Piracy and Comic Books: Bringing Independent Creators to...

Piracy and Comic Books:

Bringing Independent Creators to Their Knees


On Monday, artist Bryan Hitch went on a brief Twitter tirade (twirade?) regarding the amount of piracy that he has seen of his latest collaborative effort, America's Got Powers. Hitch's complaints come as the US Congress and various corporations continue to feel the backlash for their sponsorship of a series of acroynm bills such as SOPA, PIPA, and the latest: CISPA.

In January, ComicsAlliance published an excellent article detailing the problems facing implementation of some of this legislation, but debating the legislation only goes so far. What we should be discussing is the growing trend of taking artists' work without paying for it.

As J. Michael Straczynski discussed in a recent column, artists and creative types have been some of the hardest hit by the Great Recession and the continued Euro Crisis. Their products are often the first to receive the ax when individuals and families begin looking for ways to cut down their expenditure

In some cases, responses to criticism of comic book piracy are met with sneers of "they're owned by Disney/Time Warner, they can afford it." However, in the case of creator-owned work, this argument rings hollow. Yes, the publisher (in the case of AGP, IMAGE comics) does see a share of the revenue from the sale of a given title. When it comes to publishers like Image that focus on creator-owned work, though, the creators are due a much larger share of the pie than they would be when doing work-for-hire at one of the "Big 2." When fans pirate this work, they are therefore harming to a much greater extent the people who create the books they love and enjoy.

Some will argue that, for fans who live in small communities that lack comic shops, piracy is the only way that they can get their books. With the advent of sites like comiXology, this argument is rendered patently false. While the major publishers have yet to make their complete libraries available online, the process of converting those libaries into a digital one is ongoing and actually generates employment, as some young graphic designer gets to slave away converting ancient pulp pages into something that's readable on your iPad.

Some might say that to pay full cover price for a non-physical product isn't fair. This argument couldn't be more untrue. The same amount of work went into creating that digital product as the paper one, the only difference being that someone had to spend time converting the intended-for-print work into a format suitable for digital distribution.

For writers like yours truly, who lament the lack of social conscience in mainstream work, independent, creator-owned titles are the best avenue to find that missing element. They allow creators the freedom to express themselves away from the constraints of a branded character, and they give those creators their just due in a fiscal sense.

So what's the point?

The point is this: stop pirating comics. You strip the medium of its best work by making that work fiscally unsustainable for creators. If you want to see a comics market that includes more than tight-spandex-wearing superhumans pummeling each other or the alien-of-the-month then support your creators. Buy their work; don't steal it.

Posted by cyberninja

But....but....but....but....but I don't like tight-spandex-wearing superhumans :(

Posted by capelesscrusader

And that's why you should help support the creators who put out work that isn't limited to that. Don't steal their stuff! ;)

Posted by nickthedevil

Good points are intoduced here...

Posted by capelesscrusader

Thanks , glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by lykopis

@nickthedevil said:

Good points are intoduced here...

Yep. Little guys get hurt the most despite their stuff being of higher quality. Pirating comics is like self cannibalism.

Edited by capelesscrusader

"self cannibalism"... I like it.

Posted by moywar700

"I can tell you that the amount of piracy I've seen of AGP would have earned me enough money to feed my family for over a month. Thanks."-bryan hitch

how exactly did he know the amount of people that privated his AGP?He stated it was enough to feed his family for a month.

Posted by capelesscrusader

He doesn't have to know how much there was in total, just that the amount he had seen was enough to feed his family for a month. Given that he probably has no way of knowing how much MORE there was, that's rather sad indeed.

Posted by aliensoldier105

@capelesscrusader: tell them to not make content so expensive and only accessible to the spoiled and the rich then :)

entertainment should be available to the general public, not the upper class, why should someone from the sweet 16 tv show be able to afford a library full of ps3 games, CD albums and DVD and bluray movies but not the average joe like my brother who works his a** off in London 5 days a week?

and don't give me that lame "two wrongs don't make a right" argument. heard it all before pal.

if you do then you're probably A) rich or

B) working for (or know somebody who works for) SOPA.

in which case, you'd probably defend the higher class even if they murdered or raped somebody.

Posted by aliensoldier105

@capelesscrusader: Down with SOPA, they extradited a dude for linking to an illegal media site. even though he didn't host any. and I remember reading stories about a woman who got fined 1.7 million dollars for downloading 24 songs with the fileshare program called Kazaa, OK good, the going value of mp3 songs on itunes are 99p in the UK, now what punishment does a shoplifter get? lol good justice that.. (*whispers* "hypocrisy" "ahem!") that can almost be considered a death sentence, especially to someone who is relatively poor.

at least us Brits don't boss everyone around like corporate Americans do :)

greed is your nations weakness, your elite rulers love taking more than what is rightfully theirs and it'll eventually result in a third world war.

Posted by SyIar

Piracy is wrong, but a simple "Hey don't do that!" will never work and censorship IS NOT the answer. Also, just because someone pirates, it doesn't mean that they would have purchased the media if there were no other means to get it for free.

Posted by aliensoldier105

@SyIar: you're smart, many people who illegally downloaded songs or listened to them on youtube didn't have the loose change to buy the music themselves. we've all done it, gone onto youtube to listen to songs we didn't pay for. however this does not excuse theft, I'm all for justice, just not the excessively harsh system that's in place for internet piracy now. getting your life heavily impacted on the first offence of lesser crimes such as petty theft is also morally wrong.