- Posted by Johanna on March 23, 2007 at 4:07 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
The discussion on comic downloading is far and away the most popular thread ever on this site. Thanks, everyone, for keeping it relatively intelligent and polite.
But I have to wonder: did anyone change their mind about any part of this issue because of points made? Or have their eyes opened to a viewpoint they didn’t previously know about or understand as fully?
On his blog, Tom Spurgeon said
I’m also pretty certain that second-guessing this, deciding you know what’s better for someone else’s creation, is kind of arrogant…. There’s something that seems so disrespectful about telling people how they should provide something, and I just never got that.
I wonder at that, given at his years in comics, because the attitude he’s describing is widespread. Everyone’s seen a comic fan say something to the effect of, “They should listen to me! I could write HeroMan better than that hack!” That arrogance and disrespect permeates some groups of superhero comic fandom*, and it shouldn’t be surprising that “I know how to write their comics better than they do” becomes “I know how to advertise and distribute their comics better than they do.”
* It’s possible that it’s prevalent in other fandoms, too, but this is the one where I’m most familiar with the attitude.
Not to mention that most current superhero writers and artists are working on other people’s creations. If you’re going to describe that as arrogant, then the arrogance level goes deep into that slice of the industry, but that depends on how you define “creation” and “arrogant”. Which is what I think some commenters here were trying to get at in terms of valuing original creator work over corporate franchises.
Then there’s the issue of whether or not you’d read a whole comic issue if you didn’t like it enough to buy it. I’m reminded of recent discussions over Grey’s Anatomy. I liked this show when it started. I watched all the episodes, for free, on TV, skipping commercials as I went. I bought the Season One DVD set, because I wanted to watch them again (with additional commentary as a bonus) and it was reasonably priced.
But lately, the show’s been very disappointing. I’d stop watching it, except it’s free, it’s a habit, and there’s usually nothing better to do when I go to watch an episode. I’m not going to buy the additional DVD sets, though. I’ll sit through an episode I’m not really enjoying, but that doesn’t mean that I’d be willing to pay money for it. And as long as I can still try it for free, the show has a chance to win me back and convince me to spend more money on it later (although I’m not finding that likely).
Now, I know that the economics of TV watching aren’t the same as comics. If I’d selected an HBO series, maybe it would be closer, but I’m not interested in any of those. Still, I think there’s an interesting parallel. In cases of committee-created entertainment (multiple TV show writers and producers working under the constraints of a network and actor demands; multiple comic writers and artists working under the constraints of publisher demands), you always want to hope that a bad episode/issue is just a fluke, that the stars didn’t align and the next one will be better. A run of bad installments, though, and viewers/readers lose patience.