The Morning Comics

December 28, 2008

I have been an avid reader of the comics "page" for as long as I can remember.  Page is in quotes since I rarely, if ever, read the newspaper anymore, instead I use a wonderful piece of software called Comictastic.  Comictastic, available only for the Mac operating system, is, according to Andy Ihnatko,

It's like TiVo for comic strips, and that's the most emphatic praise I can give it without using certain words that my editor assures me he has no intention of ever printing.
Comictastic works by examining the web page with the comic, and extracting just the image of the strip. Every day the software visits the site and downloads the new strip.  Now instead of visiting 15 or 16 sites to see the comics I enjoy, I just open Comictastic and I can view them all, one right after another.

Unfortunately, some of the comic syndicates are determined to force you to view the product under their control, their way and only their way.

The worst example, from my point of view, are those comics syndicated by "Go Comics."  (I'm deliberately not linking to their site, as I don't wish to support their practices.)  Any comic available through Go Comics shows up as unavailable through Comictastic.  Other syndicates substitute an ad for the strip when it is scrapped from the page by my viewer.

I understand that the syndicate has purchased the rights to publish the comic, and that they want to exercise their exclusive control of the product.  However, I am not going to buy a daily newspaper just for the comics.  I am also not going to visit site after site, each of which is burdened with ads, to view the comics.  As much as it pains me to no longer read "The Buckets" or "Pearls Before Swine," that is what is going to happen as a result of the ham-handed read-it-on-our-site-or-else approach of Go Comics and others.

Newspapers are increasingly facing rising operational costs and decreasing subscriber numbers.  Our way or the highway tactics like the comics syndicates are employing will reap the same loss of viewer numbers.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.