The business model of the funny pages
December 4, 2003 5:09 PM   Subscribe

When I was in college in the early 90s (B.W. -- before web), I used to subscribe to the daily newspaper just to get my comics fix every morning (back when Bill Waterson, Gary Larson, and Berkeley Breathed were king). Then the web came along and I had to suffer through the only (unfunny) cartoonist to embrace the web. But not anymore. With stuff like Comics-via-RSS and Comictastic I can fire up an app and start laughing every morning. I doubt I ever buy a newspaper again for the funny pages, and on top of that, these even let me avoid the lame ones I don't care about.
posted by mathowie (24 comments total)
how dare you criticize garfield!!! you'll pay for this!!
posted by jcruelty at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2003

why is everyone so hard on Garfield? are you just upset about the casting of Breckin Meyer in the role of Jon in the Garfield movie? Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a doctor in the movie, that's pretty funny!
posted by graventy at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2003

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.2 or higher
posted by dg at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2003

yeah the osx only sucks..... but the rss rocks!

I love this!
posted by ewwgene at 5:33 PM on December 4, 2003

i wasn't much impressed with outlands, but for what it's worth, opus is back.
posted by juv3nal at 5:48 PM on December 4, 2003

It ain't free, it costs about $10.00 a year, but Ucomics offers a good handful of daily cartoons that can be delivered to your mailbox and with the subscription, you are opened up to an extensive archive collection. I giggle everyday when I open my email and am greeted by Huey Freeman. And at a huge cost savings compared to a daily newspaper subscription, I don't mind shucking out some dough for access to the archives. A great time waster. Feed the cartoonists.
posted by majikwah at 5:57 PM on December 4, 2003

Lame? You think GARFIELD is lame? Brother, you don't KNOW lame until you've read...The Lockhorns.

Look! They bicker! They fight! They argue! Ooooh!
posted by davidmsc at 6:15 PM on December 4, 2003

why is everyone so hard on Garfield?

Leaving aside the lameness of the strip itself, there is also the fact that Jim Davis does not write or draw the strip and hasn't for ages. There are committees of writers and artists who draw up candidates, then Mr. Davis selects the ones he likes, signs his name to them, and takes the credit. That's just lame.
posted by Lokheed at 6:28 PM on December 4, 2003

For those out there with some unix skills (enough to execute/configure a script and set up a cron job), I would highly recommend dailystrips.
posted by chl at 6:36 PM on December 4, 2003

garfield in the very early days (e.g. his first book) was funny because he was a fat, mean cat who actually *acted* like a cat. over the years he has devolved into an smirking orange midget who walks on two feet. in doing so he lost what little charm he possessed.
posted by jcruelty at 6:55 PM on December 4, 2003

whoa, this just in: a build-your-own-comics page.
posted by mathowie at 7:22 PM on December 4, 2003

Cool. Re: that last link - what do people recommend?
posted by nthdegx at 7:27 PM on December 4, 2003

[this is amazing]

Wow. This works beautifully.
posted by ColdChef at 7:28 PM on December 4, 2003

But sadly, no Fusco Brothers
posted by lilboo at 7:50 PM on December 4, 2003

Ummm. I got "The Fusco Brothers" to work for me.
posted by ColdChef at 8:41 PM on December 4, 2003

An RSS feed for Gil Thorp.

Wow, that's fucked up.
posted by dglynn at 9:36 PM on December 4, 2003

garfield in the very early days (e.g. his first book) was funny because he was a fat, mean cat who actually *acted* like a cat.

I don't know about this, but would you believe very early B.C. was pretty okay? Johnny Hart stuck to the concept and everything. If you can find a B.C. collection at a used bookstore you might check it out.

Always had "the fat chick" tho.
posted by furiousthought at 9:59 PM on December 4, 2003

The current generation will grow up with webcomics like Sinfest, Achewood, Wigu and Scary Go Round. There are also nice weekly comics like Sexylosers, Bob the Angry Flower or the Pinkey Suthers show. But what's best is to discover an excellent new webcomic on a cold winter evening and to read it from the very beginning.
posted by Eloquence at 12:02 AM on December 5, 2003

Dilbert is funny. Just saying.
posted by Samsonov14 at 12:09 AM on December 5, 2003

i wasn't much impressed with outlands, but for what it's worth, opus is back.
posted by juv3nal at 5:48 PM PST on December 4

I noticed.
:::daggers shooting from eyes:::

Of course, Opus' Sunday adventures are currently only available in print (but since he's on the front page of most papers, you can read him from the stack of papers at the 7-11).
posted by wendell at 12:43 AM on December 5, 2003

Everyone has been making a big deal about comics via web syndication lately, but it's not a new thing.

In March of 2001, I started a project to offer independent comic strip artists free accounts for presenting their comics in LiveJournal and, through our planned RSS syndication -- to a wider audience.

One of the first interested was Shannon Wheeler of "Too Much Coffee Man", whose work is syndicated nationwide. He's had a weblog for years now, and may have been the first pro comic strip artist with his own RSS feed.

Since that time, many additional comic strip artists have joined LJ. There's a community called comic_creators which has over 200 members, and another one called altcomix which is particularly relevant.

Several LJ users were already offering full RSS feeds prior to widespread support, and by the time full syndication support arrived, many users were already used to the idea of adding comic strips as "friends". As a result, adding RSS feeds of comic strips became quite popular in short order.

A gander at LiveJournal's most popular RSS feeds clearly indicates that comic strips have ruled the roost for some time now. This populist trend is just starting to show itself amongst other syndicated feed readers, but it only stands to reason. Who do more people relate to -- Winer and Searls, or Calvin and Hobbes?

The syndication information page for these feeds will point you to the xml, if you want to add some of these feeds. There are in excess of 100 syndicated comic feeds available through LiveJournal, most of which are scraped feeds created by fans. While scraping is dubious in nature, it points towards a coming "napsterization" of comic strips. If artists notice this trend and realize that their options are to either be "syndicated" without their approval or to lock up their content, hopefully many will make the 3rd choice and decide to "give away" their work on their own terms. Rather than have their feeds scraped, for instance, they could create RSS feeds which include links to merchandise, online tip jars, etc.

posted by insomnia_lj at 3:26 AM on December 5, 2003

Chl, that dailystrips script is great. I've made a little link on my KDE desktop - all I do is click it, and it generates the comics page and launches it in Opera. Simple and effective.
posted by Jimbob at 4:52 AM on December 5, 2003

Garfield is a Nobel Prize candidate compared to Night Lights and Pillow Fights (from the same man who brings you Nancy).
posted by donpardo at 5:58 AM on December 5, 2003

Lokheed: Do you have more info or an URL about the Davis-doesn't-write-or-draw bit? Not that I'm terribly surprised (since Garfield hasn't been funny for years), but I'd be interested in reading more about that (and whether any other comics suffer the same fate).
posted by abischof at 8:05 AM on December 5, 2003

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