According to comic book artists, piracy has taken over their industry.
Jim Zub, a comic writer for the likes of Marvel and IDW, has taken to Twitter to shed light on the growing piracy within his industry.
Earlier in the year, Jim claimed that twenty times more comic readers consume illegally shared comics online than those that pay. Last Monday, he reminded the internet of his statement.
Remember six months ago when I mentioned that comic piracy numbers were easily 20x legitimate buyers and it was a real problem?
Sometime yesterday a bunch of other comic pros looked closer, saw the numbers and the cold chill of it really hit.
— Jim Zub (@JimZub) November 25, 2019
A dialogue around the issue has bloomed with other comic authors sharing their personal experiences of pirated work. For them, there is no excuse for stealing their work.
The amount of people I’ve seen openly defending comics piracy today is gross. There’s no excuse. It’s not a victimless crime. Use ComiXology. Use a library if money is an issue. If you love comics that much, you’ll help the industry and it’s creators.
— Chris Shehan_Art (@ChrisShehanArt) November 24, 2019
Some of the writers cited that while their work being replicated without credit was worrying, the more damaging aspect was having digital copies and physical scans wholesale re-hosted on pirate sites, sites with foreign servers that “ignore legal attempts to shut them down”. Some of which, ironically, ask their visitors to disable adblocker on their site.
Dave Gallaher, co-writer of comic series The Only Living Girl and one of Zub’s contemporaries, asserted that apart from the lack of financial constraint, readers are drawn to pirated material dues to ease of access and need to stay in the know, agreeing with Zub’s analysis that audiences have become afflicted with needing to rapidly consume.
Gallaher himself speculates that pirated comic books receive thirty million reviews a month, a worrying number that dwarfs legitimate purchases from paying customers.
Pirated comic books receive thirty million reviews a month, a worrying number that dwarfs legitimate purchases.
“In the US,” says Gallaher, “digital sales have gone stale for their sixth year, while print comics have declined for two.”
Gallaher’s response? The studio he co-founded directs readers on their website to legal downloading websites, where readers can view the content for free in exchange for fans’ email addresses, taking a page out of the digital marketing playbook.
Gallaher declared that upon debuting on Paste, they grew from a little over 400 fans to over 10,000 in as little as six weeks, affording them the opportunity to partner with advertisers who have an interest in placing their products in front of all those eyes. As a result, they were able to score a literary agent and a series of book deals.
Alas, the majority of comic authors still battle with comic piracy. While not every illegal view necessarily means an otherwise paying customer, piracy has nevertheless crippled the industry and the art itself.