Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 22, 2007

Please Stop Downloading Now, Please

The comments thread to this posting at Comics Worth Reading about writer Dan Slott asking people nicely not to download his comics seemingly has it all when it comes to popular ideas and thoughts about downloading comics: it leads to people buying the comics, it's the same as library copies or passed audio tapes, it's an inevitable circumstance made possible by technology and won't be stopped so you better learn to deal, the culpability of comics companies in creators rights issues absolves anyone who downloads and so on. If you wanted to experience the arguments for and against in one place, this may be the thread for you.

I only ever have two thoughts about downloads.

My first thought, which is really a side point, is that it's funny to me how few people stand up and admit they'd prefer getting these comics for free than buying them in the store. There's always some sort of agonized explanation about shelf copies not being available, or that they only ever try stuff they wouldn't try otherwise. Let me 'fess up if no one else will. I would greatly prefer to get downloads of today's superhero comics for free above paying for them in the store. Heck, I'd prefer a free download to getting them for free in a box. In fact, considering many of today's comics serials are plot-driven, meaning you read them for developments in the ongoing story rather than as a stand-alone, pleasurable experience, downloading them for free may be the ideal way to get them. I wouldn't mind seeing Ed Brubaker's stiff, semi-nerdy Captain America take a bullet. I wouldn't mind seeing that Buffy comic. I wouldn't mind seeing whatever weird, genocidal plotline is delighting America in 52. I mean, come on.

My second thought is that I choose not to read free downloads because it seems in almost every case to be against the wishes of the creators or the people to whom they've ceded those decision-making rights. I'm not sure when that stopped mattering. I'm also pretty certain that second-guessing this, deciding you know what's better for someone else's creation, is kind of arrogant. No matter how great my me-wanty feelings, I have no discernible right to anything someone else makes. If they want to sign contracts with Marvel and not put it on-line, I don't get to say no. If they want to put the originals in a box and throw it off a boat, that's okay, too. If they want to print on solid gold paper and sell the results for $10,000 apiece, I don't get a vote. I can call you a name, but I don't get to veto your decision. There's something that seems so disrespectful about telling people how they should provide something, and I just never got that.
posted 1:48 am PST | Permalink

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