air of Subnormality. After a bloc I entered a door. First I thought I was mistaken because it looked more like a student dorm then a bar, but the pink-headed girl (yes, that pink-headed girl) told me it was just up the stairs. Somewhat disturbed that she could see me (still wearing my covers swept around me), yet I took her advice.

    Upstairs it still looked more like a dorm or a university then a bar and a group of students was standing talking discreetly amongst themselves. Then a girl dressed in black approached the group. She was not dressed in black as to make a statement, more as too melt into the background. Skinny, pale. Hair tooked into a basker (also black). She talked to the group in an assertive, yet awkward way. It was clear to me that she was trying to praise one of the guys – called Kenny – for a previous scene. They way she said it however, came out like this was the only good scene he had done. As she walked away Kenny muttered “what a bitch” and a girl in the group – looking understanding yet horrified – said “Sssch, don’t forget she is the author”.

    Then I woke up.

    So I guess I know what you look like and why you are so good at describing girls, “Winston”.


  56. Ronnie Davis Says:

    Thank you so much for answering that for me. I love your stuff by the way

  57. Benjy Says:

    Happy Anniversary WR. It’s been great so far.

  58. Anna-Rose Says:

    I just want to say thank you for somehow anticipating so many of my existential meltdowns and making comics about them right when I need them.

  59. Henry Turner Says:

    Jim Jarmusch should make a Subnormality movie. Who would you cast as PHG?

    • I dunno, just someone completely incongruous so it wouldn’t compete with anyone’s idea of the character. James Earl Jones!

    • Sisiutil Says:

      Thanks, Winston–now whenever I read her dialogue in your comics I’m going to hear Darth Vader’s voice in my head!

  60. Rafi Says:

    You are really in tune with the times, man. I love seeing your characters grow and heal and help each other figure stuff out. It’s helped me in my own life, and I’ve shared your comics with people who’ve told me it’s helped them in their lives. Thank you so much; as many years as you continue to write these comics, I will continue to read them.

  61. Booney Says:

    This comic describes me and my life almost to the letter. I’ve been pretty lonely lately and this reminded me that I’m not the only person that feels the way I do. Thank you sincerely.

  62. Mystyr Nile Says:

    Yay! The two depressed girls are happy together!
    I didn’t notice Ethel’s shirt until the alt-text.

  63. Eric Pearson Says:

    There is an episode of the English dubbed version of ‘Shin-Chan ( Google if necessary) where Miss Poly, in support of her colleagues quips, ‘teachers should help each other – like lovers.’ I like that.

  64. hoom Says:

    hah! In my city, Zellers is dead, Target left, Canadian Tire took over. Still remember that feeling though.

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