Comics No More

by Danny Zawacki

Sometime late in high school I started reading web comics–this was in addition to the traditional print comics I read every Sunday in the paper–because I simply love comic strips. This love came back in second grade while visiting my grandparents in Chicago. My grandma gave us each a copy of Calvin and Hobbes: Revenge of the Babysat. I don’t know how many times I read through that book and every other Calvin and Hobbes book, but I know that it was enough to be able to perfectly translate the text of one of the comics to my French teacher in high school, just by looking at the pictures. She said my translation was good, but not perfect. Like hell it wasn’t perfect.

But I digress.

I read comics (I also tried my hand at writing them too, does anyone remember that?). When I went off to college, I wanted to continue reading them and I didn’t have access to my parents’ Sunday paper. I had Badger Herald comics, but they weren’t the good, syndicated ones I’d known. Fortunately, the internet has a great feature. You can get the things you need for free if you know where to look. Lucky for me, getting the comics I wanted was easy because the syndicates put them up for free and gave me a multitude of options for reading them. I chose to use an RSS reader and I had it filled up with about 20 different comics at its peak.

Jump forward to about a year ago when finally, after telling people for years that I had read Garfield every day to give it a fair shot, that Garfield no longer showed up in my RSS feed. Well, a link to the comic hosted on the syndicate’s website showed up but not the real comic. I was thrilled because I finally had a reason to stop reading Garfield because despite the fair shot, I never once laughed or enjoyed myself. I gave it a fair shot, but it gave up on me. What I didn’t expect was that Garfield giving up on me was only the beginning of the end of it all.

You see, in recent weeks, a lot of my comics started giving up on my the same way Garfield did. I’m no longer getting the image in my RSS reader, just a link to their site. I know why they do it and it’s all about money. You don’t get the ad revenue for your site if people read your work elsewhere. But then, I say, why don’t you put an ad at the end of the RSS post? Before I do anything else when I install a web browser these days, I make sure to install the ad blocker, yet I’m not bothered in the slightest by advertisements embedded in an RSS feed. To me, that sounds like a fair trade-off for me viewing their work, no?

Then I started thinking about the comics I read and I realized some of them already did this and they were some of the first to leave me. Maybe it doesn’t work as well as I thought?

I guess the point of this whole rambling post is to say that I’m starting to be rehabilitated of my comic addiction but not by choice. Internet, be good again is all I ask.