Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Online Comics Readers

So let me throw this question out to everyone: what do you currently use to read online comics? I've gotten to the point now where I'm reading enough different ones that I really need to have things organized, so I don't spend an entire day clicking around through different locations and feed readers and whatnot. This morning, I did figure out a way to organize everything that might suit my personal preferences, but I'd like to solicit other thoughts on the subject.

What I'm doing as of this morning is actually a combination of things that I've managed to aggregate together. It doesn't strike me as an ideal solution, and involves a little technical know-how that precludes it from being workable for everyone, but it looks like it will work for me. (Again, though, I just got this put together this morning, so I haven't done full testing for it yet.)

First off, I use Google's portal interface: iGoogle. Rather than use a true RSS reader for everything I try to keep track of, I create "gadgets" for most of the feeds and house them on various tabs of iGoogle. This allows me to also include other related but not necessarily RSS feed-driven gadgets (like Google Maps, Babelfish, Flickr Viewers, etc.) in one location. (The image at the left is, obviously, several screen shots stitched together. For anyone interested, I've implemented the "Steampunk" theme on this page, my Comics tab.)

Two of the gadgets post the actual comic strips to my portal page. Both only have a finite number of strips to choose from, so while most of my comics get fed through one, Red and Rover needs to be pulled in separately. The instance of The Devil's Panties is actually a gadget of my own creation; it's a miniature web browser that pulls in some Javascript code that is able to pick out the latest installment of that strip. It only works because Breeden's strip a) is daily and b) utilizes the day's date as the strip's file name. I probably could do something similar with (for example) Girl Genius but that it's not updated daily would make the coding on my end considerably more complex.

(Although, as I sit here thinking about it, there're some tricks I might be able to pull out to make it not nearly as complicated as I was originally thinking. Hmmm. I might have to investigate that some more...)

For every other strip, I'm using Google Reader to pull down the RSS feed. There's a gadget within iGoogle that displays the feeds as shown and, when a link within the reader is clicked, it pops up a comic-style word balloon with the feed's contents -- in most cases, the actual comic strip itself....
Effectively, what I've done then is created an old school newspaper comics section with all of the comics I keep track of in a single, handy location.

Except for the comics on Zuda. Technically, I can build a gadget to pull in any given Zuda-based comic, but because they're Flash-based they would always open to the first page and noting updates would be decidedly more cumbersome. I could, I suppose, subscribe to the Zuda feed but that pulls in the notes (but not the comics) for EVERYTHING published through Zuda. Nothing against anyone there, though, but I'm not that interested in most of the stories. I might opt to pull in the Flash comics and see just how annoying it is for me to keep up with the updates manually.

So that's where I'm with how I read comics online. I want to know how you read them? What works for you and what doesn't? Are you able to aggregate all your favorite comics into one location? Do you even want to? Do you prefer just running through a list of bookmarks and hitting the home page of every site? Or is this something which no one's really adequately addressed yet?

1 comment:

Xaviar said...

Try piperka.net which lets you add comics to your "list" from which you see when they've updated and saves your place in the archives.