Jeff Stoner originally shared this post:

+Comic Rocket vs. +inkOUTBREAK 

Like many people, when I started reading webcomics, I used bookmarks. That got old real quick. I switched to an RSS reader. That worked until I found some sites that didn't publish RSS feeds. That's when I found Comic Rocket and InkOutbreak. Both sites are designed to bring webcomics to the readers and ease the challenges of staying on top of our favorite artists and writers.

The Good

Both sites allow you to build a reading list of comics. If a particular comic doesn't exist in their database, you can easily add it by filling in a simple form and letting the site do the rest. Similarly, both sites track the comics for new pages and present them to you using a "reading view," which amounts to having a small bar at the top with functions related to reading and the full page of the comic below.

The Bad

They both have some kinks to work out. For example, Comic Rocket tries to discover the pattern of URLs for a given site. Since there is no standard for how to structure URLs for publishing webcomics, it can get confused (though it does work pretty well most of the time.) With InkOutbreak, when I add a comic to my list and click to start reading it, sometimes I'm dumped on some random page in the comic. Both sites are still young so these are just growing pains. They'll work themselves out.

The Ugly

Both sites have a problem with longevity. InkOutbreak is someone's passionate hobby and it runs solely on donations and some ad revenue. I've seen a lot of "hobbies" come and go with the wind. Comic Rocket is getting around to finalizing their business plan based on an ad network. I've worked with sites that tried this and failed, so that'll be one thing to watch out for. They're also accepting donations.

People burn out. Money gets tight. These are very real problems that threaten both sites.


Both sites are doing roughly the same thing but with slightly different motivations. Both will show you, front and center, which comics you're following have been updated since you last read them and with one click, you're off on an adventure.

Comic Rocket's interface is all about you and your reading list.  There's the section highlighting updates, a section with "broken serials" (the aforementioned confused URL guessing) and the rest of your reading list. There's very little else on the page to distract you from reading webcomics.

InkOutbreak's interface has the comic updates section, and twitter posts of any artists whose comics you're reading, and the site's blog entries, and the site's forum, and a user rating system, and…. You get the idea. It's more than just comics, it's about the comic community.

My Impressions

For the purpose of reading comics, both sites work and work well. I prefer Comic Rocket – it has a more polished look and screams "here's your list – go read some awesome stuff!" Also, I prefer Comic Rocket's "reading bar" (I'm not sure what to call it) over InkOutbreak's. I find that it's much easier to navigate a comic using it (both forward, backward and getting to a specific page.)

I do like InkOutbreak's "thumbs up" feature. I don't participate in the forums (it's just not my thing) but I do like the ability to promote a page in a purely aggregate form. I also like seeing what comics not on my reading list were recently updated. Every now and then, I'll click through to check it out.

Comic Rocket has a Droid app that I use pretty regularly. It works well on my phone and allows me to catch up on my reading when I'm not in front of my desk. I never tried loading InkOutbreak in my phone's browser so I can't comment on how well it works.

What I'd Like To See

Configurable elements on the main page. InkOutbreak has several sections I could care less about – I'd like to either remove them or make them less obtrusive. Comic Rocket presents my comics as one loooong list. Some of the comics are defunct or completed serials. It would be nice if I could sort them or group them in some fashion – at the very least, collapse them so they don't take up as much space.

Both sites could use a "Next Unread Comic" link in the reading bar. As I'm motoring along, getting caught up on my reading, I'd like to just jump to the next comic with unread pages instead of jumping back to the main site.

For InkOutbreak, I'd like to be able to "catch up" on a comic without visiting every page. I haven't found a way to simply jump to the end (which is important when you've been following a comic like Questionable Content or Cyanide and Happiness which have thousands of comics.)

Better "intelligence" when it comes to finding updates to comics. There have been times when neither site has picked up a comic's update for 8+ hours. Some comics update at roughly the same time each update. Get smart – average those times, create a window and check for updates during that window. Other sites use RSS feeds – use that over site scraping.

Micropayments or donations to the comic. Not all comics have merch available. Devise a way that I can toss some coin at the comic with a single click. This has to be dead simple. If people have to go through 2 or 3 clicks to complete a transaction, it won't work.

Final Thought

Honestly, Comic Rocket and InkOutbreak could easily merge into one site. Take the best of both and make something super stellar.

Vía Jessie Boudrie – Google+ Public Posts