Subscribing to The Far Side (by RSS!)

Update 23 November 2022: This isn’t how I consume The Far Side in my RSS reader any more. There’s an updated guide.

Prior to his retirement in 1995 I managed to amass a collection of almost all of Gary Larson’s The Far Side books as well as a couple of calendars and other thingamabobs. After 24 years of silence I didn’t expect to hear anything more from him and so I was as surprised as most of the Internet was when he re-emerged last year with a brand new on his first ever website. Woah.

The Far Side by Gary Larson

Larson’s hinted that there might be new and original content there someday, but for the time being I’m just loving that I can read The Far Side comments (legitimately) via the Web for the first time! The site’s currently publishing a “Daily Dose” of classic strips, which is awesome. But… I don’t want to have to go to a website to get comics every day. Nor do I want to have to remember which days I’ve caught-up with, yet. That’s a job for computers, right? And it’s a solved problem: RSS (which has been around for almost as long as Larson hasn’t) and similar technologies allow a website to publicise that it’s got updates available in a way that people can “subscribe” to, so I should just use that, right?

Except… the new The Far Side website doesn’t have an RSS feed. Boo! Luckily, I’m not above automating the creation of feeds for websites that I wish had them, even (or perhaps especially) where that involves a little reverse-engineering of online comics. So with a little thanks to my RSS middleware RSSey… I can now read daily The Far Side comics in the way that’s most-convenient to me: right alongside my other subscriptions in my feed reader.

The Far Side comics in Dan's RSS reader.
How screen scrapers are made.

I’m afraid I’m not going to publicly1-share a ready-to-go feed URL for this one, unlike my BBC News Without The Sport feed, because a necessary side-effect of the way it works is that the ads are removed. And if I were to republish a feed containing The Far Side website cartoons but with the ads stripped I’d be guilty of, like, all the ethical and legal faults that Larson was trying to mitigate by putting his new website up in the first place! I love The Far Side and I certainly don’t want to violate its copyright!

But – at least until Larson’s web developer puts up a proper feed (with or without ads) – for those of us who like our comics delivered fresh to us every morning, here’s the source code (as an RSSey feed definition) you could use to run your own personal-use-only “give me The Far Side Daily Dose as an RSS feed” middleware.

Thanks for deciding to join us on the Internet, Gary. I hear it’s going to be a big thing, someday!


1 Friends are welcome to contact me off-blog for an address if they like, if they promise to be nice and ethical about it.

The Far Side comics in Dan's RSS reader.×


  1. Michael Michael says:

    Can you not just publish a feed that only includes links to the comics instead of the actual images?

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      I suppose! In practice, that’s what my current one has become as the website’s put in Referrer-checking anti-hotlinking tools on their images anyway and I can’t be bothered to circumvent them. So with that in mind (and with all the usual caveats e.g. if the feed stops working because the website changes and I don’t feel like fixing it, you’re on your own), here’s what you’re looking for:

  2. Mary clark Mary clark says:

    How can I get a daily far side comic in my email?

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      Take the link I provided to the commenter above and put it into your favourite RSS-to-email service, or use IFTTT.

    2. David Ellis David Ellis says:

      TO: Mary Clark

      How can I receive ‘todays’ The Far Side cartoon or The Daily Dose in my daily email?
      Thanks, David

      1. Dan Q Dan Q says:


        1. Set up a Far Side RSS feed as described in my blog post, or find somebody else who already has and get in touch to ask them if they’ll share the URL.
        2. Use a free service like Blogtrottr, Zapier, IFTTT, FeedRabbit, or even MailChimp to monitor the RSS feed and email you any new entries to appear in it.

        Note that the technique I describe above might not result in the image of the comic being included in the email: just a link to each individual comic on the site as it’s published. You’d have to try it to find out, though. If you have to do a little extra work to get the images, it’s certainly very achievable: but that’s an exercise left to the reader. Doing so may violate the terms of use of the Far Side website, so read those carefully first too.

        Alternatively, or in the meantime, you could suggest it as a feature on the Far Side website.

  3. Thank you for the link.

  4. Jonah Jonah says:

    Just as a heads up, images for this RSS feed are no longer loading (I’m guessing the site has changed somehow).

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      Yes. I’ve abandoned this approach, and it’s likely to continue to fail in more and greater ways as time goes on. Please see my note on the top of the article for a link to my current approach to subscribing to The Far Side‘s Daily Dose, in case it’s suitable for you.

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