Saturday, February 28, 2009

Apocalypse Nerd! Or Alas, Poor scans_daily. I knew it well.

Alas and alack, the scans_daily LJ community has been TOS'd, as the parlance goes, "suspended" as in when a TV show goes on "indefinite hiatus"...which means it's g-o-n-e gone.

As you may or may not know, scans_daily was a place where people often not-so-judiciously posted scans of comics panels and pages, then invited all comers to comment at will. Sometimes, posters unwisely posted entire issues or stories, although this was against the rules, and in most cases these posts were deleted or revised. It started out as a "slash-friendly" place where snarky comments were encouraged, but after a year or two, it eventually morphed into a place where there were some serious discussions (and yes, still some less-serious snark) about some of the greatest (and not-so-great) comics ever published. I myself posted (I think) scans five times over there; once, I wanted to get people interested in Tex Arcana; another, someone had asked about Chaykin's Sword of Sorcery featuring Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser. I think I posted that Grandenetti Warren story which I posted here as well, and of course, most recently (just last week!) those Helfer/Baker Shadow pages, which I will repost here eventually. So while I was far from a regular, I did dip my toe in those waters, and note that many of these are no longer in print.

For many of my peers in the Blogosphereiverse, this news has been received with unabashed joy and delight, as if Christmas for them has come early. These nerds are THIEVES , they say, who wrapped themselves in a cloak of fair use righteousness and actually had the temerity to suggest that THEY have actually GENERATED sales of comics from the samplers they provided! Some were indeed bandwidth thieves, and on this I agree with them, because in this age of free image hosts there's no excuse for hotlinking. Some apparently feel like they've been slighted there personally, or haven't been treated with the respect and admiration they deserve when posting or commenting there. Some, I'm sure, are motivated by genuine concern for all the lost revenue that the Big Two have been cheated out of, because as we all know we should always have AOL/TimeWarner and Marvel's best interests in mind when it comes to matters of money. Some, perhaps, are concerned with the huge revenue hit their local comics shops may have sustained because of the apparent multitudes reading comics for free via s_d. I've also seen instances where some have complained of that most awful of awful things, "THE SPOILER", apparently unable to finesse LJ's complicated "LJ-cut" function, which a good 90% of all s_d posts utilized and is designed to prevent the unwary reader seeing scans or text unless they click on a link. Seems s_d was apparently rife with them, although in my infrequent stops I recall usually seeing clear spoiler notices- and why are you checking out a post featuring a comic which you want to read, and are prepared to buy, but haven't yet, especially knowing going in about s_d's rep, and you're that concerned about your reading experience being ruined? Oh well- these are only my impressions, based on the comments, blog posts, and Twits I've read since the extinction level event hit.

Typically, I see both sides here. Yes, it is, in the strictest sense, illegal- and as Steve Ditko would tell you, these scum don't deserve have access to inflict their ill-gotten gains on the honest, hard-working, fair-using bloggers and internet readers out there. Me, I think by and large, s_d was harmless- or at least way down the list of harmful things threatening comics these days. You see, as I've copped to more than once here, sometimes I avail myself of the sites which offer scans of new comics for download- sometimes, if I want to check out a title I'm on the fence about, or if I get interested in one but not to the point where I want to buy it (and believe me, if not for the downloads, I wouldn't buy it otherwise), or sometimes in the interest of having a current title to review on PopSyndicate or here, because I get my comics every other week. Many publishers, like Boom!, make PDFs available for reviewers to DL, and while there is a difference, it's not a great one I don't think. Sometimes, I want to post a page or panel from a comic I've read recently, but frankly, my scanner is buried under a pile of junk in out junk room, aka "office", so it's easier and more convenient for me to DL it. So call me a scofflaw if you will, but know that more often as not I delete these files when I either receive them via DCBS, or get done reviewing them, and in the case of titles like Greatest Hits, Captain Britain and the MI-13, Age of the Sentry, or Incredible Hercules- to name a few- I go out and buy them, pay actual cash mon-nay for them, either from my LCS, the eBay, or even the most excellent Ralph's Comics Corner, whom I recommend highly. Shit, doing this has cost me more money in the long run than I've cost DC, Marvel, or others, that's for sure. Now, true, for every one of me there is probably five that don't, but somehow I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way, and I can believe people when they say that they have been inspired to start picking up this or that title because they read pages from it on s_d. I'm not so cynical that I am prepared to scoff at that just yet.

I, for one, will miss s_d, and I hope they're able to regroup and start anew somewhere else. There were times I got pissed off at the snarkmeisters there, especially when they'd start in on something that meant something to me such as War of the Worlds feat. Killraven and the like, but there were also times when someone would post something that I missed in the 80's or 90's- a hilarious X-Men parody by Kyle Baker that was posted comes to mind- and that made it worth having in my LJ-friends queue. Nobody ever really gave me any shit over there, even though I often went looking for a fight to defend something I liked; and there were some cool people that were knowledgable about comics as well. Many of the disparagers and critics have blogs, and many of these blogs regularly feature pages or panels that allow them to demonstrate to all the readers how clever and amusing they are, as well as how mighty their Photoshop skills are, and to be honest, if there's a difference, to me it's a fine line. Sure, many of the scans posted there may have been illegally downloaded, but how can you be sure which ones were and which ones weren't? Sure, you can be skeptical, but you can't always know for sure. Unless you're conviced you have the sanctimonious high ground, something which I try to avoid.

Either way, this is my two cents worth. And know that I will go to my grave and not be affected one iota either way by the disappearance of s_d in my personal life, it was at least a handy resource to have, and something to read when there wasn't anything better to be found.

ETA: I like Gail Simone's response here, on her CBR forum.

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