Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Something else being pirated: Comic books

Terry Chay/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Canon 9950F scanner

Showing that, if there's a thing that it's possible to pirate, people will do so, a piracy community has even sprung up around pirating comic books. Every Wednesday, when new comics are released, pirates will hurriedly scan all the new books and put them out on the Internet.

It's an interesting group as comic companies begin putting out their comic books for sale online officially; DC Comics made news recently by going "day-and-date digital" for the first time in September, releasing all their new comic for sale online the same day they're available in stores. They're still charging the same price as those paper copies, so there are still going to be plenty who refuse to pay those prices for their comic book fix. (Of course, there are some who, no matter how cheap the official source is, will never pay.)

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DC Comics relaunches everything; Is the comics industry dying?

DC Comics relaunched the vast majority of their line this week with the first of 52 new number 1 issues. It was heralded with midnight release parties at comic shops around the country for the first book in the new line, Justice League #1. Here in Los Angeles, fans came out for a big party at Meltdown Comics, as well as other shops in the area.

Still, despite the fan enthusiasm for this kind of event, the numbers for the comics industry don't look pretty. Comics writer Grant Morrison (who recently appeared on KPCC's "AirTalk") did an interview with Rolling Stone that the magazine decided to headline "Grant Morrison on the Death of Comics." As Morrison said, "comics sales are so low, people are willing to try anything these days. It's just plummeting. It's really bad from month to month. May was the first time in a long time that no comic sold over 100,000 copies, so there's a decline." When asked if he thought comics were in a death spiral, Morrison gave a frank yes.

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Radio drama lives on through live performance in LA

We talked earlier this week about Marvel Comics putting out an audio version of their comic Daredevil #1, but some groups are putting on far more extensive live audio productions right here in Los Angeles. The most well-known of these groups is probably the Thrilling Adventure Hour, which runs shows at the Largo Theater, but there's more than that around town.

This weekend, the group Captured Aural Phantasy Theater is putting on a show called Comic Book Summer Camp at the NerdMelt stage at Meltdown Comics. The show features live performances of old school comic book stories, live music, comedy, art and more.

This particular show is going to be summer-themed; they say it will include "tales of summer vacation, summer fun and summer love." And Meatballs references. The comic they mention on their site that I'm most excited for: Superboy pulling double duty and dating both Lana Lang and Lois Lane at summer camp. (Superheroes get all the girls.)

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Daredevil #1 released in blind-friendly audio version

 

Marvel Comics is reaching out to an unusual demographic for a visual medium: The blind.

They're using the world's most famous blind superhero to do it, Daredevil. Marvel's released an audio edition of Daredevil #1 for free on their website.

The audio edition features writer Mark Waid reading his script, including full comic panel descriptions. Marvel editors play the various characters. It's a great place to start, given the blind character; it's also a comic that's received high marks from both critics and fans. (I'll add my personal endorsement; as a comic book fan, it's one of my favorite comics of the year.)

According to Marvel.com, Senior Editor Steve Wacker came up with the idea. It also plays even for those with sight, providing an audio play version of the new comic.

It's being termed an experiment, but it'll be interesting to see if more major comic books get the audio treatment in the future, both as a service to the blind and another medium to present their superheroes in. It's also an interesting insight into Waid's writing, as you get a chance to hear what he includes in the scripts he provides to artists to finish creating comics he works on.

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Don't have time for CNN, just give me a comic - Boom's Decision 2012 presidential comics

Recent trend in comics: Biographical comic books. That (not-so) grand tradition continues with the Decision 2012 line from L.A.'s Boom Studios, featuring Republican presidential contenders and President Barack Obama.

Boom issued a press release positioning the comics as "comic book's first straw poll." Readers can pre-order their favorite candidate's comic by Sept. 29, and the total print runs will be announced when the comics ship in November.

The Republican contenders you can choose: Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and... Sarah Palin? Apparently Boom is pretty confident that Palin will enter the race - or at least that she has enough fans that they'll buy a comic about her whether she runs or not.

Boom adds one caveat: Any comic without 1,500 pre-orders won't be printed. Looking at the polls, I'm betting we won't be getting any Rick Santorum comics, but who knows? Those comics will also include limited edition "Superhero variant" covers. (I'm excited to see what the candidates will look like with capes.)

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