Free Scott McCloud!
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on May 2, 2007 - 14:48
Interubes pundit Clay Shirky posted about Scott McCloud's decision to re-release The Right Number for free (formerly it had been available for purchase via the just recently discontinued Bitpass payments system). Shirky revisits his predictions of failure for all micropayment systems and concludes McCloud's decision is a reversal by McCloud of his previous enthusiasm for micropayments. Surely that's possible but really McCloud had only two choices after Bitpass folded its tent: make The Right Number available for free or not available at all. There aren't (really) any other micropayment systems left standing (at least not the kind of system that has been the subject of the ongoing "micropayments" debate). So where Shirky concludes that McCloud is going for the fame over fortune, well, there may be a correlation there but there's not enough evidence to prove causation (and no one's asked McCloud yet that I've seen).
Joey Manley weighs in to chastise Shirky for pulling a "nyah nyah" on McCloud. I don't get much of that vibe from Shirky's post so I think Manley may be reading too much into it. This micropayments squabble is (and always was) a subset of the larger "how to be a comics creator in a post-Internet world" debate that still goes on so it's not like Shirky's getting the last word on anything here.
From my own point of view as a fan of McCloud's comics, I hope that once McCloud gets done with his globe-trotting book tour for Making Comics that he sits down and makes comics. And that once he's finished those new comics that he washes his hands of pioneering anything. There's plenty of proven tactics for publication and distribution of comics in our current hybrid digital/paper era that he can choose from.