The Making Of

January 27, 2014

Hey, so this illustration project i’m working on will be over soon, and as fun as it is to pay the bills it of course still sucks to be away from y’all for so long. Things will resume around here in February anyway, and thanks again for waiting, i know it’s been kind of excessive….

In the meantime… to celebrate the 7th anniversary of The Comix i though i’d post for you a “making of” kinda deal that i put together a couple years ago but held back for the right time. Which is now i think, so check out this link this link right here this one, and keep checking back and clicking “next” as i’ll be adding another page in the series every day for the next little while (there are eight pages in total). Short version: i think of ideas and then draw and color them. Long version: stay tuned..!



38 Responses to “The Making Of”

  1. Edwin Says:

    Nice Sphinx! Now i want SN miniatures 😀

  2. Tamfang Says:

    So, you’re Canadian? I had wondered a bit, thought you might be British. (Only Canadians, as far as I know, say “grade 12”.)

    • The Local Mail Man Says:

      Fairly certain he is, yes.

      I could be wrong though.

      Great new feature, dude!

      I look forward to each new page.

      I already read the first. Just now.

      Oh yes.

    • Sergeant Major Tom Says:

      I’m 10 years out of school, but in Australia, during my time, they were called either grades or years. Can’t comment on anything since, though.

      And yes, Winston’s Canadian, and unless I’ve missed something, most/all of the “main story setting” Sub’s seem to be set either in Canada, or in an alternate-reality Canada.

    • Kate Says:

      “Grade 12” is pretty common throughout the Commonwealth, actually. And yah, Winston’s Canadian. North Amarican + standard British spelling = very probably Canadian. Or an English-speaking expat living in another North American country, but there are fewer of those than there are Canadians, I’ll wager.

      I have an orange mechanical pencil which I found under a bookshelf in the school library that I’ve used for… lessee… 12 years now. Cripes, that’s way too long. Unlike Winston, though, I don’t produce drops of pure wonderment with it. Just equations.

    • Yup– an alternate-reality canada is pretty much the best way to describe the setting of the comic.

  3. jgury Says:

    The media is the message, as another notable Toronto guy used to say.

  4. HedAurabesh Says:

    Hi, I’ve just read the episode about what pens you use, and you said that the Rotring Isograph .20 has been discontinued.
    According to their website, though, they’re not:

    Since Rotring ships internationally, it shouldn’t be that hard to just order them through their own website.

    • I swear i was once specifically told they were discontintued, so if they’re back then that’s amazing. I use the Rapidograph .20 these days, which my usual pen website says is discontinued as well, but it’s here on the actual Rotring site as well… hmm… Good news, anyway!

  5. Kalle Says:

    “I don’t mess around with layers” – I thought you if anyone would appreciate the warm feeling of security that layers give!

  6. Evan Says:

    So I’m not sure if this would be possible, given your reportedly shitty website software, but I read the making of and I really wanted to, you know… search your archive for comics involving Ethel.

    Slightly hard to navigate through your vast anthology in a drop list.

    Anyway, really interesting read.

    Zanadu was amazing, and I should probably get a print of that to entrance people with as they look upon my walls.

    • Sergeant Major Tom Says:

      No idea about the site itself, but there are a couple of things specified if you search the wiki a bit. And… now that I see this again and am reminded that I meant to make this reply sooner, I’ll also say that I might do a skim through at some point, see how well my memory serves, and report back – something slightly more useful than my other forms of procrastination from the things I really need to be doing right now.

    • Sergeant Major Tom Says:

      Just remembered I never actually got back to this. Started the process a couple of times, but never followed through. On the chance it’s still of any use, here’s what I’ve got:
      106: Lady of the Night
      129: Down at the Supermarket
      167: Subnormality Gets Quietly Hammered
      173: The Inner Dark
      181: The Meet Cute
      188: The Rude Stranger
      195: Secret Admirer
      202: Ethels
      205: Conversation
      206: Hallway
      210: Gesundheit
      214: Accidentally Insulting Your Friend

  7. Greg Says:

    I would totally buy those (generic?) figurines of Sphynx and PHG

  8. Mystyr Nile Says:

    Oh my gosh! Poison has pink hair, how did i not catch that?

  9. davingsbury Says:

    Just chugged through the final post of this set. It’s kind of inspiring. Thanks for making comix all these years.

    I think you can definitely say you’ve accomplished something. Even if you’re some nebulous concept of a person I only know through their work and comments here and there, I feel like in some realm of ideas someone has taken the time to show me a part of themselves.

    Full disclosure: I have had a print of Choose your Own Adventure tacked inside my bedroom door for a little over two years now. I recently started trying to memorize it rather than just read it when I know I’m being terrible.

    How’s it feel to know some of your fans might be just a wee bit off-kilter by the way?

  10. KDR Says:

    Ethel having remnants of mascara when she wakes up makes sense: a neurotic writer prone to fits of depression and crippling existentialism wouldn’t strike me as the type to be fastidious about nightly makeup removal (unless it’s part of the neurosis or unless she favors the pancake look).

    Also, thanks for giving us something to read while we wait for the new comic.

    • KDR Says:

      Also also, after finishing the whole thing, i remembered how i found your webcomic and it is just too fucking appropriate (read: weird and arbitrary):

      I was an angsty teenager and wore the clothes to prove it (plaid pencil pants with a cumbersome amount of straps and zippers, torn shirts advertising bands that yelled about their problems). During this period i found an ad in a fashion magazine that looked promising and made a mental note of it – something about being “sub-normal.”

      Weeks later during a bout of mindless internet surfing, i remembered the ad and takked it into the search engine. One of the top links that popped up looked a little bizzare, so of course, i clicked it (like a dope – this is probably what killed my CPU). What appeared on the screen was pretty disturbing: half a page of disjointed gifs featuring plane crashes, television snow, and buildings collapsing. Being alone in a dark room amped the creepy factor considerably, and i abandoned my quest for fucked-up clothing in favor of a bagel.

      A couple years later, the doomsday site cropped up in a conversation about visual brainwashing. I found your webcomic in lieu of freaking out my friends, and proceeded to consume the archive in the span of a couple days. Been checking in since.

    • In retrospect, yeah– that would pretty much be 100% perfectly in character for ethel. CRISIS AVERTED! Cheers. And thanks for the story about how you found the site, that’s amazing. Some of the best things i’ve found online have been completely unintentional, just via googling random phrases, so take that, SEO industry…

  11. Mystyr Nile Says:

    So, i’ve just read part seven. Seeing some history with these characters is so cool!
    And i’m going to start reading Anneliese wisse Dschermenn ecksent nau.

  12. I think I found your webcomic when I saw crops of your art used as profile images back in 2008 on

    I don’t like posters (no space, I keep moving) or shirts (why would I wear the precious things, I sweat and have no respect for my own property or appearance).

    I need a book. Can you make us a nice book? Like a super-overpriced coffee table thing. $200 — I’d buy it. Then I’d show it to everyone as a central part of my argument that the internet is a good thing.

    I feel very guilty that I haven’t yet helped you pay your rent, and that my reasons for not doing so are chiefly my precious objection to disseminating personal information.

    Then they’d have to pester people on a message board to find out whence it came and the memevirus lifecycle starts again.


  13. Jason Says:

    Just read through the Making Of, and immensely enjoyed it, and particularly the last page. (I’d wondered if some of those women from the early comics were really meant to be Annaliese, and here they are, so they must be!)

  14. Rise Says:

    I’m eternally grateful that you managed to persist and make this comic into what it’s become. This is my favorite read on the internet…WR, you’ve got a great sense of human nature. I don’t know any other comic (or, realistically, many other sources, literary or otherwise) that capture that easy dialogue between very real characters. Reading through your strips gives me that warm feeling, like even in this very big world you’re never truly alone, that honest people are still out there, and it’s comforting.

  15. El-Marton Says:

    I’ve finished reading the Making Of, it was really wonderful, and I enjoyed it a lot, specially the last page. I’ve been following your work since a while and this time I really felt compelled to write you and thank you for sharing not only your work but a little of your story.
    It has being an inspiration, and also an opportunity to think about life, the universe and everything else and I won’t lie wrting about that your work certainly has helped me.
    Again thank you.

  16. Mashivan Says:

    I want to echo the people above me and say that I finished the Making Of and absolutely loved it. It’s eye-opening and inspirational. It makes me want to take up some kind of writing project and never give it up. And that’s on top of your regular comic that’s been such a joy to read.
    Just a final note, I found your comic about two years ago and I hope to follow it until the end of time. Hope you live that long.

  17. Justin Cusack Says:

    Just read The Making of all in one go, and I have to say, your experience over the years with your artistic pursuit of something not even a dictionary can define and your surprisingly conscious view of the matter has given me hope I haven’t had in years, It is something you should be very proud of, not because your experience was hard, or because you continue to express yourself in a creatively pleasing manner, but because you have felt lows 99.9% of people in the world will never feel, and you have equally felt highs 99.9% haven’t had. You have stood in the face of humanity and showed your quirks and faults, heard the shouts of unease and, continued the path because you can’t bear to live an existence without being who you are. You sir have achieved through persistence, innate, and learned ability the quality that makes us want to use you as a definition of true humanity, and although we are all humans only a select few of us will ever achieve this effect. I count you as one of my two reason’s to live on and to strive in my artistic pursuit.

    Thank you for your work and your inspirational sharing of what lead you to create my favorite works of art.

    • Sergeant Major Tom Says:

      ^ Since I seem from experience to be incapable of giving adequate and properly articulated praise of Subnormality and Virus Comix generally (and, for that matter, attempting to do so without sounding slightly crazy), I would like to take the opportunity to second that comment.

  18. RF Says:

    Just Kudos dude.

  19. EP Says:

    I’ve had moments lately where I realize that I haven’t cried in a long time. I haven’t cried with exasperation and frustration and utter defeat. And despite all the things that I just mentioned that would be the cause of said crying, I still miss it, because it’s a wonderful release.

    Then I remembered all the times I’ve cried for beauty, and for contemplation and for realization, and tender moments and something so happy it makes me overflow. And that is something I still do often enough. Just infrequently enough to make it something special.

    In reading the Making Of, I felt like I had to say something that would perhaps communicate my appreciation for your comix and my devotion to reading it and how I intend to read it as long as I’m able.

    Of the times I’ve cried for happiness I imagine most of the causes are totally fleeting and I won’t ever really fully remember what caused that moment, or be able to recreate it in any way.

    Your comix however have given me numerous such cries, and I’m glad I can look back and remember what it was about those specific comix that made me do so.

    I love what you do, I love to read your writing. I love to take in all the details of your illustrations. I endeavor in my future career(s) to make people think and feel as much as you’ve made me.


    P.S. Slurpee capitol of the world. Kick yo ass!

  20. Joel Says:

    I found your webcomic through Cracked relatively recently (sometime in the middle of last year). I found it to be hilarious, inspiring and full of characters that were deep, believable and easy to relate to.

    Once I found your archive I was unable to put it down. In total it sucked up (or is fulfilled better?) every free moment I had for about a week or two of my life.

    Your “making of” was incredibly inspiring while also being just one of your many products that caused me to be introspective and life questioning. At this time in my life I have found myself to be frequently changing mentally and I owe part of that to what you have been doing here on your site.

    I hope one day to find myself paying the bills with my own creativity, but, if not, at the very least I can find solace seeing a true individual and artist putting himself out there for a receptive and loving audience.

    This is my first time commenting, but seeing the extent your gratitude in the article it will not be my last. Here’s hoping you can keep doing this for the foreseeable future.

    And PS: It’s always additionally awesome to see the little features of Toronto popping up from time to time. Makes the stories hit even closer to home.

  21. JP Says:

    Thanks for creating.
    – JP

  22. Adava Nyx Says:

    Is your project DOB’s How to Fight Presidents book? 😀

  23. Tom Says:

    Hmm… I seem to have kept your Making Of: Part 7 open on a tab on my web browser for the past several weeks now, just so I could keep looking back to it and rereading it. You’re very human, aren’t you? Impressed me quite a bit, it did.

  24. Wow, I found the “making of” a really good read. It was both a learning experience and encouraging.

  25. Hey winston, there is such a thing as too big a comic

    • Fellow Says:

      He’s been at this comic for at least two months now. Don’t discourage him! If it has taken that much work, it must be of otherworldly proportions. I need to see it!

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