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  1.  (8058.1)
    You know what I got out of the habit of, years ago? Reading PREVIEWS. Its pernicious influence aside -- as one retailer once said to me, reliance on PREVIEWS turns a comics shop into a catalogue store -- it likely still remains the best snapshot of the commercial Anglophone industry on a regular basis.

    One of the interesting side-effects of comics piracy is that the broadcasting of scanned comics is, by and large, limited to the big commercial stuff. On a weekly basis, I mean. The first scanned comic of the week was BRIGHTEST DAY 0 -- a frankly bizarre object square in the middle of what I recently thought of as Hysterical Comics (as in "hysteria," not "funny"), that opens up with a baby bird getting its neck fatally broken. We've all done strange things to superhero comics over the years, but sometimes I think that none are as outright weird as Geoff John's death-soaked shouting opuses. Sometimes I think that, somewhere, David Quinn and Tim Vigil of FAUST infamy are wondering why they never got a gig on GREEN LNTERN.

    Anyway. Aside from the odd fluke, pirated comics tend to be exactly what you'd expect. Very few people are going out of their way to scan the new Fantagraphics books on day of release. It is, in fact, generally the same skew you'd get in a standard comics shop. All the new Marvels, all the new DCs, most of Vertigo and a smattering of the other stuff.

    If I were starting out today, I'd be thinking very hard about wrapping my comic into a .cbz container, slinging it on Rapidshare and posting the link on download sites under an anonymous handle.

    I mean, obviously, more people are probably thinking about an iPad app. But the thing about iPad apps is that, as with the iPhone, there are going to be a huge fucking load of them very soon, and they're going to be very difficult to sort through. An iPad app for an indie comic is going to get lost in the crowd just like an indie comic in PREVIEWS. Probably worse, since paging through PREVIEWS is a bit easier than clicking through a category dump in the App Store.

    The trick, as always, is finding ways to thwart obscurity. And, as Cory has said again and again, obscurity is the author's main and worst enemy.
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      CommentAuthorlx
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.2)
    A friend of mine just this week was talking about hacking her Kindle to pull up her torrented Manga and I had just that thought -- "how do I get in that distribution channel?"

    Pirate your darlings.
  2.  (8058.3)

    If I were starting out today, I'd be thinking very hard about wrapping my comic into a .cbz container, slinging it on Rapidshare and posting the link on download sites under an anonymous handle.


    This of course is smarter in many ways than using an iPhone app. At least is truly multi-platform, and like a raw text file comes with the guarantee that it'll be readable in many years time, because the formatting data is commonly known.
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      CommentAuthorSteve
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.4)
    As an owner of an iPad, and someone who has multiple comic readers on there I agree with the problem of obscurity.

    If you search the app store for "comics" you get a ridiculous amount of crap. As a consumer, unless I know about your app, and know to search for it by name, I'll probably never find it. Also, I really don't want to get a separate app for each individual title, or worse, issue that I want to read. Downloading all my comics in .CBZ then throwing them into comiczeal to have them all in one place is a lot easier than the non piratey method. Something needs to change.
    • CommentAuthorpjperez
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.5)
    If I were starting out today, I'd be thinking very hard about wrapping my comic into a .cbz container, slinging it on Rapidshare and posting the link on download sites under an anonymous handle.


    Er, yes, but I suppose just like a webcomic, there's no guarantee this will convert into future sales or wider exposure outside of the indiscriminate pirating types.
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      CommentAuthorSamRiedel
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.6)
    If I were starting out today, I'd be thinking very hard about wrapping my comic into a .cbz container, slinging it on Rapidshare and posting the link on download sites under an anonymous handle.


    I find myself wondering if the same process couldn't work for, say, a series of short stories or (perhaps) poetry. A link to the creator's homepage at the work's beginning/end could stir up traffic as well.
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      CommentAuthorAnxst
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.7)
    I definitely agree. Back when I was a comic book pirate, I always bought and scanned all the little books I loved, and shared them with everyone I could. I know for a fact I probably sold 100 copies of SCUD: THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN in my social circle by handing them out back in the day. And I can still read the damned things, on anything I can get my hands on, because they're in .cbr format.

    People can't read what they've never heard of. More than ever, word of mouth isn't good enough. The consumer adspace is so full of attention grabbing everything that if I think a book is good, I need to be able to throw it into your brainspace as soon as you show the slightest interest when I bring it up. otherwise, you'll just forget the thing. Easily tradeable issues of indie comicbooks is the way to be to solve that issue.
  3.  (8058.8)
    A side-note, but it just sprung up because someone at the office has an iPad now: McKelvie was talking to Tom and I about optimising artwork, i.e. thinking about how it's going to be coming out onscreen rather than on print. I'm wondering if there's going to be some way of charting how screen-reading's changing attitudes to artwork? Now, Mark Sarmel's images are illustrative rather than narrative, but those clean, block colours are a lot more pleasant to view onscreen than, say, the Doc Savage preview here.

    Personal taste is, obviously, critical to that, but it strikes me a good way of staving off obscurity would be making sure your colourist uses a palette that suits a screen.
  4.  (8058.9)

    Er, yes, but I suppose just like a webcomic, there's no guarantee this will convert into future sales or wider exposure outside of the indiscriminate pirating types.


    I think here you have to look at two different things. Firstly the fact that various studies have shown that music pirates buy more music. Secondly the idea that by covertly condoning piracy you are spreading your work to people who would never have bought your music/comics/books anyway which could convert them into people who might buy your music/comics/books.

    There's never any guarantee of sales; all you can do is try and maximise the potential for them.

    As Cory has said: obscurity is the author's main and worst enemy.
    • CommentAuthordino
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.10)
    Wrapping in an app is a dead-end. Write an app of your book for iWhatever and then what? Write another one for Android? And another for the next platform? As we've seen in recent changes to developer terms, Apple is dead-set against any kind of software reusability spanning their iDevices and anybody else's. Everyone needs to focus on open data file formats.

    Open formats like cbr (which is what your .cbz is) and epub are important for avoiding obscurity. As it happens I wrote a simple script that turns Freakangels into a cbr. That's how I read them and keep them, the whole thing from Day 1. I have bought paper editions to support you guys, but I would have preferred to have bought the data files instead.
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      CommentAuthoragentarsenic
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010 edited
     (8058.11)
    I wish comics publishers would give a free digital copy with each purchase. That way I can slip my ULTRA SPECIAL DUAL PARALLAX COVER EX EDITION in a polybag and actually bring the comic with me on the go via my iPhone or netbook. You hear that Avatar? That's bidness. Whoever is going pirate your comic already has, why not give the paying customer a little more? DRM it if you have to, lock it to a special reader, I don't care, I just want to read the comic without opening the comic sometimes/

    On the subject of releasing comic books online, Hannibal Tabu over at cbr.cc accepts new solicitations and will review them (in PDF form I think). Mininova.org is now a large distribution channel for nearly anything - music, comics, film. DC++ scan hubs are filled with folks who've already read everything this week looking for something new. True file hounds will want your scan simply for the novelty of having something rare in their share.

    Cory Doctorow allowed a couple of his short stories to be turned into comics (Anda's Game, I, Robot) and I downloaded them on the iPhone. The company that released the comics (Robot Comics) advertised a free issues of other series at the end of each comic. I ended up buying all five issues of The Eternal City because it was so good and not available anywhere else. So, giving something for free prompted me to buy something else that was not free.
  5.  (8058.12)
    I read a lot on the iPhone. Most of my site is devoted to what I read and see. While the format is not ideal, there are some which are now beginning to use the format to its advantage. Box 13 is made specifically for the iPhone and Robot 13 takes advantage of the vibration feature to good effect. The Comixology & iVerse apps have allowed me to read comics outside of the main competitors. Often with a free teaser or preview which has lead me to read things like Invincible, Astounding Wolf Man and many others of their huge library.
    Living in the UK, many of the comic book shops don't get many of the smaller companies books in unless specially ordered. I don't live near enough to a shop to get 'floppies' on a regualr basis. If I like the comic I will buy the trades. I am constantly searching through the app store to see if any have slipped through what I have missed.

    Although not perfect - the iPhone/iPad still can introduce new readers to new comics - outside of Marvel & DC.
    Through it I now have non reading friends who use my recommendations to buy comics - some of them have even gone out to buy trades of Irreedeemable and Invincible.
    Anything that increases perception of the art form is, in my mind, a plus
  6.  (8058.13)
    Promoting less popular titles/characters/creators is a challenge even in a major publisher. We have 7,000+ books available in our digital service (http://marvel.com/digitalcomics $60/year or $10/month, not to overtly shill or anything) and the most-read ones are what you'd expect, the Amazing Spider-Man/Uncanny X-Men, big franchise books. I'd personally love it if users would read more of the Nextwave or Runaways or Iron Fist type titles (and I think that there exists body of users that would be more likely to buy into our subscription service or our print books if they knew those titles existed) .
  7.  (8058.14)
    The same old problems now come on shiny screens at ultra-fast speeds!
  8.  (8058.15)
    #firstworldproblems
  9.  (8058.16)
    As Cory would certainly tell you "Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy." is one of Tim O'Reilly's great contributions. Read all about it here: http://openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2002/12/11/piracy.html

    I would extend this bit of wisdom to say say Brokeness is a far greater threat to artists who want to create distribution channels than either obscurity or piracy. The exercise of making comics is largely a non-self sustaining exercise. If it's something you want to do you had better have plenty of resources (time, money, supportive community) to sink into it. It's fun to think that after you invest in creating stellar content you can make a further investment in leading the charge on a new platform (like the iPad). Unless you also happen to be a whiz at Objective C or have a couple grand to sink into a freelance app dev team it's probably not going to happen in any kind of significant way.

    Unlike the iPhone the iPad (and tablet computers in general) have a massive amount of potential for comics distribution. I think part of the question that not being asked is what is the content creator's role in creating the distribution channel itself?
  10.  (8058.17)
    I think part of the question that not being asked is what is the content creator's role in creating the distribution channel itself?

    Files under "thwarting obscurity"
  11.  (8058.18)
    Not to derail the conversation, but "thwart obscurity" so needs to be the next t-shirt....
  12.  (8058.19)
    Interesting discussion. Mr. Olson seems to be saying obscurity is obscurity and maybe always will be? The real problem is readers, isn't it? No matter how many new viewing mediums are released and invented, if people still don't want to read indies, they won't (the iPad generally helps the situation, but only barely; as was pointed out earlier several times, indies are faced with fresh problems on the new viewing medium). So question 2: how the hell does this fix itself? The big companies need to stop with this "event" bullshit, that's part of the problem. They basically con people into buying a large number of "cross-overs" and such effectively draining their weekly comics fund and urge at the drop of a hat. I get it, it's a business, but businesses work better without monopolies. There's a conceptual element there too, that shuns readers away from indies. If "nothing will be the same ever again" in these gigantic, 50-year history, mainstream super-hero books, it makes your indies look obsolete in the mind of the layman comics reader. But people also need to open their minds. The same problem hits film & music every year. Every day. Perhaps obscurity will always be obscurity...?
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2010
     (8058.20)
    The same problem hits film & music every year. Every day.

    We're far from immune from this in the games biz too. The channels that were opened up on the mainstream home consoles that were ostensibly to allow more 'indie' developers to get their games in front of an audience haven't really proven to be the silver bullet many were expecting. Instead you find that the games that do best are still very much games with significant publisher backing (and the marketing that goes with it).