Accidentally insulting a friend

June 27, 2013



Hi, new comic is finished! Sorry for the wait– lately i’m like three people doing the work of six people for the pay of one people, but it’s all good, fear not!


99 Responses to “Accidentally insulting a friend”

  1. Alan Warda Says:

    wow this was ridiculously good! You just hit the nail with everything, man. I can totally relate to this.

  2. Joe Trudell Says:

    Good shit. Just had a small issue reading some of Pinky’s text mixed in with the “AOOGA”a. Otherwise, a brilliant insight into one of those awkward moments we all face from time to time.

  3. oa Says:

    Great comic! I found the “estimated stockpile” part extremely funny.

  4. dusty668 Says:

    A new comic and I have less than 10 minutes to read it, hm, been a while since I’ve called sick…

    Urgh, I’ll read it when I get home. But if Sphinxie was in it, I would be like the 7 plagues of egypt in here.

  5. dasanjos Says:

    I couldn’t understand what was the insult? 🙂

    • Olivia Says:

      She implied that PHG was stupid by saying that “If YOU got 6 of out 10, then I’ve got it made” 🙂

  6. katemunchie Says:

    The War Room is absolutely brilliant.

    The little things like, “I feel like I’m barely in control here half the time,” the estimated stockpile, and the fantastic representation of the trigger-happy general are lovely. We all feel the urge to just spit back an insult at someone when it isn’t warranted sometimes. I blame the general.

  7. Henry Turner Says:

    I have a phrase I use to describe this when it happens to me. I call it “Troll Brain”. As in, a part of my brain is trolling me. It’s the same part of your inner monologue that says the unpleasant stuff, the ugly stuff, and the only response is to tell it to STFU.

  8. Harry Says:

    brilliant as usual
    I’m definitely 500% ethel, though. I’m on a ridiculous cocktail of antidepressants at the moment and every time I see her in one of your comics I feel like the world sucks a little bit less. Thanks WR

  9. I thought this was gong to be a different kind of Accident Comix when I noticed the woman on the left (Ethel?) wasn’t wearing her seatbelt…

  10. Sulaiman Daud Says:

    How you manage to visualise relationships and friendships so accurately, I will never know. I love both Ethel and Pinkie and it’s so nice to see more of them.

  11. ebonicplague Says:

    This comic has got me thinking as to what goes on the heads of people around me because I toss out insults like beads at Mardi Gras. Do they learn not to take them at this Def Con level of serious or hunker down in mental fox holes in case I lob a salvo or go out strafing as I do when the mood strikes?

  12. monsterzero Says:

    This was great.

    And accurate, except you left out the part where I flash back to what I said and cringe several times a year for the next twenty years.

    • JW Says:

      You too?

    • And wondering if they still think about it, and then thinking you’ve got to be stupid to think that someone else still thinks about something stupid that you said, and then realising that YOU are agonising over it so there’s a perfectly good chance they haven’t forgotten either.

  13. Anubis Bard Says:

    That’s brilliant. I rarely accidentally insult a friend, but when I do, yup the mental crisis center goes haywire. I’m much better at being insulted.

  14. GAL Says:

    Oh god, the Strangelove brain. Well-done.

  15. Edwin Says:

    Really great comic! Now i wonder how Sphinx’s mind looks like.

  16. Sisiutil Says:

    Coincidentally, I belonged to a group of friends back in my university days where one-upmanship in clever insults was part of the group culture. Yet it was somehow understood that certain topics were off-limits (such as one friend’s parents’ divorce, another one’s weight, etc.).

    I just had to make sure to turn off that part of my brain when I was with other friends. One time I didn’t and went through a reaction not unlike Ethel’s here.

    Great comic, as usual. Your portrayals of friendship are insightful, funny, accurate, and moving.

    • Namess Says:

      hahaha no. it means you just want to inuslt people and the other in your “friends” list also wanted to insult others because they wanted to do harrasement. the thing here is that anything else is just a simple lie to continue such harrasment. its a classic excuse

    • Sisiutil Says:


      Oh, please. “Harassment”? Friends rag on each other all the time and remain friends. It’s part of how we bond, how we make sure we’re not taking ourselves too seriously. Don’t cheapen what true victims of genuine harassment have gone through by slapping that label on anything you don’t like. You weren’t there, you don’t know me or my friends, so don’t you freaking dare presume to judge me.

  17. Roy Says:

    I love Subnormality. Thank you for some of the best comics on the web.

  18. Hafwit Says:

    What Roy said.
    The inside of my head often looks like that.

  19. Ross Presser Says:

    The Dr. Strangelove character was spot on. “Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!”

  20. chaosprime Says:

    Even a bit more spectacular than usual. Well done. Fuck knows we need a few depictions of what making the choices that add up to maturity looks like.

  21. Timothy Buck Says:

    WR, you make life better.

  22. Kamaria Says:

    Adulting is the WORST. I have definitely stepped in that shit before.

  23. Wow, I’ve always loved your comics, but this one in particular really got to me, thank you very much for sharing this with the world 🙂

  24. One of your very best.

    “The policy of this administration is to assume the best of people, and that’s what we’re gonna do!”

    It works for me. I’m nearly always right too.

    “Because I’d rather be wrong occasionally than live in fear and be right occasionally!! Code Green NOW!!!!”

    I’m part of an objectively oppressed minority. I associate with many people who have been damaged by that. I had a talk with my PCP the other day – he’d had a look at some of the self-help forums, and was horrified – not just at the mistreatment, but at the whole gamut of mental illness that had resulted. OCD, narcissism, some very serious cruelty and spite.. suicidal ideation too. Toxic.

    I said to him “Everyone gets damaged by this.They’re damaged. They need help.”

    I’m damaged too of course, but in me it’s given me an insight instead. That people, even the most vile, toxic and obnoxious, are almost always basically good.

    And if not – “Save ’em all, and let God sort ’em out”. Life’s simpler that way.

  25. BanditKeith Says:

    Okay, so either I don’t have this problem or guys in general don’t have this problem but even if a friend did mean to insult me by saying that why would I care?

    • Sisiutil Says:

      Guys do seem to rib each other with impunity far more than women do. Nevertheless, if you think about your own buddies, there are probably lines you just don’t cross in all the good-natured trash-talking. The risk of hitting a trip wire varies with the individuals and their history, of course, as do the potential reactions/consequences.

    • Nah, I’m a guy and I totally have this problem (My brain is definitely like Pinkie’s). And as for why would you care, likely you would care if the insult hit upon a touchy subject for you. Pinkie already thinks she’s dumb (see her previous comics, though the only one that pops to my mind is the one before the “Emperor of the Universe”) so this attack on her intelligence could have hurt this friendship badly.

      Or you’re just better at letting comments roll off your back, in which case I am jealous.

  26. The Old Wolf Says:

    Seriously worth the wait, Winston. Only a fool takes offense when none was intended. Only a bigger fool takes offense when it was. (Attribution multiple, true source unknown).

  27. Danelsan Says:

    Pinkie has grown a lot since the start of the comic.She is considerably more confident now.

    As an aside, I wonder if someday Ethel gets to meet my favorite character in this comic, the Sphinx…

    • Sulaiman Daud Says:

      Well you don’t hold your own in a conversation with THE EMPEROR OF THE UNIVERSE and not learn a thing or two. Which reminds me, I wonder what happened to her boyfriend from Salesmen Without Borders.

  28. ahdok Says:

    Bookmarked. This is a link that will come in very handy during various of my internet drara neuroses, and when it does, you’ll get links to your site too 🙂

  29. Leo W. Says:

    This is awesome, you completely hit the nail on the head as usual.

    I love the little touches in these comics, like in this one, the way the traffic light stays present all the way through. Or the layout of the panels (which I do find a little confusing sometimes, but in this case you nailed it).

    On another subject whilst I love PHG, Ethel and the Sphinx I feel you’ve been focusing on them a lot lately, maybe it’s time to let one of your other characters have the spotlight for a bit? Personally, I’ve been waiting for another Zoe Muggs for friggin’ AGES (I also wouldn’t mind seeing another one with Raoul and Shamus, or Anneliese (sp?) and Marie).

    • So noted! I appreciate you speaking up for other characters, i’ll definitely see what i can do.

    • caliburdeath Says:

      So the only primary characters who don’t have names are pinky and the girl-who-breaks-expectations-and-talks-to-herself-a-lot?

    • Mystyr Nile Says:

      Pretty much. I and some others call her Justine, but it’s possile it’s not her name because “justineneverknewtherules.jpg” is an allusion to a song.

      And I think Zoe is the most underrated character.

  30. Francisco Osegueda Says:

    Damn, this is great, it is incredible how some people are so much in need of a friend that they get extremely nervous at the slightest mistake, yet i have been there, thank you for allowing me to look into their mind

  31. Arkonbey Says:

    I could go on about how much I like this comic.

    Instead, I’ll just thank you for writing “fuckin'” rather than “fucken”.

    (I don’t care if Joe Haldeman did it like the latter, it’s just wrong)

  32. The Mailman Says:

    Great stuff as always, WR.

  33. Eric Lee Says:

    It’s really great to be male and below normal intelligence. Among my circle, the normal response would have been a slug in the shoulder…and everything done, forgiven and forgotten.

    Testosterone is a blessing, people. Believe it!

  34. bullestock Says:

    Brilliant as usual.

  35. Njam Says:

    Yay Comix! Awesome stuff as always. I cracked up at “estimated stockpile”, simply brilliant!

  36. The Klaxon is my favorite musical instrument.

  37. localvagrant Says:

    Oh man I love these comics where it portrays different facet’s of people’s minds as other people. That’s totally how my head works too.

  38. Would somebody turn off that gosh darn klaxon!
    Thanks again for this, Winston!

  39. JamesK Says:

    I swear, your comics have done more for the refining of my view of human nature and interaction than any amount of schooling ever did. You’re like a laterday cyber Bodhisattva.

  40. Mark L Says:

    I believe this is my favorite one yet!

  41. Saturnome Says:

    That’s an instant favorite. You have stuff to say and you know how to say it, not many cartoonists can claim that!

  42. Kalle Says:

    Well-thought out, well represented and most of all funny. By the way, could it have been Bill Watterson who coined “Aooga” for klaxons?

  43. Doyle Says:

    Oh man, I love this comic. While I do have the entire bunch seated in little chairs around the table in my mind they only ever get any play time when I talk to complicated people.(mostly women) With most of the people I’m around we just bash each other to bits with insults and nobody cares. (it might be because we all secretly don’t like each other so that might bear some looking into)

  44. Ben Says:

    Beautiful work, as usual! This totally takes me back to the “falling down the stairs” and “dream movie projector” C&H strips. (I don’t imagine Bill Watterson gets online too much, but if he took a look at your work I’m sure he’d be a fan.)

  45. Alberto Brian Vega Says:

    Never a need for an excuse – always glad for whatever comes, whenever it comes! Still loving your comments – and your Cracked work now!

    ~Alberto Los Angeles, CA

  46. Waterdeep Says:

    My hostility defense system has at least three Evangelions. Should my enemies reach Central Dogma, they may suddenly find that I’m not actually that tough, and simply desperate to make people happy and like me, but deathly afraid of driving others away in the process.

    But don’t worry, my Evas are excessively powerful.

  47. sean Says:

    I was all like “Do I have time for Subnormailty right now?” and I didn’t. So I read it anyway. Thanks for blowing my mind consistently for YEARS.

  48. ronnie Says:

    Really nice comic. I like the friendship and wonder how ethal would react to the sphinx.

  49. Cyclone Dusk Says:

    it could’ve been resolved if the dark haired girl followed up by simply telling the pink haired girl “Yeah, pointless trivia shit like this is, like, the *only* thing I’m good at.” thus emphasizing pink haired girl’s superiority in all other traits…

  50. caliburdeath Says:

    Comix with too many words? Not at all, that’s what makes them awesome… the detail.

  51. Jon Says:

    Brilliant. I love the Cold War references to “status gap” and the likes. Brilliant.

  52. Keep doing what you’re doing – please?

  53. nkh Says:

    Another lovely, insightful comic about the inner world of everyday experiences.

    Some assorted remarks:
    –I laughed out loud at the “estimated stockpile”.

    –Slight technical complaint: some of the text was a bit difficult to read in places. Particularly where some of the big “AOOGAS” overlap with dialog; also had some trouble with some of the minor background text, like “trivia” and “charm” in the display screen, as well as whether that “You’re dumb” missile is labelled with an exclamation point or a question mark in parentheses. Oh, and the spine of the operations manual.

    –I feel like WR would be pretty awesome to hang out with in real life. :3

    –Ignore the heretic above, we can never get too many comics about PHG! 😉

  54. Aron Meredith Says:

    This is my first visit to your site and I really loved this comic. Great job, man!

  55. Purplecat Says:

    I’m not sure whether it’s gratifying or terrifying to know that, when it matters, people can react like PHG did.

  56. Winston, I am amazed how you can surprise me even when I thought I had seen the best of your talent. The war room metaphor is like you had seen the inside of my head (something I blame on being a child in the last nerve-twitching years of the Cold War). Goddammit, it’s brilliant.

  57. Almost forgot: this has made me bounce up and down in my chair in exhilaration, really. I was laguing myself silly.

  58. Al Sweigart Says:

    I can’t even coherently express how awesome I think this comic is. The art & coloring is great, the flow just fits so naturally (even though it has an arbitrary left/right path for the reading order, I have no trouble at all imagining it as an animation rather than a static comic), the characters have depth…

    Oh, I know how to phrase the complement: You make comics that are worth reading the large amount of text they have. 🙂

  59. zanglebert Says:

    Absolutely fantastic! Only one thing missing: towards the end, something about being able to walk… I mean: valk.

  60. Rakham Says:

    Thank you for not letting me go fully anachoretic or misanthropic, if you prefer (sorry for being pedantic).
    My point being, thank you for letting keep me faith in humankind. Again thank you.

  61. Tomas Says:

    Damn, now you’ve got me all nostalgic about the Cold War. It made for some incomparable drama.

    I loved the “You bitch!” missile.

  62. I loved this comic! “Oh my God can’t I just fire you?” was probably my favorite line. XD I know just how they both feel.

  63. Aiarashi Says:

    I can’t believe how nobody’s mentioned how the whole inside the mind part is shaped like a brain. Though I only noticed when I zoomed out. XDD
    Also I love the way the red light in the middle kinda goes on like *dot, dot, dot* as to represent the silence that’s going on during the stop.
    And I gotta admit that Ethel looks kind of cute whith that worried look on her face. =P
    Her inner selves do kind of remind me of myself, or at least things I’ve felt before but always kind of questioned.
    I love how this is so entertaining yet so insightful at the same time.
    Thank you Winston, Thank you. ^^

  64. peniblec Says:

    Okay, I have at least two reasons not to write this comment (1. at best it’s just nitpicking rather than saying anything useful about the comic (which is so great I’ve been staring blankly at my screen for five minutes trying to come up with some sort of praise that wouldn’t be too long in order to fit in this parenthesis so I could get back to what I originally wanted to point out but I can’t find anything but not writing anything after having wasted five minutes trying to come up with something feels very frustrating so I’ll just mash on my keyboard to show my appreciation: hqeuilvhnkjlqhgkq), 2. that detail I noticed might have been on purpose and I’m just not smart enough to understand what it means). Let’s write it anyway.

    Soooo it looks like the speech bubbles when Ethel and PHG are talking with each other respect some kind of colour scheme (ie Ethel’s bubbles have a purple-ish background, PHG’s have a yellow one). But then in the first panel Ethel’s bubble has the same yellow background as PHG’s.


    Okay back to the LurkCave now.

  65. I find it brilliant how the friendship looks like a cold war just gone hot.

  66. Franklin Guy Says:

    I like to see more of stuff like “The Ballet Audition” …..How about some kid ballet dancers getting bronzed and shrunk.

    • katemunchie Says:

      I’ve always loved the ones that are an independent story of their own, like “A Christmas Eve in the Future”, “Anomalities”, “Superhighway”, “The Mission”, etc.

      To call those ones ‘art’ like the other comix would be an understatement. They always summon stealthy onion-cutting ninjas. Like, hoards of them.

  67. BanditKeith Says:

    Okay, I just noticed that if you only read the left side of the comic Ethel looks nucking futz.

  68. claudia Says:

    SENSATIONAAAAAL!! soooo funny and trueeee!!! XD

  69. I like how the final frames convey the emotions of the characters after their respective internal dialogues. PHG makes a conscious decision to not take offence at Ethel’s remark but the mood rapidly upswings when she realises how completely mortified Ethel was at the implication of her own words. This is one of those comix that would play out perfectly as a stage or short movie performance.

  70. Kyle Says:

    I definitely want you to know how happy this makes me. Your writing is almost uncanny in the way it captures real-life so organically. Are you reading my brain? I think you are reading my brain.

    I am definitely a fan of everything you do.

  71. Alan Givré Says:

    I haven’t seen your comics for a long time, I can’t believe I didn’t remember how amazing and impressive were. I feel so identified with your comics!! Every comic is best than the other.

  72. henry Says:

    Hey Winston, is everything OK? You haven’t updated for a while and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms . . .

    • Hi, i know it’s been a while, i apologize. I’m on my way back though i promise. I seem to always have creative issues in the summer for whatever reason, and i guess it was worse than usual this year. I lost a couple weeks writing thousands of words that didn’t go anywhere, and then writing ABOUT writing that doesn’t go anywhere (and then even that didn’t go anywhere), and generally just bottoming out in terms of overthinking what it is i do and trying way, way too hard. It’s complicated i guess, but i suppose it’s best summarized as launching into ideas that don’t really work because i’m afraid no other ideas will come along– and then inevitably having to abandon what i’m doing because, well, it doesn’t work. But i’ve learned a lot at least, that’s the one benefit of bottoming out.

      I’ve always had this problem over the years, but never to such an extent. I’ll get over it though. I’m already in a better place the last few days since having to admit that i’ve been heading in the wrong direction, and i’ve already started a new comic (for real this time). Once i admitted i was afraid of not having any more ideas, a good one came to me almost right away. Curse the human brain, it not work good.

      Thanks for asking anyway. I’m always afraid that people think delays mean i’ve lost interest when it’s in fact the opposite problem. I want it TOO much. “Gripping the stick too tight” as they say in hockey (wanting to score a goal so bad that you hold the stick too tight and miss the shot). But i’m working on that. At least i get a lot of character development done in my failed writing binges, and i’ll hopefully be able to salvage a few scenes here and there.

    • Leak Says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but you should really also mention your (illustrated) columns over at Cracked here – they’re too good to pass up, and the way they’re listed at the bottom of your user page there doesn’t really help…

  73. henry Says:

    Well I’m glad you’re OK anyway. I’m a creative (graphic designer) myself, and often put things aside if it looks like they aren’t working only to come back to them later and find something that clicks into place to make the solution obvious. Experimenting with different formats can help too. Have you (and I’m being serious here) considered a couple of 4 panel gag strips?

    We all appreciate your efforts Winston. A bad strip by you beats the pants off 99% of other people’s ‘good’ work. There’s a reason I keep checking back here at least once a week for the last few years.

  74. Akap* Says:

    Hi Winston,

    Glad to hear your OK, looking forward to the next comic.

  75. Toasty Says:

    That escalated quickly!

  76. Jonathan Says:

    Brilliant, I love your stories. Great work!

  77. John Kopchick Says:

    Beautifully done! You have a great interpretation of human nature and the mind.

  78. Random User Says:

    This is great comic. Very well portrayed artistically. You are doing a good job.

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