Up until I put up the Barlow link, everything was pretty cordial and discussed in a spirit of happy, respectful debate in here.
I think you took it personally that I talked about sending out 5,000 copies of your comic. I did NOT attack you for not wanting it stolen. It's your work, Nat, and you can do whatever the hell you want to with it. You are acting as if I HAVE copied your work, when I was only using it as an example. You're acting like I ADVOCATE stealing Nat's work, when in fact I do NOT, and I was making an EXAMPLE of what IS POSSIBLE. In fact, Nat, I advocate you hanging on to all your damn rights, and all your damn comics, and selling -- and promoting -- them the way you damn well see fit. I DON'T want you to give away your entire run of The Factor, in fact I want you to do with it whatever you damn well please.
This thread is NOT about YOU, Nat, it's about a potential BIG change that's barreling at us at full speed, that we are going to have to deal with, like it or not, over the next 10 years. I'm WAY sorry that, since you're the principal opposite viewpoint here, that I used your comic book as a potential example of what might happen. Next time I'll use my own.
Your position is clear: creators' rights need to be better protected by law, with more vigorous examination and enforcement of digital reproduction and highly visible crackdowns on those (who they can catch) who make ANY unauthorized copies, digital or otherwise. You are entirely opposed to any copies of your work existing beyond your immediate control, and this is quite understandable. You view the Napster explosion as a massive infringement of copyright, and that everyone who uses Napster to trade and share songs is a copyright-infringing criminal, and that enough of them should be brutally prosecuted that the rest of them knock it off already out of sheer fear. You certainly don't want to share your work with anyone unless you are entirely in control of that sharing (hence my jealousy with toys comment) in a physical way -- not excluding promotional copies that you distribute yourself.
I hope I've got that right or close to, because I don't want to incite another post of relentless nit-picking.
My position, as clearly as I can, is this:
Extrapolating from Barlow: Copyright as we know and love it is about to be rendered PRACTICALLY unenforceable. Note that I say PRACTICALLY. I say that because when 28,000,000-odd people are breaking a law, it is IMPRACTICAL to expect enforcement of it to have much effect -- my examples of this being highway speed limits, which are ignored completely (and in most states actively evaded thru use of radar and laser detectors), and our current drug laws, which are being broken constantly by uncounted millions of Americans (probably Canadians too). These are EXAMPLES.
However, digital distribution of anything -- and I believe that digital distribution of EVERYTHING that can be digitized is by and large inevitable -- is made intensely problematic by the fact that once one digital copy gets out, it can be spread everywhere with little cost or effort, and no hope of the creator getting paid for it -- unless of course that creator goes out and hunts down a few folks who HAVE unauthorized copies, and crucifies enough of them publicly to deter further unlawful spread of their work. (Hmm, what a great way to gain an audience, making virtual martyrs of people who like your stuff.)
I've offered some suggestions, some after Barlow and some from my own extrapolations, of things creators can do if this does actually occur, and that maybe the PRACTICAL unenforceability of copyright as regards digital media -- that's DIGITAL MEDIA, not print, not film, not video, not music, not ALL MEDIA, only DIGITAL MEDIA -- might not be such a bad thing after all, if considered carefully. In fact it may free creators from the need to deal with big giant corporations and allow them to create and promote their work in effective new ways -- WITHOUT surrendering control of their work at ANY point. Personally, I look forward to this -- WHETHER IT MAKES ME BIG MONEY OR NOT. I'd rather take my chances with the slow growth method -- and "give" tons of it away -- than gamble away my hard work on corporate greed -- and not be able to get it back, 35-year-clause notwithstanding. And since I'm only talking about DIGITAL MEDIA, I will still retain KUNG-FU GRIP CONTROL over any PHYSICAL media items like books or other physical things like toys and hats and tshirts.
IMHO, eventually it will become economically nonviable to distribute things like what we create on physical media. At that point, either a clear and effective payment system for using or viewing digital works will be necessary, or it will simply become impossible to make money distributing digital media.
It's not really meant as advice, and I think most of the readers here (if any are still here) know that. Folks will read what I say and make their own decisions. I'm bringing this up so that people can see it and THINK about it, Nat, not to start some movement that will destroy your Factor copyrights.
I don't wish to sidestep something personal:
If you can honestly tell me that if MFH had been bringing you $100,000/issue, you'd not have had more issues out, then I'll apologize.
Oh come on Nat. Of course we would. We'd have been mightily, but most pleasantly, surprised if it had done so, and yes we'd still be doing it if it was making that kind of money.
You're talking about time and money problems...
Yes, but these problems were MINE, NOT DIRECTLY RELATED TO MYSTIC FOR HIRE. Had we gone out and gotten loans and/or advance money and set ourselves up to ONLY produce MFH (with no other paying work involved) in the hopes of making it a profitable business, and THEN not made sales and failed due to THOSE sorts of money problems, then I would accept your statements that I don't draw MFH because it doesn't pay me to do so.
However this is not the case. I will be drawing MFH again because I want to, and with no hope of getting paid for it. Note that when I set out to do it, I was trying to make money freelancing --(edit) NOT by selling MFH comics. That didn't work out, so now I'm not drawing MFH while I get back to where I can do so, making my living elsewhere and creating something that I enjoy a great deal. Hopefully someday it WILL in fact make us some money, but neither Chris nor I are planning on it in any way.
I take umbrage at you interpreting the above as "well MFH didn't make me any money, so I can't do it any more". It's simply not the truth. I can, and I will, whether I get paid for it or not. Also the "oh, right" snotty tone pissed me off, because you are (as you've accused me of) oversimplifying a complex situation. I'm glad you say that my story above matches the one I told you! However, you're misinterpreting it.
Yeah sure, had MFH become an overnight success, we'd still be doing it. PLUS we would still own all the rights, heh heh. It was not -- but had my aforementioned clients paid me on time, thus allowing me to keep on deadline on both MFH and ElfQuest, you'd already have seen MFH #3-6, and possibly more. When my schedule got blown, MFH was the first to go, since I could not budget the time to do it while scrambling to pay my bills with other work and meet the ElfQuest deadlines (I didn't).
It really sucked to be forced to not do my comic by forces beyond my control, Nat, and that's why your pat appraisal made me angry. Especially since I was working on the crucial Issue #3, the completion of which would have allowed us to solicit Diamond and try to get the damn thing in the stores (yes, as much as I don't like the current distribution situation, we would have taken a shot at it, okay??). So my personal problems shot the possibility of actually generating comic-book sales the traditional way right in the foot before we even had a chance.
So would I be right in saying that we're not going to see printed issues of MFH because it doesn't bring in enough money?
Sigh. If you want to interpret it that way, Nat, I can't stop you. The truth is a bit more complicated; Pagan City Comics, at this time, cannot afford to properly MARKET Mystic For Hire printed comic books in a way that makes business sense. For the record, I can afford to PRINT MFH comic books bimonthly out of my OWN POCKET (even if nobody buys them), but it's not the printing that's the problem. It's the MARKETING, which takes FAR more money than printing -- we'd go thru Diamond like anyone else to get it out in the stores, and would have to buy ads and all that stuff -- and a lot, a LOT, of legwork, as you are well aware. Realistically, we cannot do this, therefore we are accepting our limitations and working out something else. Our current plans are to do a free-for-everyone-to-read, color Web version of the comic, and then once we have enough done, to collect it into a print-on-demand TPB that we will try to sell.
It's a bit of a gamble, since there's no guarantee that people will want to buy the TPB after being able to read the comic for free on the web; however, I think it's a good gamble -- others out there are already seeing success with this, although it's under the radar of mass publication. Besides, we will include stuff in the TPB that WON'T be on the web. I think we've got a pretty good chance of making a small profit with it, which we can sink back into wider marketing efforts -- including possibly doing printed comic books!!!
We're starting small, and hopefully it will build up into something big. If not, it will still be something FUN, and it will be OURS, since we will NOT sell the rights to MFH to anybody. We're going to experiment with Giving It Away, and see what happens. It makes sense for us, given our present lives and situations. I'm not dying and sweating to make a living drawing MFH; I'm already making a good one doing something else, which is making it possible for me to get back to MFH (FYI, I'm already working on Chapter 3). It would be nice, but I'm through trying to climb mountains of manure looking for the big payoff at the top.
I want to address this:
it's oh so horrible when a record company or publisher deals contractually with an artist, and you'll wail and moan for hours about it, but when some random shmuck breaks the law in order to screw a comics creator out of his rights, then woe be to the creator who doesn't smile and do a jig, eh?
First gut reaction aside... the former is something that happens every day, has been etched into business stone, and is clearly and obviously EXTORTION and entirely unfair to the artist, resulting in the artist losing all rights and rarely making even a small percentage of the money that their work generates. It is a REAL, INSTITUTIONALIZED problem with both copyright law and the way such companies do business (to which I see appalling parallels in comics, differences in applicable law aside). The second is a FICTIONAL SCENARIO THAT I INVENTED AS AN EXAMPLE, NAT. AN EXAMPLE, NAT. A FICTIONAL EXAMPLE, NAT. NO ONE IS TRYING TO ACTUALLY SCREW YOU OUT OF YOUR RIGHTS, NAT. Do you really think someone would RANDOMLY copy your comic book, or anyone elses, and send it all over creation, expressly attempting to screw you out of your rights? Nobody's going to try to screw you Nat, at least not like that. I'd be more worried about whomever you optioned The Factor film/tv rights to. Hope they paid you up front.
The "Myth of the 5,000" was offered as a POSSIBILITY only. It's obviously one that offends you personally. Lighten up, Nat. THIS THREAD IS NOT ABOUT YOU, OR ABOUT ME, IT'S ABOUT THE POSSIBLE FUTURE OF WHAT WE ALL DO.
And once again I restate, as support for the thought that "giving away" digital media may not be so bad, that the music business is BOOMING, with a 20% INCREASE in CD sales over two years, during which kids have been happily Napstering away. If those sales DROP 20% over the next two years, and continue to nosedive, THEN I'll believe that all that copyright infringement is really hurting artists and creators, and I'll rethink my thoughts. If sales have increased, the artists should be making more money, right? Isn't that GOOD? Napster is like giving out 28 MILLION PROMO COPIES OF EVERY BAND A RECORD LABEL HAS -- FOR FREE!!! Ain't no label out there pressing 28 million promos of ANYTHING.
Since I do have respect for you Nat, I'm going to apologize for offending you personally, which I did not intend, and also forget your suggestion for what I might do with your comic books. I'm also not coming back to this thread. I've said my piece and thoughtful people out there will read it and consider it for themselves. Wish me luck with my comic. Later.
Pagan City Comics www.pagancity.com
[This message has been edited by Jeff Zugale (edited 12-18-2000).]