On Being A Freeloader
I read a large number of webcomics via their Live Journal feed. Does that sound like something from some form of Anonymous Association?
Anyway, I get LJ feeds for some of my favourite webcomics so that I can catch up with them alongside the happenings of my friends. I understand that you can also get programs that basically do the same function, although I've never strayed from LJ really... I've been wondering if these are detrimental to such a niche group as webcomics though.
I notice that the income for a large number of webcomics relies upon ad banners or merchandise sales. However, most feeds that I have seen don't carry ads with them. In fact, until just very very recently, the Real Life feed didn't even bring the image of the comic with it, it just gave me a link to the comic that sometimes didn't even work. And, by being a reader who almost never checks out the homesite of the comic, those vital sources of income don't manage to pull at me.
Another lack that the feeds have is communication. One of the things I have come to love about the world of webcomics is the interaction with the creators. If I want, I can go and comment or directly email pretty much any of the artists I admire (or despise) and let them know. Heck, I can email them a tasty recipe that I think they may like. Sure, it's a downfall and potential annoyance for them, but it makes reading the comics so much more interesting. And reading the comics via feed strips out a lot of the commentary that goes along with them.
There are some who find ways around these issues. Dinosaur Comics includes a snippt of commentary or advertising at the bottom of its feed. Penny Arcade's feed includes there oh-so-loquacious blog posts. And there are a few comics who seem to work primarily through Live Journal before anything else, such as McMillan's Minimum Security or How To be Happy (Formerly Too Much Coffee Man, and probably an off web comic first).
So I was thrilled to see that Real Life's shift to a new server (created by one of the minds behind Goats) includes the ability to get posts as Dean makes them. Now all he needs to do is include an ad at the bottom of each one. I don't mind the 'intrusion', because I'm getting off even more scott free by using the feed.