Digital comics again

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Marionette
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Digital comics again

Post by Marionette »

This came up in another thread and I didn't want to derail it so I thought I'd start a separate one. I know this has been discussed before, and it has a tendancy to devolve into name-calling and hair-pulling, but if it's okay with the mods I'd like to have another go and hope that folk can discuss the issue in good faith and with open minds and a sense of humour.
Lew Stringer wrote: I know from past discussions that we have different attitudes to copyright infringement Rab and I'm not trying to change your mind but what I'm curious about is: where do you draw the line? Would you buy pirated scans of new comics or ones that are still in print? If so, how would you feel if the bootlegger started selling illegal discs of your cartoons without your permission, and without you receiving a penny from them?
I can't speak for anyone else, but I've done some work on the web and I fully expected it to be reposted unattributed elsewhere. It's a fact of life these days. You can only hope that sometimes it is attributed and it encourages interest in your work. Like all the people who pay to buy books that collect webcomics that they can read for free on their computer.

As for someone selling illegal discs of one's work; how, exactly is this different from someone legally selling a book of your work second-hand that they bought? In neither case does the original creator receive royalties. An entirely legitimately bought book can be bought and sold again over and over and the creator only receives royalties on the first sale. How about if I buy your book and lend it out to all my friends? You won't receive royalties from any of them but it's not only legal but entirely acceptable. So how is it different to you as a creator as far as royalties are concerned?
Last edited by Marionette on 18 May 2015, 17:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Lew Stringer »

Marionette wrote: I can't speak for anyone else, but I've done some work on the web and I fully expected it to be reposted unattributed elsewhere. It's a fact of life these days. You can only hope that sometimes it is attributed and it encourages interest in your work.
That's your choice regarding your own work and if you're ok with it that's fine of course.
Marionette wrote:As for someone selling illegal discs of one's work; how, exactly is this different from someone legally selling a book of your work second-hand that they bought? In neither case does the original creator receive royalties. An entirely legitimately bought book can be bought and sold again over and over and the creator only receives royalties on the first sale. How about if I buy your book and lend it out to all my friends? You won't receive royalties from any of them but it's not only legal but entirely acceptable. So how is it different to you as a creator as far as royalties are concerned?
Well, the subject of royalties never even entered my head because we don't receive royalties in British comics. (Some graphic novels are set up like that but not comics.) I'm more concerned with people using illegal downloads/discs instead of buying the actual comics, therefore damaging the sales of those comics, possibly leading to cancellation. With sales of comics being so low these days even a few thousand pirated downloads can be damaging.

I think the difference between pirated discs, torrents, etc and physically sharing comics is a matter of scale. Loaning a comic to a few friends isn't the same as a torrent/disc being out there for anyone in the world to obtain for free.

I must admit I'm always surprised, and saddened, that these debates even crop up. Comic fans should be supporting comics, not supporting the pirates.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Marionette »

Lew Stringer wrote: That's your choice and if you're ok with it that's fine of course.
It's more a case of making the best of the inevitable, really.
Lew Stringer wrote: Well, the subject of royalties never even entered my head because we don't receive royalties in British comics. (Some graphic novels are set up like that but not comics.) I'm more concerned with people using illegal downloads/discs instead of buying the actual comics, therefore damaging the sales of those comics, possibly leading to cancellation.

I think the difference between pirated discs, torrents, etc and physically sharing comics is a matter of scale. Loaning a comic to a few friends isn't the same as a torrent/disc being out there for anyone in the world to obtain for free.
Ah, I misunderstood where you said "without you receiving a penny from them?" I thought you were talking about royalties.

Is your concern over illegal copies damaging sales based on actual statistics? Because I'd be very interested in seeing any hard data on the subject. I've seen a lot of arguments on both sides, but very little factual information either way. I did read one study recently that found that people who downloaded music illegally actually spent more on CDs and legitimate downloads than those who did not. I can't remember where I read it, but I'll try to find it again so I can provide a link.

I'd also be interested to know if you feel differently about scans of old material that is not available any other way, where the publisher is unlikely to ever reprint, so it is not taking away from legitimate sales because there are no legitimate sales. My view is that someone scanning such material is supporting the creator to the extent that they are keeping their work accessible when the legitimate owners are content to see it lost to time.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Lew Stringer »

Marionette wrote:
Lew Stringer wrote: That's your choice and if you're ok with it that's fine of course.
It's more a case of making the best of the inevitable, really.
Lew Stringer wrote: Well, the subject of royalties never even entered my head because we don't receive royalties in British comics. (Some graphic novels are set up like that but not comics.) I'm more concerned with people using illegal downloads/discs instead of buying the actual comics, therefore damaging the sales of those comics, possibly leading to cancellation.

I think the difference between pirated discs, torrents, etc and physically sharing comics is a matter of scale. Loaning a comic to a few friends isn't the same as a torrent/disc being out there for anyone in the world to obtain for free.
Ah, I misunderstood where you said "without you receiving a penny from them?" I thought you were talking about royalties.

Is your concern over illegal copies damaging sales based on actual statistics? Because I'd be very interested in seeing any hard data on the subject. I've seen a lot of arguments on both sides, but very little factual information either way. I did read one study recently that found that people who downloaded music illegally actually spent more on CDs and legitimate downloads than those who did not. I can't remember where I read it, but I'll try to find it again so I can provide a link.

I'd also be interested to know if you feel differently about scans of old material that is not available any other way, where the publisher is unlikely to ever reprint, so it is not taking away from legitimate sales because there are no legitimate sales. My view is that someone scanning such material is supporting the creator to the extent that they are keeping their work accessible when the legitimate owners are content to see it lost to time.
I run a blog showing selected pages from old comics so I can appreciate the desire to keep the history of comics alive. Again though it's a matter of scale. Publishers tend to be ok with selected pages as 'fair use' as long as entire comics or a complete run of a serial isn't shown.

As for statistics, I don't have any but I do remember the case of a notorious pirate whose website showed that some comics had been downloaded thousands of times. One being Black Panther, which was canceled because sales fell below 20,000 (or thereabouts). I'm sure the comic might have lasted a bit longer without the piracy. (Marvel had that pirate shut down by the FBI so he's gone now.) I had a run-in with him because he was pirating Elephantmen that I was working for at the time. Indie comics can't afford to lose sales like that.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY »

Hiya Lew:

I am sure that you do not mind if I add my reply onto this newly-minted thread.


As you probably have gathered long ago on here, I do not have a lot of interest in modern comics: I do pick up the BEANO now and again to have a look, but it does not appeal to me enough to 'own' a copy, either on paper or on disc.....the modern trend is for 'cramped' artwork-----I much prefer older artwork which had much more detail lavished on it, and the artist had plenty of space to work in.


Sadly, these older works I prefer are not for sale commercially other than some token 'best ofs' which just scratch the surface------ and these are often 'declawed' for racist or other reasons.

I quite like modern 2000 AD, but not asmuch as the 70s-80s version.


Like I said on the 'other channel' on here, I believe scans of defunct comics [easily and cheaply availible on disc] are keeping the price of old , obsolete, comics down--more comics fans can access them, meaning that the original paper versions are more in reach of the true enthusiast: [less demand for paper versions if adequate disc versions are availible.] I do not love WAR comics, or girls' comics, enough to ammass complete collections of them [paper versions]: and if these were not availible cheaply on disc, the chances are I would never see these works again in the remainder of my lifespan, and presumably others feel the same way as I do.

Surely the creators of older comics would appreciate as many readers as possible seeing their work in [their] future?

I would much prefer that a true VICTOR [for example] enthusiast---and I am sure there are many Victor fans still out there------ got a hold of good paper originals at a sensible price: folks like me who just have a casual interest in Victor can keep out of the bidding war, hopefully meaning the paper originals are cheaper for the more committed fan.


I only get to see a facsimile version of Victor, but it is far, far better for my purposes than nothing...---which would be the reality for me if these comics were not availible on scan-discs.

Less people chasing the original paper comics is good for everyone, except fat-cat dealers.

I agree with you that scanning current comics is damaging modern creators--and no, I would not like this done to me, either, if this was my livlihood------I am with you on this one.


The inflated prices of many paper comics on e-bay and elsewhere is only benefitting the dealers/those who sell to make a profit----it is not as if the creative people responsible [or their descendants] are 'getting a cut' of the larger amounts of money changing hands at this level---this is the same principal as a recent work by Picasso selling for Millions: I doubt if his family benefitted from the spoils creamed off by someone there.


I put a lot of my cartoons on my blog free of charge: I am quite happy doing this as I get reasonable 'hits' [about 2000 a month if I keep posting].

I am not advocating pirated comics on disc, but the publishing companies/whoever owns the copyright on defunct comics are simply not bothering to supply their archive material [discs are very cheap to mass-produce, unlike comics/books] and so it is quite natural this illicit business is thriving [it is at present: e-bay close a lot of these dealers down periodically].

I do not download comics from the internet --too much hassle--I do not download music from there either[but all music is reasonably cheaply availible cheaply from Amazon or even HMV, unlike vintage comics on legit discs.]

I have a fair collection of legit cds and dvds ---virtually no pirated stuff, other than stuff like Tex Avery M-G-M cartoons unavailible of commercial dvd, the exact same principal---------if legit dvd comic collections were on sale, I am sure I would have these, too.
Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on 18 May 2015, 19:25, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Marionette »

Lew Stringer wrote: As for statistics, I don't have any but I do remember the case of a notorious pirate whose website showed that some comics had been downloaded thousands of times. One being Black Panther, which was canceled because sales fell below 20,000 (or thereabouts). I'm sure the comic might have lasted a bit longer without the piracy. (Marvel had that pirate shut down by the FBI so he's gone now.) I had a run-in with him because he was pirating Elephantmen that I was working for at the time. Indie comics can't afford to lose sales like that.
But downloads don't equal lost sales. Many, perhaps the majority of people who download stuff for free, would not have bought the comic if the pirate option was not available. In my experience many people who download free stuff don't even read it; they just get it because they can and in case they feel like trying it some day.

And then competing with sales only occurs for the period that the comic is on sale; typically a month for American comics. As soon as that sale period is up the illegal downloads are not causing lost sales because it is no longer being sold, but will likely continue being available to download indefinitely. So again the "thousands of downloads" becomes less of an accurate measure of sales.

There's also the study I mentioned, which also refutes this argument.

To be honest I think the publishers themselves have done more to damage their own sales than illegal downloads ever will. The decompressed style of storytelling means that a single monthly issue of a comic becomes an expensive quarter or fifth of a story, rather than a satisfying read. You can pick up a used paperback for less than the cost of a new comic and will give you hours of entertainment and a satisfying read. For the cost of two or three comics you can go to the cinema or buy a DVD. Many people wait for the trade paperback rather than buy the monthly comic; it's cheaper, fits on your bookshelf, and has a complete story. Or at least a substantial piece of one. But if everyone waits for the trade then the monthly doesn't sell so the comic is cancelled.

The publishers are also strangling the legitimate digital comics industry. They are so tied to the specialist comics shops that they can't sell the legal digital comics for less than the physical copies, even though they have none of the overheads of printing and distribution. If they sold digital editions at a fair price they would sell vastly more copies.

Of course it would also make a huge difference if digital copies were not limited to propriatory readers. Digital comics are at the stage digital music was when you could only play it using a specific program. You couldn't listen to it in the car or on your MP3 player even though you had legitimately bought it. There's a similar situation now with comics where buying digital comics legally means you can only read it on a specific reader, and different publishers have their own readers, wheras your pirated copy can be read by any reader and any device. Some of the people downloading pirate copies have probably already paid for the legal ones; they just want to be able to read them all in the same reader.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY »

I have never tried actually downloading comics direct from the net as I find downloading in general a real pain: it is files on disc ['hard copies'] I look at: more durable and 'permanent' [so far!]

But I expect one day these files could well be unplayable.

So stick to REAL copies on paper, readers: it is uncharted territory I am delving into---don't do as I do.

I have honestly never visited a comics torrent site.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by starscape »

What was a shame was that the companies just closed down htmlcomics but never learned from it. A Spotify style website with online scans of older material paid by advertising. A great idea. Why not do it legitimately?

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Re: Digital comics again

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY »

yes, I am sure there IS a demand for a spotify-like outlet for comics -----possibly a good business opportunity for someone there.

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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Lew Stringer »

Marionette wrote: But downloads don't equal lost sales. Many, perhaps the majority of people who download stuff for free, would not have bought the comic if the pirate option was not available. In my experience many people who download free stuff don't even read it; they just get it because they can and in case they feel like trying it some day.
That's why I emphasized "instead of buying the actual comics", so as not to include the ones who wouldn't. That said, we'll have to agree to disagree because I think many of them would buy the comics if that was the only option. Just like people used to. Just like many of us still do. If they're only interested in sampling, why aren't they content with the legitimately free 5 page previews of many U.S. comics that appear on Comic Book Resources etc every week? That's about 25% of a comic, totally free and legal, and I usually find it's enough for me to know if I'll enjoy the rest of the issue or not.

Marionette wrote: To be honest I think the publishers themselves have done more to damage their own sales than illegal downloads ever will. The decompressed style of storytelling means that a single monthly issue of a comic becomes an expensive quarter or fifth of a story, rather than a satisfying read. You can pick up a used paperback for less than the cost of a new comic and will give you hours of entertainment and a satisfying read. For the cost of two or three comics you can go to the cinema or buy a DVD. Many people wait for the trade paperback rather than buy the monthly comic; it's cheaper, fits on your bookshelf, and has a complete story. Or at least a substantial piece of one. But if everyone waits for the trade then the monthly doesn't sell so the comic is cancelled.

The publishers are also strangling the legitimate digital comics industry. They are so tied to the specialist comics shops that they can't sell the legal digital comics for less than the physical copies, even though they have none of the overheads of printing and distribution. If they sold digital editions at a fair price they would sell vastly more copies.
Yes, I agree with all of what you say there. Digital versions of American comics often cost more than buying the new physical issues from online dealers. But bad business decisions by publishers still doesn't excuse the readers in breaking the law. In the end it's a decision one has to make based on their own conscience.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Lew Stringer »

ISPYSHHHGUY wrote: I agree with you that scanning current comics is damaging modern creators--and no, I would not like this done to me, either, if this was my livlihood------I am with you on this one.
Thanks. That was my main concern really.

As for the affordability of old comics, I've seen many British comics at very reasonable prices on eBay. (And as people on this very forum tell us, car boot sales offer bargains too. Not that I've ever been to one.)

Yes, some old comics are highly priced, but there are bargains out there, and for nice condition comics too. I'm lucky in that over the decades I've managed to get all the old issues I wanted but I still check eBay every day to see if anything catches my eye. I don't think there are many, if any, sellers becoming 'fat cats' on selling UK comics. :D
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Marionette »

Lew Stringer wrote: That's why I emphasized "instead of buying the actual comics", so as not to include the ones who wouldn't. That said, we'll have to agree to disagree because I think many of them would buy the comics if that was the only option.
I accept that this is your opinion but you haven't cited anything to support it so it's not very persuasive. Since, as I mentioned, I've seen a study that supports the opposite view, your suggestion of agreeing to disagree implies that either you think I'm lying, or you simply refuse to accept data that is at odds with your viewpoint.
Lew Stringer wrote: Yes, I agree with all of what you say there. Digital versions of American comics often cost more than buying the new physical issues from online dealers. But bad business decisions by publishers still doesn't excuse the readers in breaking the law. In the end it's a decision one has to make based on their own conscience.
I agree that bad business decisions do not excuse customers in breaking the law, even when it's a bad law. Even when the publishers are blatantly cheating their customers by claiming to sell them something and then controlling their access to the thing they've bought to the point where, if they decide to stop providing the platform to access it, the customer is no longer able to use the thing they have bought. See the music industry. See also earlier versions of digital comics delivery that have been phased out leaving the readers with no way of reading the comics they legally acquired. The publishers may have legality on their side, but the morality of it is a lot less clear.

It's a bad system, and one that can be easily circumvented. That's never sustainable.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Lew Stringer »

Marionette wrote:
Lew Stringer wrote: That's why I emphasized "instead of buying the actual comics", so as not to include the ones who wouldn't. That said, we'll have to agree to disagree because I think many of them would buy the comics if that was the only option.
I accept that this is your opinion but you haven't cited anything to support it so it's not very persuasive. Since, as I mentioned, I've seen a study that supports the opposite view, your suggestion of agreeing to disagree implies that either you think I'm lying, or you simply refuse to accept data that is at odds with your viewpoint.
Of course I believe you, but you said the study was regarding music downloads. That study result doesn't necessarily apply to comics. I think the episodic serial nature of most U.S. comics and the 'what happens next?' factor would make reading them irrisistable to most people downloading them.
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Re: Digital comics again

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY »

Hiya Lew:

yes I notice that some old comics [paper versions] are often reasonably-priced on e-bay: for example, someone is flogging the entire run of VALIANT for a pound a pop, which I reckon is decent value---again, this evidence of lower pricing than we used to see may well be partly through the sales of comic scan dvds are lowering the demand for the scarcer physical comics.

There is no doubt that the availibility of comics on disc is cheapening the value of comics: this is a good or bad thing, depending on your viewpoint.

It has to be said though, that older comics on cheaper paper when scanned can pften come out pretty disappointing, with blotchy contrast and lack of definition in some cases, and will never be as satisfactory as seeing a good condition copy of the original, and I can see the attraction of seeking out the paper versions.

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Re: Digital comics again

Post by Lew Stringer »

ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:Hiya Lew:

yes I notice that some old comics [paper versions] are often reasonably-priced on e-bay: for example, someone is flogging the entire run of VALIANT for a pound a pop, which I reckon is decent value---again, this evidence of lower pricing than we used to see may well be partly through the sales of comic scan dvds are lowering the demand for the scarcer physical comics.

There is no doubt that the availibility of comics on disc is cheapening the value of comics: this is a good or bad thing, depending on your viewpoint.

It has to be said though, that older comics on cheaper paper when scanned can pften come out pretty disappointing, with blotchy contrast and lack of definition in some cases, and will never be as satisfactory as seeing a good condition copy of the original, and I can see the attraction of seeking out the paper versions.
Yes, I'd noticed how over-saturated the pirate scans were of the pages you'd shown here. Others have told me the same about discs they'd bought. It's nothing to do with the paper. (See my scans on my blog to see how it can easily be done right.) It's because pirates are often clueless about what they're doing.
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