Comictastic Creator Announces Intended Changes to Program

In response to the recent controversy, Jan Van Tol, creator of the much debated Comictastic, (a comic viewing application) announced intended changes to the program in the Comictastic forums.

Jan says: “I want Comictastic to display your ads. I want you, the artist, to have some control over what Comictastic displays.”

Amongst the changes mentioned was the inclusion of a HTTP user agent string, which will (hopefully) allow the blocking of Comictastic for those who do not wish their comics to be viewed out of context. Support for ad-displaying and RSS feeds was also mentioned.




  1. RSS instead of ripping is definetly the right move. Being able to block Comictastic is also great.

    So that’s one ripper programmer educated. Only 200 more to go.


  2. Don’t think folks can complain now as there are options. Options can make a big difference and this seems to have done just that. Kudos.

  3. I take back everything I said about Jan Van Tol, and shut up happily.

    If this works out, somebody should help him writing a windows version. Or at least the authors of other comic rippers could follow his example.

  4. I dunno.

    I just can’t help but think that RSS just isn’t the solution. It certainly won’t help folks on Keenspace, since they’ll have no way to generate the RSS feed. It *may* help folks bandwidth, but again, you’re not sending out a snipet of your content, you’re sending out a link to the image.

    I posted a comment to the thread that I think a better approach would be for folks who wanted to work with that tool, to place special tags inside of their page content that he could then parse against. In theory, that would make his tool superior, allow folks who cannot generate a specific feed format to work with his or any other tool, and (in theory) ensure that sites that do not wish to partake of the service don’t have to do anything special.

    Again, what he did wasn’t anything that anyone with a few lines of perl or PHP couldn’t do. I’d hazard that his tool would get a helluva lot more use if various comics actually promoted the fact that they were compatible with it, and considering he’s going for profit, I’m willing to say that should be pretty compelling.

    I’ll be somewhat interested in seeing what his response may be, but I’ve got a feeling I’ve just stirred the catbox.

  5. I hear somewhere that Keen actually generates a RSS feed for you, but I dont know for sure.
    IMO this is a big step forward, a ripper programmer working with the webcomic artists.

  6. There’s a file named rss.xml on my directory, but I have no idea of what it does. and I don’t plan to discover.

    I support Comictastic now because it provides us the option to stay out of it. And that’s what I plan to do.

  7. It does this:

    Alex & Ilia
    Follow the life of Alex, a 16 year old boy married to an alien, and with the universe’s most powerful weapon inside him.
    Copyright 2003-2004 Rodrigo Pin
    Wed, 24 Mar 2004 20:09:25 PST
    Alex & Ilia for 20040322
    Follow the life of Alex, a 16 year old boy married to an alien, and with the universe’s most powerful weapon inside him. [Numcomics: 41] Wed, 24 Mar 2004 20:09:25 PST

    Dunno if that’ll show up. Basically it’s a good old “news headline” thing with the description of your comic, a link to the .html page containing that comic, and the date of the most recent update.


  8. That seems like stuff used by the guide. If we were to make our comics “compliant” to Comictastic, we’d have to find a way to work around that, I guess. If that’s something KSpace is longing to do.

  9. That’s RSS alrighty.

    Interesting that it points to the comic page instead of just the image.

  10. There’s where things get a bit tricky.

    there are a number of RSS readers out there, ranging from one built into, to the RSS Panel available for FireFox, to specific agents like FeedDemon and FeedReader.

    All of these scan those types of files and generate synopsis of what’s new or available. Very handy if you want to quickly scan for stuff like news articles, blog posts, or say, updated comics.

    Granted, I still just load the bookmarks up into new tabbed windows which works just as well, really.

  11. Why is it interesting? Keenspace being an ad-supported service would rather one go to the site to see the comic. I suspect that most ad-supported sites would do the same.

  12. ALthough I applaud this action, comictastic is one of the most harmless of comic rippers, as it only downloads the latest comic. There are worse comic rippers out there, notably icomic, that attempts to download every comic in your archive. So the more strips you have, the more painful the rip is. I have an archive of 40MEGs, which is small compared to other more-frequently updated comics, but it means that every user who uses programs like this will cost me 40MEGs of bandwidth. 10 users will cost me 400MEGs. 100 users, 4 GIGS. — homepage.

    Anyways, congratulations on this, it’s a win-win situation for everyone I think — artists get to choose how their strip is presented and will in turn support the programmers efforts. Now we need to reach out to others.

  13. Also, that reader is only likely to come back only once the archives have build up enough, so he can download some more.

  14. There is not just the two options of comic versus page – there is a happy medium in between of comic+some_advertising but not the whole page (no navigation, etc…). Most good feeds will include, for each item (comic in this case), not just links, but also html (in the <description> or <content:encoded> for just the comic (and maybe adverts or a comment link). See my webcomic at for an example of a site that provides a feed that includes the html.

  15. man…. you do not want to piss cartoonists off…
    Does this mean he doesn’t suck wet pigeon farts?

  16. It’s interesting because it doesn’t really solve the ‘problem’ that Comictastic’s author originally wanted to resolve, that being getting just the comic instead of the whole page.

    Bascially, there’s precious little stopping folks from simply grabbing the RSS feed and not using Comictastic, particularly since the RSS feed is free and Comictastic isn’t.

  17. well actually at Keenspace it’ll work diffrently. We have an RSS extention for the guide. so it’ll just display information about our comics.

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