The Comic Book Pirate Interviews, Part III

Three weeks ago, I was ruminating on comic book piracy when I thought– and not for the first time– “What’s in it for the people uploading these books? Has anyone ever asked them why they do it?” So I did.

The response from readers and scanners alike has been fairly overwhelming. Over the past few weeks, I have talked to people with a variety of motives and backgrounds, but with a number of commonalities. Most took an inordinate amount of pride in their scanning work. Most seemed to have a sense of community engendered by a scanning group, including the personality politics and other negatives that often go along with that. There seemed to be a compulsiveness: many had gotten books solely to scan them, and some had scanned books that they have still never even read.

The final conversation in this series (for a while, anyway) was with my only female correspondent, a retired scanner we’ll call Oracle. She talked about the practice, the process, and the price of addiction:

 

How long were you scanning?

I edited books over the course of three years.

Do you remember the first book you ever did?

I think almost every scanner/editor remembers their first. I do. It was not the best book to start on for a person trying to figure out Photoshop. It was a double sized issue with more than a few joins and took me 12 hours over three days to do. After all of that effort, I never actually read the issue.

What made you decide to start (and stop, for that matter)?

I got started because I wanted to help those that introduced me to comics. I didn’t grow up with comics but did know of the characters. Once Marvel Ultimate Alliance came out I was hooked. I loved the game and the characters and I wanted to learn more about my favorites. I did some searching and found some torrents with comic PDFs and grabbed them. That night I read several dozen of the Ultimate Comics books over the course of three hours. I was hooked. I had found something new to love. The more I searched, the more I made it to the right places. I made friends with the right people and eventually met up with the right scanners. They took me in and taught me the rest

What finally convinced me to stop had nothing to do with morals or digital releases from publishers. It was the realization that I had spent three years and anywhere from 1 hour to 6 hours a book and had barely read any of them. There was a point where I had actually gone over 9 months without reading a single comic but had released 200 books. At that point, I started asking myself why the hell was I doing this? It was more work than fun; more commitment than hobby. When you get to the point where you dread Wednesdays, you know it’s time to leave.

How many books would you say you’ve put online?

I released over 1000 books over the course of three years.

Did you try to do a certain number each week, or just whatever you happened to buy? Is this something you did independently, or were you a part of a group?

The answer is yes, I did try to do a certain number a week. I did what needed to be done or whatever a scanner asked me to do. The overall goal of each team is “coverage”. Each team tries to cover every release for that week regardless. That being said, you need to know how the inner workings of all of this actually function. The comic scan scene can be broken down into three main areas. Scanners, editors, and lastly, the distributors (aka the linkers and torrenters).

A person can fulfill all three roles or just one. It’s all up to them. The Scanner buys, scans, and edits the book. In many cases, the scanner won’t edit the book but will send the scanned images (aka RAWS) to an editor to work (aka Team-ups). The really dedicated scanners can potentially supply raws for 5-7 different editors on a given Wednesday.

Now who scans what and who edits what is all decided a week before Wednesday. Each organized team will have an intent list of all of the books coming out. The scanner will put their name down for a book and an editor will put their name down for a book. This allows for collaboration all across the world. The entire team knows exactly who’s buying what and who’s editing what. Scanners are the most generous lot you will find. They will buy books they normally wouldn’t because an editor wants to edit the book.

The editors will take the images and do the magic. An editor will straighten the pages, crop them, stitch together the double pagers (aka JOINS). Some teams will then work the images over (aka LEVELING). Leveling is pretty much making the whites white and then blacks black. When a comic is scanned the image is a little messed up and needs corrected. Some teams use noise reduction programs and others don’t. After all that, many editors will go page by page and fix defects. Cleaning up each page is the longest part of the process next to joins. Cleaning up spots in images or bleed through or color defects takes time and commitment and patience. Once all of that is done, a scanner tag will be added to the end and then the images are RARd up and ready for viewing.

The distributors are the link people and torrentors. Their job is to get the book out to all the different places across the net.

Now, for group dynamics, each team has its own philosophy about how an edited book should look and that’s why there are often two or three versions of the same book. Most high profile books will be covered by each team. This is one of the main reasons the teams do not get along so much. Each team thinks their version is the “right” version or that their version should be the only version. The comic scan teams feud and feud a lot. They might take shots at each other in their scanner tags and flame wars on the various release sites turn ugly quick. Even during the peaceful times it always felts a little iffy. It always felt like there was always a powder keg just waiting to be ignited. I believe most teams tolerate each other now-a-days.

The quickest thing that unites all comic teams though, is when a downloader comments about the quality of a scan or says things like I prefer this teams releases to that teams releases because of x, y, and z. Even if you feel the downloader is right, when you are part of the scene, you can’t let those on the outside bash the work of those on the inside. It’s all a competition and every scanner/editor thinks they’re the best at what they do.

What kind of time goes into an undertaking like this? Per book, per week, however you typically think about it.

A book can take anywhere from 60 minutes to 4 hours depending on the amount of pages and joins. Take for instance, a book like Thor – Ages of Thunder oneshot. That book had 17 joins. A simple join can take 15 minutes. A more detailed join could take 30-60 minutes. A book like the Thor oneshot would take maybe 10 hours to do. But if you got 5 editors from your team to each do a join the team could do it all in a few hours. A simple book with white borders and no joins could take 20 minutes to edit, 15 minutes to scan. During my most productive period I was averaging eight books a week and spending probably about 30 hours of my time on them. Some weeks I’d release 15 – 22 books. Some weeks it’d only be 2-3.

Would you scan at night, mostly? What was the routine?

As an editor, I was dependent on the scanner. Usually, when I’d get home, I’d already have 3-4 books waiting on me. We never read the books until we were done with our part and in my cause, I still haven’t read 95% of the books I did.

Did you happen to work for a comic shop or publisher, or were you buying all these books every week?

None of the scanners worked at comic shops or diamond or for the publisher. They all bought their books like everyone else and rushed home to start scanning.

Do you have any kind of metrics on your end that tell you how many times your scans were downloaded?

There are no metrics. Torrent sites are flaky as are many file hosts. It’s really not about the DL numbers. It was all about beating the other team to a release.

Is there a pecking order?

Yes. Most teams have or had a leadership structure at one time.

How does someone get accepted into the group?

You get invited. Usually, a distributor spots someone releasing a comic as an “indie” (scanner not affiliated with a defined team) and recruits them if the team feels the indie has potential. Each team has their own quality standards for releasing books with the team name on it so any new comer will go through some sort of training before releasing a book with the team name on it.

Have you ever gotten comics you wouldn’t normally buy just to scan them in?

90% of the books I did I could care less about.

How do you respond to critics who say scanning hurts the industry and the people who work in it?

I think of the “Don’t Copy That Floppy Commercial”. Remember, floppy copying was going to end the gaming industry and make application development non profitable back in the 80s. That argument was funny then and it’s funny now.

What kind of interactions have you had with creators, either at conventions or online? Have you ever discussed scanning with a writer or artist?

I have not, but I have known others who have actually sent the creator the scanned copy of their book before and received thanks. I’ve been approached by indie creators with web comics asking for us to include their comic in a team’s torrented release packs to generate interest.

DC, Image, and a number of other publishers have started offering day-and-date digital comics for sale. How did this affect your activity? Is it why you retired? What impact if any do you think it will have on the community?

It didn’t affect me. I was gone before it happened. Still, I feel they are making the jump about 5 years too late and the price point needs to be more in line with music sales. I think people can stomach spending $.99 on Superman #1 and it sucking than spending $2.99 on Superman #1.

As for the impact on the community, I don’t think it will affect that much because the digital releases are smaller in size than the scanned releases and then there’s always the c2c crazies (c2c = cover to cover, meaning the book includes all of the ads). Those guys are true enthusiasts.

Finally: do you feel like scanners (or file sharing in general) have been misrepresented in online debates about piracy? Do you want to set the record straight about anything?

I don’t it’s been misrepresented at all. I’ve been on this side of the piracy fence for a long time. The arguments about piracy are valid, but will never sway the pirates. The pirate’s counter points are merely idiot talking points that hold no merit. I’ve been a/with/around pirates for 20+ years. When I think of pirates I think of Alfred telling Bruce that “some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.” The pirates are who they are. They cannot be guilt’d or moral’d out of the scene. Stealing is stealing. Everyone knows it and all of us scanners and editors knew it when we were doing it.

Justifying it was easy. Some justified it by saying it was all about reading comics on computers. Some will say they were trying to force publishers into going forward with digital releases day and date; others called it preservation or saving history digitally; for others it was about helping friends overseas get to read books they’d never have a chance to due to corrupt Customs officials. For me it was just something to do. I did what I did because I liked doing it and when I stopped liking what I was doing, I left and didn’t turn back….. queue the ending scene of The Breakfast Club…..fade to black.

Comments

  1. Parri Parri (@pazzatron) says:

    This whole series has been a brilliant insight. Hats off to Jim.

    The one thing that I find staggering, aside from much-discussed moral implications or rights and wrongs, is the amount of time each scanner puts in to this. Here, Oracle estimates 30 hours a week. That’s almost a full time job! And for what? Pride? Being able to shout “First!”? I find it incredible that the scanning soon takes precedent over the comics, the stories, the characters… the reason these people started in the first place.

    I guess like most things of this nature, regardless of the subject matter, it’s basically an addiction.

  2. Wrkngclasshero (@joinedtofollow) says:

    Great series of interviews. Thanks!!

  3. Excellent series. This one was definitely the best. I feel as if I truly understand how the scanning thing works now. My god, the amount of work these people do to release a book. I mean, its still piracy, but really you have to admire how the system works. Marvel & DC could learn a few things from these cats.

  4. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    This is all fascinating. Is there an award for investigative comic journalism? there should be, and you should win it.

  5. froggulper says:

    Yes, this was a really good series of articles.

    The fact that some pirates don’t even read the books they scan is particularly interesting. Maybe it’s just me, but it blows my mind even when regular readers talk about their “stack” of hundreds of comics that they buy but haven’t read. Either way–pirate or regular reader–the whole phenomenon of buying things but not really getting around to experiencing them puzzles/intrigues me. Side issue, but it’s kind of related to all this.

    Another aspect of piracy, one that’s shared with digital comics in general, is how the work of art is basically devalued in the process. Pirates think of freebees; many digital comics fans insist on paying lower prices. There are reasons behind this, some of them really good reasons (though I defy anyone to actually prove that a 99-cent digital model can be profitable in 2011, when the U.S. dollar buys so little). But the other side of the consumer’s point of view (“Lower prices! Yay!”) is the fact that the item itself is being devalued, literally and even culturally.

    To take examples from the music industry, if you look over the landscape of pop culture in the last decade, you’ll see that individual songs seem to be worth less, in every sense of the word. Albums don’t seem as important either, but there are few generational rallying-cry songs anymore. There are few songs that seem to characterize certain generations of people in an way that could be called organic. There are still great songs being made, but they don’t matter as much to people’s lives–not the way songs used to matter to most people. Young people don’t know all the words to popular songs the way they used to. (Yeah, this is generalized anecdotal evidence, but it seems clear to me.)

    Digital distribution (legal and illegal) has definitely had the side-effect of devaluing the cultural capital of individual songs. I’m afraid it will do the same to individual comics. We’re already at a point where many readers–even people paid to read comics–can hardly remember what happened in individual issues from month to month. Digital, because it can’t help but devalue a piece of art when it removes it from tangible reality, is only going to accelerate that process.

    There have been many studies proving that people remember what they read much better if they read a print copy rather than a digital screen. I’m not anti-digital (it definitely has its advantages), but I’m aware that this is going on. The mindlessness of pirates who buy copies just to say that they scanned them, and don’t even read them, seems to fit in well with the aura of this culturally devaluing process.

    • DMaggot DMaggot says:

      I think the loss of the importance of the individual issue happened before comics piracy. I think the “writing for the trade” part of comics now is making the individual issues stand out less. When most comics are just a part of a story as opposed to a whole story it’s hard for individual issues to stand out, but it’s why full story arcs stand out so much more.

      As to whether or not the comics can be profitable at the $0.99 price point, publishers have said that the reason comics cost as much as they do is because of the print costs (or at least, this is what I’ve read). These aren’t there with digital comics. If $0.99 isn’t profitable, how about $1.50 or $1.99?

    • the print costs combined with the fact that it takes anywhere from 4-10 people to produce one 22 page comic is what costs so much. Comics are using a commercial arts model that is 30 years out of date (individual tradesmen instead of one person wearing several hats) I suppose its because of the breakneck speed of monthly issues, but there is no logical reason as to why you need so many people to make one single issue except for time.

      Look at a book like Chew…2 people doing almost all the work. I recent issue of Uncanny X Force had 8 people with creative credits. They all have to get paid…but its a horrible productivity/profitability black hole.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      @Dmaggot At this point, I think digital comics aren’t profitable at any price point because the volume isn’t there.

      I think the high prices for digital are an attempt to make them somewhat profitable while the publishers figure out what people want. I know there’s overhead for panel-to-panel programming and storage that supplant some of the printing costs, but factor in Apple’s cut (a la Diamond’s markup) and whatever app you’re using’s cut (like your LCS’ markup) and I still don’t see how a digital comic is as costly as a print copy.

      All I know for sure is that I won’t buy digital comics that are the same price as print. I know not everyone has access to a good LCS that offers subscriber discount, but as much as I like reading comics on my iPad, I’m gonna go wherever I can get my comics on Wednesday for the least amount of money. But I realize I may not be their ideal customer.

    • @ken–yeah its the volume thing. I was listening to a fascinating podcast the other day about Tickmaster and how the financial model for musicians has changed. The album is just a cheap promo for the tour where all the money is made(which is the exact opposite of how its always been). Radiohead and NIN can do a pay what you want model, because they have millions of fans who will support them and will go on a very successful tour. Comics don’t have that base or revenue opportunity.

      I do believe in the “if you build it they will come” argument of a cheap price point brings people in, and the volume would come from lower prices, but the publishers obviously don’t agree, or are too P-Wipped by the retailers to try anything that bold.

    • DMaggot DMaggot says:

      As to Apple taking their cut of the profits, this is definitely a problem. Maybe companies are going to have to go the same way that Amazon did with their Kindle app and just not allow purchases in the app? Sending somebody outside the app, possibly, to keep Apple from their cut.

      For myself, I will never be buying a ton of digital comics until they come down in price. But then again, I’m also not going to be buying many physical comics because they cost too much (for me). So I, too, am not their ideal customer. I definitely feel though, that at the price point they are at, the customer base will definitely not come.

    • SageShini says:

      Digital downloads/piracy has much less to do with the “devaluing” than the glut of material that is available, in any industry. The amount of comics that came out in the 70′s OR the 80′s probably is not the number that we get now.

      Same with music. Genres, artists–there’s more every day. There’s no way for songs to represent a generation if the generation can’t even agree on a dominant musical genre.

    • muddi900 says:

      @Dmaggot

      Amazon did disallow purchases from the app, Apple did. Amazon are not allowed to link to there store from within the app, either clickable or plain-text, or even mention that they have a store on their website. At this point, if you want to sell any media through an ios app, Apple will get a cut.

      @SageShini

      I got 99 problems but the lack of media ain’t one.

  6. Rchapoteau Rchapoteau says:

    Personally I do download comics, but I bought a copy of every single one of them (just ordered $150 worth of stuff for December from DCBS on Saturday). I can’t justify buying an issue of something twice if I want a copy of it digitally. I do however support the Justice League combo packs. If all comics have that option I would stop downloading and pay the extra $1 (though I honestly think there shouldn’t be an extra cost to this at all). I want to support the industry, but I also want to have the comics that I paid for digitally at any time. Hopefully they will continue to move to this path.

  7. this has been a fascinating series. The structure of the “crews” is crazy….so similar to a gang. I dunno..just a crazy dynamic. I will give her credit for at least being real with who she is and what she was doing, instead of hiding behind some fake revolution or cause.

    Pretty crazy how they don’t even read most of the stuff….

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      I don’t mean to sound morally superior, because I’ve done more downloading than I should have in the past (I’ve been pretty good about buying the things I truly liked, for what it’s worth), but yeah, I’m a little shocked at how adolescent the whole enterprise sounds.

    • Lightstepper Lightstepper says:

      To be honest, these crews pretty much opperate no different than most warez teams. There’s organizational structures, competition against other teams, and disagreements/wars with other teams. There is no honor or civility amongst theives.

    • sounds just like any other gang or subculture crew to me. Basic human instinct to form tribes/clans and try to be the one that rules their world. Kinda crazy sociology at work here.

  8. DMaggot DMaggot says:

    I’ve loved this series of articles. Best thing on the site, hands-down. Even if the comments sometimes drive me a little bonkers (but overall they’ve been good).

    I also think comics need to come down in price digitally. Maybe they can’t because of overhead, but it needs to happen. The $1.99 DC is doing a month later is a good step, but it might not be enough. Since comics don’t exist in a vacuum and there are so many things for so cheap, most people won’t want to pay $3 for something that will take them 15 minutes to read, not when they can get books and games and movies for cheaper than that.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      Dude YOU JUST PROVED MY POINT FOR ME. I clicked on that link. Here is a quote from your own link. “His numbers include the combination of the share values of Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Mobile gaming, retail sales, online gaming, and various other videogame industry sectors. He puts Nintendo at roughly 1/3 of the current industry’s total with around $35 billion.”. That is a quote from your own link. I didnt say anything about the strength of the whole video game market. In fact i said that the strength of the console market damaged the PC market. What are you talking about.
      Your hundred billion includes consoles.. i was talking about PC games.. which account for less than 33 billion according to your own link. The other 40 billion has to with mobile companies, retail companies….. processing fees etc. STOP SPREADING FALSE INFORMATION.
      On top of all that .. who cares about escapist magazine numbers anyway. What is escapist magazine. If you want truth you go outside the industry .. not inside it..This information came from….Avista Partners, an investment banker working in the game sector since 1999, Thats like asking BP if its safe to build more off shore platforms off the U.S. coast. Independent review. Its important.
      And im eagerly awaiting your apology as to why your saying im spreading false information. Please read my comments next time before going all crazy about my comments. I say again i was speaking only of the PC game market. Understand. If your going to start accusing me of lying.. at least refer to what i actually said.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      SORRY WRONG PERSON DUDE.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      That reply wasnt meant for DMaggot. Sorry. I somehow clicked on the wrong reply.

  9. iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

    That “dont copy the floppy” comment that the pirate was amused by… i wasnt amused by. Well brilliant.. because maybe that was in the 80′s.. and it didnt kill the video gaming industry then… but pirating has significantly damaged the PC game making industry. (Of course so has console gaming). Essentially PC gaming is almost dead.. and pirating killed it.

    • DMaggot DMaggot says:

      The “PC gaming is dead” just rings hollow to me. I’d almost say PC gaming is stronger now than ever. Maybe not in terms of the AAA games that are out there (though they all release on PC pretty much). But in terms of the smaller indie games and smaller developers, I don’t think there’s been a better time to be a PC gamer. Thank you Steam. Pirating may have hurt the industry, but it didn’t kill it.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      Internet use kept people in PC gaming for a while. The second console gaming started catering heavily to internet gamers it severely damaged the PC gaming market. The evidence is everywhere that games are sold. Tiny little games for windows racks vs massive console racks. As for “steam”.. everyone i know steals the games that arent steam games and the people that are honest sometimes have to pay the consequences when steam overreacts to minor incidents. Most games do not release on PC. I dont know how youve come to that conclusion. As for the ones that do release on PC and consoles.. i would choose the console version any day. over a steam protected game because i know i can sell it when im done with it. I cant even lend my steam games to friends. And i didnt say PC gaming is dead… i said it almost is. I hope it doesnt die… but i dont have much hope. The quality games are becoming more and more scarce…. This economy may tip it over the edge…
      Anyway i dont know what types of games you play.. but PCs used to dominate consoles in RPG , turn based and real time strategy games. Now hardly anything is being released… and if it is.. its on consoles without steam.

    • muddi900 says:

      There were 6 million people online last week on Steam, at the same time. Tema Fortress 2 is the most played online game right now. Followed by Counter-Strike: Soruce. Followed by Counter-Strike 1.6. Followed by WOW. Followed by LoL.

      Also what is your criteria ‘most games’; most indie games that are released on PC never see the light of day on the consoles, and go on to be more profitable than almost every AAA game. Minecraft, for example.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      DMaggot’s said “(AAA games)..they ALL release on PC pretty much”. Im responding to that obviously. That is my “criteria”. Can you read. I seem to remember you asking me on another post if I can read. Can you. Team Fortress 2 was released in 2008. Counter strike source was released in 2005. The last WOW expansion was released in 2010. League of Legends in 2009… Those are all old games. Where are the new ones?
      Also.. I typed what i thought PC gaming was mostly about a decade ago. RPGs and RTSs. and ill add shooters. Steam is selling 10 year old games..and marking them as released in 2011. WEIRD. Nearly every other Strategy game or RPG game that steam sells gets reviews that include words like “unfinished”, “unpolished”, and phrases like “would be great in 1999″. I dont know anything about the smaller games.. so i cant speak on that. I just googled PC game profits and nearly all positive news that comes up is being released by the “pc gaming alliance”. They sound unbiased to me..ha…. Nvidia also says that PC gaming will dominate console games in the future… Of course they dont have a vested interest in saying that..ha. Maybe we should ask Blockbuster video if they think they will rebound. Of course they are going to tell us what they really think right?
      The fact of the matter is that new quality (High tech) games arent being released on the PC and if they are .. its almost as an after thought to the console version.
      Also I dont understand how PC gaming can survive by relying on low tech games when the strength of the PC is in its superior technology. Why not just play games like minecraft on a tablet or a phone or a console because obviously we’re not worried about high end graphics.
      I should add that im a fan of PC gaming. .. and im sitting next to a useless 2 year old alienware.

    • Du4No Du4No says:

      Get your facts rigth. PC Gaming and Gaming as a whole is a very large and profitable market. The gaming industry makes more money than the film industry.

      STOP SPREADING FALSE INFORMATION.

      In 2010 the film industry made over $10 billion dollars in total: http://www.the-numbers.com/market/2010.php

      While in 2010 the gaming industry is worth $100 billion dollars: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.228443-Videogame-Industry-Worth-Over-100-Billion-Worldwide

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      Dude YOU JUST PROVED MY POINT FOR ME. I clicked on that link. Here is a quote from your own link. “His numbers include the combination of the share values of Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Mobile gaming, retail sales, online gaming, and various other videogame industry sectors. He puts Nintendo at roughly 1/3 of the current industry’s total with around $35 billion.”. That is a quote from your own link. I didnt say anything about the strength of the whole video game market. In fact i said that the strength of the console market damaged the PC market. What are you talking about.
      Your hundred billion includes consoles.. i was talking about PC games.. which account for less than 33 billion according to your own link. The other 40 billion has to with mobile companies, retail companies….. processing fees etc. STOP SPREADING FALSE INFORMATION.
      On top of all that .. who cares about escapist magazine numbers anyway. What is escapist magazine. If you want truth you go outside the industry .. not inside it..This information came from….Avista Partners, an investment banker working in the game sector since 1999, Thats like asking BP if its safe to build more off shore platforms off the U.S. coast. Independent review. Its important.
      And im eagerly awaiting your apology as to why your saying im spreading false information. Please read my comments next time before going all crazy about my comments. I say again i was speaking only of the PC game market. Understand. If your going to start accusing me of lying.. at least refer to what i actually said.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      Oh thats really classy how you SPREAD FALSE INFORMATION to prove your point and you use the whole worlds video game profit to arrive at your 100 billion number. But with the film industry you use only the US box office numbers of American movies. From your own links by the way. Way to go. So we can at least double that to 20 billion because the rest of the world loves american movies. And then we can start acting like we care about facts.. and start including numbers for CHINESE movies… and Swedish movies.. and Brazilian movies. Get it.

    • iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

      Anyway the comparison doesnt even make sense.. because the film numbers include ticket sales and the video game numbers include share values.

  10. andybmcd andybmcd says:

    I find it ironic that iFanboy is indirectly making money from piracy through these series of interviews about piracy.

    • nathematics nathematics says:

      No it’d be ironic if iFanboy were especially staunch and vocal opponents of piracy or if Jim’s articles were particularly geared toward criticizing piracy and its financial effect on comic industry.

  11. diebenny diebenny says:

    I liked their use of quotes describing themselves:

    “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.”

    &

    “Wake up, sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are. We gotta find our own way.”

    It’s this point, when the justification because real thin, and you just know what you’re doing is wrong, yet you press on, that really intrigues me. When do you just admit that you’re a bad guy? Is it just adolescent posturing gone horribly wrong?

    • nathematics nathematics says:

      Yeah the funny thing about the Dark Knight quote is the context that she ignored. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

      I can’t tell if that is supposed to be in defense of piracy or criticism, or perhaps just an observation.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      I’m not sure if it’s “adolescent” posturing – she didn’t state her age, but if she’s been around pirates for 20+ years, she’s got to have either (A) been old enough to start this in the early 90s when scanners became readily available and usenet groups were popular, or (B) been kidnapped or orphaned to a group of pirates as a babe, and raised in a life of plunder on the high seas.

      I’d opt for “B” since it is more romantic, but I’m guessing “A” is more accurate. Maybe she just hit her rebellious stride late in life? Crazy cat ladies have to have hobbies too. Not sure why she broke bad on this though, surely knitting would have been a better option.

    • SageShini says:

      I’m not sure what you mean. At what point did she pretend to have any delusions. She got as direct as possible: “Stealing is stealing.” It does not get anymore clear cut than that.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      Not in the interview dude. In LIFE.

  12. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    I didn’t see those last 2 paragraphs coming at all. Why would someone so seemingly intelligent waste all that damned time?!

    • JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

      One person’s waste of time is another’s hobby. In the same vein as watching Nascar, collecting stamps, playing guitar, reading comics and podcasting.

    • JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

      Also, it wasn’t really a waste. Some skills were learned doing this. She didn’t know photoshop and learned it specifically for this. She might not have otherwise. Different strokes and all that I guess.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      Lack of “a life”?

      OCD? (Someone should tell her there are pills for that)

    • muddi900 says:

      Why would someone so seemingly intelligent waste all that damned time talking about comic books?! :p

      And to put @JNewcomb’s words into perspective, here is a quote from a great man;

      “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UF8uR6Z6KLc#t=307s

  13. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    So what we’ve learned here is that to efficiently fight piracy we have to make big books made up entirely of highly detailed double page spreads.

  14. This series has been some fantastic journalism, Jim. Kudos.

  15. stuclach stuclach says:

    This series has been really interesting. Well done.

  16. keith7198 keith7198 says:

    Such an interested series.

  17. dharmabum dharmabum says:

    Good series Jim! We talked about digital comics a bit yesterday on our podcast, Gadgetcast. (gadgetcast.wordpress.com) The main problem I see with digital comics at the moment are the price. There is no way I will pay the same price for a digital copy as I would for a print version. The only comics I have downloaded digitally are the free versions and I don’t like reading them on anything smaller than a 10″ tablet.

  18. glennsim says:

    I can somewhat relate to the idea of being addicted to something that others might find odd. When I was a kid, part of the fun of comics for me was arranging and rearranging them into different orders. Then when computers came around, it was making lists of them. I was always interested in finding new ways to keep up with my comics. At the same time, I was also interested in indexing the writer, artists, characters, plots, etc. At one time, I had a huge database of this information about the comics in my collection – that no one else would ever see. Hours and hours and hours of time spent going over my comics and making sure I had all of this information about them – just to have something to fill my time.

    Eventually, I discovered an online program that allowed users to upload this sort of information, and then I spent more and more hours providing information to that program, which had the bonus that what I provided would be shared with other users, so I was actually contributing to something that others would see and would potentially have a life outside of my walls.

    Recently, though, I wound up giving that up, as the makers of the program have to approve everything, but they were either approving information in a format that was counter to what myself and others had established as a “house style”, or they were approving incorrect things that were overwriting my correct information, or they simply weren’t ever getting around to approving things. So I had to move away from that aspect of the fun. But I know over time I have spent a whole lot of time entertaining myself in that sort of way, and I can see where the scanning would have a similar attraction for someone.

  19. glennsim says:

    I do think one thing that separates comics from something like music or games is that a printed comic has some value outside of its ability to present the information it contains. While it shouldn’t get out of hand, the fact is that comics are collectible. Sure, people have CD collections, and DVD collections, but taken as a percentage of the overall consumers, I suspect the number of people who are making sure their copy of a particular CD or DVD stays in mint condition is low. Vinyl aside, the music generally sounds the same when it comes out of the speakers, whether it’s originating from a paid download, a pirated download, or a CD. So there really isn’t much value outside of the sound itself. But with a comic, there’s a collectability factor. There’s also the fact that some people prefer the reading experience of a physical comic. You can’t actually really duplicate the comic itself in all of the ways that people appreciate the comic – all you can copy is the art and pages. So I think there’s always going to be a market for paper comics in some form, and those are not really pragmatic to truly duplicate (i.e. actually making more paper comics).

  20. ed209AF ed209AF says:

    i don’t know if this was said already, (i honestly only read about half the comments), but…

    i like to relate this discussion/debate to people who buy/download bootleg movies:
    There are two types of people who buy/download bootlegs.

    1) People who want a cheap/free way to experience their entertainment.
    2) People who would pay for a movie if it was available, but it isn’t.

    People who fall into category 2, i can sympathize with. I have friends who buy obscure horror movies like its crack, but if a movie is ever released/re-released to the available market, they REFUSE to buy the bootleg because they know it’s hurting something they love.
    I feel the same can be said about comics. There are books that are out of print, and to buy them, new or used, can be incredibly expensive. (i myself ran into this predicament when i considered buying all of Batman No Man’s Land).

    I also understand when someone wants to get into comics but they are worried about all of the missing information of the past. (A friend of mine recently downloaded all of the important Marvel Events from House of M, to Siege, just to see if comic reading was a game he really wanted to play)

    In these instances, i can understand downloading a comic. But to go download a new release on Wednesday afternoon, just to save yourself the 3 dollars, it’s cheap and petty. If you want to try something new, support it correctly.

    but that’s just me…

  21. Sockman Sockman says:

    I actually feel like this woman was the most level headed scanner that was interviewed. This was a very interesting series,I would say high brow comics journalism.

  22. I remember seeing statistics that suggested that people who download the most are often the people who spend the most on comics. I used to download quite a lot when I was about 17, as I really couldn’t afford to buy all the books that I was interested in. But now as a 26 year old with a steady job, I never download comics because I can afford them. I’ve even gone back and bought lots of the issues that I downloaded and really enjoyed.
    Basically what I’m trying to get across is that the £20 – £30 a week comic habit that I now have is largely predicated on the knowledge and enthusiasm that I gleamed from reading the illegal scans I downloaded a few years ago.

  23. Jeff Reid JeffR (@JeffRReid) says:

    This whole interview series as been great, Jim. Really interesting stuff. Nice going.

  24. Agent Graves Agent Graves says:

    Piracy isn’t stealing. It’s piracy.

    It’s like if someone steals your car, but your car is still there.

  25. PDubble says:

    The key to all this is that this piracy is much like the music piracy of old. These comics come out within hours of comic shops opening on Wednesday. This is something the comics industry has got to cope and compete with, and just like other print media and the music industry it is handling it poorly.