Scans_daily, a LiveJournal community, was suspended, and you can read about that here and here. The short: Peter David saw half an X-Factor comic scanned there, got mad, talked with Marvel, and Marvel complained to LiveJournal.
For those of you who don’t know, Scans_daily was a community for posting scans of comics and discussing them. The community was very slash-oriented, and a day usually didn’t go by without someone posting an old scan of a Batman comic where Bruce and Dick were in the same bed.
I always found the community useful for finding scans of comics that I was reviewing already on my blog. (This means that I’ve already read the comic and I have the printed version in my hand.) I also found it useful to read one or two pages of a comic I was thinking of spending money on. I realize that I might not have been the typical user, but I will miss this resource.
I do think Scans_daily always walked the thin line (and sometimes went over) when it came to copyright laws. I do think that some of the members had fights with creators that turned into libelous and inappropriate name calling. And that some of the members continue to do so in the wake of the community being suspended and up for deletion.
However, I don’t think Peter David is helping his own case any when it comes to appealing to fans. He’s trudging close to the wank line set by pros like Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyers, just to name a few infamous ones. I believe that Peter David himself also acted in an unprofessional manner. (Please note that I do not think it was unprofessional for him to turn in the community for copyright violation.)
This blog is not free of harsh comments on Peter David’s writing. No writer or artist is a sacred cow. My philosophy has always been if you publish it — whether it says Marvel on its cover or whether it’s on a blog — it’s up for criticism. Criticism can mean both good and bad things.
The internet is a great place that can bring both fans and creators together. However, Peter David is one author that I’ve seen going around to blogs and message boards and arguing with fans who are critical of his writing. He did this on the She-Hulk message boards as fans complained that his less-than-stellar writing on the title caused its cancellation, and he did this on the post in question on Scans_daily where someone pointed out his questionable gender depictions in X-Factor.
If Peter David wanted a real copyright infringement shut down of Scans_daily, he should not have commented and started arguing with fans on the same post he was turning them in for. Especially from the tone of the comments, it was easy to see how it turned into a name calling event. It is unprofessional and reeks of entitlement as a Creator and Professional Author.
I do think Peter David can address and argue with people’s opinions about his writing. But in the case of Scans_daily, Peter David getting Marvel’s lawyers to shut it down for copyright infringement while still arguing with fans about their negative comments is having his cake and eating it too. You cannot convince me that Peter David’s desire to shut down the community only had to do with copyright infringement. If so, it would’ve happened a long time ago.
Peter David has been quoted with saying that he wants to triple X-Factor‘s readership. This is an admirable goal considering how comic book readership, in general, is down. (Which, by the way, has nothing to do with the internet or communities like Scans_daily, no matter how much they get blamed. Comic readership has been down since the mid ’90s.)
In the “last time in X-Factor,” Peter David has been telling fans not to scan the comic, not to share spoilers with each other, and not to talk about the comic. I cannot tell if this is a great marketing ploy or if it’s a just another symptom of Peter David as Creator trying to maintain 100% control of his work and of others’ opinions about it.
If it’s the former, congratulations, Peter David, the marketing worked. That’s why it appeared on Scans_daily and that’s why people were talking about it. (Remember, criticism is both good and bad.) You probably would’ve seen an increase in your book’s readership. However, you just killed your marketing efforts within a certain fanbase by closing their community.
If it’s the latter, I shake my head. Peter David is not a sacred cow and neither are his comics. I’m not saying he can’t argue with fans, but there’s a difference between agreeing to disagree and feeding the trolls. Comics only survive because of the community behind them, because people go to cons, support their local comic shops, and because they share with each other. Sharing and selling someone on a title may take a few “spoilers” to get an interest. Very few comic fans care or can financially afford to keep up with every comic, which sharing the comics themselves or spoilers can help keep up with side plots. It seems to me that Peter David once upon the time had a place in that community before becoming a professional author, especially given that he writes and is paid to write stories based on others’ characters. (Or is a professional fanfic writer as my blog tag lovingly jokes.)
Scans_daily served a community base that was not served by the marketing or editorial decisions of Marvel and DC Comics. A community — largely of women — that would rather buy comics at Barnes & Nobles than go to the stereotypical comic shop where it was dirty and they’d get leered at or have their tastes mocked. Peter David took down that community in a way that was not 100% professional, and his behavior there and on other boards has caused me to lose respect for him.