His Reasoning Is Askew

January 24th, 2012 by | Tags: , ,

Joshua Hale Fialkov wrote an anti-piracy piece the other day. It’s interesting, but I disagree with most of it, if not all of it. It’s not that I don’t get his point (it’s basically “Times are hard, no one reads comics, and piracy sucks” from his POV), it’s that his reasoning feels suspect to me, a little Team Comics-y. Stuff like this:

The comic market consists of about 200,000 people, on the high end. Now, certainly, you’ll have your Justice Leagues and Batmans and Flash’s that do amazing sales and are generating profits. But almost every other book that isn’t up there in the top 25 or so titles is almost certainly losing money.

rings false to me. In the direct market, sure, that may be true, but Scholastic has printed ten million copies of Jeff Smith’s Bone, a comic for the children who do not read comics, since 2005. The anthology Flight went for eight volumes over the course of a few years, plus spinoffs. Robert Kirkman has his The Walking Dead, Felipe Smith is over in Japan making manga, and on and on. These may be outliers, but the comics culture, for lack of a pithier way to say “people who buy comics,” is much larger than 200,000 people. That’s probably even true of the Direct Market.

There’s also this:

So, while I’m telling you to stop being an asshole, I need you to do something for me. Be an asshole. You know how when someone you’re talking to makes a horrificly offensive racist comment and you immediately tell them to watch their mouth (or smack them or what have you…)? Well, I want you to do that about Piracy. Call them a fucking cockhead.

This is just silly. One, that’s not how anyone has ever been convinced of anything. Calling somebody a cockhead is probably what led to Lucifer and God falling out. Two, it doesn’t do anything but make both people into jerks and spark completely unproductive arguments. Three, I get his point, that we should take a stand against piracy amongst our peers, but seriously? This isn’t the way to do it. You’d be better off trying to actively guilt trip them, and that is the pass-aggest thing in the entire world.

But what I really wanted to talk about, what really crawled all the way under my skin, was this:

Tell them that they’re singly responsible for ruining the comic book industry (or the film industry or whatever.)

Folks, the ship is sinking and we all need to stand up and fight.

“Singly responsible.”

I like that, because it pushes all of the responsibility for lost money and a broken industry onto the consumer. “What’s wrong with this industry? You are, dear consumer. That will be $2.99 plus tax, enjoy your read.” That’s MPAA/RIAA talk right there, and it’s completely counterproductive and ridiculous. Fialkov seems like a smart dude, from what I’ve read of his interviews, so I’m actually surprised these words came out of his mouth.

But sure, let’s do this.

When I was a kid, I could buy comics for a dollar or two. It was the early ’90s and comics were a thing children did and parents tolerated in case it made money. I never had much of an allowance (Thanks, Mom), but I would get ten or twenty bucks for helping my aunt clean houses around town once I got old enough to push a mop, so I could finance my own entertainment.

I owned a Super Nintendo, but SNES tapes were like 70 bucks a piece, or something equally unreachable as a kid. I think I only ever owned Super Mario World, Star Fox, Mario Kart, and probably Street Fighter. I rented games from our local video store (either Blockbuster or Video Warehouse, though I don’t think it was called that then) for something like 2-5 bucks for 3 days.

Music was pretty expensive, too. 18 bucks at the mall for a CD, 12 at the BX. I didn’t buy my first CD until like 1998, with Heltah Skeltah’s (still great) Magnum Force, so it was the radio (free) or cassette tapes (ten bucks or less) for me.

From what I recall, my mom handled paying for theater movies, and I would rent them along with the video games. I had the option of playing outside, which I took fairly often, because the south has really nice weather, or working with my grandfather on his lawn, which I had no choice in at all and was basically free child labor. Oh, and I could go to the library if I could talk someone into driving me. Toward the late ’90s, we lived near a library, so I could bike there on a Saturday and bike back with half a dozen books to tear through.

That was it. That’s what I had to entertain myself from whenever I became conscious of money on through probably 1999.

Here’s what I’ve done so far today, over the past 12 or so hours:
-Went on went on Crunchyroll.com and tried to find some new anime to watch
-I added gdgd fairies to my list because a friend recommended it, along with a couple other shows that looked mildly interesting/not-moe
-I bought two albums from Amazon: Gangrene’s Vodka & Ayahuasca and The Suzan’s Golden Week For The Poco Poco Beat, both of which bang pretty hard
-I ordered Greneberg on vinyl because I like raw raps, and Mos Def’s The Ecstatic because I’ve been looking for it since I got a turntable
-I added several sample chapters to my Kindle and continued reading David Peace’s Tokyo Year Zero while they
-Spent three hours online doing research for a new work project. I’ve undoubtedly read the equivalent of several video game magazines worth of content across maybe a dozen different websites (a pox on Metacritic).
-Listened to both the albums I bought this morning via Google Music, made notes for songs to delete from Google Music because I’m perilously close to the limit
-Went to add something to my Netflix queue (I Saw The Devil) only to realize that it was already in my queue
-Made plans with a friend to watch a foreign movie on Blu-ray
-Watched a few trailers on Hulu (Get down with Madagascar or get laid down)
-Watched music videos on Youtube (you could do this in the past, but only on TV and you couldn’t pick what was what unless you had The Box)
-Posted some stuff on Tumblr

And some stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting, but let me get to my point. I’m not rich. I’ve got a job, which is a really nice thing to have, and it lets me buy nice things, but that’s about it. But besides the money, which really just lets me consume in a greater volume than I did as a child rather than breadth, the main difference between when comics made everybody a bunch of money and today is this:

We have options now, when it comes to what we choose to entertain us. You can drown in entertainment without putting forth really any effort at all today. It’s not like back then, when comics were a larger part of a smaller pie.

The internet didn’t exist (or “wasn’t a going concern” for the pedants who are sure to tell me about DARPA or ARPA or Al Gore or whatever) when I was a kid. Game consoles weren’t multimedia devices. Mobile phones were a joke. Cordless phones were the new hotness. Long distance calling was a special occasion. Etc etc woe is past me, blah blah blah.

To put forth the idea that piracy on the part of consumers is “singly responsible” for anything, especially when piracy by its very nature is impossible to nail down in terms of concrete numbers and cause & effect is dishonest. Bootlegs have always existed, whether in barbershops or art galleries. They’ve been here, and they aren’t going away. Do they cause harm? Any idiot knows the answer to that question is “yes.”

But for my money, the thing that killed comic books is “everything else.” We’re living in an all-new status quo, and I keep seeing people, especially comics people, acting like piracy is the sole cause of all their ills. When no, that isn’t true, and a half glance at the world will tell you so.

I don’t even have to leave my house to be flooded with things to do. I can have food delivered, songs and movies I buy (or download, whatever) appear on my hard drive or PlayStation like magic, video games can be bought and played without ever touching a physical disc… we’re living in the future, and that’s without even going outside. Outside, I can go to the movies, check out stand-up open mics, hang out with friends, drink Starbucks, eat donuts, play board games, go to bars…

There is so much to do, and when you tell me my choice is between (in this instance) a comic that averages out to being just okay and costs three to four dollars to read for five to ten minutes and doing anything else, I’m going to choose anything else, nine times out of ten, with exceptions made for creators I enjoy or books that might have a good hook that I’m curious about.

And I like comics. At this point, I’ve probably written a million words about them. I like supporting the people who make comics, whether with an email about how much I like their work, a Paypal donation, or just buying their books when they come out. My apartment is a mess because I like these stupid picture books so much.

It’s a new age. You either figure out how to progress along with time or you get washed away. Which is maybe “a fucking cockhead” thing to say, but that doesn’t make it any less true. 1996 rules don’t apply any more. You have to change for that new status quo.

I like this group named Pac Div a whole lot. It’s three cats (BeYoung, Like, and Mibbs) out of LA who can rap their butts off. They’ve got a style and subject matter that I’m into. They’ve gotten nine bucks out of me, because I bought The Div off Amazon. That album came out in 2011. I’ve been listening to the Div since 2009, and have enjoyed three of their full-length mixtapes, which are completely free. I don’t really go to concerts, so the only way I could support them was by buying that record when it came out. Their mixtapes are good enough that I would’ve paid for them out of pocket, so dropping ten dollars on The Div wasn’t even a question. I gladly throw money at them because I like what they do.

Their model, which is shared by a lot of rappers these days, doesn’t work for everyone, but they’re trying something that was unheard of back when the music industry was making money hand over fist. Pac Div knew that they weren’t going to come out of the gates and sell a million like it’s nothing, so they built a fanbase, toured the country (and eventually Europe, like they did in 2011 six months before their album dropped), and then released a tape at retail. Giving stuff away is no way to make a living, but they figured out how to monetize that model, and I assume it’s worked out pretty well for them. Hopefully, anyway–I’d like to see these guys succeed.

I don’t know what model is the future of comics. I do believe that it isn’t three and four dollar puzzle pieces, and it isn’t two dollar digital comics, either. Comics have a hard uphill climb, because the return on investment (to use a particularly odious phrase) just isn’t there for the reader. Four bucks for a comic featuring Wolverine that lasts ten minutes versus four bucks for a coffee with friends vs three bucks for a movie rental on Amazon vs five bucks for digital manga vs five bucks for an MP3 album on sale vs six bucks for a pre-noon movie on a lazy Saturday vs nine bucks for a Kindle book vs whatever else is out there. .99 for Angry Birds and Bejeweled 2. Not to mention drugs and romance, which is a whole other kettle of hopefully good-looking fish.

I paid twenty bucks for a season of Justified. That’s five comics. The difference in value there, assuming we aren’t talking about completely transcendant comics (which are few and far between), is harsh.

A lot of things have hurt comics. Needlessly conservative storytelling, crap coloring (maybe that’s just me and my art snob friends though), bad comics, rising prices, a lack of speculators, the Hollywood money being exponentially better, companies going for the short gain instead of the long-term gain (I’m looking at you, Humanoids, and your reprinting of comics classics in strictly deluxe formats that are too expensive for the casual reader who needs that stuff and you, Marvel, who can’t even keep a trade of a book that’s buzzing super hard in print, and you, comic shops, for banging your doofus drum every time somebody does something in digital comics you don’t like), and yes, piracy, have all hurt comics.

Tell them that they’re singly responsible for ruining the comic book industry (or the film industry or whatever.)

Folks, the ship is sinking and we all need to stand up and fight.

“Singly responsible” is an untruth, and to be honest, I’d be remarkably surprised if it was largely responsible for the current state of comics. Nobody even has actual, non-made up numbers on how piracy has personally affected them. They look at numbers on Demonoid or Rapidshare and go “See? I lost 3 dollars times thirty thousand downloads.” That’s fake reasoning. That’s assuming that everyone who got curious would have paid for your book, or that people aren’t backing up their legal copies, or half a dozen other situations. There are bots that seed torrent files just because they exist, users who download everything because they like having a large ratio, or because of some dumb OCD internet thing.

People were losing money on comics long before piracy was something that comics companies noticed. I get that piracy makes for a nice scapegoat, but the fall of comics, if it is in fact falling rather than changing into something else, is way bigger than piracy, no matter how hard people bang that drum and close their ears to dissent.

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42 comments to “His Reasoning Is Askew”

  1. Great post David.

  2. I agree with you totally. If you look at the music industry, it was the first to have a large piracy problem. At that time they were trying to sell you $20 cds, with 8 songs, one of which might be good. So people feeling burned turned to pirating. Then Itunes pops up and it all changed. Music became affordable again, and it led to Amazon, Google, and services like Spotify and Rdio to help cut back on piracy. Same thing with the movie industry. Pay 35 dollars for a Blu Ray or DVD? No, thanks. I don’t feel like playing movie Russian Roulette. Next thing you know Netflix and Hulu come around and people turn to that instead and the industry realizes that offering these streaming services at affordable rates is the way to go.

    Studies have been done that show pirates still spend more money on average then other consumers. The problem is that many people, RIAA and MPAA included, count a pirated item as a lost sale. However, there is no way of knowing if any of those people ever intended on spending money on it in the first place. This is why it is impossible to really tell how bad piracy is for an industry, hell even the US government has said they can’t really calculate the loss industries suffer due to piracy because of the aforementioned reason.

    The film and music industry have come up with plans to help make their products affordable, and until the comics industry does the same thing I feel they need to place some blame on themselves for the piracy that is occurring.

  3. So true. I personally think comics will always be around in some shape or form. Whether or not the Big Two pull their head outta their butt before it’s too late for them, that’s the question. Mainstream comics PROVIDERS may die off but there’s far too many indy guys, manga and Euro artists doing it (and doing it well) for comics to disappear completely. Not to mention with the internet, it’s easier to bypass Diamond and other factors that get in the way of indy books. If anything, I’d say piracy helps comics instead of hindering them because it’s getting books into the hands of people who like comics (or are curious about them) but would never step foot inside of a comic store.

    I think when the day comes that the floppies die the horrible death they deserve and comics (finally) move into GNs/Trades exclusively, you’ll see an uptick in sales because the price point will then be worth it (unless it’s a MArvel book, who now charge more for their TPBs than it cost to buy them seperately as floppies to get you to buy the floppies and not trade wait).

  4. Thank you, David.

  5. Yeah, floppies must die. Also, I would never have paid for a comic in my life (well… at least not superhero stuff. I was already buying manga and big stuff like Bone. Edit that to I would never have entered a comic shop) if it wasn’t for piracy.

  6. “And, of course, the economy is horrible! And you’re un (or under) employed! And you have to see/read/listen or else. I’m sorry. That sucks. But you’re being an asshole” — how charming.

  7. Well said.

  8. I saw the devil is wicked dude.

  9. For me, price is increasingly becoming a major issue. I love comics, and I love supporting creators who are making work I care about, but when I’m dropping $25+ a week on 6-8 books, it starts to add up. I mean, three months of comics could basically pay my water bill for a year. That’s a little nuts.

    At this point, I’ve largely switched over to buying TPBs for mainstream stuff, since Amazon Prime makes it super easy to have stuff I like, delivered quickly. Though, I’m starting to feel mighty gouged by four-issue collections that are priced at $20+. Meanwhile, I support indie books in single issues, pay for digital content from creators I think are doing it the right way (just bought Once Upon a Four O’Clock in the Afternoon, by Madeleine Flores), and read a huge swath of webcomics, buying merchandise when I can afford it. I guess my point is that, even with comics, I have a lot of new, different options in the way I buy and read them.

    Incidentally, I read Old City Blues: Private Enemy Phase One, after seeing Warren Ellis Tweet about it, and bought the physical collection, after seeing your Comics Alliance review. So, y’know. Thanks for that.

  10. Thank you for this. Also: “three and four dollar puzzle pieces” liked this turn of phrase.

  11. This is why your my fave comics blogger. (blogger in general)

  12. Slow. Clap.

    I live paycheck to paycheck, and as irresponsible as it sounds, a good third of my money goes to comics. That needs to end for a number of reasons, but my point is that if comics were cheaper, I wouldn’t have to choose between supporting the comics/creators I like and living off ramen for a week.

    When DC announced they were rebooting and going day-and-date with EVERY TITLE, I was thrilled. Finally, I thought, someone got it and was making sweeping changes to right a sinking ship. I even took my precious tax refund and bought a tablet PC to read them on.

    And then they announced that the digital comics were going to be the same price as the physical ones.


    I STILL don’t understand that decision. But I’m a dutiful DC drone. I cancelled all my DC titles at the shop and started buying them digitally. Even though they’re expensive. Even though I can’t set up a subscription on Comixology, and there’s no discount like at my LCS. Even though I have to buy them individually, because there is no Shopping Cart, because apparently the designers never bought anything from any site on the Internet, ever.

    I shouldn’t keep this up. I can’t keep this up. I’m not going to stop buying comics because of piracy. I’m going to stop buying comics because of comics.

    Keep on fighting the good fight, David.

  13. Derek, if you’re devoting a third of your income to comics while living paycheck to paycheck, please, stop right now. One day you will want to retire. You will need that money that you are spending on comics today. Put it in a long-term savings account. You will want better than ramen when you are 66.

  14. For whatever it’s worth, bad comics are the main thing keeping me from buying more. I probably buy too many comics these days as is, but I am reliably satisfied with all the titles I’m buying, so I’m in a happy place.

    The second thing keeping me from buying more is not knowing when there is a good jumping-on point. I’ve discovered that I’ve slowly stopped buying Marvel Comics altogether, because it just so happened that one title after another lost my interest, and I’ve never found a good point to jump back on. Example: I love “Captain America” more than any grown man should, but the title really started to flag (har) in the mid 90s, and I dropped it. Then I started hearing this business about Bucky’s return, and Cap losing a debate to Sally Floyd, and Cap dying, and Bucky becoming Cap, and now apparently Cap is back as a torture-allowing Cap … I feel like the train left the station, no point chasing it. Or, I hear nothing but good about Waid’s “Daredevil”, but it’s like eight issues into the run now, and that’s a big chunk of money to get caught up … again, the train’s left the station.

    DC’s 52 relaunch gave me a bunch of good jumping-on points, and I’m glad they did. For the first time since the early 1980s, I’m buying two “Batman” comics a month (three if you count “Nightwing”); it’s not that I’ve had any objections to Batman, I just hadn’t known when to jump on.

  15. “There is so much to do, and when you tell me my choice is between (in this instance) a comic that averages out to being just okay and costs three to four dollars to read for five to ten minutes and doing anything else, I’m going to choose anything else, nine times out of ten, with exceptions made for creators I enjoy or books that might have a good hook that I’m curious about.”

    EXACTLY. I’ve not bought as few monthly comics as I’m doing just now in my whole adult life. I’ve got a pretty good library near me, where I’m catching up on 20th Century Boys (jings, if I had the money, that is one comic I would like to own). I just got a 2nd copy of the Wild Zero DVD for 99p, and a compilation of Kirby monster comics for £3 from a charity shop. I can get a 12″ record for a few quid. Why would I want to spend my tiny funds on a shiny-papered 20-page adverts-heavy slab of comics mediocrity?

  16. That shoud be ‘2nd hand’, not ‘2nd’, in the above comment. I can’t afford to buy 2 copies of things, even if they are cheap!

  17. Just FYI: Albums you buy on Google Music don’t count towards your limit.

  18. If you’re not making something that’s worth the money you pay for it, I don’t think you can complain that people aren’t buying it.

  19. As a cartoonist myself, I’ve made a good deal of friends/associates in comics and coupled with my personal reading interests, placed me in a world where I cannot physically contain the comics that I own. It is a terrible life. Digital comics are okay but they are still financially untenable.

    Every part of the comics industry and business is broken and it’s a pure miracle that the entire works hasn’t collapsed already.

  20. […] that isn’t true, and a half glance at the world will tell you so.” [Joshua Hale Fialkov, 4thLetter!] Stan […]

  21. “Tell them that they’re singly responsible for ruining the comic book industry (or the film industry or whatever.)”
    Oh yeah ok, it’s not the generic, mass market tested, ROI intensive ‘art’ that’s produced, it’s the consumers fault for pirating. Sounds awfully like the banks tricking people into signing ARM’s, packing the bad loans into balls of other bad loans, selling them all over the place as investments, then blaming the mortgage holders when the whole house of cards tumbles down. “I’m rich, it could never be my fault!” Entitled dickbags…

    Also, Mos Def is the shit :c00lbert:

  22. @Chunky Style: “… but the title really started to flag (har) in the mid 90s …”

    Durr, I meant the mid 00s. Though it turns out there was a very Liefeldy period in the mid 90s when the title went to crap, and I dropped it until Waid came back …

  23. The latest trade of One Piece just sold about 38 million copies. This is one of the most scanlated, downloaded, and traded books on the internet, to the point where the American licensing company had to start putting the anime up online with subtitled within a few hours of the Japanese broadcast to compete with the fansubbers.

    And yet, despite all that, it sold 37,996,373 volumes in 2011. That’s more than the entire US comics industry combined. That’s more than number 2-9 on the list combined. For what one could easily call the most pirated comic on the internet *rimshot*

    Comics are fine. Bad comics and unsustainable product models are what’s in trouble.

    citation from: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2011-11-30/top-selling-manga-in-japan-by-series/2011

  24. So good. Thanks for writing this.

  25. Man, I gotta say unbelievable post, I love it and totally agree with everything you have said.

  26. YES. thanks yet again david:this is whats really up. im sick of being told how its our fault things are bad. our fault?! fuck YOU. i put in the work, time and money to follow an industry that seems to actively be driving me away. for about the cost of two of those terrible bendis avengers comics, i can get a lap dance around the corner from my shop (and not even have any guilt from Mrs Distort!). yet, i still read comics. well, not any of the overbloated Avengers franchise, but still. you get my point.

    i have never pirated a comic in my life, yet its my fault. i preorder (not ‘on principle’, but because otherwise i will be shit out of luck), yet its my fault. i spread the word to people, most of whom will never, ever pick up something like BULLETPROOF COFFIN (the only book i can even muster excitment for this week), yet its our fault. the industry is wounded, and ive seen too much blaming of everyone except themselves. you know what ive thought about recently? the creators who are so quick to call fans ‘entitled’ for wanting something crazy like ‘books to finish’ or ‘not be terrible’ are the very same people who think they should be able to (for example) support a family by writing quirky/edgy stories about Captain Americas back from the dead teen sidekick. think about that.

    no wonder ive dropped nearly all my new comics.

  27. Strong argument here. For what it’s worth, I downloaded some comics in around 2002 (because I was curious after seeing the early X-Men and Spider-Man movies) and that’s what got me interested in the medium. Now I spend hundreds of dollars every month on comics (95% of it on collected editions). Of course, I can do that now because I’m adult with a good job and substantial storage space.

    If I hadn’t downloaded some comics years ago, it’s likely that I wouldn’t read comic books now at all.

  28. Derek: please stop! If you have some moral qualm with theft, there’s the public library, webcomics, web-video people who want no more “support” than your eyeballs. You’re under no duty to “support comics”– comics exist to amuse you, not for you to help them build pyramids. It’s a businessman’s job (which they’re paid to do) to figure out how to make money from a receptive audience, not your job to figure out how to be HELPING them remove money from your wallet. Whoever you think you’re supporting– they’re not going to pick you up from the airport. They’re strangers who only want your money– they’re not putting out variant covers as a favor to you. Their happiness is not more important than yours– you’re a delicate flower! (Like, spiritually speaking?). Anyways, please, please stop.

  29. I don’t always agree with you,but today I do. Good job sir!

  30. Dear comics ,Its not my fault… that you release the same thing in 5 formats,that you micro-manage your talent so much that they can’t tell a decent story and get so pissed off by egos that they go to the other boss,that you don’t know how to advertise your product,that you are so trapped by short term thinking that you fuck your self over,that you don’t know how to keep your books in print,that you drove away people with high prices ,oh and I didn’t cause global warming either.

  31. I just want to second what Greg and Abhay said to Derek.

    Derek, we all love you and we care about you and we want you to get better soon.

    Consider this an intervention.

  32. When I hear rants like Fialkov’s I think of a quote by dear old Abhay: “Folks, people that would have you believe that it’s all up to you, that you somehow work for comics just because you buy one, are just trying to sell you things. They’re not your friends. They won’t give you a ride to the airport. and that’s all.”

  33. I buy 16 comics a month because I’m poor, and that’s all the money I can spare for comics. I bought 16 before I started pirating comics and I buy 16 now that I pirate basically everything that comes out every week. Fialkov is a dope :frown:

  34. This is possibly the single greatest response to the puzzled, blind, doomsayers in the comics industry who are wondering what happened to the multi-thousandaire life they were planning on living as a comic book creator.

    What’s sad is that the answer to the industry’s woes are so simple–I’m sure even the creators who LOVE comics are guilty of choosing anything else over reading a comic, on occasion–that it boggles the mind that no one in the industry had the common sense to say this before you did.

    Bravo, sir!

  35. I agree with many of the points here. A friend of mine once said, “A person who is pirating my stuff is just a customer I haven’t figured out how to reach yet.” I think some of the reaction to pirating is an industry struggling to catch up to a quickly shifting paradigm for content delivery.

    But it’s hard not to see other challenges with overblown, overpriced books filled with less and less content serving a shrinking section of the potential audience. With no cohesive plan or desire to actively expand that audience by advertising outside of the comic world (like perhaps an ad in women’s magazines about female centric characters might reach, you know, women), an unwillingness to grow a new crop of fans by maintaining a consistent product for kids and a host of other issues like the economy and increasing competition form other areas of entertainment, it’s no wonder things are in such disarray.

    I also agree that there are many reasons for the decline of the mainstream industry and no one thing is solely responsible for that. My one caveat is this. Some will use this point to side-step guilt and justify pirating. A kind of “It’s not singly” responsible therefore it’s okay.” sort of argument.

    So, yes, it’s important to remember that piracy isn’t the only concern facing the industry. Yes, it’s partially a reaction to overpriced comics.

    But pirating is also a dick move. I have met far too many people who brag about their pirating and refusing to pay for comics as a badge of honour. It’s true we don’t “owe” comics anything. And the industry issues are many. But that isn’t an excuse to steal.

  36. Dang, I forgot to thank you for this post. And for the terrific comments. And for the link to the Mark Waid post. I just read the interview and have all sorts of things to mull over.

  37. Thanks for reading, everybody. Revised version of this going on ComicsAlliance sometime soon.

    @EtcEtcEtc: Thanks muchly, that’s very flattering.

    @Derek: Derek, we can get you help. If you need an intervention, just say the word.

    @Abhay: This is the truest thing ever wrote.

  38. Not to be ‘that guy’… but the term “singly responsible” shouldn’t semantically equate to ‘soley’ responsible. The way I read Fialkov’s original post, he’s saying that each individual is responsible for his actions. That it’s not a vague mass of faceless ‘piracy’ that’s the problem–it’s the individuals who singly act. So your excellent post is kind of an apples to oranges comparison. He’s talking about policing yourself and your neighbor, but most of your comment goes to the systemic culture–the realities of the audience and market. …but whether you were unduly harsh on Fialkov is a minor quibble. The post illuminates a lot of blindspots for creators and publishers–who more than anyone else hide behind the pirate boogeyman.

  39. @david brothers: This HAS BEEN my intervention. I’m trimming my pull list Wednesday.

  40. […] piece entitled “His Reasoning Is Askew” is by a guy named David Brothers who I follow online. Like me he’s been reading comics […]

  41. To further this argument, also look at other print media. Both newspapers and magazines have suffered large declines in sales and readership and the interesting thing is neither are heavily pirated. People are just consuming less printed media than they use to and piracy probably plays a far smaller role than the media companies claim.

  42. […] David Brothers, fulano absolutamente desconocido para mí pero quién mejor abordo el meollo de la piratería: People were losing money on comics long before piracy was something that comics companies noticed. I get that piracy makes for a nice scapegoat, but the fall of comics, if it is in fact falling rather than changing into something else, is way bigger than piracy, no matter how hard people bang that drum and close their ears to dissent. […]