I think “file sharing” comics fascinates me as much as it does because, fundamentally, I am a lazy sack of wet bones.
For example: in my downtime, such as it is, I work on this comic book web site many of you may be familiar with. More often than not, it’s one of my favorite things to do in a given day. I particularly enjoy contributing little one-off bon mots for their recurring features “Top 5,” “Best of the Week in Panels,” and “Great Moments in Comics History”… or I would, if not for the fact that contributing to those features more frequently would involve the use of my scanner. The scanner is in no way temperamental or difficult to use, but the prospect of messing with it drops me whining to the floor like it’s kryptonite-powered.
“Ha! Sara Pichelli apparently thinks every day is New Year’s Eve in New York City. I need to put this hilarious Ultimate Spider-Man panel in the Best of the Week… uggghhhgod, the scanner and the settings and the cropping and shlepping all the way upstairs and what’s on TV and where are the Fritos and zzzZZZzzz.”
I’ve done forty-five-minute Google Image searches for pictures that were sitting on my coffee table, rather than wrangle with that infernal contraption. That is lazy.
So you can only imagine how ill-equipped I am to wrap my skull around the knowledge that there are people in this world who buy dozens of comics, bring them home, and scan every single page of every single comic every single week.
They tweak and massage the pages to optimize how they look on the screen. (I can tell because when I try to scan panels, my first few attempts look like newspapers from the forties that got left in a flooded basement.) When there are double-page spreads, they edit the images so that you could never tell there was once a fold or a staple. Sometimes, they do versions with and without the ads in case, I don’t know, someone doesn’t want to pay for the comic but feels compelled to support the sponsors.
They send all of this effort into the ether for no pay whatsoever. Hell, they pay to do it. They do all of this for/to people they have never met in their lives. As far as I can tell after a highly unscientific survey of the web, they do it all in one night, like Santa.
They do this over and over. And over. And over and over. And over and, additionally, over. Another Wednesday is always just over the horizon.
I think online communities even form around these activities. If I understand correctly, scanners form scanner gangs. The mind reels. Are there rivalries? Do they have snappy West Side Story song-fights? May I pretend that they do, and write lyrics for them?
We have talked many, many times about “piracy” or “sharing” or whatever you’d like to call it, but this is the part we never linger on. Just take a moment to really ponder it. There cannot be downloading without uploading. People are birthing these files, every single week.
These men and women (but really– come on– men) completely fascinate me. Many heads of state are less interesting to me than members of the file sharing community. What are their dreams? What drives them? What kind of rent are they paying? I want to know everything about them. I am not kidding. Just maybe exaggerating a little.
I need to get one of them to out himself and open up to me.
So, this is a serious plea: if you regularly upload comics or are a member of the file sharing community, please let me interview you. I beg you. This has been driving me nuts. I will not use your name, your graffiti tag handle, or the name of your scanning guild. I do not want to cause you grief. I just want to talk to someone On The Inside.
I made this plea on Twitter once, but the only responses I got were along the lines of “I see through your cunning trap, narc.” You’ve got me all wrong. I don’t want to be snarky or do some “gotcha” thing. I’m not Bill O’Reilly. I have heard a million arguments on this topic (well, really three and a half arguments 300,000 times each) but yours is the one side I have never seen represented and the only one that really interests me. I mean, I know why someone would download a $4 comic for free. I can puzzle out that little riddle if I try really hard. You’re the enigma in all of this.
What happened that made you decide to start?
How long does it take?
Do you do it every week?
Do you and your scan clan divide it all up according to some kind of schedule?
How do you respond to critics of what you’re doing?
How do DC’s and other companies’ recent day-and-date digital offerings affect your plans moving forward?
No, seriously, why do you do it?
I know you’re out there. Please consider getting in touch with me. Set up a fake Gmail account or something if you’re afraid to give me your real e-mail address. You’ll make me the happiest boy in the world, or at least on this site. I look forward to posting our conversation on the internet. I’m afraid I have nothing to offer you in return, of course, but I trust you will have no problem doing it for free.
Jim Mroczkowski has a love of learning. And Twitter.