Thoughts on Scans_Daily and Peter David

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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.

0 Replies to “Thoughts on Scans_Daily and Peter David”

  1. Wow, I had no idea that had happened. scans_daily is one of the few communities I’ll go back a couple of hundred posts to catch up on if I’ve been away from LJ for a few days. It was a great resource for me to learn about comics that I might want to pick up if they weren’t on my pull list. Given the thousands of titles out there, I just don’t have the cash to try every new title that comes out. scans_daily was so helpful for that.

    As for Peter David, well, I don’t have a lot of use for diva artists and creators no matter how good (or bad) they were at what they did, and although perhaps there were concerns for copyright violations, it sounds like David could have shut it down earlier. The timing sounds a bit too linked to his recent disagreements with those who would criticize his work. I agree, very unprofessional.

  2. You know, I don’t have any particular sympathy for PAD in this situation, but I wish the focus were less on ‘He told on us’ and more on ‘Maybe the community members who behaved extraordinarily badly in this situation should have some accountability.”

    Also, while I don’t at all doubt that S_D turned a lot of people on to comics they ended up buying, and that it was a good center for discussion for a lot of people, I feel like most of the positives that people are associating with the community could be accomplished in other forums.

  3. “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.”

    So you believe he is lying when he says he never heard of the place until very recently? I don’t think he is. At the moment, he may be all kinds of things to you, but he’s not a liar. Many commenters on the blog admit to also never having heard of SD, world-famous as it may be in your part of the web. Perpetuating this idea is understandable, but not helpful.

  4. @paxm — Definitely a useful resource has disappeared. Yeah, I also felt that the timing was a little off to be completely professional.

    @Caroline — I definitely agree that there were pissed off members going too far. And that there are other communities for discovering comics, though I’m not sure there is an easy remedy for Scans_daily’s core group. For me, I got more recs out of Girl-Wonder.org, but for me, feminist comics (or comics with more than two women talking to each other about non-men stuff) is more important for my reading.

    @Thomas Rau — I don’t know Peter David personally so I can’t judge whether or not he’s a liar. Even if he’d only heard of Scans_daily recently, it doesn’t change that he did get into an argument there and have it shut down at the same time, which tinges it with personal offense, not just professional copyright protection. I did go to his blog to read his post about Scans_daily and then I read the post before it, which declared that racism was dead since white people elected Obama. That post made me more pissed off than the entire kerfuffle about Scans_daily. I would link, but it seems like someone hacked his site.

  5. Okay, see, that’s the thing. I didn’t generally patronize scans_daily, because I didn’t have the time to go through such a high-volume comm. But it was there when I wanted it! Which I loved. I used to read comics a LOT more than I do now. I used to go to my local comics shop, without fail, every single week to pick up my subscriptions. Now, when I say “I used to go to my local comics shop,” I meant that I went to the store I’ve been shopping at SINCE I WAS NINE. My local comics shop had so much of my business, it wasn’t funny.

    Of course, I stopped going as much after I hit puberty, because I was wearing a Catholic school uniform, and I had boobs. This isn’t the sort of attention you want to draw in your local comic shop. The employees would follow me around. CREEPY. (This behavior didn’t happen as much when I walked in with a guy. Fail, comic book dudes. Epic fail.)

    What I really WANT, however, is a girl-owned comic book shop. With an all-female staff. (If it were a comic book and gaming shop both? Ideal. So ideal.) One that I could go into and bitch like hell about cover art, or the latest annoying plotline, and I can hear back something I can relate to. I have a harder time relating to guys who like comics. We just like different things about them.

    So instead, I have my internet friends, and I seek out women who like comics, and geek out with them. So I get annoyed when someone (like Peter David) tries to take that away from me in a fit of “I know better than you do.” When, really, he doesn’t.

  6. @Havoc — You are absolutely correct in that most comic stores (much like most comics and the marketing surrounding them) do not cater to people not like the editors/writers/sellers, who often fit the stereotypical fanboy image. And jesus, anyone who follows a teenage girl around in the store to leer needs to be kicked in the crotch, swiftly.

    I personally have had both negative and positive encounters in comic shops (and at cons), and all the negatives ones related directly to my gender. And it’s rare that I go into a comic shop and don’t drop $20-40 at least twice a week. I am lucky to live in a place where I have a variety of stores to choose from.

    I feel like there needs to be a woman-owned comic store that does what Babeland and Good Vibrations did for sex stores, which is really apt, but inappropriate comparison. Because Peter David and the men who followed you around the comic store and the ones who point me to the manga section really don’t know what’s best.

  7. Sorry I’m only getting back to this after some time, but I do think that “feminist, slash-friendly discussion” needs to be separated out from “blatant copyright violation, trolling, and name-calling.”
    I’d love to see a community with the former that isn’t dependent on/inextricably tied to the latter.

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