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The Best Way To Read Webcomics

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Webcomics.

There’s a metric tonne of them out there. Some, like Penny Arcade follow along the lines of newspaper strips, while others like The Oatmeal or Texts From Superheroes make use of the online medium, or emulate it. Others are delivering individual pages of an extended graphic novels one page at a time, usually once or twice a week. If you read more than one or two, keeping track of them all can be a chore, until now…

That’s where bookmarking sites like Comic Rocket and Ink Outbreak come into play. Unlike a jumble of RSS feeds, or signing up to multiple single-site newsletters, getting inundated with “New Page Online!” notifications in your inbox, these two sites each provide a one-stop destination for the webcomic reader.

The gist of both is this… once you register, either with an email address or connecting through your Facebook or Twitter account, you can start adding webcomics via their directory. If Comic Rocket doesn’t have it in the list, then you can add a URL or RSS feed, and it should be picked up automatically.

You’ll end up with something like the following screenshot, which will list all the titles you’re “subscribed” to.

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When you visit a comic via Comic Rocket, you’ll be directed to the actual website of the comic creator, with the only addition being a navigation bar at the top of the page. If you navigate the story using this bar instead of the tools of the website, Comic Rocket keeps track of your place, and will automatically bookmark where you are.

Once you’re all caught up, the title will move to the bottom of the list to the “No New Pages Yet” section, until the actual site is updated.

It’s great for comic creators too!

As someone who’s actually working on a webcomic, both these services are great, because they don’t mess with my stuff.

Other than the narrow navigation bar, the original page is shown unadulterated, with all any advertising and other elements intact. You don’t need any special code to insert, and most, and there’s no special code that the comic creator needs to put on their page to make it friendly to either service.

There are a SMALL minority of webcomics which the services can’t get their hooks into to handle the bookmarking, but I think I found exactly one comic in a list of just shy of 100 titles.

So which is better?

The basic gist of the two sites is essentially the same, in that each lets you search their sites for other webcomics, or simply add a comic you’re already following. As a reader, I’ve thrown my hat in the ring with Comic Rocket. When I first tried both services, Comic Rocket appeared to load pages faster, which convinced me to go that route. While writing this, I gave Ink Outbreak another go, and it seems to have improved a lot.

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It does have the advantage of having a smaller and less obtrusive navigation bar than Comic Rocket, with a collapsible side menu.

Whichever one you go with, you’ll find them the best way to keep up with webcomics.

What should you read?

Well, to get the shameless self promotion out of the way, if you’re going to try either service, give my own web comic, Bionic Antboy a whirl.

After that, a few I’d recommend include…

ReMIND – now finished, and available in print, ReMIND is geared towards a young adult level audience, but in a smart way. The art is pretty awesome. You can also see Jeff Brubaker’s new comic at www.sithrah.com

Under The Flesh – while in its early days, a slickly produced mix of The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man.

Legend of the Toadrider – A definitely oddball horror/adventure mix that has it’s own unique vibe. Spoiler alert, there’s a dude who rides a toad. I dig it.

There’s always the extremely NSFW Oglaf. Again it’s EXTREMELY NSFW, as in downright explicit. If you’re fine with that, I highly recommend it, because it’s even more extremely clever than it is explicit. Click away if you’re not going to get flack for it…  Oglaf … Did I mention that it’s explicit? Good. Then it’s not my fault you clicked the link at work and got trouble for it.

I’ll stop the list here, but there’s lots of great stuff out there. If there’s anything you’re reading, or if you’re putting out a webcomic of your own, feel free to share it in the comments below!

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