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Friday, 13 April 2018

99.9% Of You Will Not Give A damn

Some people might wonder what that last "Scam Alert" post had to do with comics?

Let me explain. In the field of toy soldier collectors you will occasionally have someone who thinks they are taking the moral high ground and better than a 'thief' who is casting figures from commercially available ones. Prince August sells molds and much more for these people and if people cast from them they have purchased the molds and paid for the lead or pewter bars needed to make the figures and some effort is put into this.

I have several such figures purchased from a Saturday market in Blomberg, Germany in the 1980s.  It was how kids made pocket money. Just plain lead figures from molds.

Others will sell the figures fully painted and painting to a high quality takes skill.

These are NOT thieves. This is something that has been going on since the 19th century in Europe.

Someone casting figures from, say Crescent, Cherilea or other British lead/plastic toy soldier manufacturer is not a thief.  Those companies ceased production as late as 1980 in some cases. Those figures are not commercially available and if you look at the figures sold on Ebay it's rare to find them undamaged -arms. hands, weapons missing. So if someone wants to play or display such figures it could -unless they were VERY lucky- take years to assemble a good set -a lot of money spent and often buying a set with many damaged to get that good one.

They cast and make the figures. They use and play with them. That is not theft. Selloing a few to friends -covering the cost of making them: not theft.  The companies no longer exist. Ebay sellers want a small fortune for figures that appear (new listings) daily there and that are NOT rare because they were made in the many, many thousands (and so many new listings appearing tend to kick out that "rare" tag).

I see these claims and scams a lot because I have a number of interests. Hobbyists are not thieves and they are certainly not destroying an industry but keeping it alive.

In the scam alert video the point is clearly made that someone is buying an item and then making a mold out of it, producing lower quality item and the real makers name is used to sell the items. That is theft. It takes money from people who put a lot of skill and effort into producing a top quality product. Every penny counts to these small businesses. And here is the kicker -the people buying the inferior knock-offs often know that they are buying inferior knock-offs.  Then why?  "Because they save a couple $/£s"...

Does that make sense?  Buy an inferior product for a few $/£ less that will need much more work done to it to make it usable and may have all sorts of defects?  A few £/$ more and you have the top quality item ready to use. And guarantee.  Also you keep the small businessman going.

"Feck the small businessman -if he lowered his prices he might do better!"

I hear that a lot.

This happens in model making, gaming and many other areas of interest.  The best example is the idiot who buys a very low quality copy of a movie.  "It's a rip-off but only cost me £4.00!"  What would he have paid for a better quality DVD from a recognised trader on Ebay or Amazon? £4.50-£5.00 but feck the poor quality where Robert Downey Jnrs voice is heard while Samuel L.Jackson's mouth moves -he screwed those big shots and saved 50p-£1.00.

I could go on and on with examples but let's show how if affects comics.  I know around 99% of you do not give a crap but this is my blog.

Looking at the Eros Comix (Fantagraphic Books) work I did with artists Art Wetherell and David Gordon. Poorly paid work. Foreign editions we were not toldf about and which breached our contracts 100% without question.  A scan was made -this is an illegal act as noted in the books. The illegal scanner then distributed copies an illegal act as noted in the books. The scans were then offered on numerous illegal download sites free of charge which is an illegal act as noted in the books. In one year I contacted, warned, reported and closed down 40 file share accounts that were hosting illegal downloads -absolutelt zero support from the publisher, Fantagraphic books.  After a year I gave up.

I tried the "Well, you can offer the downloads -charge $1 per download payable to me".  Simple and honest: enough money accrues then I can forward payments to the artists.  Some said they would consider this -never did. When they moved to another site I reported them to the relevant authorities and one ended up prosecuted and losing internet access, because the authorities looked into my complaint and then found the idiot involved was offering illegal downloads of Hollywood movies and TV shows -some big file sharing sites were shut down over the whole illegal download of comics, music and movies.

The last of the two titles (no, you want to know the titles you use your brains and find out) was published in 1995 (I think) and if I remember rightly the last time it was checked the downloads were well over 30 million.

Let me explain this more clearly so that you understand. I get asked to write a comic series and I know the artist I want to work with.  I write the scripts (depressing enough) and the artists have the fun of simply drawing. When I say "simply" I am being facetious.  They have to read the script, ask any questions they may have, make notes, often but not always, send me preliminary sketches. They then have to layout, pencil, ink and in both these cases letter 130-150 pages. Only when completed will the publisher say "yes" or "no" -that's right: they are not being paid by the publisher while working on the book and when accepted get shitty pay and bad royalty sales deal.

One title was reprinted so many times that it became a "graphic novel" that kept selling out -and sold very well abroad in other langues (we found out years later).

All of that work and effort -the creators' copyright because the publisher null and voided any contract. A trilogy never completed, sadly (though the last script was written).  One artist has passed away, I am sure hios widow could do with money. As for the other artist and myself -we could really do with the money. $1 per download...that would mean three millionaire comic creators by now (you understand now why I prefer not to know about illegal download figures).

Instead, all the work and effort is being offered illegally.  The downloaders and site owners are criminal scum. Thieves. Neither gives the slightest thought to the fact that they are stealing a living from us and our work.  They do not care. I see on CBO stats many people getting here via one or both of those two books' titles.  I check -illegal download sites and are these people here to say "How can I buy the book so you earn from it?"  No, these thieves are probably looking for more illegal downloads.

The biggest lie these people give as an excuse (and it covers every illegal download they take, read and store) is "Well,if I like what I read I'll go and buy the book".  No one believes that lie for one minute.  Even the thief writing or saying it does not believe it -if they even think before they say it.

I have warned many small publishers not to offer PDF downloads of books or ebook versions. 99.9% ignore me. What do I know after all these decades?  I then see bleating and whining about illegal downloaders using their PDF books. "You're stealing from us!" they scream. Only one has ever gotten in touch and said "You were right".  It is why I do not offer downloads of my books at the online store because I know some criminal scum is going to buy the cheaper download and offer it around the internet and then I can watch all the potential earnings being lost to more thieves.

You want to steal from me then buy the full priced book and do all the work to make your illegal download but remember that there is no such thing as internet anonymity.  It never existed. Steal from me now I use every legal source available.  I will also post to your social media that you are a thief -which is quite legal for me to do (you know who you are -how did it work out for you?).

As I wrote, 99.9% of you, if you even bother reading this, will not give a damn.  You are hear to see what you can get for free and move on. You do not support this site, buy my books or really care because you keep thinking "Everyone else is doing this" and you have your excuse.

If you steal someone's work -whether a model, a toy soldier in current production or comic books and art you are depriving them of a living and you are destroying the industries involved. You do not care so long as you can steal it and why should you care if someone goes out of business?  DO NOT blame the internet because it is being abused by those thieves -if you download that includes you.

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