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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.

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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.


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Provides examples of:

  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Various times. Hollywood is a giant brightly colored man who steals books, television is a woman who tells amazing stories before suddenly screaming at her friends for all their imperfections for two minutes, and the News Media is a really depressing and weirdly spiritual boyfriend.
  • Artistic Licence: All in the name of humor of course. One of the early comics shows the Sphinx killing Oedipus Rex, then when Jocasta comes running being outraged at the fact that she stooped to marrying her own son. Aside from the Death by Adaptation bit, neither character was aware of their blood relationship until The Reveal, and they didn't get married until after Oedipus solved the riddle of the Sphinx.
  • Author Appeal: Most of the comic's women are drawn with hairy arms and legs.
  • Asshole Victim: In this strip, one wonders why anyone would agree to pay five dollars for a snow removal service that will heavily damage the property in the process — then you see who the house belongs to.
    Mrs. Smith: Five dollars?! Well it's coming out of your pay! Clearing the walk is supposed to be your job, Luisa! Did you weasel out of your snow shoveling in La Paz, too?
    Luisa: Come here, Janey! Let's go to the basement for a second!
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • This strip begins by focusing on a suave, James Bond-esque figure while the narration describes the life of a spy. The ending shows that the man being focused on is just some guy, and the spy is a very forgettable man in the background.
    • This strip starts out looking like it's about how society turns a blind eye to the homeless, but is actually about how it's Lonely at the Top.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Characters with selfish and mean interiors have wrinkled faces, snout noses, and/or pointed teeth. Characters meant to be bland and generic will look exactly that. Sympathetic characters, even those employed by hell, will either be beautiful or Ugly Cute. Curiously, this actually works well within the comic's style. The artist clearly enjoys drawing grotesque, insane things. One notable exception to this is the author self-insert comics, Rowntree seems to be happy to depict himself honestly. And, well, for the sake of politeness lets just say he's not exactly a super-model.
  • Beneath Notice: One strip begins by focusing on a glamorous James Bond-like man while the narration describes the lifestyle of a spy. The ending reveals that the actual spy is a very plain, forgettable man that nobody really pays attention to, aiding him in his job.
    And I don't hide in plain sight. I don't hide at all. I just live in the blind spots that everyone has — the places you would never look because you assume — you know — nothing could be there. You can fit quite the little career in a blind spot.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Let's just say that Winston is definitely one of those atheists, though it doesn't come up much.
  • Benevolent Boss: Deconstructed. They're actually the worst kind when you have a terrible job, since they make you feel good about it in spite of things.
  • 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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