Web Comics Growing in Widgets, Convenience or Robbery?

If you’re a Mac user or a PC user with the program Konfabulator then you know what a “widget” is. For those of you who don’t know, a widget is a tiny program that can appear on your screen very quickly to perform it’s specific purpose, usually to inform you of the weather or stock prices.

These widgets are written in JavaScript and can be created relatively easily. Recently there have been a few additions to the widget library that focus on web comics. A few of my favorites include the Calvin and Hobbes daily, the Ctrl+Alt+Del daily, and the Penny Arcade widgets.

These widgets work much the same as RSS feeds do, updating the comic on your screen as it finds new ones. However, it doesn’t look as if the creators of the comics are the ones making the widgets available. While it may be really convenient for the reader I could see this causing headaches for comic creators. It isn’t clear yet how they might feel about having their comic grabbed out of their site considering they depend on the ads that get loaded when you go to the actual comic page. By using these widgets and similar programs that simply download the comic image files can this be considered stealing? This sort of thing is still too new to see how creators will react. If you have an opinion on the subject let us know by posting a comment. I’d be interested to hear what people think about this.


2 thoughts on “Web Comics Growing in Widgets, Convenience or Robbery?

  1. This is the latest form of \”ripper\” program. There was a controversy about it on Comixpedia a year or two back. And when I say a \”controversy,\” I mean one programmer against a horde of howling webcartoonists.

    Some comics are designed to work well with rippers. Modern Tales actually had a syndication feature for a while (and will again soon). Steve Conley used a ripper-based advertising model.

    But generally, those systems are of the cartoonists\’ design. Outside rippers usually cost cartoonists more than they give. They strip away all conventional advertising, cost us bandwidth and mute our ability to make special announcements outside of the strip.

    And they never, EVER ask permission.

    It\’d be a real problem if webcomics weren\’t a fairly small target.

  2. Chalk up one more reason why capitalism sucks…

    I wouldn\’t want one of these things around for my comic if I were those guys. The programmer/s may think they\’re doing a service to said webcomic, or rather to the FANS, but ultimately there\’s too many complications. All listed above by the venerable Mr. Campbell.


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