Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Bootlegging The Bootleggers

Photo © Max Southall - Cerebus TV

(from the comments to Weekly Update #15, 24 January 2014)
...Cerebus has been bootlegged digitally for a very long time. According to the Pirate Bay tracker, there's at least 25 people either downloading or sharing the entire run right now, as we speak (14 seeds, 11 downloaders).

I own a copy of these scans. I also own every issue of Cerebus (either originals or Bi-Weekly reprints) and every phone book, and I participated in the Kickstarter, and I bought the Cerebus digital phone book. And I bought every issue of Glamourpuss. And I'll buy Strange Death, too. So while I own the scans, I at least know I paid up when the opportunity was available.

You don't get a dime on those scans. While you didn't do the scanning, you and Gerhard did the hard part- writing, drawing, lettering, etc. Why not get paid for it?

I've read all the scans- when I did my recent Cerebus re-read, rather than pulling everything out, I loaded everything onto my iPad for convenience. The scans are REALLY good. And the letters page, backmatter, and covers are all there. They're not perfect, and not as good as your hi-res scans, but they're certainly high enough quality for a top-of-the-line iPad. Can't you sell them, through Cerebus Downloads, or maybe even Comixology? Heck, you could add a page of notes, not as much as you put into High Society, but a page or so nonetheless, put out a few issues a week, and get some revenue out of your work. And whatever print product that's available would still be available, and a revenue stream to pay for the continual restoration of the overall Cerebus work would be there.

I might be nuts- this might be a bad idea. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I work for Comixology or Diamond or whatever. But at worst, I wanted to pitch the idea to you. I'd be happy to send you a USB drive of the scans if you don't have them...

(from Weekly Update #16, 31 January 2014)
...Basically, I have NO problem with "bootlegging the bootleggers" -- ripping their ripped files on all 16 trades and posting them to I just don't know how to do it myself and I don't know if George has time to do it right now or in the foreseeable future. What I usually do with George is to change the password on the Paypal account at temporarily and let him add files and Paypal buttons. He lets me know when he's done and I change the password again so I'm the only one who has it. All I have to do is intentionally forget all the other passwords and remember the new one!

If someone wants to volunteer to do it in their spare time, you could contact George at tbdeinc [at] gmail [dot] com and ask him about if that's okay. I'm a complete Luddite so I never know when I'm suggesting something that will turn technically adept children grey-headed. Or George might want to do it himself, I really don't like to arbitrate these things because I know absolutely nothing about it...

(by email, 4 February 2014)
Tim, can you put up a notice on AMOC for anyone to contact me with any bootleg scans of Cerebus Comics... We'll flood the internet with unofficial official copies of Cerebus for everyone!

I have received a full collection and will be packaging it up within the next 2 weeks and make it available on Either it's free or for sale and at what price point... that is up to Dave Sim.

So Dave, what price point -- IF ANY -- should the product(s) be?

George Peter Gatsis
The Black Diamond Effect Inc.
2200 Gerrard Street East,
Toronto, Ontario, M4E 2C7
T: 416-440-4031
F: 206-309-0055
E: tbdeinc [at] gmail [dot] com


A Moment Of Cerebus said...

As a complete digital comics novice -- Dave Sim would be proud of me -- can anyone explain to me the best / easiest way to read these scans on an iPad? What software should I be using exactly?

Many thanks,

M Southall said...

I don't know where you got it, but that photo is one taken by me of a bootleg copy obtained from a flea market seller. The disk had no label, so I wrote the identification on it with a black sharpie. That is the original Mac Mini station used to access video files for production at http://Cerebus.TV next to it...

Steve Harold said...

If it is going to be another source of revenue for Dave (alibi an inferior one) then you should offer it as individual issues so Dave can get the most out of it. 300 issues @ .99, .89, .79 each is decent extra money. You already have High Society and the Cerebus books up so you can use these bootleg scans for all of the other issues.
If you sell it as a single collection you are only going to get so many one time purchases and then your done.
The single issue purchases even allow new readers a chance to sample. Gives everyone a taste until the new
phonebook editions or new digital editions of Church & State are available.

Cerebus TV said...

We had these ready to go at the CerebusTV media server two years ago, which certainly had the bandwidth for no-delay downloads. Robin Barnard had made a demo and video feature of how digital versions optimized for iPad/iPhone could work for Dave and even produced a proof of concept e-zine that we did put up which had thousands of downloads.

But -- I thought it "A Really Bad Idea"(TM) that would undercut the income provided by the books, particularly at a financially challenging time.

We could have also put them up to help underwrite CerebusTV - but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

David Birdsong said...

There are several ways to view the files on your iPad. All of the bootlegs I have ever seen are jpegs so if you don't want to convert them then you need to add an app like this one:

Fair warning, I have not downloaded that. It was just one I found after a quick search. A google search will turn out a ton of options and also some tutorials on how to do it.

I agree that the issues should be sold separately. There is always going to be a market for the printed books and there are always going to be people who want it in some kind of digital format. I bought CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY in the newly remastered digital editions and I also ordered the 30th anniversary gold logo edition of HIGH SOCIETY so there are also always going to be nuts like me that will buy it in every format.

Get it out there in every format available. Flood the world with Cerebus.

Speaking of... when is the DVD or BluRay of HIGH SOCIETY coming out? I would be excited to watch HIGH SOCIETY on my TV.

And Cerebus TV (Hi Max), why not issue episodes of the show? I know there was talk about doing that, but of course I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, but how about at least showing 're-runs" between new episodes. There are plenty of them I would love to see again. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion is to split it up into different options. 99 cents per issue, or for 'book collections' (Cerebus book 1, High Society, Church and State 1, Church and State 2, etc.) drop the price to 80 cents per issue (25 issues x .80 = $20 for High Society collection). Or, have the whole shebang available for $200.

After dealing with whatever messes it'll take to get the books back in print, I'd suggest removing the other options and have every issue available for 99 cents, so that they're less likely to compete with the collected books.

-Wesley Smith

Ray Cornwall said...

I use Comic Zeal on the iPad for CBR files. I think it's the best app for cbr comics, and the developer is quite active.

By the way, I also gave George other Dave work- Judenhass, Glamourpuss, and some other stuff.

I'll be very interested in seeing what the price point is.

Margaret said...

The people that would be looking for digital copies of Cerebus on the internets are either people that have already read Cerebus (and probably own either the phonebooks, single issues or both) or potential new readers. The people who will be willing to pay for them I think are limited to the people who have already read Cerebus. The people looking for a digital copy that haven't read Cerebus will just move on and find a free source. They are concerned about the quality of the scans, they just want to give it a try, something quick and free.

As someone willing to pay for digital copies of Cerebus, I rather wait until we get the same high quality treatment on the rest of the series that we got for the first phonebook and for High Society. The bootlegged copies? Use them for what they are worth - a way to get more eyeballs on the series and potentially more sales for the actual phonebooks or perhaps later on the high resolution digital downloads with bonus extras.

So I think they should be offered for free, after some advertisements have been placed in them where one can purchase the actual phonebooks and perhaps for the high res digital downloads. Or offer them for so close to free that it is almost nothing - i.e. $5 for the full series.

Anonymous said...

I think something like what Wesley Smith suggests makes good sense.

What I think people like Louis CK and Radiohead prove is that if people respect the artist, and if the artist asks nicely, enough people will pay for the products they release. This usually applies to new releases, but I can't see why that same goodwill wouldn't also carry over to rereleasing old material in digital form, especially since Dave, unlike Louis CK and Radiohead, is not rich, and this support will simply help him to continue making comics.

So, if say Dave has a few thousand loyal fans kicking around, it would be nice to think that he could support himself for a while by gradually rereleasing the single issues, perhaps throwing in some other previously released material.

- Reginald P.

Lee Thacker said...

I’m all for ‘bootlegging the bootleggers’ idea but having just downloaded ‘Jaka’s Story’ (my personal favourite, with ‘Form & Void’ running a close second) from ‘Cerebus Downloads’ for just over £8 I’m rather disappointed with the ‘blurry’ quality of the scans as well as the lack of cover scans and phone book introduction.