November 24, 2014


Hi, new comic up. Something shorter while you wait for something longer…


I have a book out, for anyone interested— i know i’ve been low-key about it maybe, but that’s just because i’m incapable of the kind of professional-type publicizing and whatnot that one expects of hugely grateful creators in the realm of publishing. Honestly, it’s a pretty fun little book that’s more about finding all the other amusing shit in there than it is about the title character or whatever, and you’ll almost certainly like it, so thanks for checking it out. Amazon has a preview of a few pages, and this cracked article kind of previews the art style as well.

And if you missed it, for fuck’s sake check out the PHG/Sphynx art that LOVESYCK/LOVELYSS comics man Alexis Flower done created over here. Buy it on a shirt, like i just did, ’cause it’s Mega. And check out his site as well for the rare combination of art that is good and writing that also is good.


When i was a kid i loved garfield comics; now i love this.

hurrah! And as always, thanks for reading,


59 Responses to “Niche”

  1. Kate Says:

    I like this. It makes me wonder again what the situation is with Zoe Muggs. A guy is talking about how it’s morally okay to be dirt broke as long as you’re doing something worthwhile and neither of them feel awkward or anything, so either she’s doing something meaningful while being homeless and hungry, or neither of them care. I don’t think it’s the latter, coz that’s just cold, man, and they are both really decent people. And the last bit–“…who you’ve courageously become is unlikely to pay the rent”–elicits her statement that he’s telling her something she already knows super well.

    What’s up with her? What is she devoting herself to? She’s underfed and lives on snow-covered streets. What pull is it that makes all that tolerable?

    I guess I want to know more because I’m worried about her health and safety than anything else. I just hope that she’s homeless by choice, rather than due to horrible circumstance, and that it’s worthwhile for her.

    • Dustin Says:

      I think in the previous comic that featured Zoe and Pete, it is implied that Zoe is suffering pretty badly from mental illness or possibly a traumatic brain injury. At least that’s the impression I got. Also, most of the “homeless by choice” I’ve met tend not to stay in one place very long, and migrate with the seasons, while Zoe’s been around for quite some time. Sadly, I’d put my money on tragic circumstances.

    • What’s up with her? It’ll definitely be a subject of future comix, but i guess i’ll just say that she kind of lives in her own head and maybe doesn’t have anyone to pull her out on a regular basis. And might not want them to– what’s meaningful to her is to be herself. She doesn’t believe there’s a place for her, and hasn’t had anyone to convince her otherwise. Crazy, but Good Crazy (as i aspire to be). Hopefully not doomed (as i also aspire to be). It’s complicated– like all the characters she comes from a place in myself that i’m still figuring out.

  2. nfILL Says:

    As always, awesome comic, Winston. I love the ones with Pete–he’s so self-aware and completely in tune with his own code of living. It’s pretty spectacular to have a character who recognizes his own faults and circumstances, but chooses to persevere and be true to his ideals, without ever becoming The Hero in anything, you know?

    Also, gotta agree with Kate above: please give us some more info on Zoe. My brother was a transient hippy for a while back in the ’90s before cell phones, and every time I see someone on the streets, I always wonder about their story, and hope they’re doing well, and try to help out if I can, so Zoe kinda hits home. Hope we can get a little more insight into her.

    Also also: I’ve been WAITING for Justine and Pete to meet up–they seem like a perfect pair of best friends, so I hope that develops some more, too.

    Also also also: thanks for the comix, man. They’re always appreciated, and they almost always tell me something I need to hear. You’re the best.

  3. Anthony Says:

    Excellent comic. All your underdog characters are so amazing. I’m rooting for them!

    Also enjoyed Finding Jesus. I need more Finding Jesus in my life.

  4. Yeah, Zoe looks ill. I’m worried about her !

  5. SuckMyComment Says:

    seriously thanks for the tip. after you linked that shit, i binged everything on the whole damn website. truly amazing (omg the colours are so pretty!). also, i assumed Alexis was a girl’s name. whoops.

  6. Edwin Says:

    I don’t know if the ‘Great work man!’ comments are meaninful to you, but i really mean it. Thansk for your work!

  7. AkaP* Says:

    Hi Winston.

    I hate it when your character’s verbal conversation’s default into:
    “Oh I hear you, & deep down, I am just as harmoniously on the same wave length about as you”;
    but this Strip is a sharp, graceful sharing of difficult honesty – it’s well thought out & really strikes a chord.

    Best of luck with with your new book.

    • AkaP* Says:

      After the 5th lines “about”, my message did say (Add Self Contemplative/ Anthropological subject matter) as you”;

      I think the computer deleted it because I wrote it in between a pair of

  8. Eh, gotta be honest, this was not one of your strongest. Reminded me too much of something like Plato’s dialogues, where there’s just one guy talking, and another one going “Yeah, you’re definitely right ’bout that.”. It doesn’t feel as natural to me as many of your others.

    Some cool thoughts in there to be dug out, that I think every struggling artist has had at some point. It’s great that you can put those into words this “accurately” (I mean, you’re definitely not concise, but you still hit the nail on the head), but uhmmm, to me it was a bit trivial this time around.

    Looking forward to the “something longer”. And putting Finding Jesus on my Christmas wishlist right now 😀

  9. Molly Says:

    Really dug this one. The last line – “how else do you find out you’re in a choir?” – really stood out. Clever stuff, as per usual.

    On a side note, I’ve been meaning to ask – is there any certain avenue through which to purchase your book that gives you the best percentage or royalty or whatever from the sale? (((In particular for buyers residing in Canada)))

  10. Leo W. Says:

    Dude! This comic is even smaller than the last! Where are the walls of text and the confusing panel layout!??!! You’re a hack fraud and you’ve jumped the shark.

    In all seriousness this one really resonated, as per usual. Always a pleasure to see Zoe Muggs back in action, I can never get enough of her.

  11. Mr. Rowntree,

    I believe that I can say at last that you and I think in similar circles. The sense and jist of the art above captures quite well thoughts I had six months ago, that I have been thinking over these past few days in relation to what success we want to obtain vs. the success we actually obtain.

    For several months I’ve been down on myself. I released a book in July, and while it did well, it didn’t pay my rent. It didn’t exactly change my life. It wasn’t ENOUGH success; which seems stupid, since I ought to be grateful for any success, whatever it is. Yet, there I was, caught in the mindset that if I couldn’t change my life with my efforts, I was basically equivalent to being a failure.

    I can’t say the work above ‘enlightened’ me. I can say that it and I have taken different roads to come to the same roadside bar, where it and I are getting acquainted and starting to buy each other drinks.

    Anyway, I quoted you on my blog. Thought I’d tell you.

    • Yeah, it’s just not a point in the arts right now where you can say that it means anything that one’s creation isn’t bringing in tons of cash. It’s still this transition period between the old way and whatever we end up settling on, and in the meantime there’s going to be a lot of good art that flies under the radar because who in the hell knows how or where to promote one’s art, let alone how to profit off it… That’s one message i want to get across, including to myself– that whatever lack of income one has doesn’t mean one sucks. It’s the circumstances that suck right now, all one can do is one’s best and decide that means something. I don’t think that anyone who releases a book is a failure, i’ll say that, so good on yer.

  12. saudade Says:

    Longreetings Winston! (following up my comment in the dueal blog post! 😉 )

    I just bought “Jesus” and although kindle is (really really) not the best app to read your book (come on amazon :ZOOM!), I just went ahead and bought it to friends and family that have an iPad or some other compatible device.

    My 4 year old just almost found Jesus in this (“Why this one has open arms!?”), and you just can’t say that for so many books.

    Thank you for this amazing piece of hard work, you’re way way too generous.

  13. Lex Says:

    Hey again, it’s been awhile since I have had good enough internet to actually load a Subnormality strip (it tended to appear by centimetres, which, given the characteristic length of these comics is hair-pullingly frustrating) so I finally got to a catch-up. It doesn’t feel like enough these days to say that you read and, as Pete put it, resonate with the deepest, innermost thoughts I have in a way that to me feels both astounding and often impossible, so I want to say this:

    Winston, your work is a journey. You raise the issue and I reflect at every stage on it, as if I am there, having the conversation. I feel the sadness, chaos, confusion and loneliness along with your characters, and travel with them through the acceptance and realisations that follow. Every piece I read makes me feel enriched as a person, and knowing that someone out there can do this makes me never want to lose hope. No matter the trouble I might be in or the difficulties I may be facing, if I can still feel then there is still hope, there is still a chance to rise.

    Thank you, for proving to me that I can still feel.

  14. Anonymous Poster Says:

    Christ, that was a great strip. It gives me hope that, eventually, I’ll make something worth a damn.

  15. Mike W. Says:

    This one definitely resonates with me; I think I’ll be coming back to it many times in the future…

  16. Zerhauen Says:

    Oooh this one got to me. Totally hits on things I’ve been thinking about and going through. Awesome man. You and your work, are fucking awesome.

  17. I always mean to say something here, about how much I love these comics, and how much they resonate with me. How much I like the inks with their wobble and sway, and the edging into surrealistic representation comboed with a really fine eye for representing people. What each individual strip means for me. But, a lot of times I wind up just digesting the strip, and not saying much.
    But this time, I feel like I have to pause by. And… I suppose thank you for putting stuff into words. I run a once a week little horror blog which reviews Junji Ito manga. *Just* junji ito manga; sometimes I talk about other things, but the main thrust of it is 100% this one, singular horror author. From japan. With a library of largely untranslated work. And use a kind of… goofy, old midnight horror movie local tv station host writing persona.
    This is not even remotely a medium of writing that is gonna catch the world on fire. And I put a lot of time in it, every week- 2000-3000-4000 words. As long as the longest essays my college classes ask for. While working a theater job.
    But. You know what I have? About 300 people who read the blog. Every week. And four, five of them ALWAYS reblog it. One of them every single time without fail, with an excited comment. Even if I miss a week. Even when I feel like it was a shorter piece.
    And maybe even more then that, sometimes I go back and read it, and it makes *me* laugh. And Im glad it exists.

    Because damn, if it isnt the best humorous slash semi scholarly review of a niche horror comic using a second person fictional persona that I’ve ever read.

    Thanks for doing what you do.

  18. Nailed it! Goddamn Rowntree that’s a fine comic.

  19. thorny locust Says:

    Thanks, I needed that. (And it’s not only the arts it applies to.)

    — I’ve needed some of the others, too. Probably about time I said something.

  20. Infanttyrone Says:

    The last line is pretty tight. Great job as always. I figure as long as those of us who struggle to make any scratch from our arts throw out some money to other creators whenever we can, none of us will completely starve (which is to say I wear your shirts, and I’ve already ordered the book.)

  21. bullestock Says:

    Great comic as usual. Also made me wonder why I like the strips featuring The Generals so much, given that I really hate rap…

    • mrputter Says:

      I agree, bullestock.

      I’m not a rap fan by any means (tho’ there are one or three that I like… but anyway, that’s a digression). But I’ve always really liked the Generals. Basically, the entire ethos — of doin’ what one wants to do, an’ fuck the haters — as espoused by strips like this one, and especially “In Defense of Weird” ( ).

      Which is just also a long-winded way of saying, Winston, that if you were to — say — make up a fake Generals tour t-shirt (e.g.: a tour with a bunch of back-assed-end-of-nowhere stops & dates on it), I would SO buy the shit out of that shirt.

    • ^ that is a really great shirt idea actually (i particularly love the obscure stops idea) and i will definitely be considering it…

    • Harold Smith Says:

      32nd Febrember, Hank’s Pool Hall, Dead Dog City, Arizona (might be sold out) (or might not be….)… 😉

  22. Funny Feeling Says:

    I love you, and thanks for doing what you do. I’m similar to some of the above in that I just soak in the comics without leaving any feedback, partly because I don’t think it’s going to be very insightful since the comics are already so much more massively insightful than I am, but this one seemed like it called out a little more than usual and I just wanted to be sure to give a return call. (also about to become a struggling artist, it resonated deeply, and I really like the portrayal of the artist as someone humble and realistic with the right amount of self-knowledge, something that I seek to achieve someday)

  23. vcunat Says:

    I wonder… is that on purpose that the book URL is one character different from the book name (jebus)? It looks like a typo, but as the typo is both in link and location…

    • Oh, yeah, it’s just a Simpsons reference– i seem to do that almost subconsciously, having watched that show a little too much over the course of my life…

    • vcunat Says:

      Thanks, I watch very few things, but I should’ve at least try a quick search and it would be clear at once.

  24. TentacledBeast Says:

    This TEDx talk seemed relevant:

    I recently discovered Heather Dale, and I love her music. Highly recommended.

  25. Calvin Says:

    Winston, I don’t think I’d have as healthy an outlook on life without your wise comics. I would certainly be more self-absorbed, and more pessimistic, to name a few things. I’m sure some others might agree with me. You fill your “niche” very well. Thank you, keep writing those power ballads.

  26. From the second page of your cracked article, entry #2 [ ]:

    There’s one of the interchangeable superfans on the right edge of the frame wearing a darker blue shirt with “RPD” in white text on the back – what does that mean?

    Also, in the same part of the article, how is not just a dead halt to the concerns over that particular cover (not that there isn’t a problem, more that it isn’t best exemplified with this particular image)? I got the impression Salon & co were riding a bandwagon without really researching the properties of the fuel to stoke their fire.

    Also, in what sense is this latest comic remotely short? And why isn’t it in the dropdown? Shouldn’t it be update #220? I ask because that would make it easier to cite in conversation. Would it be 219a? 219.5?

    seconding all the praise above, and shouting down all the criticism like a good fanboy

    thanks for delivering on the book thing, I will buy multiple copies (xmas is v easy this year) if I can find a way to not hate amazon

    • I mean sure there is a problem, but one image that is very much demonstrating the same conditions a male bodied subject might undergo doesn’t reflect that it’s a systematic problem. I suppose systematic problems are something human communication isn’t currently too punchy at handling, so for a click-baitey article you need at once titillation and self-denying erotic intrigue as well as high-handed, corner-cutting condemnation.

      It’s almost as if some of the stay-at-home ragespeakers occasionally stumble into starting comedy collectives called things like “Everything is Terrible”

      ohno just realised I am falling into the trap I’ll stop here

  27. Harold Smith Says:

    Hey good luck with the Patreon thing Winston. I’ve signed up for it and promoted it on a few websites where your stuff has gone down well in the past. Not a whole lot of people I’m afraid, but every little bit etc, etc….

    I only just found out about Patreon and told my freind (a singer-songwriter) about it, and now I have a practical example to show her, so good timing too!

  28. That’s a rehash I wasn’t expecting, and certainly not here. But it’s an unsurprisingly good combination of my favourite adult comic with one of my favourite children’s books and a great way to support you. I also encouraged my local bookstore (American Book Center Amsterdam, a local phenomenon) to put your book on the shelves!

  29. Maggie Says:

    This is not a review of any particular comic, but the series as a whole.
    I don’t think you have too many words.
    I think what you do is something far too few people do.
    You talk, and you don’t edit for fear of being thought strange or aberrant or sticking your foot in your mouth or anything.
    When someone asks us how we are, we usually just say “fine” when we’re thinking, oh-I have a headache and I’m worried about a test but I’m happy because I just got a letter from my grandma and she’s doing well-and we just go through the motions, so much, and sometimes I feel so alone in a sea of people.
    Your comic-this comic-Subnormality-is one of a number of things I could count on one hand that make me really feel not alone.
    Thank you.

  30. Doyle Says:

    Once again you make a day better for me. Thanks a bunch Winston! I love how much I care about all the characters,

  31. A now deceased friend of mine spent the latter half of his life as a jazz/classical composer. He wrote brilliant, swinging, complicated works. He mentored Trey Anastasio. He barely made a dime. He said to me, “Art, real art, doesn’t make money. It costs money.”

  32. pG Says:

    Is it just me or does any one else here want to really hear a powerballad about the Titan II W53/Mk6 ISBM Reentry Vehicle?
    I mean – its an elegant design, perfect form meets function. The Uranium jacket does double duty as the heat shield due to its high refractory index. Sleek beautiful lines, nothing unnecessary, incredibly reliable and efficient in its mass use. Dangerous, yet so safe it can lie in a pool of burning gasoline. Spends most of its existence inert in the dark, followed by a brief period of life where it screams along the edge of space before dropping back down faster than the blast wave from a ton of TNT. Only to end existence as a flash of atoms in a blast hotter than the surface of the sun.

    And paradoxically – its best use is not being used.

  33. Teo Says:

    I’m really curious to listen to the Generals now…

  34. Jon Says:

    Maybe I shouldn’t write this, but you seem like the kind of person who would appreciate honest feedback. Your last couple of comix have seemed a little… preachy. I know it’s just my personal preference, but I miss the subnormality that imagines a completely different world, like “Watching” for instance. This comic may as well just be a blog post about how hard it is to be an artist; it doesn’t seem to need the art to get its point across. The one before this seemed to be more of a morality lesson than anything else. Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time as an artist and you need to vent. I get that, and I hope that things turn around for you and that your Patreon is successful. I am a huge fan and will continue to be one. I hope you do not take this personally and wish you all the best.

    • Maybe I shouldn’t write this

      You should always write honest feedback– it’s on the artist to have the maturity to deal with it, to realize that it’s the artist’s friend and not their enemy (your enemies don’t care about the quality of your work). So i appreciate it completely.

      As to your points, there’s truth there for sure, and as much as i’m bound by the ideas my brain slips under my door for me to work with, there’ve been a couple comments lately to indicate that i probably have some self-correcting to do with regards to better integrating my own voice into the characters (to phrase it diplomatically). So don’t worry, if they stood out, the last couple comix don’t represent a new trend or anything.

      Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time as an artist and you need to vent.

      That actually does perfectly describe the last comic , hence why i’m happy with it overall– i felt strongly about something and needed to deal with it via my work, so in that regard i at least achieved my goals. But again, it could be subtler. It’s not that i think it’s bad, but you’re right in that it would be bad if EVERY comic was like that.

      I hope that things turn around for you and that your Patreon is successful. I am a huge fan and will continue to be one. I hope you do not take this personally and wish you all the best.

      Thanks, that means a lot– as does the fair criticism (which has often helped me correct course over the years. Except for the whole walls of text thing, THAT IS A SYNDROME). Things are good! The patreon has already been more successful than i even hoped, and working on the next comic feels great knowing that i’ll be okay financially at the end.

      I by necessity take your words personally, but in a good way, so thanks– i’ll be better for it. I really do mean it– for every person who speaks up there’re another hundred thinking it, so i’m glad you voiced such concerns. Happy new year, and here’s to more comix in 2015….


  35. Liza Says:

    heh i’m buying some of your prints. i hope you keep creating. your stuff is lovely. “We all suffer alone in the real world. True empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with their own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple.”–david foster wallace

  36. Mangina Mike Says:

    I just read this today and WOW! I really like the way you drew the excited fan lady who yells “It’s him!”. She looks like so many actual people at the Philadelphia shows I used to go to.
    Fantastic character designs!

  37. mutedsanity Says:

    This comment isn’t really about this comic, its about your comic Sector 41. I read it a while ago and really liked it; just recently I finished reading St. Petersburg A Cultural History and thinking of Sector 41 put me in mind of what Peter the Great’s wife said when she was exiled by him, “Sankt-Peterburg will stand empty!”

  38. DavidB Says:

    So, I had another username but awhile back that computer killed itself and stuff like my former moniker was lost, but I’m still here. Anyway, Winston, I love you man and I love your art, and Pink Hair Girl, and all the rest. I wish I could trip over a duffle bag of Saddam’s old payoff money or something, because I’d share it with you (and a few other worthwhile artists and creative types). Keep on hammering on the wall, brah, you’re starting to make a dent.

  39. Matt Says:

    Hey, just letting you know that the “next” button from this comic still goes to the front page even though there’s another comic.

  40. Mad Cormorant Says:

    If I had any musical talent, I’d gather up some folks and start a tribute band to your comics. Zoe Muggs and the Generals, or ZM Generals, or something like that. Some sort of metal or hardcore punk. Potential song titles include “Justine”, “The Magnificent Miss Blackmore”, “Pink/Brown”, “Stairs”, “Built To Climb”, and “Don’t Riddle Me This”. Oh, and “Atheist Apocalypse”.

    It’s unlikely it’ll involve any rapping though, because while I like the art form I doubt I’d be any good at it even if I were otherwise good at music.

  41. Mad Cormorant Says:

    Also, was “Titanfall” an intentional reference to the video game?

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