Mark Waid, the creative genius behind Marvel's new Infinite Comics, has recently launched his own comic imprint, Thrillbent Comics. He's decided to embrace piracy rather than fight it.
The first 4 installments of Insufferable, his first title, are available to read free on the Thrillbent website. But they're also available on various pirate sites thanks to some helpful soul who downloaded each issue and then wrapped them as a CBZ.
It came as no surprise to me that, about 24 hours after we posted the first installment of INSUFFERABLE over at Thrillbent, the pages had been downloaded, zipped into a .cbr or .cbz file, and uploaded to various torrent and filesharing sites. The only thing that startled me was that it took 24 hours. Sure enough, installments two and three were similarly webripped, converted and uploaded with increasing speed. By week three, they were available for download around the world within hours. Taken straight from the Thrillbent site.
What's more, he likes the idea. He's been in comics for years now and in all that time he has yet to see proof that he's been harmed by it.
I have seen zero conclusive evidence that, on the whole, "piracy" removes more money from the system than it adds to it. Are there readers who would be buying my print comics who download them for free instead? Sure. Are there, conversely, potential readers who download one of my print comics, sample it, and then become a paying customer if they have access to ensuing print copies? Absolutely, and I've personally sold books to hundreds of them at store signings and conventions.
So, rather than be upset by the piracy, Mark has chosen to post the comics as free PDF and CBZ files. What's more, he includes a credit page at the end of each file with links to Thrillbent. As he sees it, there's nothing he can do to stop the piracy so he might as well co-opt it for his own use.
I have to say that I do like his attitude on this. He accepts that piracy will happen and that he cannot do anything about it, so there's not much point in getting upset. It's a healthier viewpoint than some writers have.