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R(U)ant: Dear Marvel, This Is Why People Steal (Re: Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man)

Written by GHERU on Friday, September 05 2014 and posted in Features

R(U)ant: Dear Marvel, This Is Why People Steal (Re:  Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man)

Don’t worry about any spoilers, I’m about to save you $16 and 30 minutes of your life.

Source: bad mood

Before I get started I want to make it clear that neither I, The Outhousers, nor any members of the Outhousers' staff condone piracy. You can wrap your justifications up however you want, but piracy / torrents / illegally downloading is theft.

That being said, there are a number of crimes that, although I do not condone, I understand – and it’s getting harder and harder to defend against stealing comic books using just “It’s wrong” as an argument. It becomes even harder once it becomes clear that parts of the comic book industry are, in essence, stealing from their customers. Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man is a perfect example of this.

There is no good justification for stealing comic books. As a forum member said earlier this week; “…before you go all Les Misérables on me, you are not stealing for survival. You are stealing for pleasure,” and even though “pleasure” might be stretching it when one is talking about stealing Death of Wolverine #1, the point still stands. The thing is that is really the only argument against piracy – that it’s wrong. The arguments for piracy (sometimes called “fuck *insert cooperation here*”) are becoming…convincing, especially with comic books.

The main argument is easy to make and relatively simple to understand: too expensive.

**full prices assumend**

Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man was four issues at $3.99 (rounded to $4 for easy math) at ~32 pages and each issue took roughly 10 minutes to read:
-$16 / 128 pages = $.125 per page or 12.5 cents per page
-$16 / 40 minutes = $.4 per minute of your life or 40 cents a minute

Do we really need to compare the cost in time and money to any other form of entertainment?  Why not?

The Gone Away World (great book, go read it) - $15.95 (rounded to $16 for easy math) 592 pages (paperback):
-$16 / 592 pages = .$027 per page or 2.7 cents a page
-I don’t know the average reading speed of our readers, but I can bet that the $ / time math will bear out my point

Destiny - PlayStation 4 - $59.96 (rounded to $60 for easy math):
-In order for a new PS4 game to come close to the ratio a modern comic book as to money and time it would have to have the comparative stats of
-Being 480 “pages” long
-Take only 150 minutes to play (minutes, not hours).

But, price is a boring argument to make in relation to why stealing is wrong. It really doesn’t matter if something is “too expensive.” The fact that the price exists just gives thieves an easy target. If you are stealing, of course a primary reason is “cost.” We all want what we want for free.

The more salient / convincing arguments have to do with the product itself. No I don’t mean the diminishing return of page count to price, that’s outlined above; I mean the product’s actual content. If I buy a novel, I know that I am getting a complete story with beginning, middle and end, same with a video game. Even if the novel / game are a part of a series, I usually feel by the end of a part that something “happened.” Not so much with comic books. Anymore, the setting might take up 3 issues with a splash page issue showcasing the inevitable battle followed by two issues of denouement (totally spelled that right!) with an implied “to be continued…?” According to the pro-thievery argument, not only are we being charged too much for the product, but it’s not even a complete product.

That isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that even when the all the issues have been published and the complete story is out, very rarely does anything happen, or if it does, there is no guarantee that what happened will ever matter again in any future story. In the odd cases that continuity is referenced anymore, it’s just to get rid of past stories that are “in the way” of whatever event we are currently in the middle of.

There’s a part near the beginning of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation where, via math, it is shown that when it’s all taken into account, a visiting politician agreed to nothing the whole time he was there. Every speech, conversation, and action negated a previous or future action, so, by the end, what the visitor said amounted to zero. And that’s what we got with Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man – four (give or take) $4 books where, by the end, absolutely nothing happened.

Some background: I don’t usually buy or read tie-ins. If a book I already read is affected, that’s cool, but I don’t go looking for the tie-in limited series as they are useless. We all know (and yes, I recognize the irony) they don’t matter and there is no reason other than excess cash to buy the comics. In my defense, I was manic and I had read that this tie-in would matter in the regular Hulk book, so I bought all four at once figuring that with Waid and Bagley it would be pretty good. So, yes, I recognize that it is my fault I “fell for” the tie-in, and that not liking something is a risk we all take when buying and consuming something. We may not like it. The difference between other products and comic books is, from the point of view of piracy, that when I don’t like a $60 game or $15 book I still feel that, at least, it was a fair(ish) price. I can track and “see” inflation and the reasonable (in relation to the economy on a whole) and steady rise in prices. No one can say that about comic books. The price of comics is at the point that even a great book may not be worth the cost, let alone a book that isn’t any good.

For the final time, stealing = bad and you shouldn’t do it. There is no legal or moral justification for it, and any “reason” other than “I want to” is self-serving clap-trap so you can convince yourself that you are a good person. For the same reason I can’t just walk into a movie theater and watch a movie without paying for it because “I’ll buy the Blu-ray eventually” is the same reason you can’t torrent a comic because you’ll “buy the trade eventually.” It’s theft. Accept it.

That being said; comic books, do you have to make it so hard to defend you? Death of Wolverine was / will be FIVE DOLLARS an issue.I can literally go to Amazon right now and buy two books for my Kindle with what it would have cost me for Death of Wolverine #1 and #2 and it will take me well over 200% longer to read. Even if I don’t like it, 2.5 cents a page vs. 12.5…I think the one book at double the price is worth 500% more content.

Now, I just realized that my argument can be manipulated into the argument that I am “blaming the victim.” If you thought that, shut up. Don’t be stupid. Just because a wallet is left on a public table doesn’t mean that some-one should steal it. Just because the comic book industry has priced itself out of a generation doesn’t mean that you should steal their product. So, don’t do it. But, Marvel / DC, c'mon, do you really have to binge drink and pass-out naked every night?

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