Scanner tags, comic book piracy and participatory culture

Aaron Delwiche


To learn more about the motivations of individuals who scan and distribute comic books, this study reports findings from a content analysis of 389 scanner tags extracted from comic books posted on the torrent network Pirate Bay. Coded according to four categories linked to the literature on comic fandom and participatory culture, tags were analyzed in terms of recognition, aesthetic style, textual signifiers, and visual signifiers. Though comic book pirates seek recognition from their peers, they are primarily concerned with focusing attention on their favorite fandoms. This study challenges the view that digital piracy should necessarily be interpreted as a form of cultural resistance. The phenomenon of comic book scanning makes more sense when understood as a manifestation of fan behavior. Comic book pirates are more fans than revolutionaries.


participatory culture; hacker culture; piracy; digital comics

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