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  1.  (8058.81)
    No, I didn't, though guessing from your response I suspect the creator was ripped to shreds?

    I saw it happen several times over the years. Even happened to me once, from a couple who didn't realise I posted all kinds of scans and had been an active part of the community for a couple of years.

    To a community of scanners, posting your own work looks like (a favourite fanboy quote of mine) "disgusting self-promotion."
    • CommentAuthorchristoph
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010
     (8058.82)
    If I was on a forum where you were posting the latest Supergod CBRs, I'd be incredibly thankful. But then again, I recently had a creator put my name on promotional material without my explicit authorization, and I was PISSED. I felt kind of betrayed that my supposed friend would throw my name out there to self-promote saying I liked his new title when I haven't even read it yet. For all I know it's fucking terrible and he'd be handing out posters saying "WELL CHRISTOPH LIKES IT!".

    Yes, I pirate your work as it comes out in issue form because I don't want my home to become some nerd Mecca with longboxes up to the ceiling. But then again, I buy every one of your trades as they come out, so it's kind of a wash and you're one of the few creators who doesn't assume a download of your work is tantamount to ripping a sandwich out of your daughter's hand mid-bite.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010 edited
     (8058.83)
    One might seed the cbz anonymously to try to create buzz. Rumor had it that Trent Reznor had that done with stuff from /Ghosts/ - put MP3 tracks of early mixes and stuff arranged to look like raw work product, dropped onto USB sticks and left in the bathrooms of clubs. Gave the vague impression it was an illicit find that had fallen out of somebody's pocket, and soon actual pirates were hotly uploading the album to BitTorrent - when it was going to be released free, in any case.

    So Reznor used a sort of astroturf viral marketing - not meant in a negative way - to jumpstart interest in the product. Now folks will catch on to this specific thing after a while for what it is, but for the time being it still seems possible to create a crowd that way, and have BitTorrent seeders voluntarily acting as your distribution channel, and bringing street cred with it if they are notorious 0-day folks doing the seeding. All totally legit, but just arranged to look like something leaked from a studio or the like.
  2.  (8058.84)
    Rumor had it that Trent Reznor had that done with stuff from /Ghosts/ - put MP3 tracks of early mixes and stuff arranged to look like raw work product, dropped onto USB sticks and left in the bathrooms of clubs. Gave the vague impression it was an illicit find that had fallen out of somebody's pocket, and soon actual pirates were hotly uploading the album to BitTorrent - when it was going to be released free, in any case.
    Reznor was also a user of OiNK on an anonymous level, and I'll wager was likely doing exactly that sort of seeding there as well.

    http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/10/trent_reznor_and_saul_williams.html

    http://www.wired.com/listening_post/2007/10/trent-reznor-on/

    BitTorrent is a great distribution channel, and the same sort of P2P tech is used in several games for spreading updates/patches/etc. amongst it's users and such. The trick is, getting it to work for you, without harming your income channel. In Reznor's case (as well several other music artists), he had enough established following that he was bound to make up for any loss just based on the pay-as-you-will option. Those that would pay for a whole album in the store were in many cases willing to pay just as much for the album online. Those who respected that he was ballsy enough to put that out there like also ponied up in many instances.

    However, that's the music industry. This is the comic book/graphic novel/(insert preferred term here) industry. Viral marketing is great, but one would have to figure out how to do it in such a way that they didn't bite the hand that feeds them. Obviously, Avatar is good to those it works with, otherwise Warren and others wouldn't be working with them. So if one were to viral market, they'd want to make sure to find a way to do it so that didn't harm that relationship, and preferably where Avatar could potentially benefit from the end result as well.

    (Apologies if I hopped too far astray of the tracks here...)
    •  
      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2010
     (8058.85)
    What we have here is the nigh intractable problem of needs and means. As a comic creator, I want to make money from my labor. This is the end goal, because it means I can produce more, which gives me greater pleasure in life. As the consumer, I want as much as I can get for as little as possible, and with the ease of piracy, that equation has essentially boiled down to "I can get everything I want for free, with a minimal investment of time." At first glance, this is a losing situation for creators-- it is impossible to compete with free.

    However, if we think of the situation as several thousand successive iterations, there arises several possible solutions to this asymmetry. The first solution is the donation method. The consumer wants the story to continue, the artist wants money, and in order for both artist and consumer to walk away happy, they need to exchange money. The consumer needs to feel that they have contributed in a small but significant way, and thus been personally responsible for the success of the comic, and the artist needs to continue wooing consumers to make up for any loss of donors. For some creators, this is a viable market strategy: their workload is light enough, and their fanbase wide enough to make it sustainable. For others, the fan base isn't large enough to sustain it, either through the work's mediocrity, the creator's lack of networking skills, or the high workload involved in producing the comic. In these situations, it is entirely possible for donations to be an additional revenue stream, even if it is a tenuous one.

    Another solution is the "Something Special" solution. By treating the online distribution of your work as simple advertising, you can leverage the vast amount of people exposed to your work. (For example, when Warren frontpaged Virtuoso, I got about 500 Unique viewers in one day--only a small minority of them will stick with it, but the exposure has led to several opportunities.) However, those clicks do not translate into dollars, and that is where many creators find themselves at a loss. To translate that exposure to dollars, you need to offer something of value to the viewers and at a price they are willing to pay. Here's the catch-- the less the item looks like a comic book, the better. You can offer a print version of the comic book, but its unlikely that anyone who has access to a digital version will opt to spend money on more of the same. If you offer a trade paperback, you're essentially selling convenience and conversation: all the story is in one place and you can lend it to your friends. I have a hypothesis that the more uniquely designed the item, the greater number of people will purchase it. Mouse Guard, Comic Book Tattoo, and the like all have a relic-like status to them, the things in and of themselves have value because they are beautiful, and the information within is the additive value.
  3.  (8058.86)
    Okay, tossing 2 more cents in.

    It just occurred to me Another potential source of revenue for the creator is merchandising. Taking advantage of places like I.E.U. Where you use your talent to create cool t-shirts, coffee mugs, pens etc. based on your comic creations.
    Although, I'm unfamiliar what the cost and effort it would entail or if the profit(if any, is worth it). Mr. Ellis may have an idea since he's been dabbling with this.
    • CommentAuthorepalicki
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2010
     (8058.87)
    In 2001, Wizard Magazine published Bendis' ELEKTRA #1 in its entirety in advance of the comic's release. Elektra had not been a particularly popular character for some time, Bendis wasn't yet the Golden Boy he is today, and the book was illustrated by Chuck Austen. In other words, it was a book that could easy have struggled in the direct market, even without Wizard already giving the book away for free.

    Elektra landed at #10 in Diamond's Top 100 for the month of its release.

    Granted, there are some details to take into account (Elektra had the weight of a major publisher behind it, f'r instance), but this is usually my go-to anecdote for explaining the potential benefits of giving it away for free.
    •  
      CommentAuthorTeaflax
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2010 edited
     (8058.88)
    (I'm new here, but have lurked on and off for a while - this discussion finally got me to sign up)

    One of the main things that seems to never really be part of a discussion like this is the fact that file sharing has been around, more or less unfettered and ever more mainstream (my 67-year-old mother torrents Oprah) for at least half a decade. Get big enough in any field and your stuff WILL be out there for free for those who care to look. So, for anyone but the most obscure, the discussion is not about whether your stuff should be available for free, but whether you want to take the incentive on how it is available for free and thereby leverage it into a possible revenue stream.

    There are plenty of ways to compete with "free". I put free in quotes there, because short of setting up RSS feeds to torrent your favorite TV shows, there is always a cost involved. It may not be in the currency known as money, but anything but the very most mainstream art will take at least some effort and time to procure. For any gainfully employed adult, these are both things that are at a premium and thus at least potentially worth actual money. Admittedly, there will always be some who have the time (and skills) to get everything they want without paying money, but they're not only in the minority, it's also doubtful whether they would ever have paid for more than a fraction of all their pirated media files.

    Your two main weapons as a creative artist wanting to make a living off your art are convenience and goodwill. Convenience means providing a simple way for people to gain access to your work in a format that's easy to handle and also giving them a simple way of paying for it. At this point, this does require some lateral thinking, but not too much, as there are already many examples to learn from. It often requires doing things above and beyond your core creative urge, but that's always been the case, really. The difference now is that there aren't (yet) that many turnkey solutions for this (in the sense that twenty years ago, that solution was signing a contract with a publisher/record company/etc.), but essentially, that the barrier to entry is much, much lower than ever before for those that are willing to put in the effort.

    Goodwill means treating your fans as as a group to be nurtured, not as consumers to bleed dry or potential criminals who will do dastardly things with your work. The impetus behind digital piracy comes from many different factors, but "screw the fat cats" is definitely one of the stronger ones and it isn't being helped by the legislative pushes the media industry are behind. In a recent poll here in Sweden 80% answered yes to the rather fuzzily phrased question "Should creators be paid when their work is enjoyed online?" Leaving aside what that actually means and what it would require to police such an edict, it does show that there is a fairly strong consensus that artists whose work you enjoy should be remunerated in some way.

    Any creator who can muster a few thousand less-than-casual fans is definitely sitting on the key to making a decent living. From merchandise to limited edition extra-value versions of the work, personal appearances, commissions to pre-sales and subscriptions, there are so many ways of monetizing even minor fame/notoriety that file sharing really becomes a very minor problem. Unless, of course, your financial model is built entirely on sales of a physical object that can be easily digitized - in which case you really need wake up and smell the bitstream.

    Two cases in point:

    I recently bought the Blu-Ray release of the classic Prisoner TV series. Since I bought it from the US, it turns out won't play on my player unless I reset the region code, thus making my Swedish Blu-Ray discs invalid. Solution: torrent the BD rips from the boxed set (which also gives me the added advantage of having all the files on my Multimedia PC, and being able to easily reorder them to the proper non-broadcast sequence). Now, legality aside, why should I buy a BD boxed set ever again?

    The Arctic Monkeys made their name through (more or less legal) file sharing, and gigs. This lead to media exposure and to a record contract. A few weeks before their debut album was about to be released, it leaked online, was available on torrent sites everywhere and downloaded in great numbers. If file sharing is such a threat, that album should not have sold very well at all. Instead it was, at the time, the fastest selling debut album in UK history. You can call that an anomaly, but no reputable studies have been able to prove any negative link between file sharing and sales, and most show the exact opposite.

    So, to wrap up my screed; If I were a budding comic artist, I would definitely release my stuff anonymously online in .cbz/r format. Hell, even if I weren't budding, I'd do it. I'd also make sure I had a strong web presence - and if necessary, hire someone to ensure that the criteria of convenience and goodwill were being met. Provided my work was good enough, I really don't think I'd starve.
    •  
      CommentAuthorNickDonald
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
     (8058.89)
    You know what: fuck the iPad and anything else apple releases with a lowercase vowel in front of a much larger consonant.

    Nothing beats holding that book in your hands while you read it.

    Especially if the monthly release is the only place you'll get the full experience. For example: Warren's Fell and Matt Fraction's Casanova contained several pages of back matter in every issue. Really interesting stuff about the origins of the stories, the writing process, and Fabio Moon gave regular insights into the art in Casanova. None of that stuff is in the trades. [And it's not really that much extra work: you make notes throughout the whole process - put those in as back matter with the obligatory "Fuck off. It's late, I'm tired and drunk and this goes to print in 47 seconds. - Warren Ellis, In the rain. Somewhere in England, I think..."

    So, the point: Perhaps including that little bit extra in the monthly print release only - not in the trades or digital releases - might encourage people to buy the book, as it comes out, thus generating the income. [I know this doesn't sort out the whole file sharing thing, but it does make the physical release more appealing].

    If I hadn't bought each issue of Fell and Casanova I never would have read Warren's reference to Ben Templesmith in the immortal words "... and is now rich like astronauts." Nor been given the superb insight into Matt Fraction's writing process on issue 3 of his book. Well, I say superb ... basically: steal from Joss Whedon, imagine killing two of your friends and do a third thing too... can't remember what it was...

    But, my point has been made. Fuck the iPad. And the other stuff I said.
  4.  (8058.90)
    I guess this conversation had died off, it's been really interesting. One question for me still remains. Teaflax said:

    So, to wrap up my screed; If I were a budding comic artist, I would definitely release my stuff anonymously online in .cbz/r format. Hell, even if I weren't budding, I'd do it. I'd also make sure I had a strong web presence - and if necessary, hire someone to ensure that the criteria of convenience and goodwill were being met. Provided my work was good enough, I really don't think I'd starve.


    I'm not familiar with popular torrent and file sharing sites. If I wanted to get my stuff out there in that format, *where* would I go to put them? Aside from googling sharing sites - which probably isn't going to give me the proper info - how would I find the right places? Making it is easy, but I have no idea where to put the stuff.
    •  
      CommentAuthorTeaflax
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2010
     (8058.91)
    I would say Demonoid. It seems to me to be the biggest open torrent site that actually has a dedicated comics section. Otherwise, what.cd, if you can wrangle an invite from somewhere. The Pirate Bay is shambolic and messy, but still the biggest site out there. Putting it up on the latter would probably mean that it would propagate elsewhere fairly quickly (if there's enough interest in in the work).