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Mark Waid and the Harvey Awards

On Saturday night, the comic industry had their annual award dinner, hosted by Scott Kurtz, author of popular webcomic PvP Online, at the Baltimore ComicCon. The keynote speaker, Mark Waid, gave a somewhat controversial speech, stating that piracy and illegal copying of comics was here to stay, and it was time the industry gave up some of their opposition to digital sharing of comics, and embraced the “new” technology. Suggesting some sort of free content distribution system, or other means of rewarding  legal downloads rather than blowing money fighting the downloading that will occur anyway, Waid’s suggestions were a logical series of suggestions, and ones that have been proposed in turn for the music, film, and news industry.

Immediately after the keynote, while the awards were being given out, Waid was apparently approached by comic book legend Sergio Aragonés, who attacked the content of the speech, saying it devalued the efforts of authors and writers, and that content shouldn’t just be given away for free.

Comics. Not really video game related, except that the digital content control systems in place for digital files are the same for comics as they are for video games, and the consumers tend to overlap to a great deal.

Should the industry embrace digital distribution, and stop attempting to punish those who get their content online? Perhaps. But these “problems” are nothing new to any type of digital media distribution system, and having such an argument in public while the industry (apparently) debates giving out embedded codes for free digital copies of comics within the paper copy…seems a bit late. Either comics adapt to the new ways people absorb information, including reading comics online or on phones, or people will eventually stop reading comics. Or read free comics. In an industry where health insurance and retirement plans are few and far between, can comic creators really keep ignoring digital media as a valid means of content distribution? At least there is now a webcomic category at the Harvey Awards, when the MC is known primarily for being the creator of one.

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Posted in Tuesday: Potpourri.