Scans_Daily Shut Down: Another Free Comic Site Gone

The popular site Scans_Daily has been suspended by its host LiveJournal. Here’s what appears to be an official mod team statement that includes links to new locations for the material.

This isn’t surprising. The purpose of the community was to post comic pages and stories, which made it a good way to read a wide range of comic content online without the participation of the copyright holders, who tend not to like that kind of open sharing. The site originally started with a focus on slash (male/male fanfic-based pairings) but then widened its focus. While you could find pages from the latest DC and Marvel comics there, they also posted unusual manga and much older stories. It was a great way to check out what people were talking about, if there was a particular panel or scene that got attention.

Brian Cronin speculates that a report by Peter David to Marvel about X-Factor pages being posted may have had something to do with the shutdown. Based on David’s comment, he has the mistaken assumption that if he can remove free copies, all interested readers will buy the comic instead. Many companies assume similarly, that any free taste is a lost sale. That’s rarely true.

Responses to the shutdown from users frequently include statements like “I started buying comics again because of what I was reading.” It’s a shame that IP owners fear the free sample so much, because in some cases, at least, it does work to convert customers. The carrot — “like it? consider buying the next issue” — works much better than the stick — “you’re all thieves who must be forced into spending money with us”. But then, several comic companies are all about the control.

Update: Peter David says “not him” although Wikipedia begs to differ.

For a differing professional viewpoint, Gail Simone gets it:

The truth is, there are only a handful of comics websites that aren’t run (and sometimes very heavily edited) by vested interests, like a publisher, where a sizable number of comics readers can go and share their enthusiasm about a title with a large enough audience to actually make a difference. There was a lot of dedication there, a lot of fascinating material. Yes, there was snark. Yes, some issues were panned. Who cares? The site was very heavily weighted towards books the posters really enjoyed, and served as a sample taste for many new readers. I myself have ended up buying several Marvel books in particular that I otherwise wouldn’t have even stopped to look at.

I sympathize with any creators who felt their work was spoiled. I JUST this week had the ending of my latest issue of Wonder Woman spoiled. But I don’t believe there was any malice. Quite the opposite, I believe that the poster intended only positive things and meant only to spread the word. I find that to be the motive there again and again. “Hey, I liked this book…take a look at this cool stuff in it!”

Do we really want to try to stop that instinct?

Scans_Daily is already back at InsaneJournal.

Brigid at Digital Strips has a lovely overview of all the events and reactions, specifically addressing the marketing challenge that S_D helped address, unofficially.

Update 2: Leigh Walton ponders whether the heavily female audience of LJ has affected reactions to the news. The behavior some complain about — fanfic, slash, styles of discussion — are typical of female fandoms and can make male fans uncomfortable. Other fans, in reaction to the news of the Scans_Daily shutdown, have commented similarly, that as women, they appreciated a place where their comments were welcome and they weren’t treated as though being a girl in a comic shop was unusual.

41 Responses to “Scans_Daily Shut Down: Another Free Comic Site Gone”

  1. kwaku Says:

    But DC and Marvel already put out previews of nearly all their titles.

  2. Andre Says:

    And said previews are considerably longer then the 4 pages they used to release…. there’s so much official previews from comic companies out there, and they aren’t slotted alongside the sometimes questionable content of scansdaily. I’m moreso surprised it hadn’t happened earlier.

  3. Thomas Says:

    Well, I for one liked the fact that this site alerted me to some old and out of print comics and especially short stories I had never known of before, like Alan Moore’s early and/or rare stuff (and on that note, I’d like to thank those people who went through all the trouble of scanning in Moore’s Miracleman. I tried for years to get copies of the TPB editions at a payable price, but at least through those evil EVIL e-comics I could somehow read it. I’m still hoping that those legal issues will be settled, and I can actually buy them all in their paper version).

  4. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » LiveJournal shuts down Scans Daily community Says:

    […] Draper Carlson notes that, “It’s a shame that IP owners fear the free sample so much, because in some cases, at […]

  5. Steven Rowe Says:

    I have to admit to not knowing about the marvel and DC previews (i assume on their webpages?) all of their titles? or just new ones? — someone needs to do a website with links to current or recent comics previews for folks like me who dont want to spend time on company websites (do the smaller guys do that too?)
    as it is, I am someone who has bought way too many non-comics books because of the scans on amazon and googlebooks.

  6. Suzene Says:

    Peter David thinks he’s going to triple sales on a third-tier X-book by refusing to discuss the plot, trying to stifle discussion on the internet, and bitching about fansites to the folks with a legal department? That’s certainly a novel approach.

  7. Andre Says:

    Steven– generally posts first look previews sent out by publishers.

    Mile High did this as well, though it looks like Marvel discontinued their offerings
    I suspect this is due to them offering more extensive, exclusive previews at sites like and [which DC also does]

    The First Look program was around for aggggess though.

  8. Jacob Says:

    Is there proof that stuff like scans_daily or Pirate Bay actually sells more comics? I don’t mean the random comment, but numbers.

    B/c haven’t overall sales been going down in the age of the “free sample?”

  9. Johanna Says:

    Jacob, I recommend researching that question at Techdirt. I know they’ve linked to a variety of studies that show that in the case of music, filesharers buy MORE than usual. I doubt anyone’s done a formal study with comics.

    Then there’s the question of correlation vs. causation. If I had to pick one reason for why DC and Marvel sales on many of their particular comic titles are declining, it would be the way they’ve limited their target audience over the years. Their content and presentation is aiming at a smaller group than they used to, so it’s not surprising to see fewer purchases.

    Note also that if you include manga and graphic novels as comics, the market is bigger than it’s been in the past few decades. In other words, whether or not you think sales are declining depends on your perspective and product.

  10. Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast Says:

    […] is that scans_daily is a site where people find out about comics and end up buying them. Johanna Draper Carlson and Merlin Missy express it rather eloquently on their sites, without some of the entitlement drama […]

  11. David Wynne Says:

    Steven- Most of the major comics news sites regularly feature previews from all the major publishers. Newsarama and Comicbookresources both seem to have multiple previews per day.

    …I’m still trying to work out where I stand on this. On the one hand, I have a pretty old fashioned attitude to copyright, and will vehemently defend the right of a copyright holder to defend their property. On the other, it seems increasingly obvious that free samples of comics only help sales, and scans_daily seemed like little more than an almost perfect little breeding ground of viral marketing. I honestly don’t see how it could possibly have been harming anyone’s business… the only way this makes sense to me is if Marvel pops up with their own variation on the idea (but obviously limited to their own product) in the near future.

  12. the Comic Book Fiend Says:


    they only put up new issues or those they want to hype and lot of those they just post art and not the words.

    one of the great things like Scans Daily was that they posted pages from books that got over look form the big 2 marketing department.


    the difference about Scans Daily and a lot of other places (such as pirates bay) is that Scans Daily had a limit on how much of an issue someone could post (I think it was around half or less)

    I’ve bought comics because I read some of them on Scans Daily and I have heard other people say they have done the same things.

  13. Blog@Newsarama » Blog Archive » Scans_Daily no more? Says:

    […] scans from comics (um, daily), has apparently been forced to shut down. Prominent comics bloggers Johanna Draper Carlson and Kevin Church both offer commentary that goes in opposite directions and serve as springboards […]

  14. james Says:

    Sites like this are obviously engaging in copyright infringement, and any attempt to justify their behavior is rather silly at best. I’m not saying I’ve never downloaded something illegitimately on the internet, but I also don’t get high and mighty when something that’s obviously illegal gets shutdown.

    Also, using wikipedia as a source to claim that Peter David shut down scans_daily is pretty stupid.

  15. Lea Says:

    The new s_d rules reduced the limit to seven pages an issue instead of eleven. Eleven seemed really low to me when I started reading there, because I keep forgetting that a single floppy is usually only 22 pages long. Anyway, 5-7 pages out of an issue should be plenty to get a good feel of the art and dialogue, which is what I go to s_d for (other than slash gags and fanart compilations).

  16. Tama Leaver dot Net » The Death (and resurrection) of Scans_Daily Says:

    […] Despite that Scans_Daily operated for years, until last week. As Comics Worth Reading explains: The popular site Scans_Daily has been suspended by its host LiveJournal. Here’s what appears to […]

  17. Johanna Says:

    James, the argument isn’t that cut-and-dried. If someone posts half a book with no comment, sure, that’s a likely infringement. If someone posts 5 key pages and writes about them, that’s very likely fair use and perfectly legal. Saying the *whole* site was “obviously illegal” is thus not correct, although much of it may have been. (Sorry you didn’t get my wikipedia joke — I was poking fun at its accuracy.)

  18. Martin Wisse Says:

    This was bound to happen sooner or later of course, because intentions not withstanding, scans_daily was illegal as heck of course. If some comic book company was responsible for pulling the plug (which is far from clear at this point despite the PAD hatred), they’re in their rights to have done so, but it wasn’t very smart.

    I can get the newest comics the week they come out from bittorrent or usenet, sooner than they can cross the Atlantic in many cases, I can get over 95 % of all comics Marvel, DC or Image ever put out the same way and a large chunk of the entire comics output of the US’s comics industry dating back to the golden age.

    So why go after scans_daily when they don’t even show the complete comics and there’s a large community of comics enthusiasts there who (anecdotically) seem to buy more comics as a result…

  19. Melinda Beasi Says:

    I think it’s very sad that more people don’t realize how powerful a few pages of a comic can be in terms of attracting new readers. For instance, I have a post in my blog called Making the case for Banana Fish in which I used 15 pages from volume 7 of the series (that’s more pages than what the scans_daily rules allowed) because I felt that was the only way to effectively sell an older series to people who otherwise had few or no options for previewing it. I’ve never heard a complaint about this from Viz, and I’d be really surprised if I did, considering that I know for a fact that a good number of people have gone out and purchased the entire series (19 volumes) based solely on my post and those 15 pages.

    Granted, 15 pages out of a 19-volume series is not much in the big picture, but I’m willing to bet that scans_daily sells more comics than I did with my post, too.

  20. Ray Radlein Says:

    Of course, the manga community has been doing the turbocharged version of this for years with complete fan-scanned and translated titles, which American publishers use as a way of seeing which unknown titles are popular enough to justify the effort involved in licensing, (professionally) translating them, and publishing them over here.

    The Japanese publishers are generally unhappy about seeing their works posted for free all over the internet in fan-translated versions, but as long as the American publishers are okay with it, the scanlation sites are probably not going to be bothered by the lawyers.

    Reading scanlated versions (in some cases years before they were licensed for America) was what got me buying Anne Freaks, Read or Die, Death Note, Apocalypse Meow, and Kashimashi, just to name a few, as soon as they were released over here.

  21. Ray Radlein Says:

    Another data point for the “Free Samples Increase Sales” argument, of course, is the Baen Free Library, in which Baen Books has been giving away complete electronic copies of dozens of their books by many of their most popular authors. They are quite clear on the fact that doing so has demonstrably increased sales, both on the books in question, and on other books by the same authors.

    Tor is also making portions of their catalog available for free as well.

  22. Dave Lister Says:

    “Update: Peter David says “not him” although Wikipedia begs to differ.”

    You’re using a garbage edit of Wikipedia by a moron out for vengeance to defend your argument!?

    Epic fail.

  23. Alexa Says:

    I’ve been posting this around, about what I felt made S_D great:

    No one is saying that S_D was the only place to learn about new comics, but for my money it was the best.

    -LJ is one of the largest social networking sites on the net. Furthermore, plenty of non-comics readers are on LJ, so not only did it seem welcoming to n00bs who might have been curious, but it also lacked the “secret treehouse” atmosphere that a lot of other comics boards have.

    -The interface is prime for sharing images and, unlike other forums, it is possible to hold multiple conversations on the same post without getting bogged down with quote boxes and having other conversations mixed in.

    -Unlike Newsarama and CBR, who have their content fed to them by the publishers, S_D could be far more democratic. If only one person thought a comic was worth looking at (be it from the Big 2, small press, or webcomic), it could get face time.

    -S_D was also frequently used to share comics that were out of print, especially ones that had never been collected into trades.

    I agree it had its problems and should have had stricter rules and been better moderated, but it’s sad to think that such a vibrant community was shut down without warning and without a chance to fix itself.

  24. Johanna Says:

    Dave: J.O.K.E. I didn’t take a position on whether Peter David is responsible, although, for the record, I don’t think this can be blamed on him. I do think his strategy of trying to build sales by telling people not to talk about the book and not letting them see samples is somewhat misguided. But then, I’m also the person who originally created Spoilt.

  25. ZilverZeo Says:

    What about the scans from classic stories? Like that one with the Internment Camps?

  26. james Says:

    I probably wouldn’t of liked either of the last 2 issues of X-Factor as much if they had been spoiled for me by the internet before I’d read them.

    I think he has a pretty good point regarding spoilers, at least with regards to #39 & #40

  27. Johanna Says:

    In contrast, I only read the latest X-Factor because of what I’d heard on the internet about them (including spoilers). I was glad to see the art was back to being readable.

  28. james Says:

    I can understand that, Stroman art so so bad. I pretty much stopped looking at the book.

  29. Lyle Says:

    I think it’s very sad that more people don’t realize how powerful a few pages of a comic can be in terms of attracting new readers.

    Melinda, you just reminded me of how I picked up Lethargic Lad, which replaced the usual cover with the first page of story, because that little sample convinced me I’d like the book. I know the cover is a long tradition, but I’ve wondered why no one has tried to lure readers with a story cover. (Probably because the direct market has made the sales impact of covers moot.)

    I have to admit, I find Gail Simone’s reaction interesting now that I’m reminded how she felt about Spoilt.

  30. Chris G Says:

    Some smart publisher should put together an official policy for posting excerpts of its books on sites like Scans Daily — maybe specifying a page limit, and, say, no final pages of any issue — and see what happens in terms of sales and awareness of the publisher’s books.

  31. there it is, plain as daylight. » Snowy Monday Says:

    […] Also, I’ve been watching the discussion on the demise of Scans Daily at LiveJournal, and a lot of the arguments I’ve seen flying around have been perplexing (if not surprising). I can understand objections to scanlations and the sharing of full scans of comics (even if I think those objections often overlook some important points), but objections to the posting of partial scans and discussion baffles me a little. For some very sane discussion on the topic, check out Brigid Alverson at Digital Strips and Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading. […]

  32. Sarah Says:

    Since s_d normally posts the bulk of scans (and spoilers) behind a cut-tag (typical LJ etiquette for an image-heavy post), I’m not sure what the spoiler complaining is about. I mean, anyone can slip up and accidentally spoil something in any forum, but in general you have to choose to click on the link to see the material on s_d.

    The publishers have to love a market where the customers are such puppets that without even thinking about the established law of copyright they yelp “It’s infringement!” when sites like this are shut down, though. Next there will be someone announcing that Marvel *had* to do it because they’d lose copyright if they didn’t defend it.

  33. Lyle Says:

    Chris G, I’d say one problem with a publisher creating a scans_daily type site is that it would lack the fan enthusiasm factor. One thing about scans_daily that was interesting was that the motivation was more “You guys have got to see this.” as opposed to “Here are the pages we think will get people to buy the comic.” (And since I’m a cynical marketing geek, I tend to think the former is more likely to sell comics than the latter.)

    Sarah, one problem is that if you follow an LJ using a newsreader, some of them don’t understand the cut tag. Still, you should understand that if you decide to read an LJ that way.

    OTOH, when I paid more attention to comics I’d get spoiled by the publishers’ marketing departments than fans.

  34. Chris G Says:

    Lyle: I’m not saying they should create their own site, rather that they should create a set of guidelines for others to use as they see fit. As in, “You want to post scans from ACCLAIMED TITLE WITH LOW SALES on your blog/livejournal/whatever? Do it within these boundaries and you won’t hear boo from us about it.”

  35. David Wynne Says:

    Chris G- The next step from that, of course, would be to publish the comics under creative commons copyrights… but that’s getting into another discussion.

  36. duffgirlohyeah Says:

    The question is not one of legality. Some posts on s_d skirted close to fair use, others went way over the line.

    The question is whether or not one of the largest comics discussion comms on LJ should’ve been something Marvel keyed into for free advertising rather than shut down.

    I, personally, had given up on comics for a few years before exposure to s_d sucked me back into them. Two of of the first new ones that pulled me back in again where Blue Beetle and X-Factor, which I only started picking up because I saw them on the comm.

    So, let’s do a breakdown of those shall we?

    Blue Beetle – picked up at issue 16, when I saw it on S_D, bought issues until the series’ conclusion at #36. Bought 4 tpbs for myself, 2 as a present for my younger cousin when sales were faltering, because it was a great, easy-to-understand story. That’s $3 an issue, $20 a tpb. Total I spent at my local comic shop since Scans_daily got me hooked on the comic:
    $180, for a comic struggling for sales.

    X-Factor – Picked up at issue 20 and have been buying since. That’s 20 issues at 3 dollars a pop, plus 3 tpbs at 20 a pop. Total spent since I got exposed to the comic on scans_daily:
    (Such irony there)

    Incredible Hercules- Picked up after people bitched a lot on s_D about World War Hulk but posted about this great thing that had started to come out of it: Hercules! Coming back to the forefront again, after a while of being kinda in the background. That’s 13 issues at 3 bucks, plus 2 issues of Mighty Avengers I only started picking up because Herc was in them:

    Now, I’ve gotten someone ELSE into buying Nova by linking them to the Nova tag on S_D. He still buys every month. I’ve also gotten exposed to other comics via word of mouth–but some of THOSE people that told me about those comics got into those comics on scans_Daily.

    But even discounting such word-of-mouth, 3rd-degree-of-separation occurrences, scans_daily is directly responsible for making the Big Two and my local comic shop a grand total of:


    That’s not exactly chump change. That’s like, 20 tanks of gas, with my car. That’s enough to buy a dividend reinvestment plan at most companies, especially right now when stocks are low and it’d be a good time to invest. There are MUCH better things I could be doing with my money, but scans_daily was there, and it got me hooked on stuff, and so I cut down on other little pleasures to make sure I had enough for the life necessities and for my comics, which were like little monthly tidbits of joy–and part of the joy was going to s_d to talk to other people on release day.

    So, I can’t produce empirical studies that it’s like that for everyone, but at least in one case, scans_daily was directly responsible for making Marvel and DC over 300 dollars.

    Should something like that be shut down? Or should something like that be USED?

    (And now I’m cutting out my Marvel books in quiet protest, since I was close to dropping them all anyway due to story choices, and them shutting down my fav discussion comm is just the icing on the cake, sooo, they’re not going to be making anything from me. Great sales plan, guys! =D)

    They forget that I didn’t OWE them that 345 dollars, and I don’t owe them anything in the future.

    Their products are not a life necessity. They can’t really afford to be pissing people off/not taking advantage of every bit of free advertising they can get, because fans are by no means obligated to buy their product when they can easily survive without it, especially right now when many are po’.

  37. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » March 3, 2009: Big hand’s on 120, little hand’s on me Says:

    […] comics fan with a website popped up with an opinion on the matter. Here’s Brigid Alverson, Johanna Draper Carlson, Glenn Haumann, Tom Spurgeon, Christopher Bird (one, two — both getting my vote as the most […]

  38. Matt Says:

    They should ask for permission before posting multiple page sequences. if its one page or panel here and there then thats fine.

  39. Did Scans_Daily Help? » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] of the many questions coming out of the Scans_Daily shutdown was “Did it really help?” Many S_D readers have said that seeing comic samples […]

  40. Wis[s]e Words » Blog Archive » Scans_daily shutdown: it’s the community stupid Says:

    […] believed by most people, though denied by David himself. A kerfuffle quickly ensued, with little sane ommentary emerging out from amongst the people happily pissing on Scan_Daily’s ashes or […]

  41. Charming Bookseller Comic » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] couldn’t find much explanation for it, and what references I did find were to the now-defunct Scans_Daily on LiveJournal. The strip is by Darko Macan (site in Croatian) and Tihomir Celanovic; I don’t know who […]




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