I just finished reading issue #78 of the highly acclaimed Fables comic book series from DC’s Vertigo Studios. I’ve followed the series from issue #1 – but I didn’t buy a single comic book. While I would love to support the writers and artists responsible for my favorite graphic novels, my sentiments on the matter fall in the face of more practical considerations. Comic book collecting is an expensive hobby in the Philippines – the market is so small that the goods are always overpriced, even when you can find the books you want. And the way comic books are released these days doesn’t help the situation; take Marvel’s Civil War series, a “crossover event” which unfolds in multiple issues of 50 different comic books. There is simply no way that I can afford all that, even assuming these books were available in this country.
And so I turn to “scans”; these are available online, downloadable without charge and often comprehensive in their selections. While people have no doubt been scanning their comic books ever since scanner technology became commonplace, these scans used to be available only to the few who knew where these scans could be found on the web. Thanks to the synergy of a few relatively recent technologies (Google search, P2P software), comic scans are now available to all. There are groups, like DCP (Digital Comics Preservation), who systematically scan comic books and make them available online. I must say, though, that reading scans on a monitor is a poor substitute for having a real comic book between your hands. But, as a poor Filipino comic book fan, I make do with what I can get.