Due to unforgivable oversight, I hadn’t linked Christopher Bird’s website MightyGodKing in the side-bar here… Mr. Bird just showed up in the store here (he’s local) and I recognized my oversight immediately. Anyhow, Chris and I got to talking about the current state of the comics industry and his most recent blog post. I don’t want to misrepresent Mr. Bird’s position so I’ll only talk about my own: I may be a loud-mouthed jerk with a blog, but I know I don’t know better than the creators of my comics when it comes to how those comics are distributed.
I really don’t understand the entitlement of a fan/torrent distributor/comics scanner to say that their desires supercede those of the people who create the work that we’re scanning, distributing, and/or possibly enjoying? I appreciate that Marvel is a terrible corporate and comics citizen, that their online initiative is naive and their promotional interviews are content-free and full of double-speak; it’s all a terrible situation but so what? That doesn’t change the fact that they’re the ones who say what goes with Spider-Man at the end of the day. My frustration extends as far as the end of my nose… and my fingertips as far as the blog is concerned… but no farther than that. Just because Marvel’s comics have a shitty interface or an unwanted run of Gambit comics doesn’t validate my pirating their stuff, it doesn’t excuse or justify it or give me any moral or ethical high-ground. If I’m stealing their IP then I’m a thief, and I either make my peace with that or I don’t, and stop stealing.
Which isn’t to say I’m not a thief, a criminal. We all are, in different ways. Jaywalking, taking a free refill when you’re not supposed to, parking illegally for 5 minutes because “you’re just running in and out”. Whatever, we all break the law every day. The difference is the rhetoric surrounding these infractions and the ones against creators, both ‘real’ and ‘legal’, of our favourite entertainments. In the latter case, it’s a bunch of people screaming very loudly that information wants to be free (or variants thereof) and that the market will sort itself out as long as they get to do whatever they want. In the former case, there is no rhetoric because everyone knows they’re doing something wrong, they’re just taking their chances and maybe donating a few extra dollars to The United Way at Christmas so they feel like a good person.
No matter how egregious, wrong-headed, or flat-out stupid the online policies and initiatives of the publishers of our favourite comics, at the end of the day that’s their business, and they’ll fail or succeed on their merits. Making, hosting, or distributing material that’s illegal? I just don’t have any sympathy for folks getting shut down for that, no matter how good their intentions are.
On the other hand, a work that’s transformative? That parodies, significantly alters, or illuminates an existing work? Excerpts for review? Educational purposes?Â Making fun of shit on your blog? Go for it! I’m right there with you! Which is why I wanted to link to Christopher Bird’s MightyGodKing in the first place, because he does superhero comics parodies better and on a more consistent basis than anyone, and he makes me laugh… I just can’t say that I agree with his positions all the time.