The other story I had in the May issue of Wired was an examination of the digital comics market, and a plea for companies like Marvel and DC to take their archives into the digital realm.

Most piracy doesn't spring from the desire to get free content. It comes from a desire to get it in a specific way. Successes like Apple's music business have shown that consumers will pay for content if it's offered at a fair price without unreasonable restrictions. Right now, comics publishers could enjoy a win-win situation - they could reach out to new fans and increase revenue - if they would just decide to take advantage of it. And if they don't? Worst. Decision. Ever.

It's not that comics are that different than other media that have faced these issues, except for one key difference -- there's a huge disconnect between the financial value of the object, and the value of the content. The fact that Action Comics #1 is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn't stem from the story in it. It's because it's Superman's first appearance.

Digital would let comics separate the two, to the benefit of both publishers and readers. Time will tell if the companies will come to that conclusion.

AuthorMark McClusky