During the last DC panel of Wondercon, the talk turned to illegal downloads, their ethics, popularity, and effect on the comic book industry.
My take is that they’re not ethical, they’re very popular, and their overall effect is bad. That being said, I can’t really lord morality over anyone. I don’t get permission for the panels I use to illustrated stuff on this site, so to the extent I can steal, I suppose I do.
To the extent that I can. To be honest, a part of what’s keeping me back from at least sneaking a few downloads to get the flavor of a particular book, is that I honestly can’t do it. At all. I’m a half-wit when it comes to know-how. I don’t really know where to look for anything that I can’t look up in a book. I’m also a half-wit when it comes to technology. I tend toward the user-friendly programs and everything else is ‘magic’. Half times half leaves me with a quarter wit to navigate my way through torrent sites, and I’m not up to the challenge. I’ll pay the three dollars, thank you.
Another part of what keeps me shelling out money for books I know are going to frustrate me, is the overall atmosphere. To me, going to a comic book store is like going to a bar. Specifically, my well-loved, local bar. I see people every week. I catch up with them. I talk comics with them. I drift away and read when they talk sports. I come back and we talk about what’s on TV, and eventually they close up and I head home.
Downloading comics has its appeal, especially to the broke and cheap, both of which kind of describe me, but at the same time – come on. That’s like saying, “Why go down and meet my friends for a beer when I can make gin in my bathtub and get drunk alone?” Sure, you can. But why would you?
Except that, thanks to 4thletter, and Comics Alliance and Io9 and Comic Book Resources and LJ and Dreamwidth and Twitter and hundreds of message boards, that’s not true. Hell, half of why I got into comics was the vast amount of resources, and company, online.
So I wonder, is this part of why people download comics? I know, I know, less human connection, less local communities pulling together, standards. I’m not frowning on it. Like I said, I wouldn’t be into comics if I couldn’t talk about them whenever I have the time, and if I couldn’t get the number of angles on them that the internet provides. Supplanting local with global might not be picturesque, but it gives a lot of opportunities for connection, and for variety. At the same time, when you can get comics online for the same price that you can get conversation about comics online, maybe that’s competition too tough for vendors and creators. And given that they’re who we need for our fix, maybe that’s going to be a problem pretty soon.