“Yes, Professor Waid, you hippie freak, sharing is all well and good, but how does that pay my bills?”
I know. I know. We all still should be financially compensated for hard work so we can keep doing this and make a decent living. No argument. And that brings us back around to filesharing. If you’re genuinely morally indignant about this issue, I understand and respect that. But I worry that a lot of the moral indignation I hear over filesharing is just a way of trying to mask our panic over how our ability to make a living with our art is quickly eroding under the current business models. And I understand that fear. I really, truly do.
Look, if you are in comics just to make money, I can respect that. Honestly, no sarcasm. But if you are here to create a sustainable living for yourself while at the same time finding some way to give back to the world, then filesharing is not a problem…it’s an opportunity.
Like it or not, downloading is here. Torrents and filesharing are here. That’s not going away. I’m not here to attack it or defend it–I’m not going to change anyone’s mind either way, and everyone in America at this point has anecdotal evidence “proving” how it hurts or helps the medium–but I am here to say it isn’t going away–and fear of it, fear of filesharing, fear of illegal downloading, fear of how the internet changes publishing in the 21st century, that’s a legitimate fear, because we’re all worried about putting food on the table and leaving a legacy for our children, but we’re using our energy on something we can’t stop, because filesharing is not going away.
Much more in the link. Perhaps if Waid had said all this on Saturday, there wouldn’t have been any confrontations, just nodding.
See also David Brothers’ essay on digital comics today on Comics Alliance: Please, Just Kiss Digital Comics On The Mouth Already.:
Here’s the problem with that: Digital comics are not there to support retailers. They are a competitor. They are the new gunslinger in town to blow the head off the old gunslinger. They’re the person trying to break up your marriage. Netflix doesn’t hold back on content, let publishers set ridiculous prices, or send customers to Blockbuster, so why should digital comics do the same?
It’s a common talking point precisely because digital comics are a huge threat to retailers, and since the Direct Market depends on retailers to sell comics, they don’t want to anger their biggest business partners. That’s totally fair; you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, and you don’t want to count your digital distribution eggs before they hatch. But at the same time, (and to continue the increasingly ill-advised New Girl In the Building comparison): if you keep holding back and selling yourself short, you’ll eventually be left with nothing. If the digital effort continues to be a half-effort, the failure of digital comics will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. At some point, you need to either make your move or give up.
In the meantime, comics creators were still feeling vaguely uneasy about the entire landscape of comics selling, as writer Chris Gage showed in a few twitters earlier today:
Man, I just looked at the July comics sales numbers and they’re depressing. The economy is a huge part of that but piracy has to be too… I don’t wanna get into a big debate about illegally downloading comics, don’t have the time or energy, but I’ll say this: if you illegally download a comic, especially a low or mid seller, you are voting for it to END. That’s all. Back to work.
With comics sales back to the same levels as the dark days of 1999, it’s fair to ask if piracy is to blame — even though comics were being scanned and downloaded 11 years ago, it probably wasn’t as widespread or socially accepted as it is now.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.