Kyle Baker has given us a fantastic gift: full copies of several of the works he owns the rights to up on his website. Seriously, that is some major body of work:
Full works include Cowboy Wally Show, Why I Hate Saturn, You Are Here, King David, I Die At Midnight (although that at least was online way back in 2010), and there’s animations and previews for the rest. Frankly, I’d say read the lot, and thank Baker for the chance to do so by tipping him by using the paypal button or at least going through a few ads for him. In actual fact, it seems they’ve actually been on his site for a while, as he explains to Heidi via email, but it simply takes a little social media-ing to make it work.
Baker’s work has been something I’ve loved since discovering The Cowboy Wally Show many, many years ago. Why I Hate Saturn is still one of the handful of comics Mrs Bruton will revisit and enjoy. He is simply one of the funniest comic creators of the last few decades. And now he gifts us these books. Impressive? Oh yes. Even better is the fact that these are actually scanned from the bootleggers, or as Baker puts it: “The reason the scans are crummy is that I downloaded them all illegally as bootlegs. So I monetized my bootlegs. Thanks, bootleggers!”
That Baker’s work isn’t readily available is one of the big crimes of comic publishing, and hopefully this will generate sufficient publicity to convince someone that they’re worthy of keeping in print, and it’s well worth them investing in Baker’s future work, including the much discussed sequel to Why I Hate Saturn.
When this story hit earlier this week, CBR put up a post entitlted “does free devalue comics“. Well, the easy answer to that is no. Absolutely not. Maybe. It depends who you talk to. Or rather, it seems to depend on the age of people you talk to. Those darned kids and knowing the value of nothing sort of thing.
Speaking personally it’s absolutely not. My evidence? Easily summed up in one word: Libraries.
Dudley Public Library was a wonderful, wonderful place, full of incredible things. When I was a child it was all about the books, but as I hit my teens I discovered two things; the adult library and the record library. The adult library gave me sci-fi and classic fiction to fill my boots with, the record library gave me Cabaret Voltaire, Kraftwerk, Human League, Cramps, Siouxsie, The Cure, and much much more. The books I read and returned, the records and tapes I listened to, illegally copied and returned.
But that illegal copying, that theft of music, that non-payment for the books didn’t conspire to create a perpetual thief who never purchased music or books. Not a bit of it. The house is full of books, was full of cds (before I went digital, now the computer is full of music purchased on cd and transferred and full of legal downloads). My library experience, the getting it for free experience merely opened my reading and listening up, expanded my horizons. Free doesn’t devalue anything, free merely encourages consumption, free lets those interested ask “where can I get more?“.
But like I say, that’s purely my experience, and I imagine the experience of many of us of a certain pre-digital age. I reckon post-digital consumers are something different. And frankly if I knew how to make them commit to buying stuff after getting it for free I’m pretty sure a lot of media companies would be after my phone number.
Right. Enough moralising… here’s the first couple of pages of Cowboy Wally. Go read.