Check out: Archive Binge

binge it

Listen: I will tell you about David Morgan-Mar. Besides being an astrophysicist, he’s a prolific comics author — and he also likes turning his particular intelligence onto overcoming barriers to reading webcomics. His magnum opus, Irregular Webcomic!, sports one of the most comprehensive navigation systems I’ve ever seen (offering separate navigation options for each of different storylines that interweave, for example) and that’s only one of the approximately half-dozen experimental webcomic projects he’s got going at any given time.

His newest contraption is called Archive Binge, and it does a pretty good job of describing itself thusly:

Have you ever found an interesting looking webcomic, looked at the archive, and thought:

I can’t start reading this! There are hundreds of strips to catch up on!

At Archive Binge you can create a custom RSS news feed for a webcomic, which will take you through the archive, at a rate faster than the new comics update. This lets you get up to date on comics with large archives, without spending hours or days trawling the archive in one go.

Rather than spend a whole day or more bingeing on a comic archive, set up an Archive Binge feed. You can start from the beginning, or wherever you’re up to. You can set your custom feed to deliver a strip every day, 4 strips every weekday, or whatever you want, up to 10 strips a day. Anyone can read 10 strips a day! If you get a spare hour and read the next 50 strips, you can update your position in your feed. You can even pause your feed if you go on vacation, and turn it on again when you get back.

And before you know it, you’ll have completed the archive and be up to date.

So, if you’ve put off the idea of going back through the Wondermark archives due to their scale (or the Dr. McNinja archives, or the Girl Genius archives, etc), Archive Binge is the solution. Even better: you’ve read the newest comics already, so you know it gets better. And don’t forget the mouseover texts!

(Also: fellow comic creators: David’s nonprofit service is offered strictly on an opt-in basis — if you’re interested, I encourage you to participate, as it will help me read the backlogs of your long-running comics.) ANYWAY: ARCHIVE BINGE

12 thoughts on “Check out: Archive Binge”

  1. The only downside is the inevitable withdrawal when you get done reading, say, Scary-Go-Round at the incredible pace of 10 a day, and you’re stuck waiting for the next post at the artist’s actual (read:slow) rate of 2-3 per week. I don’t know if you get the DTs when you quit a webcomic cold-turkey, but this seems like a good way to find out.

  2. No worries there as Scary-Go-Round doesn’t appear to be on their supported comic list. That’s right, it’s DESCRIBED as if you can make feeds for comics you want to read (Scary-Go-Round, Girly, Megatokyo, Sam and Fuzzy, Sore Thumbs, Checkerboard Nightmare, and Starslip Crisis are all on my list), but if they aren’t on their list of (19) supported comics (NONE of mine are) then you’re out of luck. From the FAQ:

    You don’t have a webcomic I’m interested in. Can you include it?
    We only include webcomics whose authors have given us permission to make feeds of their work. If you’d like to binge a comic which we don’t offer, try contacting the author and suggest that they get in touch with us (at the e-mail address shown at the bottom of this page).

    So yeah, that’s likely to happen (Sam and Fuzzy creator Sam Logan seems to have a Luddite’s fear of technology and change. Do you have any idea how many years it took to convince him to add an RSS feed? DO YOU?).

    Archive Binge – Good idea, could be better implemented.

  3. I would not be able to use this all too well, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from going past a mere ten per day. Good idea for people with tight schedules, though.

  4. @Phoenix: I imagine more sites will be supported over time; it’s only just launched. For the record, I much prefer Morgan-Mar’s method of asking creators who would like to be involved, than building something to facilitate the scraping of their feeds (sans ads, sans blog posts, sans store links) without permission. It’s just courteous.

  5. I agree with asking creators permission, but the FAQ has the audience doing the asking. I know for a fact that that alone often isn’t enough.

    If the site itself were doing the asking, and actively recruiting the current creator base to try and convince more and more webcomics creators to join up, that would be something else. But the FAQ implies that it’s all up to the readers.

    That being said, do you honestly think ANY creator would want to turn away new readers? That if it were possible to set up new feeds sans permission, creators would OBJECT? They have archives for a reason.

    And THAT being said, on a sidenote I started reading Girl Genius yesterday due in part to this post. Girl Genius is FANTASTIC (but starts a little slow; I actually started reading it before and didn’t make it far enough in for it to catch me). It’s really… just… ridiculously good.

    My point is, read Girl Genius.

  6. Well, the site IS doing the asking, at least to the extent that Morgan-Mar contacted me personally, as I imagine he contacted Chris, Phil and the other creators involved. Presumably he’s contacted others and will be continuing to do so in the future. Everyone benefits from the site being more comprehensive.

    Besides, Archive Binge does more than just re-parse an existing feed. Considering that not every comic’s feed goes back to Episode Zero (and also considering that many feeds have out-of-date blog posts included, etc), AB has to build a new custom feed for each comic by scraping the archives.

    The idea of “new readers” isn’t a panacea, either — comic creators are regularly (some would say incessantly) contacted by the developers of iPhone apps, feed aggregators, etc. who wish to scrape our feeds and use our content in different ways, sometimes for profit. Equally often, we are not contacted and the developer simply assumes that anything in an RSS feed is free to republish as he sees fit. And of course, sometimes it is — but that determination is best left to the content creator, which is why an opt-in situation is the best choice.

    tl;dr read Girl Genius.

  7. David, the more I think about this, the more I think that you and Archive Binge are right, and my initial reaction was wrong.

    I was delighted at the prospect of a tool to help ration out the backlog of comics I wish to read, and when I discovered that literally none of the comics on my list were available, I was disappointed. I spoke from selfishness; how this could have benefited ME more, not what would be _proper_. Of course the creators should give their blessings first, it’s THEIR work.

    Aside: my original point when I *started* my previous post was to say Thank You for bringing this to my attention, as it reminded me of a comic I wanted to read. Somehow the “thank you” part was forgotten. Frustrating when I do that.

    Thanks David Malki !

  8. Kudos for pointing it out. Nicky510 is up and happily running on the site. I noticed, though, that Wondermark isn’t. Up, that is. Are you still getting the needed information together (A tedious process indeed)?

  9. Thanks so much for posting about this! I’ve been wanting something like this service for a while now – both for me to read comics I haven’t, and for others to read mine that don’t feel like sludging through in one go. It’s so rewarding to get a little RSS notification every day with a few new comics!

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