Although Rich Johnston of the blog Bleeding Cool acts as if he exposed the support of Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics (through parent company Time Warner) of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) first, he really has not. Others such as GraphicPolicy.com and your very own Comic Book Bin have been waging the fight far longer. After Johnston’s article, the other comic book Websites broke free of their embargo and finally started covering SOPA. Of course, Johnston’s article and that of the other me-too guys are all weak and don’t really go very far into explaining what is at stake with SOPA.
GraphicPolicy.com has taken the lead into asking every well-known comic book publisher as well as comic book talents about their position on SOPA. It will be interesting to see if any of them will make a public statement. For The Comic Book Bin, SOPA is just bad. Its claim to fight privacy is really a sneaky way to try to censor the Internet and stifle competition. Hollywood studios, music labels, book publishers and the large media have not yet swallowed their defeat at the altar of the Internet and they still think that they can control it and punish those that dare to criticize their work.
The boycott of Internet registrar Go Daddy has been very effective in changing that company’s support for SOPA. But the fight has only just begun. As I wrote earlier, I will not break the journalistic independence of the writers at the Bin and start imposing them some specific course of action to deal with companies they report on that support SOPA. But as a comic book reader and a consumer who spends hundreds of dollars every month on comics, I can take action.
In my own reviews, I’ve begun warning readers gently when the product under review is by a supporter of SOPA. While this can help continue to raise awareness about SOPA, I feel that it’s not enough. It’s time for a boycott. As a consumer, I have every right to spend my hard earned money with vendors that do not run counter to my political beliefs. In fact, every time I buy a comic book by Marvel or DC Comics, I only support their SOPA agenda. They use my money to finance their lobbying of American politicians so they can in turn enact laws that breach my rights as a citizen. Although I’m a Canadian, the more I read about SOPA, the more, I understand its reach and the very real extraterritorial effects it has on Canada. But that’s another story.
I’m not asking you as a reader, nor my writers at the Bin to follow my lead. If you are concerned about SOPA, it’s up to you to make up your mind about what you will do about it. I’ve decided to start replacing the Marvel and DC Comics I buy and read with comic books published by other publishers that don't support SOPA. Here’s why. By dropping the comics and not replacing them with anything else, I hurt my local comic book store. I’ve always been adamant about supporting local comic book stores. The ComicBookBin apps support local comic book stores too. It’s ironic that one of the most technologically aware guy in comics, is not fully supportive of digital comics as found on tablets and phones. They have their place, but in the long run, I like the idea that I can move my comic book with me wherever I move. With comics locked down in proprietary system such as apps by Comixology or Graphicly, your comics are stuck there. Since SOPA supporters are doing their darn best to make sure you cannot port your purchased intellectual property from one format to another, printed comic books are still the best way to read comic books that are truly portable and mobile. No Hollywood major can tell me what I can and cannot do with a printed comic book I have purchased. I can rip it apart, make a wallet out of it, give it to anyone, resell it, and burn it if I want. I paid for it, it’s mine.
I will replace them with other comic books not published by the two companies above. If it turns out that the creators working on the new comic books I read also support SOPA, I will replace them as well. There is definitely not a lack of good comic books out there that I can use to replace my current reads. I also collect a few comics not published by these two. Until I hear about what their creators, or the license owners who own them think about SOPA, I’ll keep buying them and won’t replace them. For example, I like Invincible published by Image Comics and The Transformers. If Hasbro or the Image creators working on Invincible also support SOPA, I will replace their comic books too.
I will be asking for the support of the comic book reading community. I’m looking mostly for monthly comic book series or mini-series. My local comic book store is also supporting me, and actually quite pleased that I’m not dumping my pull list, but only replacing it. Of course, as you would guess, I usually try to review every comic book I buy. That means that anything that gets to replace a DC Comics or a Marvel Comics will more than likely be reviewed here. I’m not sure how many comic book series from Marvel or DC Comics I will be replacing. I’ll definitely replace the series I don’t like, and leave the ones I like for last.
So I’m asking your help to do this. If you’re a comic book creator working on a mini-series or a regular comic book, here’s your chance to get more visibility for your work (provided you don’t support SOPA of course). If you’re just a comic book fan, like me, and want people to discover something cool and new, well, here’s your chance to help your favourite comic book get more visibility.
By next January 4th 2012, I’m hoping to have received enough good suggestions and at the same time raise more awareness about the consequences of SOPA. I’m also hoping that other people will follow my lead on combating SOPA with their wallets.