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  • Okay, I’m Not Showing You This Link, Right?

    So I’m looking for writings on who’s finished the AGENTS OF ATLAS series lately, finding some nice things like this, and then I come across THIS. Now, I’m not a snitch, and who the heck would Marvel yell at about it anyway. But I started to wonder, and thought I’d pose the question. Do any of you download BitTorrents to help you decide whether to buy a comic? Because to me, reading a comic book online just isn’t as enjoyable an experience (and I’m not talking about webcomics so don’t even, I’m talking about stories formatted for books) and I can’t imagine feeling like I actually had the book this way. But it wouldn’t bother me that someone was trying to use it to decide whether to part with cash. And of course I’m intrigued about anything that might get the word out on a book I want to write more of. Or, is it evil? I’ve really given it little thought, so I’m asking.
    Which all reminds me: there’s still time to call your local shop and preorder the Agents of Atlas Hardcover. Good luck trying to find a feed that has all the features this sweet baby has! You can comment anonymously, of course.

    Comments

    Comment from Brett
    Time: February 20, 2007, 9:34 am

    I suspect it is just a prod to the big companies to make the stuff available electronically themselves. I am old school, I like paper, but I could see the value of a Marvel putting up back issues to be read digitally. I will never track down some of the old story arcs I have missed over the years in paper, but I might spend five bucks to read some of them. The only other reason I could see to read online would be while I am on the road and a hot issue comes out, I would have paid a dollar or two to read issue 6 of Atlas while I was in the UK when it came out. I had the issue when I got home, but I might have been tempted. The site you found is of course pirate stuff, I suspect it doesn’t cut the real sales very much at all but who knows. Of course I will get the Agents of Atlas hardback, it was one of the best of 2006 by far.

    Comment from Laura
    Time: February 20, 2007, 10:10 am

    Um… yeah. I have looked at pirated books to determine whether or not I’ll buy the paper copy. Particularly with writers or artists I’m not familiar with, or I haven’t enjoyed in the past but want to give another chance.

    And I tend to get the digital pirate versions of most of the books I buy, so I have a back-up copy I can access more easily than the paper copy, which is usually filed in a box where it’s not as easy to get to for reference.

    I’d much rather have a paper copy to read, but for quick reference or to taste a book before buying, a digital copy is great. And I’ve bought a lot of books after trying them on-line. If a publisher has a “free sample” of a book in digital format online, I’ll always give the book a try, even if I’m sure I won’t like it. I’m sometimes surprised.

    Comment from RAB
    Time: February 20, 2007, 10:31 am

    My answer is absolutely yes, I have downloaded torrented comics to see if they’re worth buying…and if I enjoy them, I buy them. I hope it goes without saying that in the case of Agents of Atlas my answer was yes to both. I’m absolutely certain you’ve made sales by people reading your work for free. Ask Phil Foglio what kind of business advantage he’s getting from making downloadable comics free and you’ll see there’s more than one way to skin a revenue stream.

    I’ve also snagged torrents of comics that aren’t available to me any other way. Morrison and Quitely’s Flex Mentallo was huge for me, and I would be poorer for not having read it…and I wouldn’t have without the letters B and T. Let there be no doubt that I’d pay full price for a printed collection of this book.

    And finally, I’ve downloaded torrents of comics that I already own! Computer scans that I can page through when I want to look up some line of dialogue or obscure continuity point without having to worry about damaging the precious physical object I’ve preserved since 1968 or whenever. Plus the vintage scans tend to include things like letters pages and contemporary ads, which collections omit.

    I love the physical object of the old school comic book as much as anyone…but comics have to embrace the future or die.

    Comment from Parker
    Time: February 20, 2007, 12:01 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. I too like the idea of using the digital files as archives for reference, especially in the age of back up hard drives. It’s interesting to hear how much these are being used.

    Comment from Eric N.
    Time: February 20, 2007, 1:51 pm

    I read every issue of AoA in electronic form before buying a paper copy. We’re a one comic shop town and that comic shop gets books a week later than everybody else. It’s hard to be a comic fan on the ‘net when you’re a week behind. But then again, I bought paper copies too. Like someone else said somewhere, until I can read these on the toilet, I’m going to keep getting paper copies.

    There are comics I’ve read online that I haven’t bought, however. Most often, this happens during big events where I don’t really care to buy the other books but would otherwise be forced to so I could find out how it ties into the mega-crossover (usually just a panel or two of throwaway information). I’m a grad student on a tiny budget ($7,500 a year — I’d starve if my wife weren’t working. But she’s a public school teacher assistant, so we’re not making much at all), with a tiny apartment (like RAB, I have most of my collection in electronic form with the actual comics in storage at home — where my comic-reading dad doesn’t mind). I can’t imagine that I’d be as interested, or even be capable of being as interested, in comics if this weren’t an option.

    I still spend a ton more money than I should on comics though. Don’t let my wife see this post — she’ll blame the both of us.

    Pingback from Blog@Newsarama » Jeff Parker talks about Fight Club
    Time: February 21, 2007, 8:42 am

    [...] Parker talks about Fight Club Wednesday February 21, 2007, 11:42 am Agents of AtlasJeff Parker wants to know if you’re downloading comics … and if you’re doing it to preview comics you’ll eventually buy, or for other [...]

    Comment from Jim
    Time: February 21, 2007, 9:25 am

    There’s strong evidence to suggest that if a comic has sales under about 25K per month, it’s being read by more people on their monitors than in print.

    Frankly, I prefer to read comics on my monitor: they’re larger, brighter, easier to read and take up no physical space. I’m more readily able to try-before-I-buy. And I also prefer to have a quality book on a bookshelf than a pile of pamphlets in a box in the closet.

    I did the Wednesday trek every week for more than twenty-five years. A few years ago I found my first “weekly release” torrent site and it hit me: why am I spending twenty or thirty bucks a week for less than an hour of entertainment, the quality of which is often dubious? Now I spend zero dollars a week, and buy the trade, usually from Amazon or Chapters, when it’s worth owning. In the end, I’m not putting any less cash into the hands of publishers than I was before, but the quality of what I purchase is significantly greater. The only folks making less money from me are the comic shops.

    I’m Canadian, so downloading is a legal grey area for me (whereas it’s certainly illegal in the USA). And I have no moral qualms about downloading; infringement is not, as some would charge, a kind of theft.

    Plus, as a previous poster implied, there are business models that work very well where content is unpaid-for by the consumer. If the industry evolves into a creature that cannot sell pamphlets on shelves, it’s the industry’s responsibility to adapt. I agree with Steven Grant that the pamphlet only has a few years of life left in it.

    Comment from Matt DiCarlo
    Time: February 21, 2007, 9:29 am

    Jeff,

    I’ve talked to a lot of comics pirates in my life, and as someone who pre-ordered AoA, will likely get the hardcover, and tried to get people to give it a shot and do the same, I can safely say that I think that the pirate community does nothing but good for a book like Agents of Atlas.

    I think it hurts a book like Ultimate Spider-Man or even Civil War, except for in how it helps people try it out and catch up. But you pretty much know if you’re going to buy those books already.

    It’s a lot harder to convince someone to try out Agents of Atlas. It’s a new territory with unfamiliar characters, and to a lot of people, an unfamiliar writer. But it’s also something that people quickly realized they’d have to support if they wanted to see more of it. It’s anecdotal, but I know a dozen people who gave it a shot and wouldn’t have otherwise if they couldn’t have tried it first.

    I also know a few people who DLed the thing and are now buying the HC because they liked it so much but who would have never just picked it up off the shelf.

    I think that there are some books like Agents of Atlas and She-Hulk which gain more than they lose from piracy, because the people pirating the books aren’t generally ones that would go “OH! A book about these weird 50s characters. I’d buy that anyway, but I’m going to download it instead!” like let’s say Amazing Spider-Man or X-Men. The people who are going to buy the entire Marvel line anyway will still buy it, instead of downloading because they’re completists. And the people who are curious might give it a shot in a download instead of just reading it off the shelf.

    It sure helped me convince a few people to give the book a shot and add it to their pull when they might not have otherwise.

    I think, and again this is anecdotal, Marvel loses sales on their top tier titles to piracy and they actually might gain some when it comes to the lower level titles.

    If nothing else, it gets the property out there and adds a lot more of a buzz to it.

    But that’s just an educated opinion. I was real glad to have Agents of ATLAS in my hand, because I enjoyed the hell out of it and it’s not nearly as engrossing to read something on a screen, especially something which contains so much love for the medium.

    Comment from Craig
    Time: February 21, 2007, 9:45 am

    I do download comics off of torrent sites… for several reasons. More often than not, it’s to preview something to see if I feel they’re worth buying. But sometimes I download comics knowing full well that i’ll never buy the floppy. I read it and I delte it. Comics like this fall into three categories for me… Comics I wish i could buy, comics I know I’ll get the trade version but just want to keep abrest of what’s going on (spoilers are hard to avoid if you’re holding out for a trade) and comics I never had any intention of buying ever.
    In the end, a lot of it has to do with money. I’d buy all the comics I read if I had the resources to do so. But i don’t. Currently, I can’t even buy half the comics I WANT to buy (and it’s not that many, I swear) because I’m a grad student getting by on a shoestring income and don’t have too much money to dump on entertainment in general. I assure you though, In the end the comic companies come out ahead. By being able to keep myself up to date w/ what’s going on in these Unverses (marvel and DC), I’m more engaged and more interested in buying MORE things/stories/art/comics that occur w/in them. Marvel and DC aren’t losing money by me reading comics that I know I wasn’t planning on buying. Sometimes I even get swayed into buying something I never thought I would. But the less I read, the more my interest wanes in comics, particularly w/in Marvel and DC.
    Also along the lines of reference, onceuponatime when i used to blog about comics more often, The scans were helpful for images (since I do not own a scanner of my own).

    Comment from DrObviousSo
    Time: February 21, 2007, 10:05 am

    Jeff, first off, thanks for being open minded about the idea of digital comic books! I can’t speak for everyone, but I know of at least 2 people who picked up AoA in floppy because of digital scans. I’ll probably be purchasing the hardcover because of them.

    I think I’m in the minority, but not minuscule minority, who prefers digital over paper. Easier to sort, organize, and store, and reading off a monitor doesn’t bother me. I got into digital scans when I got married/went to grad school in the same 6 month period. I just financially couldn’t justify laying out $50+ or more every month on a hobby.

    I can purchase a trade or so a month. AoA, Invincible, and Manhunter are three current titles that I never would have known about if it wasn’t for digital scans. I have or will be purchasing when they come out trade of all three titles.

    Digital scans also open up the world of “comic book cannon” to people without thousands of dollars and a time machine. Flex Mentallo, Watchmen, Detective Comics 1-25, FF 1-100, Action Comics 1 (or whatever the first Superman was), God Loves Man Kills, Ronin, Mage, Grendel. These are all books that I can’t afford, but am able to read because of digital scans. Most of them are also impossible to find.

    So yes, I’m spending less, but that’s because of life circumstances. If I had the same disposable income, I think I’d be purchasing more, but I really don’t know. I do know that digital scans are allowing me to stay interested in the scene when I probably would have fallen out.

    Comment from DrObviousSo
    Time: February 21, 2007, 10:13 am

    Wow. I posted before I read everyone elses comments. Seems like a lot of people are saying the same things.

    I do want to clear up “I think I’d be purchasing more, but I really don’t know.” Let me assure you, I’d be spending the same amount, not less. I just don’t know if I’d be spending more.

    Someone above said the better selling titles probably are hurt, while the lower selling titles are helped. I think this is true, at least of my own purchases.

    Comment from Render
    Time: February 21, 2007, 10:14 am

    I download an awful lot of comics over BitTorrent. For me, being able to sample comics this way without any monetary risk led to my getting into comics for real, and at this point I am spending a little over a hundred dollars a month on my four-color addiction.

    The comics industry does a good thing when they make teaser content cheap or free. Most of the big publishers have some comics that you can read online. Image has a bunch of #1 issues viewable right off of their front page. Popular series will occasionally run a cheaper “introductory” issue to draw new readers in, like the recent 60 cent Godland book, or the upcoming low-priced Invincible issue, or the recent 25 cent reprints of Sandman #1 and Fables #1. Also, Free Comic Book Day is being used to draw readers in to a whole lot of new series and old favorites. These are all good things.

    Notwithstanding all of this, the visibility of comics is still terrible. It does no good to release cheap or free content if there are no eyes on publisher websites and no feet in comic shops; losing space in newsstands and spinner racks in grocery stores has been terrible for the industry, and the collected trades on two shelves in Barnes and Noble next to the huge selection of manga isn’t exactly a gateway either. Normal people are barely aware that those trade paperbacks are actually collected from monthly comic magazines, and that comics with floppy covers even still exist. Forget about normal people knowing where a comics shop is or how to find one. Even if they could find a retailer, $3 is a heck of a lot to pay to dip your foot in the pool for most people, and the “this is not a library” mentality of shopkeepers desperate to maintain the mint condition of their merchandise scares newcomers away. (One store I shop at shelves all new comics in bags. I almost always see it empty, despite its good location near a mall food court.)

    Another problem with teaser content is that it usually doesn’t provide enough of a storyline to really hook the reader into buying a series. One of the books that was my gateway into comics was Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, but an online preview of “The Corpse” (http://www.playboy.com/darkhorse/the_corpse/) wasn’t quite enough to get me to drop money on comics. No, I was pulled in by complete copies of several collections of the book downloaded from BitTorrent. After reading a few ill-gotten trades online, I found myself picking up the real trades, then Watchmen, then finding some comics-related podcasts and blogs to immerse myself in, and finally I ended up with a pull list, a bookshelf full of trades, and a set of full longboxes.

    I’m enjoying the medium immensely, I’m reading what I feel is a nice variety of titles that appeal to me, and I feel that I’m putting enough cash into the system that nobody should get to complain about my ongoing consumption of comics torrents. Yes, I’m still downloading the torrents. They give me an opportunity to sample books I have no initial interest in. They help me to keep up with storylines I only follow in trade format. They help me get up to speed on books I’d like to buy but can’t get into without some background. Most importantly, they provide visibility, not only visibility into titles and publishers I might have missed, but the fact that they exist at all puts comics in front of an audience that might never otherwise come into contact with the medium. I’d argue that lack of visibility is one of the biggest problems that comics has, and that underground distribution through torrents is just one more way that comics is keeping an audience. If there’s a lesson for publishers here, it’s that their old wares can still find new audiences, but they’ve got to find new ways to distribute their content to capture the interest of people who aren’t already in the comic stores and on their website.

    So those free comics that come with the Marvel action figures? The digest-sized Johnny DC books mixed in with the manga and the preteen fiction? Spider-Man and Power Pack and 1602 at Target? Comics as DVD inserts and free comics at theatres? All of these are good starts. I’d like to see more.

    Comment from Henrik J
    Time: February 21, 2007, 11:19 am

    I download all my single comics, I am not from the US which means by the time an issue hits Northern Europe 2 weeks later its twice as expensive as the cover price, plus since i have grown up with comics where there are only ads on the front and back cover i have a hard time reading a single US comic.

    I read mostly Marvel, each week i download the comics that i am following or interested in trying and if i like a series/storyarch i will buy the Trade/HC. I will admit that there are some series i still read even though i know i dont like them enough to buy in trade and since i have other interests in life, the number of trades i have on my list to buy is larger than what i spend of comics each year.

    It does allow me to try comics i wouldnt otherwise have bought, like Agents of Atlas which i really like

    Comment from Matt Brady
    Time: February 21, 2007, 11:28 am

    I used to read more BitTorrent stuff than I do now, but probably because I’ve bought a lot of stuff and have a huge stack to read, so I don’t read as much on the computer. I tend to think of it as similar to a public library, where I can read stuff that I’m not necessarily interested in buying. But I have read some stuff that I liked enough to buy later.

    Comment from Vysion
    Time: February 21, 2007, 12:39 pm

    Never have used a site like that. Working in the I.P. field makes one acutely aware the financial suffering caused by that sort of thing. If I preview a comic, it’s through authorized sources like previews at newsarama.com or free issues placed online by the publisher.

    Comment from Anonymous Downloader
    Time: February 21, 2007, 2:16 pm

    Yes, I download just about all the weekly comics. With the exception of one title that I’ve been collecting in floppy form for decades, I ditched single issues long ago for trade paperbacks and hardcovers, and I like to try before I buy. So I download the weekly release of new comics, look through them, and delete everything afterwards.

    I’m buying Agents of Atlas in collected form because I downloaded it and thought it was nifty. I bought the entire trade run of Fables because I downloaded it. I bought 300 and New Frontier and Marvel Zombies and the GDM Defenders and Pride of Baghdad because I downloaded them – I still prefer having hardcopy in my hands that I can lend to my friends than something on my screen when it’s possible.

    I’m not going to buy single issues (other than that one title) ever again if I can help it. They’re just a terrible value; four bucks for 22 pages of story? Seriously? And people wonder why kids are buying manga instead?

    Trackback from Anonymous
    Time: February 21, 2007, 2:38 pm

    Jeff Parker Discovers “Agents of Atlas” Online…

    Writer Jeff Parker recently discovered the entirety of his “Agents of Atlas” mini-series available online for download. How did he react? Surprisingly well….

    Comment from DrObviousSo
    Time: February 21, 2007, 3:09 pm

    “Working in the I.P. field makes one acutely aware the financial suffering caused by that sort of thing.”
    Vysion, I’d love to hear your side of this. All the accounts from the other comnenters has indicated that they are spending the same or more than they would otherwise. Do you feel that we are wrong? Non representative? Incorrect?

    Comment from Stephanie
    Time: February 21, 2007, 4:26 pm

    When I lived near a comic shop, I would scan through a comic on the shelf – if it was good, I would buy it. Now I live 4 hours away from the nearest comic shop, so I do the same online. My comics budget has certainly increased over the last 10 years, but this is mostly due to my income increasing! I would love to see more previews online: even just first few pages gives me a good idea whether or not I would like the comic.

    Comment from Doombot #444
    Time: February 21, 2007, 4:45 pm

    Jeff, to say that I download just a few comics would be the understatement of the year. I have quite a few gigs worth of material. I also buy 23-28 comics per month, which is more than I bought previous to having the ability to download comics. Downloading offers me the ability to preview pretty much every comic on the market to decide whether or not it’s worth my money. After reading the first ten issues of the latest volume of Firestorm, I immediately hit my comic store and added it to my pull list. That’s only one example.
    Downloading comics also allows people to view material that they may not be able to otherwise; there are tons of comics available for download via torrents that just aren’t published any more in any format.
    I’ve been opened up to a whole new world of comics that I wasn’t able to see on my local comic shop’s shelves. That can only be a good thing. I do mirror the thought that it might not be so good for the bigger companies to have people be able to download copies of their ultra-hyped super-event stories, be disappointed, and not buy the thing. But, in the end, that’s a plus for the consumer and perhaps a catalyst for the major comic companies to quit pulling the same old tricks.

    Comment from lpmiller
    Time: February 21, 2007, 5:22 pm

    first off, I actually prefer reading the torrents. You take a 20 inch wide screen monitor, put it on it’s side, and those pages are sexy! Plus, my 38 year old eyes…suck.

    Having said that, yeah, torrents got me back into buying comics in the first place, after quiting for 10 years. Torrents archive the history of comics much better than the companies do, because you don’t need to wait for the trade. Torrents allow a 15 year old kid to read the first 100 issues of Flashtastic Four and decide yeah, I could totally start buying this. Torrents help me out when once again, the kids get to the comic store before I do and all the copies of catwoman are gone. I can stay in the game. Keep up with the story.

    Yes, it’s piracy, and there will always be those going for getting something for nothing. Can’t be helped. But my experience tells me that the vast majority of downloaders buy the ones they like, always. And I think the retail numbers support that. Comic nerds will always want to own the issues. We are just like that.

    Personally, I think torrents have been another reason for the recent resurgence in collecting. And I think the comic companies need to start offering up year long collections on iTunes, as soon as they can. Because I downloaded music too, till I could buy it online.

    Comment from Anonymous
    Time: February 21, 2007, 7:27 pm

    I download everything, every week. It saves me money and keeps me from feeling like an idiot for spending my cash on a book that doesn’t deliver. But if I like something I’ll take the time to go buy a copy. CIVIL WARS can go screw, and so can BATMAN, but I went out of my way to purchase WALKING DEAD, THE SPIRIT, RUNAWAYS and, yes, AGENTS OF ATLAS. As an additional note, I didn’t buy comics for years until I started downloading. Then I quickly realized that there were titles out there I wanted to support that I never would have encountered if I hadn’t downloaded. Except for WALKING DEAD, every comic I wound up purchasing is one I downloaded first.

    The fact that Marvel and DC haven’t embraced a low-price iTunes-type store for downloads of comics should anger every creator. You’re all being deprived of a great stream of revenue because the big companies are worried about piracy which mostly exists because they’re not filling the demand that’s out there. I’d happily pay 60 cents to a dollar a download for new comics.

    Comment from Luke
    Time: February 21, 2007, 8:41 pm

    I’m actually on issue #5 of AoA that I am reading from downloading (read #s 1-4 in last week and a half). Is this wrong? Yeah, I guess it is. But I’ve heard so much good about the series and I didn’t want to wait for the trade or hunt down the individual issues so I thought I would sample it. I’ve really enjoyed it and will be purchasing the (hopeful) follow up series and the hardback (which I am going to give to my local library). I just “discovered” downloading via bittorrent a few weeks back and I am really enjoying it. I think of it as a tool — to sample comics I’m thinking about buying, get caught up on a series that I am adding to my pull box, and read comics that I have a casual interest in but would not read if I had to purchase (an example of this are the final 2 issues of Civil War). So far in 2 weeks of downloading, I have decided to start ordering Spawn at the start of its new direction (I’ve caught up on the last year of Hine’s run via downloading), caught up on Cable/Deadpool (I had been reading in trades and started ordering the individual issues as of #37 but I would have had to wait 6 more months for the trades to catch up to #37 — now I don’t), decided to support AoA in all ways possible for future publications, managed to get ahold of issues #2 & 3 of Hero Squared that I have tried for 4 months to get through Diamond at my LCS so now I can read #4 that I’ve purchased and will continue to purchase, caught up on Capatin America which I am resubscribing to as of #25, and found out that Ron Marz’s writing of Kyle Rayner is much better now than 10 years ago and I may order an Ion ongoing if there is one. I’ve just had a tremendous amount of fun so far with this but I realize that it’s very important to balance it and never get to a point where I am downloading something I enjoy instead of purchasing (if that makes any sense). How cool is it though that I can read JSA and not be “forced” into buying JLA during their upcoming crossover yet still get the whole story?

    Comment from Rob
    Time: February 22, 2007, 12:39 am

    Yep, I live in Japan with no easy access to comics and download a buncha ‘em. If I dig ‘em, the tpb’s for the series/writer/artist go on my Amazon wishlist. Most all are deleted, cause yeah, reading online isn’t as good as holding a book in my hands, though I have saved some really old stuff unavailable in trade to CD. And I’ve saved images from the torrent files to use as desktop wallpaper and the like…

    Comment from Parker
    Time: February 22, 2007, 1:15 am

    Thanks everybody, this is a great haul of thoughts. I’ll try to digest it all and burp it into something tomorrow!

    Comment from axio
    Time: February 22, 2007, 2:22 pm

    There is a fine line between being an ethical downloader and a demon downloader. An ethical downloader will get a few CBR/CBZ files, read up, then support the books he liked. A demon downloader will appear, download everything he/she can, and do nothing to support it when great books like NextWave start to die out because of sales.

    Yes, it is piracy. But it is piracy by the same people that are going out of their way to buy figurine busts, build hype for relatively unknown series that would otherwise die out, and spend the extra few dollars at their local store for the variant of their favorite issue. And ultimately, it drives up the demand for TPBs, single issues, etc.

    The main thing that comes back to bite the industry in the ass time and time again is the speculator market. Everyone took a big hit in the ‘90s when you had 2-5 different variant covers printed just to be sold at inflated prices because there was a false demand for it. The reality being that they were being picked up, sat on, and then sold at much higher prices – without anyone really even caring about the content inside it. eBay makes speculation all the more possible these days: someone scoops up all the variant covers on say… Wolverine Origins and sits on them, then slowly releases them out onto the market at an inflated price. It completely bastardizes why Marvel is releasing variant covers (for the fans, at least in theory), and only aids the person selling them. eBay has become one of the main reasons it is almost impossible to get a sketch or signature at a con from anyone these days. They’re afraid it is going to end up on eBay.

    Times have changed. The same system of demand being decided by comic book stories, distributors, etc doesn’t apply as much as it used to anymore. The average person has a computer with a broadband connection and probably doesn’t want to bother to use a torrent program, newsgroup, etc. So… I’m amazed that Marvel/DC haven’t embraced an iTunes model where people can download their favorite comics from their gargantuan collection at 99 cents a pop. http://www.pullboxonline.com/ was recently started and is doing just that, and you know what, it is great. I can read a random issue of a comic that was recently released, decide if I like it, then go out to my local store and ask for a subscription. It gives me the ability to specifically support the books I like from the creators I like.

    Pingback from » Blog Archive » The BitTorrent Debate
    Time: February 23, 2007, 6:01 am

    [...] to all of you who weighed in thoughtfully the other day when I asked how you use BitTorrent feeds for comics. You’ve created a nice body of arguments and feedback on the matter that can probably be [...]

    Comment from Dorian McCreary
    Time: February 28, 2007, 11:13 am

    Anyone who claims that downloading is OK (for any reason) is simply rationalizing. I don’t buy the argument that downloaders are merely previewing a comic and, if it’s up their standards, go out and buy it. A comic book can only be new and valuable the first time you read it… this is why book stores often have a “no returns” policy. If they allowed people to preview what they were buying, there would then be no need to pay any money at all. The book store would become a public library.

    Until you pay for it, the product isn’t yours, and it isn’t your place to decide if it’s worthy or not. Once you’ve purchased it, you can love it, hate it, boycott the company, subscribe to it, recommend it to everyone, swear you’ll never read it again… whatever you like. But the priviledge to make consumer decisions is only granted to consumers: ie, those paying money. You can rationalize it however you like, but stealing is still stealing. The idea that anyone who stole something can have a valid opinion on its quality is ridiculous. Imagine swiping a CD player from a dept. store and then writing Sony to tell them they weren’t up to your lofty standards. It’s ridiculous.

    There’s no such thing as an ethical theif, because it’s a contradiction of terms. It’s as oxymoronic as saying someone is a friendly bully or an intelligent idiot.

    As if the ethical implications aren’t enough, you’re depriving comic book creators of their lifeblood and livelihood. For shame.

    Comment from Wildwill
    Time: March 1, 2007, 1:20 pm

    After having dutifully purchased comics weekly for over 20 years, I had a child last year, and my wife and I decided that my comic buying habits had to cease. I can no longer afford to be a comic collector, and coupled with the over 6000 comics I have in my possession (read STORAGE) I simply have no more room either. Downloaded comics take up a FRACTION of the space of the real thing. Am I stealing? I suppose, but some of the stuff I’ve downloaded I have already purchased, I’m just downloading digital archives for easy retrieval.

    And for those who say reading a comic on a computer isn’t the same, it’s not. In my case, IT’S BETTER. I have a brand new MacBook, wide screen, with a beautiful display. The colors and artwork pop and are vibrant, especially when the comics are newer and printed on good paper. Older stuff doesn’t do as well, but still looks OK. Oh and did I mention, usually there’s NO ADS?

    If Marvel and DC would get their act together and actually produce quality digital versions of their books at affordable prices I would probably support them. BUT since they’ve had their proverbial heads up their arses forever now and are still stuck in the 20th century technology wise, I have no guilt whatsoever.

    BTW – I can archive approximately 200 comics on a single CD Rom (if not more). That’s a whole long box, for the space deprived, it’s a necessity these days.

    Pingback from Dan Slott on downloading comics | Comics Crew
    Time: March 30, 2007, 1:46 pm

    [...] Parker handled the whole thing without botching it… so purchase Agents of Atlas for [...]

    Comment from nickmaynard
    Time: April 2, 2007, 4:35 am

    i think that the majority of comic downloading is done by people who just can’t afford to buy as many comics as they would like to. now is such a wonderful time for comics, with so many great writers and artists. and sometimes that means there’s $200 dollars worth of comics that come out every month, that i wish i could own. maybe this is just an assumption, but i don’t think anyone who could easily afford a comic would download it instead of buying it. which implies that if downloading was impossible, that these people still wouldn’t (be able to) buy the comic. does that count as stealing then? it’s really a grey area to me, morally. in some ways, i think it helps people stay pumped up about comics. i mean, how much money would it have cost to buy all of civil war and its tie ins, on top of your regular comics? it’s impossible for most people. i really think for the majority of downloaders that it’s that simple. this week, 12 books come out that id like. times 4 is nearly 50 comics this month. plus collections? not saying it’s right, but i can’t blame people for downloading.

    Pingback from #comic-scans » Blog Archive » Under The Radar: Marvel’s Agents of Atlas
    Time: April 3, 2007, 3:49 pm

    [...] sales determine whether or not there will be a follow up to this great series and also a story on Jeff’s home page concerned me to feel free to read that and post comments as well. Don’t forget to check [...]

    Comment from Nemo
    Time: April 3, 2007, 4:59 pm

    That used to be the case. I didn’t really have the time to sit in the comics shop and read through new books to see which ones I would buy, so I would grab them online. When I was a teenager, I would spend hours in my comic shop of choice on Wednesdays reading some books I wasn’t sold on yet or had not heard of and buying those I liked. I was friends with the owner of the shop and all the employees and we would talk about…well, comics, whenever I stopped by. When I left the country some time afterwards, I stopped reading comics. In addition to saving up for my trip, American comics just weren’t available. When I came back, I tried to catch up with what I had missed, but the comics shop I frequented suddenly closed a few months later without a word of warning.

    At that point I wasn’t happy with where a lot of the books I used to read regularly had gone. Also, I was taken aback by the sudden closure of my comics shop. I found another, which wasn’t the same, but it still sold comics, so I patroned it; however, I had cut down on the volume of comics I bought drastically. This left me hungry for more titles. While reading through a one I never paid much attention to, an employee once told me curtly that the shop wasn’t a library, to which I responded by putting the comic back on the shelf, saying, “Okay. I guess I’ll never know whether or not I would have wanted to buy it then.” purchasing what I had in my hands then, and walking out. Comics are cyclical in nature, I’ve noticed. They exist to catch your attention, break your heart, then woo you back with a revamped creative team so the cycle can repeat.

    This is significant only because I went on another extended foreign trip shortly thereafter, and when I came back, the books I had loved just a couple years ago were very much on the break your heart phase of the cycle. As a result I virtually dropped comics altogether. There were a great many books out there, but I was just starting college, was short on time and money, and didn’t want to waste either adding a weekly out of the way trip to a comics shop where I would spend hours on my first few visits sifting through comics books, if they would let me, to see what was actually good. I certainly did want to cut down on that time by spending what little money I had on books I would end up not enjoying. On occasion, however, I would buy a graphic novel of a creator-owned series I enjoyed whose quality there was some certainty to.

    A couple years later one of my friends introduced me to digital comics. He had a veritable digital (and physical, but that isn’t the matter under discussion here) archive and gave me a few disks of back issues he thought I would like. I was hesitant at first, but my friend asked me, “How likely are you to go out and buy these comics if you don’t read them now? Honestly? I remember at Borders you didn’t do more than skim through the graphic novels section. You can’t honestly tell me they’ll loose any money from you on this.” Honestly, he was right. What they did gain, however, was some money from me in collected trades.

    I became a frequent downloader, after that. I checked up on some titles I had left behind years ago and found they had become even more atrocious. More importantly, however, I found a slew of different titles I did like, and though I couldn’t afford them all, I bought my favorites. I began using downloading the same way I used to use browsing the comic shop as a teenager. I would see a title that looked potentially interesting, grab it, and if I liked it pick it up on my next trip to the comic shop. Those I couldn’t afford I put back on the metaphorical shelf and told I would come back for them. Those I put back I usually bought in collected trades, which were cheaper in the long run. This got me into many titles I would otherwise not have given a second look. More importantly, it got me back into comics as a whole, and my behavior didn’t change much from what it had been years ago. I was even there to start picking up the series’ that had gotten me started on comics once they became readable again.

    Recently, however, I have fallen on what might be called, “hard times.” I’m well because I’m healthy, but I also happen to be rather poor and have very little space. I’m working hard to pay off my regular bills and student loans. Unfortunately, this leaves very little room for the comics I enjoy. This means I’m currently downloading all the titles I would normally go the the comic shop to buy. With a few exceptions, I don’t really feel bad for this. I feel bad each time Manhunter, for example, almost gets cancelled because I know that while my four dollars wouldn’t stave off cancellation, they would, at least in some fractional way, help. The thing is, I don’t intend to just have this period be a one year or so stretch where I didn’t pay for comics. As soon as I’m able to, which is in the foreseeable future, I plan to buy up back issues and collected trades on everything I’ve enjoyed. I still feel guilty about books like Manhunter, however, because I know if it does get canceled, my retroactive patronage won’t help. Even if I could afford the books, however, I currently would have nowhere to put them.

    I know some people will say none of my later purchases or current intentions matter. They would say whether I like it or not, I’m stealing. If I like comics so much I should wait until I have the money to buy them to enjoy them. If you want to call my actions theft, fine. I’m neither trying to exonerate myself nor do I have any illusions about the legality of what I’ve done. I would argue that the DMCA is broken, but that doesn’t really change things. In the end, regardless of anything else, what is preventing me from being sued into years of financial ruin is likely the good will of the comic book companies, which I greatly appreciate. It remains true that comics book companies have made hundreds of dollars off me over the years for what I could be sued for. It also remains true that if I had gone on another comic sabbatical, when the time comes where I can afford to look back and buy what I will have missed, there will invariably be books I will have otherwise wanted to buy will miss anyway. (Such as, perhaps, Agents of ATLAS, which was excellent, by the way. My apologies for not being able to buy it, but I promise to buy the trade as soon as I am able.)

    So there you have it. It is far more than you asked for, but I thought you might appreciate the full perspective of my story. I will also agree that if more companies offered discounted digital issues online, the world would be a better place…that’s or I’d be rather happy with them and patron the idea readily, but that really doesn’t sound very dramatic. Also, I still do prefer holding a physical comic, but reading them off a screen isn’t too bad.

    Comment from David G.
    Time: April 12, 2007, 4:20 pm

    Jeff,

    First, thank you for the open-mindedness of your query. I personally haven’t tried your work – but after reading the comments in this blog, I’ll be downloading Agents of Atlas tonight – and trust me, that’s not a bad thing!

    I’ve collected comics for 25 of my 29 years. My collection is at 31 longboxes, enough misc boxes to fill another 5 longboxes, and include a LOT of individual issues as well as trade paperbacks, including the newer black-and-white newsprint trades (Marvel Essentials, and DC’s counterparts).

    To say that I’m a loyal collector is an understatement… but for me, digital comics is the future – though I still prefer the actual issues in my hands. Like many others, I use digital comics to read titles I dont like enough to buy, to preview books, and to keep abreast of what’s happening (because spoilers suck) – the closest comic shop to me is a 2 hour drive one-way, and I can’t make that trip as often as I’d like. Also, like some other people, I’ve found entire series that are well-established for the first time. Transmetropolitan, the new Garth Ennis Punisher series, Y the Last Man, Fables, Girls, Red Sonja, Dark Horse Conan… So far, I’ve purchased the entire runs of Punisher, Red Sonja, Dark Horse’s Conan, and Y the Last Man (and continue to buy the new issues as they come out). I’ve tracked down some back issues of Girls, and am on the lookout for the other series as money permits. I also was intrigued enough by 52 in digital format that I’ve purchased all of those issues as well. All in all, I spend probably $100 a month on comics – to me, that’s a lot of money to dedicate for what? 25 books a month that take me maybe 5 minutes apiece to read? It’s an expensive hobby… especially with the money-swallowing habit of the year-long, universe-spanning crossovers. Like baseball cards, collecting comics isn’t for kids anymore – who can afford it!?

    I have downloaded and will continue to download comics online. In many cases, I’ve then went out and bought the actual issues, and I will continue to do so. I’ve purchased reasonably-priced official digital releases as well, even though they come in low-res, shoddy PDF format – I love the industry, and I want to continue to support it… I just wish it would support me as well – cheaper comics, allowing me to buy more, maybe even going back to cheaper newsprint rather than the slicks they’ve used for years now, lowering the price per issue accordingly. For the Marvel digital collections – wake up! The technology you’re using sucks, and the price you’re charging isn’t worth it. Encrypt an archive of JPGs, create a reader similar to CDisplay to decrypt and display the images, and MSRP the collections at $30, $20 for those comics 250 issues or less – I guarantee you’ll sell a lot more at those price points than you will at the $59.95 MSRP you have now.

    Jeff.. again, thank you for your open-mindedness. If Agents of Atlas is everything the fans in this blog say it is, Amazon will have my order before the month is out.

    Take care.