Paper, PDFs and Pirates

Before I begin, I just wanted to apologize for not having an article last week — I got some kind of stomach flu/alien infestation and was rendered basically useless for about 48 hours. I’m good now and convinced them not to invade.

I was at an audition late last week, and, as happens from time to time, I bumped into a friend from “real life” who was also auditioning for the same role. My buddy has been a comic book collector for years and years, so it’s always fun to catch up with him on what he’s been reading and what he thinks of current books and stories. Before I could start Rant 15B about Secret Invasion, he told me, “I’ve got some news for you — I stopped buying comics!” Laughing at my stunned expression, he added, “But I am reading more than ever! I’ve found a few websites…”

He then proceeded to tell me about these websites and discussion boards where digital versions of comic books could be found, there’s even some board where each Wednesday, all of the big books of the week could be found in digital form, absolutely free. My friend downloads these files, then connects his computer to a big screen TV, cracks a beer and reads the comics. When he’s ready to pass out, he takes the laptop to bed, opens the file, turns the computer on its side, and wham! — he’s reading comics in bed. He has fully caught up on Secret Invasion (which he admitted he probably would never had read if had to pay), he’s all set with his DC books, he’s reading stuff he’s always wanted to read but never could find… and he doesn’t feel badly at all. In fact, if anything, he feels vindicated: “I have, like, 25 long boxes. I’ve given the comic book industry literally thousands and thousands of dollars over the past decade — I’ve paid my dues, you know?” Then, his name was called, and he went in to audition.

I just sat there for a second, taking in what I had heard. I was taken aback, really — but I could see his point, I could see why he was so happy; he’s had a long year; he’s looking for a job, he just got married, he wants to have a family… he just doesn’t have the money to spend on comics anymore. He’s not interested in collecting, he just wants to read comics.

Let’s take a step back. We’re all aware that over the past decade, we have seen the world completely turn upside down when it comes to how we consume media. Like, the fact that I can even write that sentence (who said “consume media” in the 80s?) shows where we’re at. It was all so neat and clean — you’d buy a book, a record, a CD, an audio cassette, a videotape, a DVD, you’d put it in, you’d press play — and that was it. Media went into player, content went into our eyes and ears, end of story. The the physical media, and the hardware needed to “decode” the media, defined the experience.

Same thing today — we just have better and more transportable hardware. Interestingly, the more mobile we’ve become, the more we expect our media to be able to follow us around, and, oddly, the less likely we seem to be to want to pay for that convenience.

Digital version of Iron Man at

Media takes up space. I used to do a lot of DJ’ing with vinyl and I still have a bunch of records in various places around my apartment. And CDs — I just recently swallowed whatever resistance was left in my stomach and put most of my CDs (the ones not in cool packaging) into binders. I hated doing it, but most of my music is on my hard drive anyway, so it really made sense. Same thing with movies; unless there was special packaging, I put the movies in a binder as well. (This is more convenient, but I admit, I have pretty much forgotten about the movies in the binder — I never remember to look inside of it! I am just so used to scanning the shelves for what I own, I just need to re-train myself.) Of course, I am somewhat of a dinosaur — many of my friends are digitizing their movies as well as their music, but I used to work with a lot of hard drives and, well, I just don’t trust them (I just lost a 500GB Western Digital backup drive — it just died and I lost everything a few weeks ago). But one thing is for sure — I am saving a lot of space now that I have consolidated a significant percentage of my CDs and DVDs into three binders.

But with comics… that’s not really an option. Yes, there was some mention of those services that bind your comics into (rather cool looking) books, and while that saves some space, it’s nothing compared to the actual closet you’d get back if you could make your comic book collection magically compress itself into digital files on your computer! You can see why, on the face of it, the digital comics thing is so intriguing — comics that take up no physical space! No degradation! No bags, no boards… just… comics! And now, it sounds like it’s even easier to get the very latest comics, the day they come out, for free than it’s less tempting and more like a no-brainer! Why wouldn’t you download them?

We’ve talked about digital comics before, and I, like many out there, prefer the look and feel of holding an actual book. I like turning the pages (though I get annoyed when I turn the page during a particular intense sequence to get a two page ad; to this day I have never read one of those Honda Element ads, though, I admit — I remember it was an ad for the Honda Element!) and I like being able to take my stack with me. I have a relationship with the book form that I’ve had since I was a kid, people come by and talk to me about comics, so it’s kind of social — I like it, it works for me.

But with every passing year, what I “like” becomes less relevant. The next generation of comic fans are going to be more susceptible to the digital comic and, eventually, digital comics will probably just be the reality. I bet you’ll be able to have broadcast channels for comics, perhaps — a Marvel comics channel on your TV (which will be basically an Internet station anyway), where you can read comics whenever you want. As we’ve seen, once a medium goes fully digital, then all kinds of doors open (and close) — the ways of getting the media just keep growing in number. But, remember what happened to music! Once it went digital, as more people got their music digitally, more people found ways to get the same music for free.

Don’t steal, Scurvy Dogs!

Making a troubling situation worse, it sounds like comics are about to get more expensive — because of the paper. I talked to my comic book shop retailer and he told me that comics were going to go up in price (perhaps everything going to $3.99) because the paper costs were rising. I guess the companies have been able to absorb the costs for the past eight months or so, but it’s finally gotten to the point where the consumer is actually going to be effected. $3.99 as the standard price?? Then he continued, explaining that I might have also noticed that we are seeing more European artists and European imports (X-Men and Spider-Man and others) on the shelves — yup, apparently, it’s cheaper to use these guys, to outsource the work, than to continue to pay the American talent. The rantings of my comic book store owner? Maybe — but we’ve all noticed the trend. The point is, we’re already seeing costs being cut–if comic piracy approaches music piracy, the results could be disastrous for the industry.

Things are changing and they are changing fast. What to do? What’s going to happen?

As much as I hate to admit it, I think we are eventually going to see the death of the standard comic, or that the cost of the floppy will make the purchase more of premium (like vinyl versions of CDs) and the digital version of that book being more heavily promoted as the way to follow comics month to month. You’ll have digital single issues but still have trade collections that come out every few months.

As comics go more digital, we’ll see more specific digital delivery mechanisms. Plugging your laptop into your TV to look at PDFs is practically barbaric compared to how you’ll be able to subscribe to comics via Tivo, XBox or AppleTV. You’ll have music scores that you can buy to go with your comics. Subscribers will get other content, like interviews with the creators or basic animated versions of the books. You’ll see entire collections continue to be pumped out on discs, not just for use on computers but for Blu-ray players as well (that higher resolution is going to make reading on your TV a lot easier — but plasma owners like me are going to be freaking out about burn-in, I can tell you (yes, it still happens, my TV’s all whacked out, thanks to the debates and Election Day shows). And these are just ideas that I am making up on a Tuesday night, you know? And, of course, we’ll have the struggle that we are seeing with the music and movies scene, except, I think, it’s going to impact the comic book industry much more severely than the music or movie industries.

Animated trailer for Young Liars — another new trend in comics

Look, to those of you who are downloading books for free now, seriously… seriously — please stop. I get it, I really do, but I think you are doing more harm than you realize. The more you talk about all the money you are saving by downloading books from message boards, the more you forward comic book files, the less money you spend at the local comic book shop… well, you are not only going to make everything more expensive for your fellow fans, but you are shafting the creators as well.

A few months ago, I got an email from a reader asking how we can show artists and creators how much we appreciate their work. The very best way to do that is to continue to support them by buying their books. It’s just… I mean… it’s just bad, you know? If a publisher finds that their major books are not selling well due to piracy, then what does portend for more innovative work, for their alternative presses, where some of the best stories are being told? Like, if a ton of people are stealing issues of Secret Invasion and its many tie-ins to the point that it means I can’t read Criminal? There’s more being lost than just a few bucks, people.

There has never been a better time to be in comics. I would argue that the stories and the art are better than ever and the physical quality of comics is at its highest point. However, we could be in the waning days of this new golden age unless we, as a community, actively discourage piracy. Perhaps it is easier, in a way, to shrug and deal with music and movie piracy — we think of it as hurting these massive corporations, whatever — but with comics (and maybe I am just being idealistic), whenever people download an issue without paying for it, it directly impacts the creators of that work (not that I condone music or movie piracy — it screws people, too, it’s just more pervasive right now, so we’re more numb to it).

Our creators can’t go on massive concert tours to sell shirts and make up for money lost to record labels and pirates. Maybe, eventually, creators might get residuals if they start distributing comics digitally, but that’s a long ways off and I don’t think the publishers are going to be that motivated to share those profits (look at the ongoing battle regarding online residuals between SAG and AMPTP). Not every creator can (or wants to) make movie or TV versions of their stories. For many creators, the money they get from selling comics is the money they get that pays their mortgage and feeds their kids. If you can’t afford comics, then read them at a friend’s house, pay for the digital version, or wait until it comes into the trade and get your library to order it.

I don’t mean to be alarmist (or, actually, maybe I do), but I honestly I think if we, as consumers, retailers, and creators don’t address comic book piracy head-on right now, the current renaissance that are enjoying now will come to quick, severe and painful end.


Mike Romo is an actor in LA and hopes that no one is stealing that episode of That 70’s Show where he waited in line at the DMV behind Seth Green.You can email him at and, if you really want, follow him on Twitter.



  1. Well put, Mike.  I think it behooves publishers to figure out a way to offer a viable (and legal) way for readers to access comics online. has the right idea, getting out in front of the curve.  I like my paper issues as much as the next guy, but I would definitely pay a monthly fee to read all the titles I might not necessarily want to collect.  I don’t like the idea of having to log into 5 or more publishers’ sites to do this, though…maybe some sort of digital Discount Comic Book Service?

  2. Nice article. I wholeheartedly agree that stealing these files isn’t the answer. One quibble: You say that we want more mobile media to fit our lifestyles but we are increasingly unwilling to pay for it. I would say for myself personally that I resent having to pay for it again and again, in different formats. Also once I’ve paid for it, I feel I should have some freedom to do what I want with it (except for illegally sharing it), such as putting it onto my laptop, ipod, PS3, digital picture frame, holographic projection device, yadda, yadda… But there are still alot of prohibitions even for the digital files I’ve paid for. Marvel subscriptions doesn’t give you the files at all. That’s not really what I’m looking for. Recently, Blu-Ray movies have started coming packaged with a digital version for use on mobile devices. I’m not sure if these files have restrictions of any sort or not, but it’s a step in the right direction. i don’t know if there’s much point in co-packaging a paper and digital comic, but it would be an interesting experiment.

  3. Marvel & DC just need to jump to the end game.  Call Apple and get on iTunes.  Call Amazon and get on the Kindle, and get on the PS3 and Xbox marketketplace.  Consumers will not be tied to website or advertising models.  People who steal will steal so don’t mess with DRM.  Readers will still buy trades if they like there efloppies.  At this point the industry is fighting their consumers.  I would never miss an issue if it was always dropped in my queue/mailbox every Wed. 

  4. Digital distribution of comics will not work until we have an affordable and efficient reader.  Kindle’s okay, but it’s defenitely not the next iPod. 

  5. @PudgyNinja – I think that’s less to do with the device and more to do with the fact that less people read than listen to music.

  6. I’m surprised to see no flame wars have started here yet. I wholeheartedly agree with everything Mike said.

    I do have a confession though: A few months ago when I moved and decided to jump onto issues I went and downloaded a couple of issues of a lot of books that were already mid-arc (If Batman was on 2 of 6 of something, I would download 10. It kind of ate me up inside, though, and I haven’t really done it since and don’t plan to. 

  7. That’s supposed to say "1)" not "10". I certainly wasn’t that crazy.

  8. There is a growing group of comic readers who are increasingly comfortable with reading comics in digital format. By this I mean there are those of us out there who have little interest in ‘owning’ the vast majority of comics we read, and are quite comfortable to stare at a screen.

    I for one did not grow up reading comics. In college I was told that I had to read Gaiman’s Sandman. Did they have the trades? Nope just some pirated files. I have no idea how many people started reading comics through digital means, but among the people I knew in college there were a significant number.

    I do not mean to justify piracy by claiming it brings new readers (in my experience people who start digital stay digital). Rather there is a whole group of comic readers who have only ever read their comics digitally.

    I think in time legal digital distribution must happen. I would happily pay to read legal comics online. Since many readers are already waiting to buy the trades, digital distribution need not be released the same day as the ‘real’ comic. I think a dual distribution system is viable, at least in the short term. Comic readers who have always gone to the local comic store on Weds will continue going, but other people are happy to read and not own. I feel that the solution to piracy is not to fight it per-se, but rather to develop creative ways to channel pirates into legitimate channels. People will follow the path of least resistance. If Marvel’s digital distribution were more convenient than piracy I think many people would switch.

    Another issue in piracy not mentioned yet is obscure older issues. Sure almost everything gets a trade now, but what about older comics. But even if someone is able to track down the original issues, at this point none of the people who worked on the book get any money from it. Is digital distribution a viable way for publishers to get money from long out of print comics?

    Any info on how well is doing?

  9. One cool thing about reading comics digitally (and by this I do NOT mean illegally) is that in the words of James Kolchacka, "They fuckin glow!"

  10. @Conor – Perhaps, but the penetration of the iPod or other digital music device amopngst people who consider themselves music fans is pretty high.  I don’t have figures, but I’d guess somewhere around 30%, conservatively.  The penetration of e-books amongst people who consider themselves avid readers is much, much lower.  I’m comfortable saying that it’s definitely single digits.

     This is, of course, purely anecdotal, so take it with a grain of salt, but in tech-savvy San Francisco, I’d say that about 50-75% of people I know have an MP3 player.  Nobody has an e-book.  To what degree that’s reflected in the greater population, I have no idea, but I really think we’ve got a couple more generations before the tech gets the market penetration needed to make digital distribution a true alternative to hard copies.

  11. Please note, I mean generations of hardware, not people.

  12. This article comes out at a perfect time, for me.  My wife and I are expecting our second child in February, and with that comes a new lack of money.  So we are in the process of going through our budget to see where we can save money, and the two "luxury" items I am hanging onto are Gamefly (which prevents me from buying games, so saves money) and comic books.  She accepts the $20/week I spend buying them because she knows that I enjoy them.  The thing that always sits in the back of my mind is that I could very easily save the money and pirate all the books I currently read, and only buy trades of things I want for posterity (Invincible and Walking Dead being great examples).

    The moral problem I have is with the stealing part.  When I was 18, downloading every song I could get my hands on was cool, and I thought nothing of it.  At 28, I am past that, and much like Mike said, I understand that paying for the stuff is showing my support for the writer’s and artists I enjoy.  Here is the major problem I am starting to have, though.  For (soon to be) $3.99, I am not getting my money’s worth.  Yes, I love the stories, but when I am getting less than the "standard" 22 pages for a book, and said book is also littered with ads, I don’t want to deal with it.  Also, when I can buy a trade now, in what equates to a discount off the face value price of the individual issues, I do not see the need to buy the single issue.

    Music is no longer pirated in my house, simply because iTunes is easy to use, and slightly cheaper than a hardcopy.  We get the $60 gift card pack at Costco for $55, and we can buy any music, rent/buy any movie, and I can buy any app for my iPod Touch.  It really became a no-brainer with my Wife and I.  We recognize the luxury item as something we do not always buy, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, but we both enjoy having the ability to download music without having to worry about throwing more things on our credit card.  It also prevents us (well mostly me) from going crazy on iTunes.

    If Marvel or DC just offered something that straight forward, I would be doing cartwheels.  I don’t want flash players or 6 months delays.  I want a cross platform and cross company format that I can throw on my pc, laptop, or random media device and read with ease.  Yes, I would be sad that it would probably mean the death of my favorite local comic shop, but I will have to deal with that.

    I was actually thinking of this exact topic this morning while reading my Ultimates 2 HC.  A full color e-reader is the first thing that is really needed for the comic companies to feel it being viable.  I’ve heard great things about the kindle, but it still needs to drop in price before I think of buying one.  But e-reader or not, for $2 an issue, I would be all about digitally subscribing to the comics I love and receiving a digital copy that I can store locally and read wherever and whenever I want.

    Somebody in the comments already mentioned that movie companies have been forced into putting digital downloads onto DVDs and Blu-Rays.  The last time I actually looked at a CD, they had all kinds of whacky extras included.  Books put up little fight and are embracing digital.  Comics should do the same.  Movie and Music execs cried the wrong-doings of the music and movie pirates, instead of embracing the digital revolution.  You hear less complaining now, because they know that the iTunes and Amazon’s of the world are making more than enough money for them, and if people who want buy the product (digital or hardcopy) will.  The pirates were never going to buy to begin with.

  13. @Esophagus – We all do stuff that we know is wrong because we value what we receive from that action.  i don’t think anybody can say that’s not true.  What annoys me are the people who do something wrong but then don’t acknowledge that it’s wrong.  Like the guy in the article above, who acts like he’s entitlted to IP theft because he’s purchased comics in the past – that logic just doesn’t fly with me.  If you’re going to pirate something, fine, go ahead.  But don’t act like you’re entitled to it or that you’re doing the owner’s a favor.  You wanted it, so you took it.

  14. I agree that the device is too pricey at this point to penetrate the book market and I also think that people who read books are generally more tied to the paper than music listeners were to teh physical copies of music.  I just dont’ think that an eReader will take off like the iPod because the audiences are so different.  We’ll see.  I hope I’m proven wrong.

  15. @conor – My wife is a great example of a traditional book reader.  She would buy 5-6 books at a time and fly through them on her commute to and from work.  Last winter I shower her the kindle and the Sony e-reader and she said exactly what you said, in that she enjoyed reading the actual paper.  Coupled with instead of buying books she started going to the library.  On the flip side she did not understand the need for an iPod (or any other mp3 player).  She felt one cd at a time was fine.  Then I bought her an iPod 3 years ago and she never looked back.  I think the time for the e-reader is coming, it just need to drop in price and be more accessible to the traditional book reader.

  16. @Conor – I think it will eventually.  What I’m trying to say is that the reader and digital distribution go hand in hand.  You can’t have one without the other.  Right now, we certainly have the infrastructure and technology to do good digital distribution.  But until reader tech and penetration catch up, I just don’t think that any digital distribution model can be truly successful.

  17. I just read Proof 1 and 2 on my iPod Touch.  I thought the reading experience was great.  I really hope that more books are offered this way.  I’ve got 3 or 4 long boxed full of books, and while I want my kids to have access to them in the future, they are not for collecting for me, rather for reading.


    If I can get my weekly fix in a digital format I’d be happy.

  18. Yeah, if anyone has an iPhone or an iPhone Touch, check out iVerse Media, they have a bunch of comics on there.  PROOF #1 is free.  It’s pretty cool.

  19. It’s gotta be something sexy that makes you WANT to look at it. The ipod (or, once, the walkman) became an instant cultural landmark, It wasn’t the first mp3 player on the market, but it was the most fun to use.
  20. ah! Why am I shouting?!?

  21. people, go watch a torrent site and see the reality… last ULTIMATES has been downloaded more than 3000 times. Last ULTIMATUM over 4300 time. In a week. That’s in the entire world. Should i wait 6 to 9 months to read a bad translation of a book i don’t even care about? or should i just be a good boy and say "i don’t do that"? the way i see it, if i were living near a place where i could find my fav books, i’ll probably buy them all (3 0r 4 a week), but i live in CHILE, where there are no comic book stores near my place and everything that gets here sucks, ’cause of the bad translations. Buying a trade’s not an option when the only books you read are weekly, no limited series and stuff. Fire at will.

  22. Good article Mike!

    It’s a weird time with this kind of stuff.  I deal with it all the time with the music thing…People justify getting anything digital they want because they once bought something like it years ago…It’s bizzare having a conversation with people about this.  I’ve litterally had people tell me that they don’t feel they should have to buy anything that is available in digital form and then, in the next breath, tell me that if they produced something they would expect people to buy it!?!! 

    I could go on and on with a tirade about ‘these punk kids and their sense of entitlment’ but it really comes down to the reality that everyone has to find ways to create something that has with a value beyond it’s form because everyone, in the end, votes with their pocket book…


    …See NIN and RadioHead…

  23. @Robertorex If it’s a book you don’t even care about, you shouldn’t bother with it at all. I do see how living in Chile makes for a tough situation, though.

  24. In the end, I think that piracy isn’t the answer. However, I believe that publishers are going to need to adapt to the growing needs and wants of consumers, just as the music and film industries have. I hope within the next 5 years we’ll have every comic book in digital form, straight from the publishers at a lower-than-retail price. I guess we’ll see, though

    Great article.

  25. Pirates deserve the scurvy that they get.  Real talk.

  26. Good article. Good points, all.

    I have a pretty good amount of digital comics. Most are legitimate, i.e. the complete ASM, FF, Avengers, X-Men, and FF on DVD. Those came to about $200 on Amazon and I ended up with 45 years of the Marvel heavy hitters. That deal can not be beat. If DC came along and did that I’d spring for the trinity books, even though I don’t particually care for them, if only just to say "Man, I’ve got the complete Bat family. I also have the CrossGen comics on DVD – not as good an experience, but I’ve got them.

    But I’ve also got a pretty significant selection of pirated books. Many are just ones I’ve downloaded so I can have easy to read, convenient copies of books I own: The Perez era New Teen Titans for example. Some are obscurites that I can’t find/pay for, like Miracleman or the school shooting Hellblazer. And sometimes I’ll download something I’m going to buy in trade but can’t wait 6-9 months for. Does it justify my position if I’m gonna pay for it eventually, just not now? Probably not.

    I will say this, though. I’m buying much more these days than I used to, and at least some of it is due to the downloads. My LCS doesn’t carry many independent books onthe rack – he just can’t justify the expense for the limited upside – but he’ll order anything anyone wants. I often hear about smaller books in the comics blog-pod-osphere but I’m hesitant to have him order it without getting a chance to see it first. I’ll download it, take a look, and if it’s something I want I drop him an email and whammo, next week it’s in my box beside Ultimate Spider-man. If I don’t like it i delete it. It’s gone. My current favorite book – Empowered – started out this way. A dozen pages into the pirated copy and I was hooked. Now I’m a frickken evangelist for the book. Oh, and my weekly pull list is up to 12 books a week on average, plus trades.

    Oh, and I don’t review comics I don’t buy. That’s just sleazy. 

    Yes, it’s a rationalization, but there it is.

  27. I think comics will have to "evolve or die"

    I mean, prices are really expensive

    I download rare, out of print stuff like elaktra assassin or stray toasters(which I finally bought for 5 bucks, what a deal) downloading cuts off the weak books. People will download throwaway books like secret invasion and buy criminal.

    Like with music, I downoad anything and everthing but if I see it I will buy it. I only buy the good stuff though, which will apply to comics. Sure, some people will only download. but,as a generalization, comic readers tend to love their stuff and keep it forever. They tend to keep it in physical form though which means they will buy the paper copy.

  28. Funily enough, on the way home from the comic store, there was a girl next to me wiith a Sony eReader.  I chuckled.

  29. You think you guys have it bad? I’m in Australia and the cover price, apart from being in a different currency, is just the base price.  There’s importing fees on top of that.  A $3.99 book for me is $7.50AUD.  This week (which happens to be a bad ASS week for me) is going to cost me about $60AUD.  Not to mention bags ($12.50) and boards ($30).

     Now that the regular price is $3.99, I’m definitely going to have to drop most of my books, and probably won’t branch out into new titles or minis like I do now.

    Yes, I have been known to download books, but only after my budget is exhausted on the stuff I want.  I really don’t feel guilty since I wouldn’t pay for it anyway, and I’ve started buying a TON of stuff that I never would have, just because I read an issue that I downloaded.  I’ve even bought a few issues even though I read them in a scan, just because they were so good. 

  30. Isn’t this really simple?  Stealing is bad.  Don’t do it.

    Stealing only becomes an issue when cowards can do it without fear of getting caught.  If you really have the need to steal books, at least have the guts to go to the store and swipe them off the shelf. 

    Then again, stealing is bad.  Just don’t do it.  It really is that simple.  I understand that not everything in life is black and white.  But in this case, it is.  How hard is it to just do the right thing?  Don’t steal!

  31. As long as I have a choice I will always buy a physical comic over a digital one. I just don’t want to read a book on a screen, I want reading to be a tangible experience.

    When the price goes up, yes I may have to drop a couple of titles, or switch to trades on more titles, but if I can buy a book I will.

    I don’t mean to sound high and mighty, or moralistic, I literally cannot read a comic off a screen without getting the worst headache. I don’t know why, I just do.

  32. i spend hundred of dollars a month on my comics, but i also take out literally dozens of graphic novels from my library. if i suddenly found myself with a tighter budget, i would just take out more books and buy less.


    now what i’m getting at is that it’s not much of difference is it? except for the moral question of course. 


    i think people who download comics wouldn’t be buying them anyway. or spend what they can and download somewhat. 


    i think the collector’s mentality will prevail and people will always want their books in hand. i think what maybe eventually happen is more books in collector’s formats like hardcovers and trades. 

  33. @areml – There is a ton of difference between getting books from a library and downloading them illegally.

  34. That difference being that you purchased that book that the library has with your taxes. maybe it’s .0001 of your tax dollar, but it’s still been paid for.

    The library example is closer to loaning a stack of trades to a friend or something like that.



  35. Confession of a Comic Pirate

    You can throw rocks at me when I’m done. I love .cbr and .cbz files of comics. I discovered them a year or two ago by chance. I’m a casual comic reader who probably only reads 5 or less a month. Once, I discovered the digital format and the viewers, I fell in love. I completely prefere them to paper. They seem to glow on the laptop screen and also seem much larger. Much as I don’t feel bad about downloading TV shows to watch on my Laptop since I pay for cable, I don’t feel too bad about the comics. The problem with the comics is I generally dont buy them until afterwards… only doing so when I get around to it. I really wish they could make the digital format a viable business option. I would have no problem paying for them directly, Since I read Star Wars Legacy and Knight of the old Republic, those are easy to keep up on buying regularly. But, Im confessing here, I have yet to pay for Sleeper (all issues). Honestly, Its just to easy to get what you want once you know how. I can’t resist. Alex Ross’s Justice looked incredible on my laptop. I studied each page more then I ever would have on paper. 

     End Confession

  36. The only comic I’ve ever torrented was the entire Deadspace series. I had just bought the game and wanted the backstory, but couldn’t find the issues at my local retailer. So I torrented the files, saw them in their full, beautiful, well-lit glory on my laptop, then pre-ordered the Hardcover through DCBS.

    Does that even count as piracy?

  37. if you live in the states, you don’t have a valid excuse (not that anyone has) to download the books that you could so easily buy in one of the four gazillion stores near you. You can´t blame it on money, nobody reads 10 books a week. I do feel bad for doin it, but as i said before, have no choice. Even if i suscribe, i would pay two times what you pay for a book just to get the damn thing to cross the pacific ocean. I can’t quit Uncanny! what would i do without The Boys and 100 Bullets? lol  😉

  38. I’ve downloaded an occasional comic book or two (usually titles I would NEVER pay money for), and I can see why so many people have stopped buying, and just do nothing but download all day.  Hell, my friends do it, mainly because their source of income isn’t all that great.


    However, nothing beats holding the actual thing in your hand.  I can’t proudly display a variant cover (Green Lantern #9 is the one I brag about most often) of a .cbr file, but I can with the physical copy.

  39. I’m a college student. I throw all the money I possibly can into the comic industry. What i can afford to buy is about an average of eight books a week and a couple trades a month. When I can’t afford to buy anymore I download comics via torrents. That being said, just because I read a pirated digital copy doesn’t mean I don’t then buy a paper copy later. In fact, I originally read all of Y: The Last Man in pirated digital format but I loved it so much that I used some of my savings and bought all the trades. Internet piracy is such a grey area and I really haven’t heard a solid case to get me to stop downloading when I am supporting the industry as much as I can.

    And one more thing. Comics in the .cbz or .cbr format are so damn beautiful. If people  would sell their comics like that I would buy all digital comics. What keeps me from buying digital comics as they are now is that all of the ones I have seen use some crappy interface or reading method.

  40. Man, there are some hardcore rationalizers in these comments.  I applaud you all!

  41. Great Article Mike.  I’ll be honest I downloaded comics once.  I flipped through about one issue and hated scrolling and navigating through the comic so much I deleted it.  I find it funny that this was posted since this same scenario happened to a buddy of mine recently.


  42. It looks like I owe Brubaker $20. I’ll just hand it to him at the next comicon. 😉

  43. It’s saddening that this industry will have to go digital at some point. I just love paper. 

  44. It’s really too bad. I love love love digital comics; it’s the only way I want to be reading them five years from now. The DVDs Marvel was putting out before they unveiled their online initiative were like a gift from the gods. I’m tired of having to build additions onto my house to store friggin’ magazines. Every time I look over at my desk and see yet another accumulated pile of issues I have to find a place for, it irritates the living piss out of me, because they could all be sitting on my hard drive. It’s not like we’re waiting for something to be invented; it’s already right there.

    Unfortunately, they can’t just take twenty bucks a month from me and email me PDFs, and it’s because of the pirates. You hear me out there? Your format of choice is being kept off the market BY YOU. Marvel/DC etc. know that if they started emailing PDFs of their comics to readers, they’d be all over the web within ten minutes of release. The only way they can thwart all the criminals is to take a paying customer like me and preemptively treat him like a criminal. "I want to give you money for comics." "You can’t be trusted with our comics." Thanks again, everybody!

    I did just read that Marvel is investing another $10 million in digital media ( but they still aren’t in a position to put brand new issues online on Wednesdays; I can’t imagine doing that would create the best relationship with the retailers. Still, I hope to God this is a good omen, and that they will soon stop charging me to kill trees in the 21st century.

  45. I downloaded comics once.  I didn’t like it, so I didn’t inhale.

    Actually, I’ve never done it, and don’t think I ever will until it’s legal with an iTunes-style distribution method.  I wouldn’t even know where to look.  I’ve certainly "Limewired" and "Napstered", but ever since iTunes hit I’ve never stolen what I couldn’t pay for, just music you can’t buy and sound effects (okay, a couple of episodes of "South Park", too, but then I started buying the ones I wanted off of, again, the iTunes.)  Bottom line?  Digital is the future of comics, but I’ll wait until it’s official.

  46. Here’s a question:

    Is it wrong to download copies of issues I’ve already bought so I can have them as backups? Assuming I will never share them, is this "morally" ok or do I need to physically scan the copies myself? 


  47. As long as your buying something I don’t find a problem with downloading.

  48. @Jimski:  I am really glad to have most of those now-gone-forever Marvel DVDs.  They are my only real experience with comics in a digital format and I love them!  Without them I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve read the entire Lee/Kirby FF run or Peter David’s huge Hulk run.  I really wish they could have continued those products.  I’m currently reading some mid-eighties Uncanny issues, and to me the DVD is far preferable to buying up back issues or going B&W with Marvel’s essentials.

    I just love how there’s hundreds of comics on a few discs.  It’s nice to have bookshelves full of trades and stacks of longboxes and all that, but there’s a significant part of my collection that takes up the space of six DVD cases.   

  49. The truth of the matter is that piracy will never go away.  It’s been here forever (anyone ever record a song off the radio back in the day) and it will continue to be.  What publishers need to do is find a way to offer their product in a way that makes people feel it’s worth spending money on.  Anyone who would download a comic, movie, mp3 and NEVER pay for it won’t be swayed either way.  Give up on them.  They get off on the fact that it’s free and could give a rat’s ass if there was a viable alternative.  The people the companies need to reach are those who DL to supplement their comics’ budget, check out things because they it’s somethiing they wouldn’t buy normally (50 cent issue anybody?), etc.  What REALLY needs to be done is:

    Publishers need to find a way to deliver their product in an efficient manner.  Marvel’s DCU proprietary reader is CRAP compared to other free sequential image viewers out there (and it’s not like you can’t pirate stuff off their viewer anyways.  Print Screen is on every keyboard).  Start offering digital comics in a format that people can buy on the cheap (iTunes’ got it right), that people can back up and feel like they own (another problem with DCU), and those who actually WOULD put money into the publishers’ pockets will.  The pirates are a lost cause.  They DL because it’s free.  Those fans who DL to supplement their budget, or check out a title, LOVE comics, and most would freely support a reasonably priced (and efficient) digital distribution.  

    Publishers need to get off their asses NOW.  It didn’t help the music industry by fighting napster and other DL systems for so long.  It won’t help the comic book industry either.

  50. "The more you talk about all the money you are saving by downloading books from message boards, the more you forward comic book files, the less money you spend at the local comic book shop"

    this isn’t true with everyone. and you say so earlier in the article.

    "He has fully caught up on Secret Invasion (which he admitted he probably would never had read if had to pay)"

    i think the majority of the comics that people download, are comics that they would either never buy or just aren’t able to buy, for financial reasons.

    and im not going to make the argument that it’s not stealing, because it is, in the strictest sense of the word. but am i hurting kevin grevioux by downloading new warriors? no, because i would never pay for that series. all it does is possibly get me excited for medina’s next book, which i definitely might buy, if the writer was right. so, all i see is something good happening.

    also, its no different from downloading music or reading your friends comics.

  51. I thinl Jimski is bang on when he talks about Marvel making digital moves and retailers being unhappy; at Newsarama they had talked with a few retailers about that when it was announced, and it seemed to be the case.

    Which, on the one hand, does make sense, but at the same time – that’s the way things are going. I look at it this way: what would the cost of a comic be if you subtracted the 60% of cover price or whatever it is that Diamond takes  AND eliminated print costs?

    Anything anyone says is speculation of course, but I could see myself trying comics I wouldn’t normally buy if I could buy a digital copy directly from a publisher at a reduced rate. 

    True enough, the publishers know that those digital comics WOULD end up being pirated and made freely available, but at the same time I think the major thing impeding that new business model besides retailers being against it is the ad based revenue generated. I think it’s possible to find out ad rates for the major networks, and I’ve heard prices quoted in news articles and the like, but we don’t know how much of the major publishers profits are ad based as opposed to sales.

    Would advertisers be willing to pay the same rates for space in digital comics? I couldn’t say, but I believe if they WERE already, we’d be seeing more comics made available directly to customers in a digital format.  

    I know a lot of people say they couldn’t read comics digitally, they prefer to have the paper copy, but if you put any stock in the figures people talk about regarding how widespread comics piracy is, I think it’s clear there are thousands upon thousands of people who have no qualms about reading digital comics. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s impossible, but I think publishers need to start examining how to turn those non paying customers into paying customers, even if only a small percentage of them. In a world where it’s becoming very rare to see a comic sell 200k copies in a month, every bit would help. 

  52. At what point does it become stealing? Reading my friends copy isn’t stealing. What if my friend lived far away from me? If he scanned his copy and e-mailed it to me, would that be stealing? If i then let my friend look at the scans, would that be stealing? Or does it only become stealing if i make it available to many people at once on the internet? By that logic, would it be stealing for me to buy an issue and pass it around one of my classes and let everybody look at it?

    Look, I’m not trying to rationalize because I feel bad about downloading now and then. I have no problem with what I do. I’m just trying to share my thoughts and feelings and show that the right and wrong behind internet piracy isn’t so clearly defined.

  53. @Diabhor 


    I’m pretty sure its legal but I would definitely check. I know if you own a videogame its perfectly legal to own a ROM of the game on your computer.

  54. @nickmaynard – Illegally downloading comics is not the same as reading hyour friend’s comic.  Unless you friend is lending that same comic ot thousands and thousands of people.  Then it would be the same.

    And the "I wasn’t going to buy it anyway" argument is ludicrous.  I have no plans to buy a new car, so I guess it’s okay if I go boost one off the street to see if I miss driving.

  55. Wow I am Naive I didnt even know piracy was a problem in the comic industry. 


    I usually just buy whatever single I want and if I like the arc enough I will buy it in Hardcover.

    It’s a shame that people steal books off the internet, the comic industry can survive this type of theft.  It’s already hard enough for retailers and publishers to make money.  



  56. @Cman12 – Actually, it’s a pretty bright line.  If you start with 1 copy, you should end with 1 copy.  If you borrow a copy from the library or a friend, there’s still only 1 copy.  If your friend scans the pages and sends it to you and keeps his copy, then you now have 2 copies.  That is IP theft.

  57. I know this may sound terrible, but I’m glad that piracy is becoming more of a focus point and problem for comics. The comics industry and it’s customers are extremely resistant to evloving the format. Just look at what it took to get a better paper stock for issues.

    I totally agree that digital comics is the future of the industry and similar to the music industry I think pracy may just push them in that direction. Unfortunately Marvel really needs to step it up. For example, the 6 month lagtime between the retail and digital release is rediculous. What’s the point of reading issues six months after they’ve been out, when that is clearly trade territory?

    Right now, Marvel Digital comics is set up to compete with the trade market rather than issues and if that scenario does not change it will totally fail! Give the convenience of letting  the customer purchase issues at home, as soon as wedenseday hits, and I bet you would see a HUGE shift toward digital distribution.

    One of major advantages piracy has currently over the market, is the immediacy and availibility the content is made availible. A few clicks saves someone from leaving their home, managing their pull lists, or trying to track down a sold out issue. No worries of space concerns, misprints, or storage and packaging.


    Hopefully Piracy will force The industry to think differently about how they publish their books. Currently Marvel’s Digital Comic subscription service is a mess, and a SIX MONTH lag time between digital and retail and that needs to change. One of the main points of reading issues it to go through events and not know what is coming next, a six month lag time totally negates this.

    So if you pirate comics, I don’t care, but it may be what’s changiang Marvels viewpoint from the idea that digital distribution would be nice to something they have to.

  58. *sigh* I too am a rationalizer. Well, back in High School I used to buy singles. I was living at home, only had a phone bill and a car insurance bill. Most of my paycheck was comics. In 3 years I amassed 5 longboxes. I have no idea if that’s a lot or not because other than the internets no one I know is really down for comics. But since I’ve gotten to college I’ve got many more bills each month and possibly a smaller income (damn Film major, can’t hold more than a 20 hour a week job). But yeah, i usually buy a trade a week and can’t really afford much more. I’ve decided I refuse to buy floppies anymore. The ads plus the 5 longboxes with incomplete arcs makes archiving seem pointless when I could just get complete stories in nice books. I try and read anything new the university library gets, but to be honest most of it’s manga and I’m not really down for that (Hopefully someday they’ll get Project X: Cup Noodle). This is really rambling. I’m not making any points.


    Ok, I download new weekly issues but really I read a whole lot less on my computer than I did when I bought singles. I used to spend $50-70 a week towards the end of my comic buying days, but now I’m lucky to read 5-7 books a week. I don’t know, I read them so much slower on my screen. I mean, what’s the alternative solution here? I try and buy Image and indie trades (I bought The King last week. Very cool.) so that my small amount of dollar votes can make the most impact but how could my not downloading things make things better? Until I can find a better paying job or some magical monkey to pay my rent/food/car/utilities/phone/internet then it just means I don’t get to read as much and still no one is getting money.

  59. @pudgyninja

    I disagree. *shrug*

  60. Someone explain to me how the "I wouldn’t have paid anyways" make sense. Or the "I can’t afford them" reason. Or the "it’s like alibrary reason". These all seem to be common, and all make no sense. The closest thing to a rational reason I’ve heard for it is "I live in Chile and can’t get them otherwise" and it still doesn’t rationalize it.

     And yes, I did admit to downloading earlier. I also admitted to thinking it was wrong. I’ve since bought some of the trades or issues and would personally hand the creators the money if I could. The whole thing made me feel dirty. 

  61. A couple of years ago I used to d-load episodes of Lost, Heroes, Prison Break & Battlestar Galactica from American sites. Then the UK tv channels started showing them just days after they were broadcast in the US. I stopped D-loading and just watched them on the TV. Thus I was exposed to the adverts when they were being cut off in the torrents (except for Heroes which is on the BBC and therefore has no ads).

    Using the same idea – make the comics free (or at least a lot cheaper) and make the ads pay for the comics.

    Mad? (or inspired…?)

  62. @SamMorgan It has been working for Hulu (I assume). The idea certainly has some potential.

  63. The Death of Comics? 

    Once comics become purely digitalised they are on the start of a fatal decline. If you are digesting a medium orginated on paper on a computer, then the logical step is to fully utilise the computer technology. Instead of just pictures and written words, we could add audio since that is a possible on a computer. How about some background music, maybe we could add the dialogue as an audio and take away the word balloons? Why don’t we move the characters within a scene? With this multimedia tool the evolution of the comic book would logically become animated films…

    The advantage of comic books is that they are in object form. You can’t replicate this on the computer. Even though I’ve downloaded comics on my computer and don’t enjoy reading them like that and have to buy the book (printing it myself would be more expensive and worse quality). This is the same advantage that a lot of art has. It is better to have an Andy Warhol print from the 60s on your wall than a virtual copy on your hard drive. Comics are partly art and, therefore, collected and cherished like art. If you are only interested in story then read prose or watch a movie.

    There is also the point that sequential art is unique since you can see a point in time in the context of the other points of time around it. When reading comics on a computer you tend to either have a frame by frame experience (which is like watching a very slow animation) or with traditional portrait format comics the page is cut in two so you tend to get lost on the page. 


  64. @lobo

    I listen to the radio on my computer more than on a normal radiobox. Do you predict the death of Radio?

  65. @SamMorgan

    Good point. But look at iFanboy they saw that they had the opportunity to to video podcasts and they now they do it. I think it’s great to see the examples of art work as they talk. I also listen to a lot of BBC radio and they often have webcams on a the same time as the audio. So radio has already begun to change and become TV. But the advantage of listening to something without the distaction of images while you work is obviously going to keep radio in business! This advantage is not analogous to a visual and verbal medium like the comic book.

  66. And the "I wasn’t going to buy it anyway" argument is ludicrous.  I have no plans to buy a new car, so I guess it’s okay if I go boost one off the street to see if I miss driving.

    @conor- that’s different because someone loses a car. again, im not arguing that it’s not stealing, im arguing that the creator isn’t losing any money.

  67. The price going up to $3.99 for every book will see more people downloading comics, but at the same time, it’s part of the reason for the price rise in the first place — it’s a catch-22.

    The only question I’d ask on this whole debate would be: don’t true artists want thier work to be experienced by as many people as possible? I mean, say some poor kid who can’t even afford one comic per week (don’t ask how this broke kid has a computer & internet connection lol) & he downloads & reads a bunch. The companies arn’t losing his money because he has none, but the artist is gaining more audience.

  68. DC can survive. They just have to put lots of ads in Watchmen and that will keep them going for some time.

    Or maybe do what Penguin does and publish really cheap books with public domain comics but it would be mostly political and racist cartoons. 

  69. @cman12 – What do you mean, "I disagree"?  I assure you that my description is accurate.  Creating multiple copies from one copy is what copyright infringement is.  It’s why sharing one copy is legal and making copies to share is not.  You can disagree, I guess, but this is not an opinion.  It’s a simple statement of the facts.

  70. Aw, 3.99! I need to start phasing out books and just pickup a trade a month or something.

  71. I, too, have downloaded the occasional digital comic book.  While I confess my addiction to the paper version, I was nonetheless impressed at the vivid display of comic art on my laptop.  As far as I am concerned, the digital age has already arrived with comics.  It wouldn’t take Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image much to set up digital online stores where for $.99 you can download the latest comic book in .cbr or .rar format for consuming on you computer screen.

  72. @pudgyninja iFanboy’s video shows often contain images of scanned comics pages. Are they doing anything wrong by showing these scanned pages? If i wanted to scan a hard copy of something i own that was maybe falling apart or getting old in order to preserve it is there anything wrong with that? Whats so wrong about lending that digital copy to my friend instead of the worn hard copy? I’m not too well studied on law but even if it is copyright infringement how is me lending a friend a cd with my digital comic on it causing anymore harm than me lending him the hard copy? Once again I’m not trying to say that downloading comics is right or wrong. I can see your point of view, but I just don’t think it’s that simple.

     Anyway, after thinking about it I do agree that reading from a library would be a good thing and I’m willing to curb most of the downloading to start borrowing from there.

    Also, do the people here who are staunchly against downloading (which is undeniably a majority) feel the same way about all downloading in general. Almost everyone I know downloads torrents in some form or another. Are me and my friends just a product of the Napster generation? For as long as I can remember whatever I wanted was at my fingertips.

  73. Seriously?  You think our scanning of pages in our videos is the same thing?  SERIOUSLY?

    It should be noted that comic book publishers are aware of what we do, and appreciate it, so we have yet to receive our cease and desist order.

  74. I was actually not aware of this controversy.  I didn’t know you could download comics for free off the internet but even with that knowledge I won’t do it.  I feel the same way about music, books, movies.  If you didn’t acquire it by borrowing from a library or a friend then you stole it.  Pretty simple. 

    I have a subscription to  I enjoy being able to check out stuff that I wouldn’t normally read.  However, I do feel scammed when they don’t put certain issues out or skip arcs that I want to read.  If they and the other publishers put out the weekly comics for download at a reduced cost I would buy them without hesitation.  I am one of those people who want a Kindle once they come down in price.  I am addicted to paper but I see a need to move on to the next thing from a strictly environmental standpoint.  I am actually contemplating trying to get rid of my collection and switch them over to trades which I though would never happen.  If they can take it one step further and make it available in a e-reader format then I am in. 

  75. Oh and I forgot to say excellent article Mike.  It was a very enjoyable and informative read.

  76. @josh No, no, no! Ok, maybe that sounded wrong. Because I was discussing the issue with the guy who stated that as soon as you make a copy you have committed a crime. I was trying to show that scanning isn’t always wrong. Trying to show that it can be used for things like your show, that somebody could make a backup digital copy (and then what would be the difference in sharing that digital copy with your friend versus the hardcopy) and that no real wrong comes of this.

    I do not believe that scanning books and sharing them in torrents is even remotely the same thing as what you do. I just used you guys to show putting comics on the scanner is not necessarily copyright infringement. To suggest that I believe you guys are the same as the torrent scanners would be to misunderstand my intentions.

    Once again, I was merely trying to imply that there is a GREY AREA to this whole internet piracy deal. I merely wanted to discuss at what point does sharing become piracy. If it’s apparently ok to borrow a friends copy, how much of my available technology do I have to use, and how many people do I share it with before i’m doing wrong.

  77. The problem with Marvel’s Digital Subscription is that it is not transportable. You have to be connected. The viewer is clumsy. The books are in no apparent order. Last year Marvel targeted several of the major sites and do you know what happened? Nothing. The torrents moved to TPB and direct download link sites moved overseas. Following RIAA’s path in the piracy war is laughable.

    If I was MarvelDCetc I would work with the comic scanners. I would learn what works and what doesn’t work. Paying for a digital copy that you can not burn to a disc or put on a thumb drive to read on a laptop while you are in an airport does not work. Creating a crappy viewer when there are already several better viewers doesn’t work. Hoping your digital service will be successful when you give digital comic buyers the option of DLing the book for free on wed/thur or paying and getting it from you 6 months later does not work.

    The other issues arrise with the digital service is how to compensate the creators. Are they getting a cut of each download? Each subscription? Can Marvel release digital versions of their books better than what is already out there?

    While I will not justify piracy, it has pushed the industries it has effected. In 1996 the mp3 codec was created and made so that it could only be used on officialt licensed software. Radium, a piracy group, broke down the codec, made it faster and more efficient, and able to be used by anything and then spread it across the Internet. Would there be an iTunes without a Napster? Maybe. But Napster proved that there was a market out there for digital music. Old industry suits stuck in the past should have jumped at the chance to enter a new market place but they pushed back holding to their old outdated business model. I consider iTunes a great success and would love a comic book version similar. I just want to be able to say, throw Captain America v5 1-40 on a thumb drive and read them in the terminal, on the airplane, in my bed at night.

  78. The "funny" thing is, if comic publishers wanted to digitize their collections this afternoon they wouldn’t even need to do any work; they could just go online and pirate their own books. Some crazy @$#%er is out there doing all the heavy lifting for free, on his own time. Something about ripping off that guy’s labor strikes me as delightful.


  79. @Cman12 – While iFanboy showing panels and pages is copyright infringement, it falls under the umbrella of "Fair use."  There are many factors that play into what is considered fair use and what isn’t.  Principal among these is the amount of the copyrighted work that is used, how it is used and the effect on the value of the original.  Backup copies also qualify as fair use.  In fact, if you have a software program, you can install it to two different computers, but technically, you shouldn’t use both copies at the same time.

    Let me assure you that making a full copy to read for your own personal enjoyment does not fall under fair use.  You seem to have a severe lack of knowledge about copyright law.  First of all, it’s not a criminal offense, it’s a civil one.  Yes, there are open questions about certain actions are copyright infringement or not.  But the actions you describe don’t even come close.

    Again, as long as you don’t make a copy, you can share a book with as many people as you want.  If you own the physical book, it is yours to do with as you please.  You cannot, however, make copies to distribute to others.  Whether its a digitial copy or a physical copy is irrelevant.

    And no, I don’t torrent anything that isn’t made freely available by the owner.  Most people don’t.  This is just another way to try and justify unethical behavior, by saying "Everybody does it."  Well, they don’t. 

  80. Also, if you want to argue that it’s not unethical to make copies of copyrighted material, that’s one thing.  You’re still wrong, but at least there’s a discussion there.  But saying that it’s not copyright infringement is just ridiculous. 

  81. What is accomplished by being so self-righteous that you only see the world in absolutes? Let’s say you want a certain comic. On the way to the shop, you stumble upon that comic lying discarded on the sidewalk. Do you pick it up? If your answers no then thats fine. Because of your personal ethics, you decided that it would be wrong for you to do so. But to believe that your personal ethics are shared by everybody or that your personal ethics are "right" while others are "wrong" is comical. The internet is the largest, most littered sidewalk there is.

  82. @Cman12 – As I said, we could have a discussion of the ethics of the issue.  And of course I think you’re wrong and I’m right.  If I thought you were right and I was wrong, I’d just change my mind.

    The thing I find problematic about your statement is that you don’t even aknowledge that making a copy is copyright infringement.  Again, that’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of understanding how copyright infringement is defined under the law.

    You still don’t seem to understand the difference between what happens to a single copy of a publication and making multiple copies of that publication.  They are two fundamentally different things and your efforts to conflate them is not logical.

  83. I have almost all the legit Marvel comic DVDs and they are awesome, I wish Marvel had expanded the line and not discontinued it. They took a step in the right direction with their digital comics, which I subscribe to, but they need to provide more, there are a lot of gaps in their offering.  And DC just doesn’t seem to get it at all, they need to offer DVDs or a website with all their stuff, and I’d buy it in a minute. I’d love to be able to read the full runs of Flash, Batman, or Superman comics.

  84. Ok-am I the only one who gets annoyed that people who obviously have computer access and have had enough to be web savvy (meaning they have had time to work on a computer) have the audacity to say that they won’t buy some because of financial reasons?

     I truly have less of an issue with people taking digital media than I do with people justify taking digital media.  If you’re just too cheap to pay-just say that! As long as you don’t complain if the service disappears, then I could care less.  It’s just SO obnoxious to have people acting like they are making a choice between eating and not eating or something like it.  EVERYTHING WE ARE TALKING ABOUT IS A LUXURY ITEM.  You don’t HAVE to read comic books, you don’t HAVE to listen to music.

     I’m gonna scream if I have to hear one more cheap bastard justify taking something without paying for it because they wouldn’t have paid anyway…that is an incredibly lame argument. You seem to have no issue taking the time to enjoy it…!?!!  Do what ever you want, just don’t pretend like it’s something it’s not…

  85. @IroncladMerc, I’ll say this much: the last DVD Marvel put out was the complete Civil War collection, with every last tie-in as well as the main series. Looking back, I would… much rather have had the crossover that way. I’ll leave it at that.

  86. The ethics of the issue is what I was trying to get at all along. Sure I got sidetracked by a bunch of halfbaked ideas, but thats kinda what happens when you brainstorm on the keyboard. And yes, my knowledge of copyright law is atrocious. I shouldn’t have even brought that up in retrospect. I could learn up on copyrights but the only good that would do me personally is help me argue better on the internet and I’m pretty sure the amount of time I spend on the web is already a little "unhealthy".

    But my last post is pretty much all I wanted to say. What about who’s right or wrong? It’s not even about that man. Your argument is that piracy is wrong and all that I’m trying to say is that it’s complicated. You can disagree with me and that’s totally cool. In fact, it’s kinda where I wanted to leave things in the first place.

    So that’s a wrap for me. My dog is sick and I’m gonna go take care of her. I’ll give the last words to you if you want them.

    And @Josh. Sorry about kinda, sorta, maybe, accidentally accusing you guys of illegal doings. But now that I think about it though that misunderstanding was pretty hilarious. I’ve got a brain to mouth filter but I seem to lack a brain to internet one.

  87. I hope your dog is OK.

  88. @Cman12 – On the most basic level, something is ethically wrong when you harm another person.  IP theft harms the owners of that IP.  It’s pretty simple to me.

  89. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone….who through that?!

  90. threw, I mean threw. That is it. No more online comics for me. Dictionaries only from now on


  91. Until some sort of affordable device is developed that I use to can comfortably read digital comics on my bed, bus/train ride, couch, etc, I’m happy paying for floppies.

  92. I’ve read through all of these comments.  And I’m still a little bit confused.  Someone please tell me which of the following is the argument for stealing comics:

    1. Stealing is NOT wrong.

    2. Stealing is wrong, but you just don’t care.

    I could never agree with option number one, so I’m really hoping that’s not the case.  But if the main argument is option 2, well, okay.  That one I can believe.  The world is full of thieves.  I don’t expect them to go home and sulk about what they do.

    And just to repeat myself from an earlier post: stealing is bad, don’t do it. 

  93. Not to get off subject, but you guys really take out and read a comic during a bus or train ride? As portable as floppies are, they seem quite a nuisance to carry around, especially if your in the mind of keeping them in relatively good condition. How do you carry them around? Floppies are pretty flimsy and in my experience, easily damaged. "portability"….. ya for how long =P

     The portability aspect being touted here is definitely becoming a thing of the past. Iphones, netbooks, portable gaming devices, and e-readers definitely trump floppies in terms of portability. If you don’t believe me go to your local airport, wifi hotspot, starbucks, or college. The people there don’t seem to mind their clunky digital devices. Hell, I hear the next update for iphones will allow you to download podcasts directly from the internet, that screams portability to me, imagine something similar with comics.

  94. WOW!

     When I was working on this article, Jimski tweeted that he expected something like 100 comment cluster bomb after reading the draft.  I honestly had no idea about comic book piracy, really, until that conversation with my friend.  Great comments, guys, this is a fascinating discussion, and along with Conor and Sonia’s article, has made for quite an interesting couple of days.


    I was driving to work today reflecting on the $3.99 price for a standard comic and I said, outloud, "That’s just too much." It really is just too much money to spend for what can sometimes be a 5 minute reading experience. (You know those books…oy.)

    I guess my biggest worry is that the comics industry might be burning both ends of the candle, in a way.  Like, on one end, you have piracy eating into profits, then, on the other hand, you have comics getting so expensive that people just stop buying them.  Whether or not they go to pirated versions is kind of irrelevant. If you know, for sure, that comics are going to cost $4 or $5 apiece, then you might never be really that interested in checking them out again (assuming, of course, that you think the price is too much)–you may go to trades, but, as you know, the trade experience is just different. I am not sure, but are we at the beginning of the end of monthly books? 

     What will things look like 12 months from now?  

     As much as I love comics, there is just no way I am going to be able to rationlize the amount of books I usually pick up. I just don’t know how that would happen.


    What we might also see is a major backlash against big-ass events that have so many tie-ins. The audience will just be disgusted if they have to buy all these books to keep up with the story.  Instead of spurring sales, it might dissuade people from picking the books up in the first place.

     What to do. One thing is for sure–neither Marvel or DC are ready for what’s coming.  

     thanks for the positive feedback, guys–the iFanbase is just awesome.



  95. @PatK – Yes, I read my comics wherever, subway, while I’m eating lunch at a restaurant, etc.  Damage schmamage!

  96. @PatK – yes, I take them on the bus to read since I don’t want to choose one or two books and have to get into a long story, or find out I’m bored with the books I chose and I don’t have anything to do during the ride.

    A backpack, and the comics in bags and boards and it’s fine. Also digest books are great like the soon to be dead Minx line. 

  97. @PatK – I read comics while waiting for BART or when on the train.  As far as portability goes, they’re extremely portable.  Sometimes I just roll them up and stick them in my pocket.  They’re more durable than you might think. 


  98. This is hilarious…

  99. My argument is similar to some above, if not for .cbr’s, I wouldn’t be throwing $100/mo into the comics industry today.  Downloading Miracleman, Zenith & Flex Mentallo got me jazzed about comics for the first time in nearly two decades.  Now, I buy trades and am on issues with over 20 titles.

    I see no harm in downloading OOP series.  What’s worse — downloading scans of Miracleman or paying some guy $400 on eBay for one volume?

  100. Pirating.  Pirating is worse.

  101. @OddsBodkins – What’s worse?  Really?  Tell me you people are kidding.  Please, someone tell me that when ask the question "What’s worse, paying for something or stealing it?" that you are just messing with me.

  102. Kill the creators and wait 70 years for it to get to the public domain.

  103. Leeching off your LCS reading/enjoying the title then putting it back on the shelf without buying it is the ULTIMATE PIRATE JOB!   

    I feel like yelling ..Dude, scan the pages, if the majority of what you see intrigues you BUY IT!!Sure I don’t like to get shafted on crummy arcs, BS endings, but you win some you lose some

    God bless any LCS owners that can afford to stay in business allowing that crap..Besides, I like to be able to navigate the aisles, long boxes, trades without tripping over people camping out and spread eagle like its their effin Living room!

  104. Jesse1125 – That’s not piracy.  It’s not even close.  If the owner of the book chooses to let people read it in the store, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  If they don’t allow it, then it’s up to them to enforce the policy.  Even then though, it’s not piracy.

  105. "you’ll be able to have broadcast channels for comics, perhaps–a Marvel comics channel on your TV (which will be basically an Internet station anyway), where you can read comics whenever you want."

    I love this idea. Like a digital cable channel.

  106. OK. I wasnt going to throw my hat in this discusssion yet again, but I will state it simply and to the point. I DOWNLOAD EVERYTHING! I got back in to comics because they became available for download. I now have EVERYTHING EVER DONE BY EVERY COMIC BOOK COMPANY OUT THERE.(GO ahead. Ask me what char, or piece of dialog is on ANY page of DC or Marvel book ever done.I am the God Damn Library of Comic Book Congress.)

    THAT BEING SAID. I also drop 200 to 250 bucks a month on average on this industry that I would not have spent a dime on if they were not available for me to get back in to digiitally. Years agao I was a huge collector and found myself staring at stacks of long boxes and being pissed at how much money that I felt I had wasted. Now that I know what is out there I go ahead and get collected editions of the stuff I feel is the best. Now I stare at my piles of tomes and feel satisified at money well spent.

    I also support some ‘select’ floppies (FEAR Agent, and Capt Britain come to mind because some books will not make it trade without single issue support. Are there more? Sure. But who am I? The ‘make sure your book makes it to trade’ fairy?)

    I dont have any more to say than that. I will continue to drop well over a hundred a month on the industry because I can see whats out there first.

    ps- I do not post my books on file sharing sites because I know most people are not like me. They will just download and put nothing back in to the system, and then wonder what happened.

  107. I think everyone should know who Evelyn Cream is even if they have to steal for the knowledge. 

    Come on people, Google it.

  108. @ultimatehoratio – lol

    @teddy – take it down a few notches.  Would you really say no to .cbr’s of Flex Mentallo?  It’s been OOP for years and it’s most likely never going to be in print again.  Same holds true for Miracleman.  If they ever get collected again, I’m first in line to buy, but I’m not losing sleep reading scans of OOP material that would never see the light of day outside of torrents.

  109. @OddsBodkins – As long as you acknowledge that you are stealing those books.

  110. @conor – sure it’s a form of stealing, I have no dilusions of what .cbrs are — but I’m also not taking money out of anyone’s pocket because the material is OOP and has been so for years.  People do a lot worse by downloading the weekly DCPs containing issues you can buy down the block, right now.