Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Comic Book Writer Talks SOPA/PIPA

Originally posted 1/18/12 on my Tumblr.

This morning, Facebook pissed me off. A bunch of my friends were equatingcaring about SOPA to not caring a real problems such as AIDS, starvation, cancer, etc. I posted some snarky statuses to get across the point that being vocal about the dangers of Internet censorship doesn’t equate to being a heartless monster, but I was silly about it. EricaCV pointed out, though, that I may be better off using my “writerly influence to spread further knowledge and understanding about the situation.” She’s right - on Facebook I went for the lulz, and that was a bit of a mistake… because I think one of the fundamental misunderstandings about SOPA/PIPA and those of us who are against it is that we are merely scared of losing the Internet as a source of mindless entertainment.

It’s a hell of a lot worse than that.

Now, here’s where I stand. Piracy isn’t a shiny beacon of awesome, and I’m not for it. Obviously. I work as a writer in the comics industry, and it’s one of the most grating things to see how often our (incredibly cheap) books get pirated. Hell, take this for example. A few weeks ago, my latest comic (Grimm Fairy Tales: Holiday Edition 2011) came out, and I searched it in Google. (Yes, I self-Googled, I’m weak.) The first result wasn’t a fan’s reaction. It wasn’t a review. It was a site that offered an illegal download of the book that had literally only been out for a few hours. Bummer, right?


I started thinking. I used to run a review site. On that site, I would talk about all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I would review the comics, I would post pictures of stuff that was coming out, and I would make stupid little parody images on Paint. I used Google images to pepper the site with covers from the comics to make the site prettier. That site is how I got noticed. By making friends with some of the people who worked on the Angel comic and showing that I cared about the character and that I could write, I put my foot in the door. I later wrote a story for that comic, and have since been building a career in the comics industry. The seeds for all of my current success grew from that blog… which would have been shut the fuck down in an Internet governed by SOPA/PIPA.

So would this Tumblr. Likely, so would your Tumblr. So would countless other sites that have provided entertainment, offered education, and decreased World Suck. Yes, it’s true that the pirates would get shut down, but I say this as a man trying to make it in an incredibly rough industry… it is absolutely not worth it.

For more information (and I can surely say more articulation) you can check out what Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Steve Niles, and many other great writers are saying all over the Internet. Look around, and see if you agree with them. It’s your prerogative. Your freedom. My point is this: without a free Internet, I wouldn’t have published a thing. And I’d wager that I would be a hell of a lot less informed about the world as a whole than I am now.

The world is at your fingertips. Don’t let them snatch it away from you.

-Patrick Shand

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