HELLO i somehow have a career in the arts making a super lengthy series of comic strips online and also doing Stuff for Cracked.com, most importantly the animated webseries known as "peopleWatching," which PEOPLE can WATCH right here! NOTE: YOU HAVE TO BE A PERSON TO WATCH IT OR IT DOESN'T WORK

Ask Me Whatever about them things i did or just general things about what it's like to be an artist in this crazy, fast-paced world of the future we're living in. NOTE: I am actually completely behind the times, the smart people are making comics on twitter now.

Seriously though, watch muh show, it's good, and many, many underpaid people have died to bring it to you. NOTE: they are actually still alive, but are definitely underpaid

NOTE: i have caffeeine instead of sleep

NOTE: i can't spell caffeeeeine

PROOF: links to this are on my website and such, plus nobody would pretend to be me...

EDIT: Also, check out the Subnormality subreddit if you ever want to discuss the comix with anyone!

EDIT EDIT: THANK YOU FOR THE QUESTIONS!! I am just taking a break for dinner, but i will try and get to all the rest of your questions by this evening so stay tuned...

EDIT EDIT EDIT: THANK YOU ONCE MORE!! I am super tired and am starting to words typing wrong, but i promise i will check back here in the next couple days so if i didn't get to your question, don't worry, i eventually will! Thanks again for making this such a great experience, thanks for reading the comix, and stay tuned for more walls of text and a few more episodes of peopleWatching as well..!

Comments: 443 • Responses: 105  • Date: 

nikon_nomad147 karma

Only 10 years? I could've sworn I've followed Subnormality for longer than that.

The best part of your work is the way you describe the oddities (and perfect normalities) of the mind in a way everyone can relate to. Where do you get your lovely insights into human nature?

People Watching is awesome, by the way! The dialogue-heavy stuff works even better as animation than the wall-of-text format. I hope there'll be more to come.

WinstonRowntree69 karma

Thanks very much!! Hugely appreciate the support, and i think i technically had a website for a while before i actually started subnormality, so maybe you were one of the seven people i sold a zine to in 2004-2007..?

Aaand if i have any insights, i'm definitely glad! I just try to look within and write about things that are true of myself and things i feel strongly about-- to just always start from a place of truth, and then turn it into a narrative in which you can find meaning in that truth (while hopefully also creating something that's satisfying in a beginning-middle-end storytelling sense-- Endings Are Everything!). The Personal is the Universal, so i just try to tell personal truths and then hopefully someone can relate to them.

QwantztopusHarkcade71 karma

Was not expecting to see you do an AMA. This is an awesome surprise!

Anomalies is still one of my favorite short stories in any medium. The premise, the execution, the whole thing is perfectly eerie and fascinating and mundane and fantastic.

Can you talk about the process for that? How did you come up with the idea? How long did it take from initial concept to turn it into the final product? Any inspiration from other works? Anything interesting details in putting it together you think are worth pointing out?

I apologize if that is too many questions. Sorry. I just really love that story.

WinstonRowntree28 karma

Thank you!

As for Anomalies, i will try to remember how that originated... The scenario with the student and the mysterious professor that disappears was something i wrote in a short story in university, 1000000000 years ago, but it was a much more rudimentary thing, i mean i can't even remember what was in there beyond the characters. I then combined those elements with the stuff about anomalies on buildings, but i can't quite remember where that came from. I THINK i might have just literally been walking around the neighborhood and staring at houses and it arrived that way, but it was a long time ago now so i'm not 100% sure. In general though it was me combining a few different elements over a long period of time, which is the general origin of several of the longer comix. A vague idea i had 20 years ago, mixed with something i just thought of, and then wait another year until i think of the ending--- whatever weird process it takes to make something i'm satisfied with. Teamwork, involving Past Me, Current Me, and Future Me.

MaxChaplin6 karma

Another question: the 'About' page hints that someone was going to adapt Anomalies. Is it still something that's going to happen?

WinstonRowntree24 karma

Ha, yeah, good question. I believe "development hell" is the relevant term, but i'll let everyone know if i hear any different...

gibby673 karma

Just read it for the first time. Can you explain the ending? I think I might understand, but I'm super uncertain of that.

WinstonRowntree13 karma

The general intent is that the professor herself is an anomaly, whatever that might mean to any given audience member. Maybe it's not just little architectural things that appear and disappear, maybe she go too close to the truth, maybe it all means nothing, maybe it's up to you.

rovercomeover48 karma

In "People Watching," are you moving along an actual story arc for the characters, or are you just exploring various philosophical and psychological topics through them, like other Cracked projects do?

WinstonRowntree59 karma

Both, actually! Episodes will be self-contained examinations of a specific theme or idea, but underlying that will be the characters' ongoing lives and arcs. I try to do the same thing with my webcomic-- it's not serialized, but it definitely goes from point A to point B.

Scientomancer45 karma

Love your work! What is the typical process like for a Subnormality? Do you write a script first or something?

WinstonRowntree46 karma

THANKS and yeah, first comes The Writing. Well, first comes The Idea, which could occur multiple ways, but then i basically just sit down with a laptop and write all the dialogue first, and then edit, and revise, and edit, and revise, and never stop editing and revising even when i'm doing the actual letting, even after that. The writing is the first step, but it's also constant-- unless you're a first draft genius person, which i'm not, then you have to be constantly looking for ways to improve the script, and ways to find further meaning in the premise you're working from. Oh, and i don't set off without an ending, because it's way too easy to do then and then end up going nowhere. So many wasted hours....

cji2511 karma

I believe he made a lengthy post on the webcomic portal a while ago stating the general process of it.

WinstonRowntree70 karma

I believe he made a lengthy post


flabcannon26 karma

The 'weird' comic (http://www.viruscomix.com/page500.html) is one of my favorite things ever. I read it every few days and it never fails to cheer me up. Thanks for doing this! (Posting this here because I'm not allowed to post a top level comment without a question).

WinstonRowntree10 karma

Thanks for reading!! I am honored if i ever cheered anyone up, it means a lot to know that.

valicat37 karma

For some reason in my the back of my head for a while it's been headcannon for me to think Winston Rowntree is a pseudonym. And also you're a woman.

Is it a pseudonym? You don't have to answer the latter, if you're taking a pseudonym it's obvs for a reason but also maybe that reason is that "Winston Rowntree" is a sick name

Alternative get-out-of-jail-free question where you can answer this one and ignore the text above this: are any characters directly inspired by real people?

I love Gimme Shelter. Speaks to me the most, easily in my top 3.

WinstonRowntree20 karma

Yeah, it's definitely a pseudonym-- not for any good reason, it's just a weird name i started using in high school and then eventually it was a thing. I don't mind it though-- it allows for a certain separation between art and artist, which i think is important.

As for the characters, they're all kind of half me and half Something Else-- they're never really directly inspired by other people, but the way people i know talk or act and certain of their more memorable anecdotes have surely made their way into the comix at certain points. I would never literally base characters on people other than myself though.

And thanks for mentioning Gimme Shelter-- some comix i assume nobody likes, so it's great to be so wrong!

iheartbeavers17 karma

I totally thought woman also. Are we wrong?

WinstonRowntree24 karma

I just feel like it doesn't matter either way, so i don't really make a point of specifying.

FosterTheJodie7 karma

I always assumed male, especially because of his struggles to draw boobs

WinstonRowntree9 karma

To be fair, that is a good point...

N4rc0leptic27 karma

Are you ever going to write any more Captain Estar? She's easily my favourite character / story.

The photo of her on the wall in the Dating with Depression episode made my week!

WinstonRowntree36 karma

Thanks for noticing that! Aaaand maybe i would write her again? I've kind of always wanted to redo that entire graphic novel to give it actually good drawings (and to take out the borderline-transphobic stuff), but that's a project for a day when i don't have to worry about money because it would probably not be that lucrative of an endeavor. I honestly would like to though, i like that character and i like doing sci fi always.

ElsaStegosaurus14 karma

Omg, thank you for acknowledging the borderline transphobic shit. I love the comic, and specifically that story, but that little bit always stuck in my craw.

WinstonRowntree18 karma

Believe me, it sticks in MY craw very hugely indeed... On the plus side, writing that character (Jeremy) at least led to me being less of a closed-minded young idiot-- i think i intended to make fun of her more than i even did, but then in writing the character, in actually spending time thinking about her, i really liked her and thought she was cool and it ended up being, well, at least less bad than it could have been. I don't expect anyone to be particularly impressed that i needed to learn that lesson to begin with though.

N4rc0leptic8 karma

I would love to read more. I always felt like it had a ton of potential for a continuing story.

I'd kickstart a proper graphic novel remake of it, maybe with a slick hardcover? A man can dream, right?

BTW, still got the sphinx guarding my bookcase :D


WinstonRowntree3 karma

Awesome!! Thanks for whatever you did for me to make that for you-- patreon, probably?

And yes, keep your fingers crossed-- i myself definitely dream of doing graphic novels, so one day...

N4rc0leptic3 karma

Yeah, patreon. When are you gonna take more of my money??

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Soon, i swear..!!

nerddtvg26 karma

Well since you said to, why should anyone care?

WinstonRowntree61 karma

Thanks for asking, i wanted to challenge myself to define why indeed anyone should care about what i do, so i'll give it a shot...

I basically think that webcomics represent some of the only Unfiltered Content that you can find-- there are no middlemen or editors or reasons to do it that are financial, it really is just as direct connection as possible between the artist's mind and the audience. And that's not to say it's BETTER than things like movies or tv that are made by many people (and often made for non-artistic reasons), it's that it's worth looking at in and of itself-- it's worth knowing what art looks like when it's a direct transcription of someone's ideas, and it gives you more context for analyzing other art. It's the other end of the spectrum from hollywood etc, and i'm not a snob, i don't hate hollywood and such, but i do read a lot of Criticism where tentpole films and AAA video games are analyzed as though they were written purely for the sake of telling a story when in fact such things involve so many people that you can't look at them that way-- they're collaborative endeavors, but are so often talked about as though one person just wanted to tell a story and here it is. Webcomics are in fact what it looks like when one person just wants to tell a story, for better OR for worse, and looking at personal art like that gives you context for talking about collaborative art, and also lets you talk about it in different ways. It's almost two different genres when art is made by one person or multiple people, and thus i and my colleagues represent something that's worth exploring for its own sake, i believe.

Also, in terms of the webseries, like a lot of people i've spent years watching shows and bitching about how they could be better and all the rest of it, and then basically out of the blue i got the opportunity to write and direct my own webseries, despite having no previous experience doing such things, so that's kind of what my webseries represents-- someone in the audience getting the opportunity to put up or shut up. So it's hopefully interesting to watch in that context (and hopefully any other context).

So yeah, it's not about the content, it's more about the mediums i represent-- i think that indie-level Internet Stuff is vital to know and really gives you as unfiltered a look as possible into people's lives and experiences, and it might not always be super polished or even entertaining but it's a vital part of the landscape, and i espouse it 100% and think that anyone should care about it!

InfiniteImagination6 karma

In the context of a "direct connection" between artist and audience, though, do you ever find yourself modifying the scripts you write because you're worried that what's interesting to you might not be interesting to anybody else? Or do you just go for it and hope it works?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

Well, you do have to strike a balance, but there's not too much that's personal to me that's not relatable to at least a few other people. There's one episode of the webseries that was kind of self-consciously esoteric just because i wanted it to exist, so it is possible to write things that have less potential to resonate with others and i wouldn't do that as a habit, i just think it's worth doing such things for their own sake, to be that part of the artistic landscape.

WinstonRowntree17 karma

I'll be right with you, i'm just watching what i think is the episode of battlestar galactica where Anders' porn addiction leads him to run afoul of the law?

WinstonRowntree13 karma

Actually this might be SVU...

CaitlynDolezal8 karma

So is this a send up of Why Your Favorite Artist doesn't Want to Meet You? Or you really have anxiety about answering questions here? Or you're really just into Battlestar at the moment and can't be asked? Or it's an inside joke that's over my head?

WinstonRowntree11 karma

Why Your Favorite Artist Doesn't Want to Meet You is basically an exaggeration of me-- i'm more comfortable on the stage than off it, but not quite to the degree of ignoring people in person. I love people, i just Suck At Interacting With Them. So yeah, anxiety is a theme for sure.

SoSeriousAndDeep16 karma

What band do The Generals sound like the most?

If you went to the Museum of the Theoreticals, which other Winstons do you think you would meet, and do you think you would get on with them?

Which is your least favourite Subnormality?

WinstonRowntree21 karma

They would sound like Rage Bizkit Against the Limp Machine...

Aaand i would be terrified to meet Other Mes! Hopefully we would get along..ish? Too self-conscious to even think about it...

My least favorite ones are just, like, most of the early stuff where it's generic jokes that anyone could have written, or super non-subtle and pointless and dated stuff involving references to world leaders.

Overlord_Odin14 karma

When's the next comic???

Seriously though, what's your favorite Subnormality character to write?

WinstonRowntree19 karma

Next comic is sooner than you think, the next actually LONG comic is not too far off-- it's like 80% done, i just had to take many months off to work on peopleWatching. Walls of text are on the way, i can promise that!

Favorite character to write.... i dunno, it's tough, but probably just pink haired girl and ethel and any combination thereof. When the characters get so well-defined in your own mind then they eventually start to "write themselves," as people like to say-- that is, you know pretty much what they'd say in any given situation or what thing they would logically do next in any scenario, so it becomes more a case of transcribing their lives as opposed to inserting them in scenarios. Most of the character development i do happens off the page, between comics, so if the characters have depth, and hopefully they do, it's because i spend a lot of time on them. The future events of pink haired girl are already decided, i just need to find the time to draw it all (and i will).

Yeah, those two characters, anyway-- they're a good combination of people i am and people i care about and people i aspire to be in terms of their principles.

director7143 karma

Hey, don't know where else to put this, but did you also do some drawings for Nickeldeon magazine?

WinstonRowntree2 karma

Nope, never have!

lord_braleigh11 karma

What gave you the idea to write Superhighway? Is there any backstory that didn't make it into the comic?

WinstonRowntree11 karma

At some point i had the idea to do an anthology of sci-fi comics set in the same future society, at least i think i'm remembering that right, and that story was one of them. And YES, the issue with that comic is that it lacks some exposition that might make the comic make more sense. I forget the exact details, but i think i had this idea that there was a legal loophole where you could kill your own clone because they genetically couldn't prove if it was them or you that was dead (or some damn thing), but then i forgot to or just didn't put any context like that in the comic. I wish i could remember more, but yeah, it's definitely a glimpse at something that was intended to have a lot more backstory around it.

Disorder_Form11 karma

I can see that you are going down a specific path with your work. In almost everything you create, you express that ineffable interior part of the self that yearns to be seen and to be made real by fitting into the world around itself, yet finds mostly brokenness and stumbling blocks and is ultimately frustrated. I can see that you also offer what wisdom you can about how to deal with this universal condition of the human soul. Your well-crafted, multifaceted characters indulge themselves in long soliloquies about the moral and ego and interpersonal questions that cause them to feel 'off,' separated from the world, longing for return, and sometimes they achieve this in quiet, sage-like ways. So much different from Dilbert, where each piece of content is about how dumb work is or Garfield where the silly cat makes gentle jabs at his owner because it shows a bratty attitude. Comics and cartoons in general lack depth, yet are such a good medium for conveying it. You do this better than most.

My question is: Do you think that this struggle is different in our times compared to any time before the mid 20th century (the onset of globalization and multiculturalism), and if so, how and why, and what is it that you want people to realize about it?

WinstonRowntree6 karma

Thanks, i'm honored that anyone can feel that way about comix in general-- i just try to show what the medium can do, and i've probably only scratched the surface...

As to The Struggle, it's always gonna be different, but the underlying themes will always be the fundamental human needs for love and understanding and direction in life and purpose, and that's what i'd want anyone to realize about any situation-- that it all comes down to the massive similarities between all of us, across nations and across centuries, and that they completely overshadow the differences, and that the only way forward is the realization that we're all more alike than different and thus you can't have conditional love for humanity.

Jaysin281410 karma

I've watched all the People Watching videos. The one that sticks out to me the most is the one about dating with depression. I deal with depression & I was just wondering how you were able or where did you find the inspiration to write the ending conversation of that video? It honestly made me cry when I watched it, because it so perfectly encapsulates how I feel after a date, texting someone I like, or whatever. Also, was your intention simply to educate those that don't have severe depression & anxiety or to help those that do, realize what they're doing so they can break the cycle or both?

WinstonRowntree14 karma

Thanks for watching! And yeah, that ending conversation is just stuff i have thought myself, the things i've told myself, it's all horribly real for the most part. Yeah, i wanted to try to explain all that stuff to people, and also writing about that stuff helps me deal with, it's honestly one of the biggest positives to being an artist-- working through my own issues by exploring them in various narratives. You can give yourself a pep talk as well, you can write about depression but then remind yourself that you CAN be fine and you CAN be attractive to others, and even when you're not fine you can still remember when you were and always know you can get back there. There is always cause to believe.

chrisbotron9 karma

how much do you make from each revenue stream?

WinstonRowntree17 karma

Patreon is the thing that allows me to do the comix, and i'm very hugely grateful that it exists. Merch is a much less significant stream, since my audience isn't that huge and my work doesn't really lend itself to shirts, but the poster sales have at least been pretty decent when you add it all up over the years. Patreon's the big one though, and is responsible for a lot of great people getting to create a lot of great things and this sentence sounds like an ad but i really just like being able to pay the rent...

tialaramex9 karma

For the "plot" Subnormality comics, do you have a long term plan, and we're just seeing that play out, very slowly, a handful of panels at a time? Or is it something you just write more of organically and you have no idea how it ends either ? Or am I talking nonsense and in your head every Subnormality panel is part of one single continuity that makes sense?

WinstonRowntree10 karma

With the main characters it's kind of a case of not even they knowing what's next for them, much like real life-- i've tried to give them well-established personalities and then once you've done that it becomes easy to figure out what they would do next in a given situation and jut go from there. And then i try to find meaning in those events and work them into some sort of effective self-contained narrative, or at least i try to. It's definitely a combination of organic and making it up as you go along and the characters writing themselves and also finding opportunities to talk about a theme or idea using those characters.

So, uh, yeah, Writing Is Weird, basically. Also, in terms of the long-term, i definitely know what the very last comic will be, it's not completely up in the air what will happen to some of the characters at least...

jedi1688 karma

I've really been feeling that series. When did you start working on the people watching?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

About a year ago-- it's evolved a lot in a short period of time!

poopwithexcitement8 karma

Oh wow, you're one of my favorite artists! The stuff you do for the Cracked After Hours series definitely adds to it and I don't think I've gone a single Halloween since I discovered Subnormality without referencing your comic on costumes.

You may be known for a webcomic that is longer than the typical three-panel-er but I was wondering if you've ever considered doing something even longer like a graphic novel? Your unique lucidity of observation, depth of philosophy and intricacy of visuals would be super rad to see in print.

WinstonRowntree9 karma

On costumes?! That's awesome, i am Quite Gleeful knowing that...

And YES for sure-- i actually have a very specific graphic novel i want to do, i've been kind of slowly working on it in my head for a hilarious number of years, but it's not the kind of thing i have time to do just yet (plus the story and characters still aren't quite ready). It's a weird sci-fi thing about the relationship between mind and body and some other stuff and it's 100% in my long-term plans, i just would need to be clear of all other projects first and i don't see that happening anytime soon. But one day!

Ervin_Pepper7 karma

Hey Winston good to see you doing another ama. I've always enjoyed your use of space in your comics, the way things aren't always a strict left to right reading, the way readers sometimes have to hunt to find what next to read, or the way narratives can overlap. It reminds me of Mark Z Danielewski, what he refers to as signiconic. Are there any artists or writers that you took inspiration from that you would recommend, or are there any other comics that utilise space unique ways that you would suggest I check out?

WinstonRowntree8 karma

Hey, thanks, and yeah, i just kind of let the comix take up as much space as the story requires (although the advent of smartphones is probably my biggest problem in that context).

I'm not sure who i've taken inspiration from in that regard as i can't remember who i was reading before i did my own comix, but i'd definitely recommend people like Boulet and Akimbo Comix (his site is unfortunately down due to technical issues, but google him) in terms of people who use the "infinite canvas" of the internet in a meaningful way. The actual notion of the "infinite canvas" of course originates from Scott McCloud, so i might have taken inspiration there too, but it's been a while now so i'm not 100% sure what all i was reading. I think it's mostly just a reflection of the scripts getting longer and longer and me prioritizing the needs of the narrative above all else, so the format of the comix just evolved to take up as much space as they needed.

jetlags6 karma

Hi Winston. I followed Subnormality and your Cracked comics religiously during my early teenage years, and I've got to say, your work has had a huge impact on my world view. The comic about incremental small self-justifications leading people to previously indefensible positions absolutely blew my mind. The combination of thought-provoking ideas with interesting characters and trippy artwork in your work is really fantastically done. I just wanted to say thanks for doing what you do.

Now, an actual question: is there anything in particular that inspires your science fiction work?

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Hi, thanks so much for reading, it really means a lot!

As to the science fiction, i'm not totally sure, but it's probably a combination of liking the artistic freedom of it and the challenge of envisioning the future, and then also feeling a connection to it in general-- my dad loves science fiction and taught it at the university level for many a year, so it's always been around the house. (I haven't actually read a ton of it, but i've haven't read a ton of anything so that doesn't really mean too much...)

Bijou2266 karma

PeopleWatching is honestly one of my favourite webseries' at the moment, maybe of all time! What inspires the episodes? Specifically the Confession Booth episode, a perfect showcase of human nature and anxiety.

quantumzak6 karma

I wanted to say that the Non-religious Confessional had always been one of my favorite comics and the video version actually made it 100x better (or whatever arbitrary scalar you want for your quantification of quality).

When I saw the AMA I really wanted to post something, because your work has honestly meant a lot to me, but I couldn't come up with anything better than the equivalent of "Hey, I really loved your show." Y'know? And it's not that I don't think you'd appreciate hearing it, but there's not really a question there or anything to build on or that everyone else hasn't already said a thousand times, so why bother posting it? I don't really have anything to add other than appreciation and shit I'm rambling and starting to sound like a bad copy of one of your characters. So this let me post something useful even if the rest isn't (in case that person hadn't seen the comic yet)

But I did want to actually put down that I appreciate your work and it's depth and beauty is really meaningful. I think it's actually made me a better person, because core to so much of it is emphathy, just basic understanding that every person has there own shit going on and to never pre-judge them over their appearance or situation. The third theoretical museum piece is honestly one of the most powerful things I've read. I cry every time I read it and I don't cry. But it's because it hits so many things that are so true. There's such a fine line between making it and not making it at life and sometimes you can't even tell which side is which. What's more important, sacrificing yourself to be in society or being the truest you and being cast out? That bit where everyone is dealing with some asshole inner voice that knows every one of your soft spots. You have an insight into the human condition that I think is unique, and I know I discovered it exactly when I need to and I've been growing as a person ever since.

And I'm constantly blown away by the breadth of experiences you are pulling from to realistically represent so many diverse unique awesome characters.

And by how much detail you put into every square micron of the art, so many hidden gags and call-backs. I spend weeks with every comic and video trying to find everything.

And there's so much more I want to say but I'm already loosing the nerve to post even this and I've already deleted paragraphs worth of blathering praise so .... thanks and good luck. I'm really glad that you are able to do what you do and that you've been able to put words to what so many people think and feel, to give them a way to reflect on themselves. So, how's that for posts with too many words?

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Thanks, that's awesome-- the danger of adapting stuff is always that it could ruin it, so if you felt the whole booth idea was actually improved by the new format then that's great to know.

And thanks for taking the time to write stuff-- i really appreciate it, and i'm just honored you've enjoyed my stuff so much, and for the kind words. I at least try to have empathy, and to write in a way that hopefully conveys what it's like to be a person, and all the contradictions and such therein. I've tried to challenge myself and grow as a person so i'm grateful to my work for that, but the most meaningful thing is to hear from other people who feel similar things and have similar experiences and to know i'm not alone, so thanks once more. Never doubt that it's important to write to an artist (THE MORE WORDS THE BETTER!!)-- you're the reason we do it all and knowing you feel so strongly means everything.

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thank very glad, really glad you've enjoyed it!

Inspiration is generally just anything i personally feel strongly about-- the motivation to write has to be strong if the finished product is gonna mean anything. So yeah, stuff like my own anxieties, and trying to find meaning in them, and hopefully making it all at least somewhat entertaining to others...

martymcfly856 karma

Hey Winston, big fan of your stuff for what's going on years now.

Really happy about your recent success, hope to watch the show soon- if it's anything like your comics I bet it's fantastic.

With the new series, does this mean your work is something you're doing full time now? Is this creative output your means of income? Lots of your comics deal with the nature of shitty jobs and the nature of finding what you're good at- what did you do 'before'/during the early days of your comics? How did you juggle comics/your 'real' job and transition to where you are today?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

Thanks very much! And yeah, art is how i pay the rent, and it's not a ton of money but i know exactly how lucky i am to be able to make ANY kind of living off of art so i could not be more grateful for my life right now.

Before i did the comix i was in university with no real direction in life, and then once i'd finished i was kind of like, um, uh, er.... and then kind of latched onto the one thing i liked, which was writing/drawing, and began a very ramshackle process of trying to make some money from doing that. For the longest time i basically worked for a lawn service (albeit a GREAT one, the owners of which became good friends of mine) while making 'zines and then eventually doing a webcomic (and also auditioning for TV commercials-- i used to be a very small-time actor as well). And yeah, i juggled that for 5 or 6 years and then the comix began to take so long to do that i didn't have time for the day job anymore so i had to quit and since then i've cobbled together some kind of living from freelance stuff and my own comix and anything else (and some help from my parents in the first couple years). And lately, Patreon is the big thing that allows me to do what i do, and allows many other artist the same freedom, and i'm very grateful for it indeed.

So yeah, it's been a long and wearying process, but SO worth it in the end, and i'll forever be grateful to Past Me for not giving up...

N0UsernamesAvailable5 karma

Why are most of the characters on People Watching so heavily tattooed?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

I know people with a bunch of tattoos, so there was probably some influence there, plus it's mostly just another canvas to fill in with something interesting. I have no tattoos in real life though-- i'd be afraid of getting something i get sick of looking at, or noticing some tiny imperfection in the art that would have me sawing off my arm with a steak knife...

rayned0wn5 karma

What prompted the sharp turn on cracked to suddenly have one out of every three articles be aggressively SJW?

Also...Your stuff is cool af

WinstonRowntree20 karma

I would guess that lot of people are just increasingly concerned about the kind of injustices that certain groups have to put up with, and rightly so. If a lot of people are writing about a specific theme, it's probably a symptom of that theme being something that's large and important in society, and i for one certainly would agree that social justice is hard to not think about and other people being mistreated is hard to not care about and thus it's hard to ignore and not write about. People write about what's on their minds, and there's a lot of unfairness in the world that's on a lot of people's minds. Again, it's a symptom.

Send_Dunes5 karma

Your work is incredible, and your characters are so human it hurts.

'A Christmas Eve in the Future' and 'Subnormality Gets Quietly Hammered' still make me feel ... things, and stuff.

My question is, which would you rather exist in real life: the Museum of the Theoretical or the No-Bullshit Emporium?

WinstonRowntree6 karma

Thank you! And definitely the Museum-- it's way better of an idea, the Emporium was just kind of bitter and shouty... I definitely hope to revisit the Museum if we're lucky enough to get another season of peopleWatching...

Incorrect_Oymoron5 karma

How would you decide that your series/format became stale?

Do you kill it early and be remembered or wait for it to become boring and suck every cent you can from it?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

I'm probably not likely to write anything that would become popular enough to be a lurching, zombified money vacuum that only exists to sustain itself, i'm just too niche of a voice. But in general, yeah, i'd definitely prefer to kill it early. I don't think i'll ever be in the position to have the choice whether to end the series, it'll be the choice of whoever is funding it-- i'll just be grateful if we get to do a season 2!

Vaynor5 karma

Hey Winston! Long time fan of the comic. Your work is notoriously dialogue-heavy, but also features some amazing art. How do you feel about the relationship between the dialogue and art in your comics (and show)? Do you think that your work could stand on its own with just the text or do you think the artwork is integral to the final product?

P.S. I have "Seven Reasons to Maybe Feel Slightly Better About Things" on my wall, and it really does help.

WinstonRowntree6 karma

Hey, that's awesome, and thanks!

And yeah, good question-- i would like to THINK so, but i'd also like to think the art serves a vital purpose, though it's probably surprisingly hard to nail down what precisely that might be. In general though the big test is whether your work would still be interesting if it was coming from stick men, which is why XKCD is such an impressive body of work. I can only hope i would pass that test, but it's ultimately not for me to say.

quaint285 karma

Winston, I love your work! I've got a print of the Subnormality cast above my work desk and got many compliments on it from visitors.

How do you animate People Watching, and how long did it take to learn?

WinstonRowntree6 karma

Awesome, thank you very much!

As for the animating, i myself "just" produced all the art assets (5 months of non-stop work, basically...), which were then handed over to our animation teams for the actual animation process (which i have zero experience with myself). On my end it was a matter of drawing all the backgrounds and props and also drawing all the characters and separating every single part of them onto separate layers, which was at least something i had a LITTLE bit of experience with from doing motion comics for Cracked over the years. The actual animation was done using a program called Harmony, but i don't know enough about the process to elaborate on it unfortunately.

The general point is that i had effectively had zero experience in working in animation and yet still made a show, so that means You Too can do it if you partner with those in the know! I perpetually want art to be less intimidating for people, and so i always want to make the point that the barriers to entry are always less than one would think.

yellowafghan5 karma

Hi Winston! Been a huge fan for years, and I really appreciate your work.

Your graphic style and your way of communicating your ideas through the comix have both evolved so much over the years. As an artist I definitely find myself looking back at my old work, and finding a piece I really like the idea of, and thinking "I wish I had known (x) back then," in terms of either technique or concept. So my question is, are there any of the older comix that you wish you had come up with now rather than back then, or that you'd revisit if you ever had the time?

I love that the new series is still heavy on little visual gags and references that you have to pay attention to catch. I think it's one thing that translates even better to video, because it's a split-second thing, or it pans out of the frame, and you have to be on your toes to catch most of them. (Was that Safra who went "yikes" at General Pete?? What happened there? I would've thought they'd get along pretty well)

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Thanks! And yeah, for sure, i can relate to that 100%. The big one i'd like to revisit is the graphic novel i did way back in the day, that could be seriously improved by Current Me, i just hope i'll get the time someday...

Glad you've enjoyed the series as well-- background jokes will always be a passion of mine, and i hugely appreciate when people notice them... Oh, and no, that was actually Christianne's dating sheet (girl with the rhino shirt)-- Safra probably would get on with General Pete!

Xepher5 karma

I've read Subnormality for years, and it's always been one of my favorite things online. Some of them are so incredibly thought provoking that my brain still circles back to them years after the fact. The new series on cracked is amazing as well. Really, really loved "Death is Bullshit!"

I've run a free hosting service for webcomics since around 2001 (though I'm not an artist/creator myself), and the industry/landscape seems to have changed a lot since then. So:

  • How do you feel the webcomics scene has/hasn't changed since you started?
  • Do you think someone could start a new career today and find success the same way one could 10-15 years ago, or is it harder? (Easier?)
  • In the same vein, what would you do differently if you had it all to do over again?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Hey, thanks very much for reading, totally appreciate it (and thanks for the kind words regarding Death is Bullshit-- was afraid that one went over poorly...)!

Definitely agree that the landscape has changed, and changed a lot. Hard to know where to start, but for one thing the internet itself has changed wherein so many people's main internet experience now is social media on a phone, so i've definitely seen at least some comics that are trying to adapt to that (i'm pretty sure there are Twitter Cartoonists now, right? I assume that's a thing).

As to whether the current scene makes it harder or easier, i honestly don't know..! I feel like with social media it's definitely easier to actually get seen-- back when i started it was because of Digg that my work got out there, but now i imagine there are many more and more popular places to find comix and it probably happens faster just because the comix are made for social media to begin with. Also, the existence of Patreon is HUGE deal and that in itself makes me think it's probably at least a bit easier today-- it's certainly easier for me personally to make a living.

But this is all generalizing of course-- i'm admittedly a bit out of touch with what's all out there now and what kind of collectives and such exist and where to find new comix, so i wish i had better answers. I do know that webcomics at least got a little bit of media coverage back in the day, but i feel like that's actually worse, which will never stop annoying me...

What are your own thoughts on the subject?? Really curious to know.

As for what i'd do differently, honestly i love where i ended up and what i have and i wouldn't change any part of that! Maybe there are things i'd change on a personal level, but that's probably a long conversation....

jamie_plays_his_bass5 karma

Captain Esthar (sic?) Goes To Heaven was excellent, had me hooked to get through it, even with this slow-build of tension. Subnormality comix caught me at a time where I was craving more depth and detail from the webcomics I was reading, in particular I remember loving the one that finishes with skeletons in the see no evil/hear no evil/speak no evil poses, and of the (relatively) more recent comix, the real long one about finding imperfections and falling into alternate universes was brilliant too.

I haven't watched peoplewatching yet, but looking forward to giving it a go. Keep it up Winston. :)

WinstonRowntree7 karma

Thanks! I hope you enjoy the series, and i shall definitely keep making stuff...

cadil5 karma

I actually came across subnormality by chance yesterday when I googled for Subnormal numbers!

Can YOU describe subnormal numbers for me?

WinstonRowntree15 karma

I assume they are numbers that are way longer than they need to be...

GwainT5 karma

First up, I really want to say that I love People Watching, I don't think there's been an episode of People Watching that hasn't spoken to me, or people close to me, yet. And thanks to the show I found Subnormality, which I personally love. So thanks a lot for both!

My question is: Is there any chance you'll have a booth at any conventions anytime in the near(ish) future?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks! Really glad you've enjoyed muh stuff!

And... we'll see! I did a convention last year for the first time in years and it was honestly one of the most positive experiences of my entire life, so i'm definitely willing to do it again, it will likely just necessitate me having a book to sell. So hopefully i'll have another book at some point...

atomicthumbs5 karma

what do I tell idiots when they say your comic has too many words, when it in fact has just the right amount of words?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

The benefit of the webseries is that finally people don't have to manually read the walls of text-- maybe start there for anyone who is daunted by the admitted Huge Volumes Of Sheer Reading that the comix involve...

iheartbeavers4 karma

People Watching has been amazing. I'm in love with this show. I feel like it's dealing with uniquely modern problems in a uniquely modern way, and I find myself relating to every single episode. I laugh, I cry, I seriously love it. It is already a very meaningful series to me.

I have two questions for you! One, where did the inspiration for this series come from? Personal experiences? A Background in sociology or psychology or something like that?

Second, what advice might you give to budding professional creatives entering the industry for the first time? What have been some of the hardest struggles for you, as a professional creative?

Thank you for doing this AMA! I can't wait to see more People Watching.

WinstonRowntree7 karma

Thanks so much, i'm really glad you've enjoyed the series, that means a lot!

The inspiration for whatever i write is just whatever i happen to feel strongly about, and whatever i can speak about from a place of honesty. So that's generally just whatever personal ideas or issues i'm dwelling on, and then i try to find the meaning in those by exploring them in some kind of hopefully-satisfying narrative. Weird premises are an asset as well-- non religious confession booths and such...

The hardest struggle of being an artist is just the struggle to Not Give Up-- it can be a long road with a lot of time and money that get sacrificed, but the people who make it are just the group of people who stayed in the race, who kept doing it, who for some reason didn't give up through all the years of working on friday nights for less than minimum wage and slaving 80 hours a week in order to avoid having to work 40 hours a week. That's honestly the biggest struggle, but as long as NOT being an artist is harder than being one then it's a struggle you'll win. And so the best possible advice i can give you is the advice that got me where i am-- if you want it badly enough, you'll get it. Because that's who gets it-- not the most talented, but the most determined, and anyone can be the most determined.

ElsaStegosaurus4 karma

What's the longest you've spent on one of your rly long comics? And what's the longest you've spent on a comic that didn't pan out?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

The longest continuous one was the Truth comic, that took like 5 months or something, i'm probably STILL working on it somehow via a subspace anomaly... The other longest on was the Watching comic, which kind of took up an eight month period mentally, but with a six month gap in between the actual periods of drawing. It was really a lot of Thinking, i'll say that...

The longest i've spend on something that didn't work... I forget, but probably a few weeks, or maybe even a whole summer? There was one summer where i just couldn't get it together and i did one comic that went nowhere and then did ANOTHER comic that went nowhere, that was itself about how frustrating writing can be, and then i made something else that actually worked but it was probably two months or so of creative implosion. Bad times, but valuable lessons were learned.

theodorusrex4 karma

What's your perfect Sunday?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

THIS ONE. Honestly, this one-- nothing feels better than hearing from the audience and knowing what i've done has been seen and even liked by others.

angiehawkeye3 karma

Dude! I love subnormality! Your art is awesome! I have to ask a question or this'll get removed. Why did you decide to make a comic?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks! And i made a comic because i've liked making comics since i was a kid and then when the looming void of adulthood confronted me i basically just grabbed onto that and then somehow made it work. Comics are a great medium, and i think we've only scratched the surface of what they can do.

Armouredpoet3 karma

Hi! I've been very much enjoying people watching so far. :)

I remember, about a year ago, when the first teaser/trailer for it came out. It seems like it's changed a lot since then. What were the large changes and developments it made?

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Thanks for watching, and great question! Yeah, it did kind of evolve a lot in a short period of time, especially the character designs (i think only Martha's look survived from that first trailer...). Mostly it was just revising the designs until i was actually happy with them (all the characters went through several big changes), and then also changing them in relation to the scripts i ended up writing. The personalities and such behind the characters also changed quite a lot-- for example, the version of Flossy in the trailer was someone who looked nice but was wasn't nice inside, but then that evolved into someone who was using art as her voice because she was Socially Terrible. I just generally revise a lot and try to always evolve so the look of the art and the characters and just all of it changed quite a bit into something i was more happy with.

OldBeercan3 karma

DUDE! I helped do some stuff for Cracked back in the day.

What program do you use for animation?

Also, for the comics, do you prefer working digitally or working on paper and scanning it in?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Wow, that animation is killer, i love it..!!

The program our animators used is Harmony, i believe-- i just drew all the assets, i didn't actually do any animating myself.

As for the art, i always work on paper and then scan it-- old school, but i like it...

keestie3 karma

Mass suicide prevention may seem a sort of backwards career achievement, but you must have done it, cuz you've renewed my trust in humanity several times over.

I need to ask you a question, don't I? Um... What is the question that you would most like to be asked right now?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Honestly i just try to make myself feel better, art is good for that... And the question i'm probably always looking for is "how are you," and right now i'm glad to say i'm alright.

barbarajacob3 karma

I remember a drawing of yours from a few years ago that depicted the cycle of poverty (cheap goods, underpaid jobs, debt, etc). Since then the political situation in the US has changed a fair deal. Had you to draw that subject again, would you make anything different? And what?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

I don't remember the specifics of the drawing, but these days i would probably place a lot of focus on the cost of housing-- in a lot of places it's increasingly unaffordable to buy a home or even rent, and all other problems flow from the need to have a roof over your head. It's on my mind a lot, i mean if i lost my current apartment, which is cheap, i'd probably have to leave the city, and a lot of people are in that same situation.

spadababaspadinabus3 karma

Hi, Winston! Thanks for all that you do- you're an inspiration!

My question is this: I see a lot of the city of Toronto reflected in Subnormality. It's deeper than just recognizing a setting- you put a lot of work into capturing things like the style of architecture, the advertisements in the background, and the attitudes and struggles of the people. I feel that Toronto is almost itself a character in some comix. What speaks to you and inspires you about Toronto? Is it simply a matter of writing what you know? Am I reading too much into this?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks for the kind words!

And yeah, it's definitely a comic that takes place in a Theoretical Toronto... What inspires me is just the breadth and variety of the city (and the people), and how everyone here is from somewhere else, and how everyone here is working towards Something, and how you can have crazyness like strip clubs next to restaurants next to shacks next to brand new condos, and the dirty brick buildings and the bike rings and just all of it basically-- i'm grateful to live in such a diverse and intense place where there's so much of humanity on view and so much to be inspired by.

abhorson3 karma

I've followed your comics forever, such a huge fan, I audibly gasped when I read the title of your AMA, your comix mean a lot to me.

How do you view progression in your work, over such a long period of time? Do you perceive changes in your art style, and do you see yourself becoming "better"? Do you see changes or trends over time? Thanks!

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks very much for reading!!

And yeah, for sure, i'm very aware of the changes-- the art gets more stylized and the writing hopefully gets better, and my goal at least is to build on what i've done before and try to say something new in a new way. I've tried to evolve the format and the extent to which i'll stretch it, and hopefully it's meant better comix but ultimately that's up to the audience. On a personal level i've tried to become a better and more empathetic person, and hopefully that's translated to the stuff i write as well-- i know i'm definitely less angry and more open minded and hopefully a better writer overall.

HarryPotter57773 karma

I got introduced to Subnormality a few months ago, and I've been aggressively reading and re-reading all of your strips ever since; thank you so much for what you do!

In the future, what would be your ideal balance between working on Subnormality, PeopleWatching, and other secret projects?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks for reading, it means everything!

The ideal balance has yet to be found, but ideally it will involve getting to do some more peopleWatching, and at a higher budget so i don't have to do the work of 94 people myself and thus will have time for other stuff during production (ie: comix!). But i'll take what i can get as long as it keeps me busy...

FrancisReed3 karma


Do you have any long-term plans about how to end subnormality? Some sort of big arch or big scheme?

Personally, I would love to keep on reading your webseries for years and years.

WinstonRowntree4 karma

I would love to keep making it for years! And yeah, i have kind of a general sense of where it's all going, and i definitely know what the last ever comic will be, i just hope it's a good while before i have to draw it because i sure ain't done yet...

percautio3 karma

Is your dismissal of the capital "I" a conscious decision / some sort of statement?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

I dunno, probably just a combination of laziness/weirdness/low self-esteem/laziness again... I at least capitalize it at the beginning of sentences..!

Danchist3 karma

Hey! I love your work! As a newbie in the peoplepleasing industry, i wanted to know if your approach is to share your work publicly from the very beginning? even if it doesn't meet up to the standards you expect of others. Or did you wait and acquire that skillset and only publish work publically once you reached the level you expect of the "artists" around you?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks! And honestly Everyone Sucks At First, so the best idea is to just Make Stuff Now. The early years of my webcomic are borderline awful at times, but that's just the swamp you have to wade through in order to gradually find your voice, and it's the same for everyone, and if other artists are at a certain level it's because they did that exact same thing to get there. So yeah, publish now-- the important thing is to give yourself an obligation to publish, and keep publishing, and thus you'll keep getting better. Everyone's first album sucks (well, everyone's first song sucks, anyway-- look, you know what i mean...).

kosmicchaos3 karma

Winston! Long time reader and occasional Facebook message-er and up past midnight on a work night to be a part of this AMA.

When do we get to see you in front of the camera? I am looking forward to it, but no pressure

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Thanks for reading! And... i dunno, we'll see... I might want to do that sooner rather than later just to preserve some kind of video evidence that i was young at some point (or young-ish, anyway...).

snielson2223 karma

My favorite webcomic hands down, I have been reading since the beginning, and can not remember the number of times I have been deeply moved.

How did you come into your "wall of text" style comics? Are you inspired by other comic authors?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thank you! The Beginning was 10 years ago somehow, so i am hugely honored by you sticking with the comix.

As to the Walls O' Text, honestly i just Really Like Writing, so i don't limit myself. It's a combination of that and the compromise necessary when making a comic strip-- it's a ton of work, so i put way more text into a single panel than might be optimal in order to reduce the amount of drawing necessary. Some of them aren't walls of text, they're just 30-page comics in 15 pages. Which is fine by me-- i am fully comfortable with my own weirdnesses at this point, and am hugely grateful to anyone who has been putting up with them for years at at time...

Spodie2 karma

Do you do commissioned work?

Murals and the like?

WinstonRowntree2 karma

Historically i have, but i don't really have time for such things lately among my various projects, unless it's something super special and, uh, lucrative.

emceemenamin3 karma

I just wanna say I love submormality, I think its one of the most original, well-written comics I've ever read. My question: what is your actual name?

WinstonRowntree11 karma

Thanks!! And my actual name is prrrobably best reserved for real life, i like to keep the two separate, that's all.

509around3 karma

I'm not sure if you're still answering questions, but I was curious what drew you to first start the series with a video about the drawbacks of speed dating? It seems to me that you would be an advocate of the radical truth strategy, which I applaud. Also, I just wanted to mention that I watched that speed dating video, and for the first time that I am aware of, I actually audibly voiced what I was feeling. This "no, wait, come back. You two are perfect for each other," after the end of the video definitely gave me some weird stares at work, but it just demonstrates that you really encapsulated the feeling that those in the dating world feel. The video and dialogue is incredibly well done.

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Hey, thanks so much, really appreciate the kind words. The whole dating thing is just something i spend a lot of time thinking about i guess, and speed dating in particular is a great literary device just because you can involve so many characters in such a high-stakes situation. Glad you liked it so much!

Darsint3 karma

Hey! Huge fan here, and been following your comic since pretty close to the beginning. I think I stumbled across it when you were 4 comics in and haven't stopped reading it since.

It feels to me, because of the way you play with the medium so well, that you're familiar with Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. What's been the most liberating aspect of being able to do webcomics and which has been the harshest constraint?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thank you very much, i'm hugely honored if you've stuck with the comix for so long!

I definitely read Understanding Comics (and the sequel) back in the day, that's at least where i got the phrase "infinite canvas" from, though my own Huge Comix are more a symptom of me just prioritizing the narrative over all else (including print formatting...). The most liberating aspect is just exactly that-- to be able to have the narrative take whatever shape best suits it, to be able to draw individual panel and arrange them However, and, crucially, REarrange them if necessary (and it's always necessary)-- it allows for comix that would not otherwise exist.

The harshest constraint... I think the biggest constraints are more practical ones-- the rise of smartphones and how suddenly most people's online experience is through a small screen that precludes the enjoyment of the kind of things i make, and also the constraints of the medium itself and how it's still not really taken as seriously as i feel it should be, and so publicity is basically nil.

canneddirt3 karma

Love Subnormality! I have three questions:

  1. Any plans for jumping on Patreon?

  2. Have you ever published any books of your comics?

  3. Any plans on attending the Small Press Expo this year?


WinstonRowntree4 karma

I am on Patreon! I pay the rent thanks to y'all out there, and i am endlessly grateful for that.

And yeah, i have published one book at least-- the Watching comic was published as a graphic novel last year!

And no, no plans for SPX unfortunately-- i think my passport is even expired...

sedermera3 karma

Hey Mr. Rowntree, I've been reading your comics since 2008. You really made me think with a lot of them - not just the super high-concept ones, but for example also the one about maturity or the race, I was 18 when I read that and it gave me a bit of a jolt.

I was just wondering, do you stand behind the philosophies that show up in Subnormality, or are they just guests in your head?

WinstonRowntree6 karma

2008!! That's amazing, thank you so much for sticking with the comix.

And that's a good question! A lot of the earlier stuff is definitely kind of angry and partisan in a way that i definitely do not stand behind, and there are other things i wrote back in the day that i definitely do not stand behind in any way (like the vaguely transphobic stuff in the Captain Estar graphic novel). I don't know if there's a particular point where i can say i wash my hands of everything previous to this, it's more a case of not standing behind individual comix, but i think for the most part i haven't written anything in the last few years that doesn't represent who i am now, or at least get close to it.

I like that line about "guests in your head," that's gold...

greihund3 karma

Hey homefry. I actually just read Subnormality for the first time today, and it reminds me of Pickle by Dylan Horrocks, which I freaking love. Did you ever read any of his stuff?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

YES!! Way back in the day my dad got me a copy of "Hicksville" and it was basically my introduction to indie comix, and moreover my goal in life is to make the kind of comix stored in the Hicksville library-- the stories that i really want to tell. HUGE influence on me, so glad you asked!

Dios53 karma

Could you set your Patreon to monthly? I've been your Patron for a few months and yet have actually paid you... once? I want to support you monthly regardless of output. Patreon should be a fairly dependable monthly income, in my opinion.

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks for signing up, i promise you'll get to pay me eventually! And yeah, i've thought about it, but to be fair to everyone Subnormality would have to be the sole thing i was working on, but it's periodically necessary for me to work on other stuff for a while, like the webseries. Thanks for wanting to pay monthly though, and i'll at least definitely be considering it as an option if it makes more sense at some point.

OtterLarkin3 karma

Hey - tell us about your support network over the years, particularly your parents as it must have been tough to convince them there was a legit career/opportunity in Web comics. Were they cool? Confused?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

They have always been 100% supportive for whatever reason-- my mom's a writer as well, and my sister's also an artist, and my dad thank god had an actual job but he fully gets the whole artist thing and i'm just unbelievably grateful for how much they've supported me. Everyone's success is a team effort, and they have been such a huge part of the team.

WittyAliasGoesHere3 karma

I don't know you or your work. Where should I start?

WinstonRowntree5 karma

Thanks for wanting to know! Have a look at one my better comix and watch the first episode of the webseries and if you don't like either of those then that'll probably tell you all you need to know.

sedermera3 karma

What jobs did you work before you became a full-time artist?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

I was a janitor in a bank for one horrifying month, and then i worked for a lawn service for a number of years until i didn't have time to do both that and the comix (i also was a small-time actor and auditioned for tv commericals and got a bit of extra money there). Certainly nothing too glamorous, but mowing lawns at least gives you a lot of time to think of ideas for comix!

PM_Me_Math_Songs3 karma

I don't personally identify with the majority of what you write and that's fine. I enjoy your work dispite or perhaps because of it. I has given me some insight into how people think, and I thank you for it.

You have improved my empathy and understanding significantly.

On a completely unrelated note, would you give a couple of comix recommendations? one that you have written and one that you haven't.

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks, that's awesome-- i'm honored you've enjoyed my work!

As to the recommendations, one of my better comix is linked to in the description, and a comic by someone else that i'd recommend is "Hicksville" by Dylan Horrocks-- it was a big influence on me personally.

amilynn2 karma

Have you ever actually illustrated an erotic playing card series or communist pamphlet? If so can we see?

WinstonRowntree2 karma

I think i drew some Final Fantasy playing cards for my friend wayyy back in the day, but they definitely weren't erotic... No pamphlets either, i guess i'm just waiting for my big break on those...

dammit_krieger2 karma

Just curious...I've watched a couple of the videos, and I feel that they are indeed rather insightful about social commentary...but they're not really funny. Was that intentional?

WinstonRowntree2 karma

They're as funny as i can make them, but my goal is always to hopefully make some kind of point and then fit the humor in where i can. I'm not particularly skilled at humor, so i try to focus on the things i'm better at. Best foot forward, even if it's a dour, unfunny foot that just stepped on a tack...

SpareLiver2 karma

have you ever considered just writing a book series? Like, I like your comics, but a lot of the time it feels like the pictures are superfluous and I am just reading a "short" story.

WinstonRowntree4 karma

I actually haven't-- i think there are Other reasons to work in a particular medium, and even if the pictures aren't 100% vital to the narrative it's the way it's published and the accessibility of it and the breadth of the audience you can reach that are very important to me. I wouldn't even know where to start with conventional writing, wouldn't know how or where to publicize a novel, wouldn't have a clue...

TallHonky2 karma

How well do your ventures pay? (I'm an artist myself and want to be more independent)

WinstonRowntree4 karma

The webseries is financed as opposed to something that earns money directly, so it brings as much grant money as can be acquired. The comix earn money via Patreon, which i would recommend to any artist ever-- it's a direct line between you and the audience, and allows a LOT of art to exist that otherwise would not. It's THE funding model for independent creators these days, hands down.

arhyde6862 karma

What's your favorite cheese? If you can't choose one you can go by category

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Oh, uh, brie, i think. As long as it's not, like, Store-Brand Brie That is Basically Just Salt Molded Into The Shape of A Hunk of Cheese.

Entering_the2 karma

How did this start?

WinstonRowntree3 karma

The webcomic started with my borderline-crazy desire to somehow make a living by writing/drawing-- i would still like to be a Comics Person when i grow up...

Aaaand the webseries started with writer/producer/creator/superguy Geoff Lapaire contacting me with the offer to collaborate on making a webseries. He is the man responsible for the successful webseries known as Pure Pwnage, as well as Space Janitors, and for some reason though i was worth getting to know in a professional context. So i wrote the best stuff i could and drew the best stuff i could and hopefully honored Geoff's faith in me and hopefully we all made something that people like.

944tim2 karma

would Sphinx ever do an AMA?

Like many people, I find it hard to read Subnormality, because of the density and my vision, but having said that, I never regret doing so.

WinstonRowntree4 karma

No worries, i definitely understand, and i'm glad the webseries has allowed people who don't have 999999 hours of free time to experience my work. Thanks for taking the time, and a Sphynx AMA would make my answers look positively brief. "WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE MINUTAE OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE IN THE 8TH CENTURY..."

crimspa2 karma

I discovered Subnormality when I was in college, and it had a major effect on my worldview. I'm a huge fan!

Anyway, a while ago, a subject of Subnormality was a horror writer, who was telling a story of a man in a cabin who was dealing with a terrifying sound getting closer and closer to his cabin. I actually got way into the story, even though the punchline of the comic involved the story being interrupted, and the subject of the horror story was more or less inconsequential to the comic itself. I would have loved to read the rest of the story.

Was that story just something you whipped up, or did you spend time drafting it? Would you consider writing more horror? I'd be interested in reading it.

Thank you!

WinstonRowntree3 karma

Thanks! And, that story was me kind of embellishing on a half-remembered story i read when i was a kid that i had thought was an urban legend or the like. I actually looked into it afterward at some point, and there's a footnote on the page of the actual comic now which describes the origins of that in more detail.

In terms of more horror, the next longer comic i'm working on is actually kind of horror-ish-- it started with a creepy dream i had and then i worked that scenario into something more elaborate. It's probably too postmodern to be legitimately scary, but it has the color palette at least. Stay tuned for that, anyway.....

MrDannn2 karma

I really love your comic, I got 2 of them on my cupboard right now ( I posted it on fb and you commented on it). Anyway,my question is, would you be making more print comic, like the one on amazon? and will we see a somewhat ongoing story arc in the comic? ( the video make sure to use frequent characters and I love it). Also, will you do more 1 shot comics for abnormality?

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Thanks, and definitely thanks for buying prints, and i would at least like to do more printed collections, it's just a matter of putting the time into it, and there's never time. After ten years there probably should be an actual Subnormality book of some sort, even if it's just self-published on amazon, i should at least look into that...

As to your other questions-- i'm kind of doing a story arc-ish thing with pink haired girl right now, though it'll be a while before that gets done. There will 1000% continue to be more 1-shot comics, i am close to being finished one right now so the next Subnormality will be a self-contained sci-fi-ish thing. With ALL THE TEXT

chaosrunner872 karma

Yes please. I need a SubNormality book on my shelf. Kickstart it with a shirt also option with high enough contribution?

WinstonRowntree2 karma

There is one book at least-- it's only one comic, but it's a start...

KnowledgeInChaos2 karma

Which do you prefer, writing your comics or creating videos?

(I have to say, I much prefer the long ramblings of your characters in text form since I can put my own inner voice head to them... But I suppose to each their own. :P)

WinstonRowntree2 karma

I like both! And being able to do both, to go from one to the other instead of just doing one thing constantly. It's a different part of the brain and a different challenge and i like the variety. I guess i'd say i SLIGHTLY prefer writing for the comix just because there are no budgetary concerns and i can be ever more self-indulgent and the characters are more long-running, but the thing i like writing best is anything where i get to say exactly what i want, and i'm lucky enough that that describes all the stuff i've worked on.

dismantler351 karma

I love the new series, but I haven't gotten around to reading Subnormality yet. I was just wondering, where d you get the stuff you write about, and how do you manage to make it so "real"? I've yet to watch an episode where I haven't connected with what the characters are saying. Thanks!

WinstonRowntree4 karma

Thanks for watching, and for the kind words! Totally appreciate it. Most of the ideas i work from basically just start from me feeling strongly about a particular idea or event or situation and then trying to find meaning in it and work it into an effective narrative. I was feeling like a loser so wrote an episode about people who are secretly losers, i wanted to convey some ideas about depression so i wrote an episode about depression, that kind of thing. If you feel strongly about something and you HAVE to say something about it and it would bother you if you didn't then that's generally a pretty good starting point. Motivation is key, so you have to find ways to always make sure you're writing about something you're motivated to talk about. If you're motivate, you WILL find a way to make it work, but if you're not then you might just write something that goes nowhere (and i used to waste a lot of time doing that...).

And yeah, most of what motivates me is the kind of Personal Stuff that you don't necessarily see explored in all mediums, so i try to write from the heart about things i'm motivated to talk about and then hopefully it's at least semi-interesting to someone. The personal is the universal, so i try to be personal and then experience has taught me that someone out there will inevitably relate to it-- even if it's just one person, you're making one person feel less alone and that's definitely worth doing.


Why should anyone care?

WinstonRowntree2 karma

I honestly did answer this above somewhere, and thanks for asking, i was hoping people would!

smallbluetext-1 karma

How many pigs have you personally bred?