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How To Make Good Comics Uploads

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VikTSlick avatar
Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 00:30
Hello all, so this is a guide all about how comics work and how to make good uploads of comic books onto ET or other sites if you prefer. I want to explain in as much detail as possible everything I have learned over the last year of torrenting (even if it has not been too long on ET!). I hope that anyone interested in getting into torrenting comics will find this tutorial useful - and even if you don't care the in the slightest, at the very least It will help to demonstrate how this somewhat unique digital format functions.

Part 1 - What is a comic book file, and how can I read it?

This is the first and most important step, to understand what you are dealing with. Comic book files typically use the extension .cbr or .cbz, and although you can read comics in other formats such as .pdf, these are the most common and preferred formats. They stand for Comic Book Rar/Comic Book Zipped, and both are identical in terms of what they represent. A .cbr/.cbz file is simply an archive of images that has been renamed with the new extension, and can be read by any comic book reader such as CDisplayEX or ComicRack. For Apple users, there is also ComicFlow. CDisplay is the most commonly used and has far fewer issues than ComicRack. ComicRack has been known to resize .cbz files and change resolution. Basically, if you were creating a comic book, you would simply number the images in the sequential order you require, put them into a folder, .zip or .rar that into an archive and rename it with the extension .cbr/.cbz - and voila, you've made a comic! Also, multiple folders are allowed so you could theoretically have an entire volume of comics in one .cbr file, with no size limit, but of course that is not practical.
For any updates please check their respective websites, here (CDisplayEX) and here (ComicRack).

Part 2 - Sourcing: What are the sources of these images? Who makes the digital versions of the big ones by Marvel, DC and such?

Now, most people and certainly most pirates do not make their own comic books, obviously. The vast majority of uploaders on here and other sites get their comics from various scanner groups, who either manually or digitally create the cbr files from the original source images or webrips and post them to various locations - usenet, filelockers, dedicated weblogs and so on. When comics first started appearing online, many of the old scanners did not have a specific group or name; that has all changed in recent years and several large groups have formed with an increased focus on quality and Digital releases have eliminated even that hand-scanned part of the equation (in some cases). Major scanners are Minutemen, Empire, and Novus and these days almost the bulk of major releases go through them, in some form or another. DCP is another major group that was an early leader in this regard and still is around. There are exceptions and some users on here still do their own work and provide excellent releases as well. I will now give examples of each of these.
First, here is a torrent I recently did of a single comic from 2000. This scan was done over 10 years ago and though may not be up to today's standards, was still the product of hard work and there is some usable info available on the file itself as far as scanner information. A newer scan would be preferable, however no other version exists of this comic and it was requested, so I uploaded it:
Marvel Comics Group - Call Him Thor 01 (2000)
Conversely, more modern releases are much more detailed both in the release information and the quality of the scans. Here is a great example:
American Vampire - Lord Of The Nightmares 01-05 (2012|Digital|Zone-Empire)
As you can see, this is a recent comic, and the release here is five total issues. All are digital copies, meaning no physical copy was used and thus there is no image degradation, and the releaser is Zone, of the Empire group I mentioned earlier. I try to write all this information into the titles of my torrents and others do as well, but it is not necessary as long as you do not alter the file names themselves so that proper credit is still given when applicable. Every file name has the date and "digital, zone-empire" in there. Also, as you can see, the average file size is much higher - around 25 MB, than my previous example, which is due to the pixel/dpi size of the images used and signifies a quality increase. Now here is a non-digital release:
Thor - Tales Of Asgard 01-06 + Ex (2009|C2C|Minutemen+DCP)
This is similar to the previous example but these are manual (analog) scans of the pages of the comics. However, they are the work of Minutemen and DCP (digital comics preservation group) as mentioned in the title and are of higher quality than the single Thor issue from the first torrent example. Also the average file size is massive compared to even the digital release. Note, however, that bigger does not always mean better with regards to size; resolution is the most important indicator of quality. Usually Minutemen deliver excellent work and this comic is an example of it. Additionally, this is a C2C release which means "cover-to-cover". Most older comics have the ads intact, while more recent ones are usually released manual or digital in the "noads" format (and sometimes both are there for the choosing). Finally, we have scanlated comics. This a great new manual scan of a European comic, is has also been translated into English from the original source (or scanlated/scanlation which is the term used to describe this process). These are sometimes much higher quality versions of this strip than was previously available, and though done by hand it is still excellent.

Many of the big releases have different sources and sometimes multiple scanners, for example:
Hawkeye 015 (2014) (Digital) (Zone-Empire)
Hawkeye v4 15 (2014) (1440px & 2048px-HD) (theProletariat-Novus) [NVS-D]

This is the same comic - issue 15 of the current and extremely popular Hawkeye series by Marvel Comics - only there are different versions on display. One is the Zone-Empire release while the other is pack of multiple resolution versions by theProletarat-Novus. Both are extremely detailed as to what they contain by title alone and are by the best verified uploaders in the "game", so to speak. FYI, Digital rips used to be called webrips and are sometimes still called that. (digital) and (webrip) != scans. Also, in the larger context of resolution, some groups upscale from 1280 px up to 1920 px and it is important to note that there is lossy compression with JPG files. PNG should be avoided entirely as it needlessly increases size without reason or benefit. When looking at something like 1440 px to 2048 px HD, it is important to note that lower res copy is roughly 1/3 the size of the high res copy - comparable to 720p vs. 1080p HD for video files.

*blackcanary adds this piece of information:"One thing I'd like to mention is something called repacking. Repacking is fine for one's own use, but not so much if one intends to share it with others. Which may not really be a big deal on public torrent sites, but it can help extend the life of a torrent. Repacking involves changing a comic from the way it was originally released. This could be adding or removing files from the archive (adding variant covers to an archive or removing ads to make a c2c into a noads), re-compressing the archive (cbr to cbz or vice versa), or converting formats (cbr/cbz to PDF). Comics released by scanners and rippers will always be in cbr/cbz and not in PDF.
For example: Someone uploads a comic 6 years ago and today someone requests a re-seed. As long as the archive was not modified from the way it was originally released, I or someone else who has the original archive can re-seed it. Why not just upload a new torrent? It creates clutter - another entry, it uses space (TPB had run out a space a couple of weeks ago), and it dilutes the potential total number of seeders. What if a repack was originally uploaded?? I can't re-seed a repack, so I'll upload the original file.
One of the ways people may intentionally or unintentionally repack their comics is by using ComicRack and having it save the metadata (comcinfo.xml) file inside the archive (this will re-compress a cbr to a cbz). Users usually use the Comic Vine Scrapper plug-in. The best way to handle this would be to save the metadata in a database (the default ComicRack option)."
Most people do not even realize the effect of these repacks, so that is much appreciated info.

Part 3 - Where can I find these comics? How can I create good, original uploads with no re-tags?

When I first started torrenting comics, it was largely because I noticed things that weren't on the site I started with (let's call it the Jolly Roger's Cove, heh). My goal was and still is to fill those gaps, and sometimes upload new stuff as soon as it is released or make collections that have not been done before - either full volumes or full creator runs. I and many other comics uploaders work very hard to make their content stand out, and I think the key is to know what you are going for right away before you even start the process.
For example, there are times when a volume has recently been completed or is still in the process of being made, and you can simple make a pack of all the issues, like so:
Captain Marvel v7 01-17 by DeConnick (2012-2014|Digital|TheGroup+Empire+)
Wolverine v5 01-13 + Ex (2013-2014|Digital|Nahga-Empire)
These are both pretty basic collections that fill a need; the volumes were done but had not been collected yet and I just assembled them into one torrent for convenience.
Then there are the new comics; these are released every Wednesday and are put out on usenet and several dedicated blog sites (which I will get into) before someone torrents them. These are simple day-and-date releases like so:
Satellite Sam 006 (2014) (Digital) (Vee-Empire)
My specialty seems to be miniseries or limited series that have "fallen through the cracks", and have HQ releases that for some reason were never torrented before, like so:
Captain America - Man Out Of Time 01-05 (2011|Digital|TheHand-Empire)
...or, major collections focusing on specific characters or creator-runs:
The Ben Grimm [The Thing] Collection (1964-2009) {DAKU RG|VTS}

The Complete Thor by Fraction + Fear Itself 01-07, 7.2 + Ex (2008-2012|Digital|Empire+)
I could go on with different examples, but the basic gist is - there are lots of ways you can upload good comics WITHOUT RE-TAGGING OR DUMPING TORRENTS.

Now, where to find them? Well, there are some major packs that you need to know about - 0-day collections and Hitlists. Zero day collections are packs of all the new releases on the day of release for that week OR more recently, specific company packs that have all the Marvel or DC or whatever comics into one torrent. Hitlists are all the re-releases and digital updates and the like of older comics, which typically appear on Friday or the weekend and collect everything that came out the week prior. Aside from those sources, there are many many sites out there that have either older stuff available for download OR have the packs released and posted as either hotlinks to filelockers where you can grab them. NOTE - if the files are in a locker, they will have been altered with underscores from the original filename; it is best to remove these and keep the original name intact. These include (without urls, but a simple search will find them) - Usenet, Library Genesis, Magazine 3K, Bolt.cd, Pitt Comics, Kaskus, Direct Scans by Goblin, General Files, and so many many more. Once you have the specific name of the file, tracking it down via Google search is pretty easy. There have also been large collections of the Big Two companies over the years, like the MTCDC or Complete Marvel Chronology. While these may have out of date scans, they are a good place to start if nothing else turns up and indeed may be your only source in the end. To that point, there is also a regularly updated What's Scanned Master List that has everything ever scanned in one text file. It is quite reliable and accurate so odds are if you can't find it there, it doesn't exist as a .cbr yet. More information on these sources as well as the process of locating comics can be found on this thread as I update it. :)

In conclusion, I started out with absolutely no clue about any of this stuff and learned a lot of it on my own (with special credit given to my friends STFMaryville from the Jolly Roger Cove [heh] and gesserit for aiding me along the way). I wanted to write this tutorial to cover everything I know about this interesting process and to help others who may be interested in getting into this as well. I think that no matter what you choose to torrent, as long as you always credit your sources and try and make original work, you should do just fine. This is especially true for comics since we do not usually make them ourselves - so it is very important to know what you are dealing with on a regular basis. Please feel free to add comments or criticisms as necessary and if something in this is off or needs editing, just let me know and I will do my best to fix it. Take care and have fun! :-)

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