37 Responses to “Pictures help us learn.”
  1. Nentuaby says:

    I think you got… Anti-pwned.

  2. dan zippermann says:

    comics piracy is, apparently, full of win for everyone.

  3. No, comics piracy is full of win for… those creators who are talented enough, lucky enough, and socially skilled enough to ride it successfully. The rest just get a whole lotta nuthin.

  4. Dingle-dorf says:

    Just thought I should let you know, but TFAW appears to be out of stock as well (noticed you recommended going there for US customers).

  5. Arsnof says:

    Well, for the guys what made I Kill Giants, it got me to buy the trade. Twice.

  6. Anthony Reed says:

    Welcome to a culture full of people who will, if it’s good enough, buy it even if they’ve read it. The ironic thing about this is that I don’t think this would happen if we were somehow able to open the floodgates and let “the masses” enjoy comics as much as we do. If they could bootleg it they wouldn’t buy it, our niche just does. Congrats on the huge spike.

  7. […] The lesson of the […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  8. Colin says:

    “No, comics piracy is full of win for… those creators who are talented enough, lucky enough, and socially skilled enough to ride it successfully. The rest just get a whole lotta nuthin.”

    You could replace “comics piracy” with “selling anything”.

  9. Geoffrey Kidd says:

    Umm. Any way to buy the electronic copy? I gave up on paper editions years ago, on grounds of convenience and overhearing one of my bookshelves muttering “I’m overloaded, can I just fall on him?”

  10. Matt says:

    no John, comics piracy is the same as anything else – makes more money if you use it.

    you don’t need to do anything special, piracy simply means you’re not filling a niche for your customers

  11. wow congrats on the sales spike! bout time 4chan did something good

  12. bob says:

    So this means that the comic deserves a wider audience and more advertising.

    It is also another clear case where Pirates drop more booty than they take. How much money have authors missed out on because people simply didn’t know that their book existed?

    We often see inflated losses from piracy, but I wonder what the gains would look like. Not to mention the authors enjoyment in knowing that so many people enjoyed his creation.

  13. […] kurz danach veröffentlichte er dann einen Beitrag mit dem Titel: von Bildern lernen, unter anderem mit dieser […]

  14. […] erhobener Zeigefinger, keine Klagen. Dazu hatte er auch keinen Grund, wie die Auswertung seines Online-Shops zeigt: Der Verkauf des Buches stieg exponentiell an, wie auch die unten dargestellten […]

  15. Hey, thanks for sharing your story. I was wondering if you’d mind sharing your numbers for the chart shown above. It’d be cool to see the figures for average daily sales, the boingboing peaks number, and the number at the peak of 4chan. That’d be very helpful.

    I’m an artist too, always looking in learning new lessons about how to share my work.

  16. Andreas says:

    Quality over Advertising – ftw! This could be the renaissance of western culture, if only people would switch off the mainstream TV and Radio-stations…

  17. the future says:

    Who has used the term ‘bootlegged’ in the last 10 years?

    Also this is great! I’ll check the graphic novel out – I’ve been meaning to read more of them.

  18. Kyle H says:

    @Anthony Reed: If your analysis were correct, Baen Books wouldn’t have had a positive response to the books that it puts up for free. Mercedes Lackey wouldn’t have had an increase in sales from her huge backlist. And Janis Ian wouldn’t have been able to sell from her backlist of albums after making some of her songs from them available.

    Increasing exposure is the only way to increase demand for your product. With authors, authors, and musicians, their product is words and graphics and music; with book publishers, it’s books. If your words are desirable to read, the publisher makes money from the purchase, and the original author (for creating the content that made the buyer want to buy that specific book) gets a royalty.

    I think that Jim Baen (RIP) had the right idea: 99% of people want to do the right thing. You will always have the last 1% who will try to pirate/steal/whatever. You can’t do anything about them — DRM will always been broken, and the concept of “content protection” is a total joke. What you CAN do, however, is make sure that when someone gets a free copy as a sample that it’s well-dressed and as nicely formatted as possible.

    Then, you have the best chance of getting the attention of the 99%.

  19. Congratulations for your positive attitude. I feel the urge to buy your comic just because of it. Wish that there were more independent creators like you.

  20. qwer says:

    i don’t have the pleasure of knowing you nor your work, but you seem to be an intelligent man who felt humbled for being pirated, instead of trying to combat them.

  21. Shadus says:

    Piracy is fickle is the only bad thing and your product has to be top notch. I used to pirate a lot of things and as I’ve gotten older it’s been less and less… about the only thing I pirate now is music and books (to inconvenient in paper form these days.) However, if I like a book or song I will purchase it so I’m paying the person who created something I enjoy. If I don’t like it, it usually gets archived and eventually sent off to devnullland.

  22. Jim says:

    Gene Simmons could learn a lesson from this DOH!

  23. "Piracy" = "free enthusiast market chumming" says:

    Even the big boys have gained hugely from chumming. People copied their Office 97 CDs from work, flooded the market, then when they did corporate purchasing they bought Office. That ain’t chump change.

  24. DevlinB says:

    I know that personally, being able to interact with the creater of works has always greatly increased my likelyhood of buying that work, whatever it may be (comic, book, video game, etc).

    If nothing else, discovering that individual(s) were responsible for creation, and not some faceless company, adds guilt to the act of pirating something.

  25. […] even, you know, buy it. Then he posted it on his own site for free. The picture above, taken from this post on his blog, concisely summarizes what happened […]

  26. That was so fucking well done Steve Bie …umm Lieber. I had no idea who you were before I read this.(don’t yell at me I’m lactose intolerant!) I was nerding Google up for tips about viral web traffic and ended up here. I don’t think most people are cool enough or smart enough to have pulled that off.It worked because his motivation was passion and not monetization
    (sorry I spell so badly spell check won’t even dignify that with a response)
    It seems like people get so caught up with how things should be that they refuse to accept the way things are.
    He accepted the of the actuality of pirating and managed to align a hoard of smart kid’s in the process .
    Who knows maybe he will end up Time Magazine’s Most Influential Person of the year.

  27. Rainer says:

    Hey Steve,

    i’ve just read about the 4chan story on a very popular German blog and i just thought: “That’s a great guy”, so i ordered the Underground book and even the 2 Whiteout Trades (via “Amazon Deutschland”). I know, i shoud have bought this years ago, but back then i was just way too much in Superheroes.

    I’m curious on something: Could it be, you posted 10 years ago on the German “Comicforum” ? As you guys probably imagine, this is not something happening all the time there. If you should have some time to do this again, i’m sure some people would love to hear from you. 🙂

    All the best !


  28. admin says:

    Hi Rainer: It’s certainly possible. I’ve stuck my nose in on a bunch of non-English language forums before.

  29. ftl says:

    What we haven’t learned yet, is how many of those purchases were unauthorized CC charges! Still, the viral traffic due to this story being picked up by *every* venue, has to result in some real sales. Nice job.

  30. Eric says:

    And now you’ve also got the attention of virtually every nerd in existence now, I caught this on Blue’s News, I’m sure someone will get it to Slashdot and Fark and Digg and everything else. Good jorb!@

  31. […] stellte er fest, dass die Zugriffe auf seine Seite nach dem (illgelalen) Posten des Comics expotential in die Höhe geschossen sind. Und sogar die Verkäufe des Comics wurden mehr. Also genau das gegenteil, von dem […]

  32. The Devil says:

    [Publish – Publicize – Promote – Pirate… or Perish]

    Exposure really is key. As a Web comic creator and graphic novelist, I would be lucky to have someone market my stuff for free by posting and promoting my stuff online in a way that you can tell is coming from a fan’s heart and not some hack salesman. I feel more like a shady salesman than a fan when I’m promoting my own stuff and would love an opportunity for others to genuinely sing my praises. Free booty is the least I can offer in return.

  33. Brickviking says:

    Hmm, nice work. Not quite my line of novella though, but I like the inking and colouring.

  34. Antonio says:

    I am a believer in that “Sharing is Caring”. If you show the world that you care they will care back, increased sales. Even though I do not read comics because you showed that you care I will purchase your comic. Also because you have shown other artists that trying to sue people will not help yourself but alienate your customers.
    @ The Devil, You can share your work. Independent movie makers and musicians do it all the time. The “Pirate Bay” is not all about theft but sharing.

  35. […] Monopoly This post is about a a comic called the “Underground” and a music group called Irdial. About Irdial because they publish music under a Free Music […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  36. Dan says:

    How does Jeff Parker feel about this whole thing?

  37. Vidar says:

    Jason A. Quest well if they don’t sell to start with maybe they aint worth reading?

    here in Sweden we had a singer who blamed piracy on his low sales, then a reporter on went on to the pirate bay and there where no people seeding or leaching his music cus nobody wanted to listen to him, piracy don’t equate to sales.

    most people would not have bought it but maybe they downloaded it then found out about you and then after that if they like it decides to buy it and then the next issue and so forth.

    stopping piracy is contra productive to quote Dan Bull; “you loose potential fans and we lose respect for the fact that your desperate for cash”