Despite Creator Complaints, Piracy Isn’t What’s Ailing Comics Industry

The BBC has an article about comic creators who’re complaining about online piracy:


A comic book writer’s claim that the proliferation of piracy is “a real problem” has encouraged others in the industry to share their concerns.

Jim Zub, who writes for Marvel and IDW, tweeted that 20 times as many people read comics illegally shared online, than pay for digital or physical works.

Many other comic creators replied with their own experiences of pirated work.

For some, piracy brought personal and professional costs, while others suggested radical distribution changes.

In the thread, Zub said having work spread without being paid for initially created a “visibility boost” for the creators, but has now become the norm for an audience of “rapid consumption”.

“I don’t want pirate readers to think it’s no big deal or victimless,” he tweeted. “Content worth reading is content worth supporting.”


True, but is the content being pirated entirely great from an artistic view? What if it’s awful, like Dan Slott’s Spider-Man material? Who in the right frame of mind wants to buy that? Or his Iron Man and Fantastic Four material? And who want to buy Brian Bendis’ Superman material by this point? If you know where to look, there’s plenty of truly revolting products out there – including, but not limited to – political propaganda and just plain sleaze, not worth plunking down money on. So while I do not condone piracy, if it’s going to happen, at the very least it may give someone a chance to see just how bad the stuff could be before they invest, and show why it might’ve fared poorly in sales before.

They also mention a would-be writer who may have worked for Bleeding CooI in the past:


Joe Glass is an independent comics writer from South Wales whose titles are sold through Comixology, a distribution site for comics, and has sales figures “the publisher is happy with”.

However, on one pirate site alone, Glass found that his LGBTQ+ superhero series The Pride and The Pride Adventures had been viewed a total of 16,843 times illegally.

This level of piracy hurts him and many other independent writers and artists, for whom money is “pretty tight”.


I vaguely remember Glass as somebody who was reportedly antagonizing Richard Meyer over POVs he didn’t agree with. I don’t know why, but it sounds like an oxymoron if the audience he’s presumably catering to doesn’t want to spend dough on his product, the 100 millionth addition to some already cliched genres, and surely another example of “wokeness”.


For a comics creator at the start of their career, working to the scale he is, Glass says piracy is a “stumbling block” to getting further work published, rather than giving him exposure.

“I tried to consider the benefits, but now I ultimately can’t see it as anything other than stealing.”

If every person to pirate his work had bought an issue instead, “it would mean enough payment to me and my whole creative team in full for the series, and a good step of the way into the next project.”

“Instead, the next project is entirely reliant on getting picked up by a publisher who will help fund its creation.”


Well if he was wrongfully attacking Meyer over petty issues like artistic dissent and whatnot, I have a hard time caring, even as I don’t condone piracy. Plus, why does it seem like quite a few news reporters these days are suddenly getting into the writing/drawing business of a medium they may not have reviewed objectively? I just don’t see the point.

I will say, in fairness, that if piracy is really such a big deal to them, then FWIW, they should abandon the practice of monthly pamphlets and just publish the whole book in a paperback/hardcover instead. And maybe limit digital content to only a handful of sample pages; maybe those where the word balloons haven’t been added yet. IMO, that’s how to really make a transition to professionalism, and I wish Stan Lee had thought of it serious decades before. But if they really must complain about piracy, at least acknowledge artistic merit does count in any event.

And then, the artist Jon Malin had the following to say:



Another creator added this:



They could also be the very SJWs they’re presumably trying to appeal to. Did that ever occur? Leftists who may support their particular beliefs, yet won’t spend a dime on the writer’s work in question, no matter how much it adheres to their twisted beliefs. In any case, if these would-be creators are attacking the audience for all the wrong reasons, they can’t be surprised if little to nobody wants to purchase their work and would rather look it up online for free. To appeal to the masses, you have to keep a dignified image and maintain at least a little class. Otherwise, don’t be shocked if they won’t rush to buy your work when it debuts.



Origianlly published here.

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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1