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Webcomic / Subnormality

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Subnormality is a webcomic with a whole lot of words created by Winston Rowntree. Created in 2007, this comic is a Deconstruction parade, where the author deconstructs everything from video game characters to tropes themselves, such as Cannot Spit It Out. Most of the events appear to take place in the city of Toronto, although other locales are used, such as Hell or some undefined time in the past. Some of his works are hilarious, some are depressing, and others are somewhere in the middle where you can't figure out what you're supposed to gain from it.

Reader responses are rather subjective; many enjoy it for the messages they receive from it, and others dislike it for how hard Winston tries to hammer in his morality. In this comic, you do just as much reading as you would if you were reading a book, it just has pictures to go with it. Somewhat of a Light Novel, except the art style is more reminiscent of western comic books than Japanese Manga.


Rowntree also writes the irregularly updated sister comic Abnormality for Cracked; it's accessible from Rowntree's author page. Its strips are narrower (to fit the website's layout), generally shorter and rarely plot-driven. Many of them are humorous infographics. For convenience all page images taken from Abnormality link to this page. He also contributes to Cracked's After Hours series, providing illustrations for Michael's brain. Also on Cracked's Youtube channel is Winston's animated web-series People Watching, which deals in similar themes.

Subnormality can be found here.


Provides examples of:

  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Subverted, as the Horsemen presented turn out not to be the biblical ones, but the Horsemen of the "Atheist" Apocalypse, respectively Science, Progress, Reason, and Equality (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens). Rather than heralding the end of the world, they create a utopia.
  • Humanity on Trial: In strip #187, the pink-haired girl is summoned to speak on her galaxy's behalf before THE EMPEROR OF THE UNIVERSE, who threatens to blow it up after getting a complaint from the next galaxy over. He spares the Milky Way galaxy after rewriting reality to make himself everyone's obnoxious boss and clients.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Expressed by many characters, especially the Sphinx. However she does mention they have redeeming qualities in Monsters Playing Poker.
  • Ill-Fated Flowerbed: Exploited in-universe in Hell: in "Can't Win", a damned soul's punishment consists of being put in an area where, no matter what he does, he will always end up enraging a large, violent man who is standing right behind him. The soul figures all he has to do to avoid this is not do or say anything... until the last panel reveals that he's standing on top of said man's flowerbed.
    Large, violent man: MY PRIZE PETUNIAS!
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A guy that ends up in Hell admits to having been a cannibalistic serial killer, but denies not cleaning up after his dog.
  • Implausible Hair Color: The pink haired girl... unless she's working at a soul-crushing job in which case it spontaneously shifts to a dull brown.
  • Infinite Canvas: Most entries prefer to be the standard vertical scroll. The occasional comic extends several screen-widths, in addition to several screen-heights.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: There's a recurring female character (later revealed to be named Justine) who is both incredibly attractive and tends to wear very tight-fitting clothing, low-cut tops, daisy dukes, etc. However, she seems to be largely oblivious to the effect she has on men, who are usually so gob-smacked by her geeky interest that they spontaneously expode.
  • Ironic Hell: He's been known to play with this one. On one occasion a misfile causes a guy to be signed up for the wrong ironic punishment, which is immediately corrected when he takes offense to being buried in dog feces (having always made it a point to clean up after his dog, even if he did kill five people). In another one, Hell's latest tenant frustrates the demon assigned to him for orientation because here, yet again, is some dipshit who thinks a single lifetime of being a dull little guy has given him the guile to outwit millenia-old beings who have honed the craft of eternal suffering; then his attempt to prove his point ends up seriously screwing his pooch.
  • Jackass Genie:
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: The pink-haired girl switches between neon pink and brown, once in the middle of a conversation with another character. Her explanation is just "I do this a lot."
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Occurs in an appropriately titled strip.
    General Pete: So yeah, cheers! Fuckin' cheers. Here's to karma. And here's to the bullied. Because they don't need to inherit the Earth - it's already theirs.
    Redheaded Fan: Man... I fully came over here to just intensely hit on you, but now I'm too distracted by that story.
    General Pete: So much karma...
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Parodied in a comic which featured various mutations on spousal archetypes. The "spouse who resembles your opposite sex parent" is depicted as being paired with a womanchild / manchild (the women want an affectionate sugar daddy, the men want someone who manages their lives for them).
  • Too Dumb to Live: A two-fer here.
    Pink-haired woman: Am I gonna watch your dog that's locked in a safe to prevent it from being stolen, which was itself stolen, by you, from a store you forgot you owned, when you were trying to rob a bank, and you for some reason don't know the combination, and you say you'll be gone five minutes but that could probably mean almost anything at this point?
    Joleco Pet Store robber: Yeah!
    Pink-haired woman: *After nightfall* Okay I have got to learn to say no.
    Safe: Meow.
  • To Serve Man: The monsters - most notably the Sphinx - have a taste for people and are not remorseful about it. The weirdest part is, human witnesses seem to take this in stride; one guy who gets angry at the Sphynx is mad not because he thinks it's evil, but because she's hurting his business by preying on his customers! (Still, that would be kind of bad for business...)
  • Villain Protagonist: The Sphynx is likely the closest thing the strip has to a protagonist. She's an ancient monster who eats people, although she isn't without redeeming traits, like her unspoken friendship with pink-haired girl.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Best Friends Who Hate Each Other variety gets lampshaded.


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