The comics world is ablaze with arguments over the future of independent comics. Much of the disagreement is over piracy.
But I think the problem is more fundamental than that.
There just isn't enough of a financial reward for almost all comic creators. There are exceptions, but even regularly published and well-known comic people are having a hard time surviving. Many of them are approaching or are already middle-aged, and without much net worth, without health insurance, and without much of a guarantee of a future that will provide.
I sort of believe this is true of almost all artistic fields. That the same thing could be said of musicians, painters, actors, and writers. I think we all get to about 30ish and have to decide if we are willing to risk our future on a very uncertain way of life.
I wish there was an answer.
I suspect that the internet is going to mean that there are going to be a few -- a very few -- financially successful artists, and a whole bunch of people doing it part-time for the love of it. This has always been true. But I think in the past there was a mid-list zone, where talented and diligent artists could at least make a living (and hope to move into the upper tier.) I think it's this middle that is being hollowed out.
And that it's the internet that's doing it. Piracy, to be sure. But just the access to so much material has flattened the pay rate for most everyone.
Anyway, if you are interested in the issue, and you have a strong stomach, I urge you to visit The Beat: The News Blog of Comic Culture, and read the over 100 comments that follow the essay. People can be pretty cold-hearted.
12 hours ago