I’ve been using Comic Rocket as a webcomics reader for a week now, since my earlier post on it. It’s an interesting experiment and I think I’ll keep going with it. All the regular webcomics I read, I am completely caught up on. Because when I look at the “My Comics” view it sorts on the number of unread entries , from low to high, I always see these at the top. Since I am near current, I have at most a few issues.
I’ve felt free to subscribe to other comics from my recommended list or that I just see referenced around. In some cases, they are strips like Schlock Mercenary or Girl Genius that I have an interest in but have never gone back to the beginning to search out. These comics sort to the bottom, because generally there are at least 1000 unread issues. In some cases, like Kevin and Kell, there are over 5700 of them (this was one of the very first webcomics and also done by an ATL guy I’ve known as an acquaintance for a very very long time.)
Added up, the whole unread queue is now over 35,000 individual comic strip entries. If I read 100 strips a day beyond the new ones, it would take me about a year to get current. Even though that seems kind of ridiculous, I’m OK with it. I’m just reading what is there from the top to the bottom every time I want some diversion. I caught up on a few comics with a hundred or so strips and now I’m in to ones that have a few hundred. I’m in no hurry and I feel no pressure. All I want is to have fun stuff to put my attention towards when I have a little time to devote to that, and I have it in spades for a very long time. All is well.
After my post on my IFTTT Webcomics hack, I got an email from Jamey Sharp of Comic Rocket. In it, he points me at his site and says they built it out of similar frustrations to mine and with similar design goals. In the case of Comic Rocket, the reading of the site is actually done via a small navigation bar at the top but you are loading each page of the webcomic’s site individually. If there are ads or page views that somehow turn into money for them, by using this method you are not depriving them of anything. I like it.
The site indexes webcomics, and then keeps track of what the next installment is. They don’t use RSS for this but the actual site itself, so it works whether or not the webcomic has any type of feed. As long as the page has navigation (and what comic wouldn’t?) this will work. A side effect of that is there is a catalog of 10,000 comics already at Comic Rocket. So far, every one from my subscription list I’ve looked for is there.
I like it a lot so far, but there are two feature I’d like to see added:
1) [UPDATE – looks like this is already there and I missed it ] Some sort of collaborative filtering based on the subscription list. Look at other users, and for the people subscribed to all the comics I’m reading, what are the most common other comics not on my list? Adding in discoverability that way would even give webcomics creators an incentive to use the site, or to recommend their readers to use it.
2) The ability to subscribe to a group of comics all at once via OPML.
I’ve been playing with it for a few days and I don’t see anything but upside for comics creators here. Well done, Comic Rocket! Also, it’s Portland OR based (and why wouldn’t it be?) PDX represent!