Apps Uncategorized

Why I Wrote WebcomiX

I have always been into comics and computers. Webcomics are a nice combination of the two. I remember reading McClouds “Understanding Comics” and the high tech sequel “Reinventing Comics” when they first came out. Shortly after that I discovered XKCD and the rest is history.

The thing is though, that was 20 years ago and webcomics havn’t really progressed. CDs and DVDs gave way to streaming, talking to peole gave way to social media and web comics are still first/last/prev/next with a homepage that shows the latest episode. I hate to say it but any media that hasn’t advanced in 20 years is a evolutionary dead end, and that includes webcomics. And no, having a button to share it on facebook is not a major advance.

any media that hasn’t advanced in 20 years is a dead end


Now some will say that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That is fine but webcomics are broke. The main problem is reading a serial. You have a website that insists on showing you the latest episode even if you are five episodes behind. That means going back till you find the place you left off. A few webcomics let you save yours spot but not many. I am guessing this is a throwback to when the “tin foil hats” were wary of having cookies and javascript enabled on their computer. Those two technologies ARE the internet these days.

Which brings us to the second problem. There is no such thing as a standard webcomic site. Most are hand coded, some are based on wordpress and some are done through “publishers”. Where is the menu, where are the navigation buttons, can I hide ALL those comments? Some are one story, some are lots of “chapters” or “books”. When I relaunched “The Nurbs” a few years back I looked at wordpress and couldn’t even get the webcomic friendly theses to install. In the end I wrote my own. Again.

Then there are the strips themselves. Computer screens are landscape and phones are portrait. Most webcomics seem stuck in a past where it is either comic book dimensions or newspaper (3 frames) funnies dimensions. Not sure what Scott would make of that. Of course, there is no money in the webcomic as such. It is all about the kickstarter for the printed collection or getting syndicated in old media. The format is designed to suit the authors dreams.

So I am guessing the average fan has a folder in the browser bookmarks full of comics and they update the bookmarks as they read each episode. Then somehow they have to sync that with their RSS feed which tells them when new episodes are out. It is messy. It is why I wrote webcomiX.

It started off as a personal coding project which I released into the wild as I thought others may enjoy it. They did. You can browse the Library of webcomics and add the ones you like to your Favourites screen. This lets you read the comic with big clear navigation buttons, while keeping your place in serials AND notifying you when new episodes are out. What’s not to like.

I have tried to do right by the comics. I will remove it if you ask and I contacted as many of the creators as I could to tell them about the app. It shows the whole page for the comic so that should count to their advertising turnover. You see THEIR ads and THEIR shops and THEIR Patreon links. I have one ad in the app on the Favoutrites page which doesn’t make any money. Fifteen years of apps and blogs and I still have not reached Googles minimum payent requirements. At least when apple did ads I could just about break even.