A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


hi aklas,

there you go again throwing up your usual smokescreen of digressions and related information while glossing over the main issue at hand.

i'm glad you took the time to google a definition of industry; now no one can claim that we are arguing based on differing definitions.

now, let's look at mainstream publishers (visprint, summit, precious pages, psicom, anvil) who have published local comics. going by your own criteria:

"commercial production of goods and services?" check.

“diligence”, “systematic work” and “habitual employment”? check, check, and check.

"trade or occupation?" check. (and may i add that the multi-disciplinary list in part 2 of your epic saga: "the business capitalist owner or entrepreneur, paid or salaried business managers, circulation managers, distributors, accountants, researchers, statisticians, banking people, professional negotiators, lawyers, public relations people, advertising people, salespeople, drivers, printers, paper and art suppliers, newsstand dealers, insurance people, and others," is satisfied buy these large, mainstream, real, actual komiks-publishing publishers as well.)

let's not even get into how well these komiks sell (*ubo* NBS bestseller list *ubo*), the MERE FACT THAT THESE BIG 'OL CORPORATIONS ARE MAKING KOMIKS SATISFIES THE DEFINITION OF KOMIKS INDUSTRY. and all your chikka and insider information cannot change that fact.

your move.

You know Macoy, in your first comment you admitted yourself that the so-called “mainstream” and indie comics scene combined are small, disorganized and sporadic. Therefore, you don't have any basis in even qualifying this as an “industry” under the definition provided under the Free Online Dictionary. 

sa nakikita ko, nakailang subok na ng komiks ang summit media (kwentillion, underpass). anjan din yung tiktik na base sa pelikula. anjan din ang indie komiks scene na papalago ng papalago napapansin na ng mainstream (at foreign!) media. so... MERONG industriya. maliit, di organisado, sporadic ang output, pero MERON.”
And in your wonderful little site, you confirmed the present smallness of the operation in both mainstream and indie/komikero scenes as nowhere near the “industry” size status of local komiks in the 1950s to 1980s:
komiks may be struggling--no one can deny it's currently nowhere near as big as it was during its heyday in the 50's and 80's--but it's struggling upwards after long stagnation. and guess what, the best is yet to come.”
A so-called “industry” that is “struggling” upwards towards industry status HARDLY constitutes an industry by definition of the Online Free Dictionary.  
HOWEVER in this second comment of yours, you make an abrupt about-face and strain to claim that this ‘mainstream’ list of publishers (i.e., visprint, summit, precious pages, psicom, anvil) minus the indie/komikero scene, now miraculously make up a huge industry. 
"commercial production of goods and services?" check.

“diligence”, “systematic work” and “habitual employment”? check, check, and check.

"trade or occupation?" check. (and may i add that the multi-disciplinary list in part 2 of your epic saga: "the business capitalist owner or entrepreneur, paid or salaried business managers, circulation managers, distributors, accountants, researchers, statisticians, banking people, professional negotiators, lawyers, public relations people, advertising people, salespeople, drivers, printers, paper and art suppliers, newsstand dealers, insurance people, and others," is satisfied buy these large, mainstream, real, actual komiks-publishing publishers as well.)

Two contradictory statements cancel each other out, Macoy. BOTH cannot be true at the same time. Is it small or big? One of these has to be false. Is it the first or the second?
Everyone here agrees it’s the second statement that is false. And you can’t just deny it outright in favor of a totally opposite statement. One who initially claims as true a prior statement cannot later on deny or assert anything to the contrary. Others may even go so far to consider this as mental dishonesty. Lying. Not a way to hold a discussion with a “close-minded” and “anonymous” blogger, wouldn’t you agree?   
This is further bolstered by inaccuracies in that highly doubtful checklist you made. You certainly sounded like a pilot before take off. Let’s go over them shall we, Captain?
“commercial production of goods and services? check"
Big EX Macoy. Let’s look at TRESE by way of example. THREE THOUSAND COPIES is hardly voluminous and commercial. Look at the figures Budgette Tan discloses on TRESE:
When we sold the very issue of Trese (in all its Xeroxed glory) at the Komikon in 2005, we sold a grand total of 50 copies. I was so happy that we got sold-out two hours before the event ended. 

When we sold TRESE:MASS MURDERS in 2009 at the Komikon, we were surprised that we got to sell 300 copies in one day.

So, imagine my surprise when I found, that two weeks after we launched TRESE: LAST SEEN AFTER MIDNIGHT we had already sold 1300 copies.

Barely a month after we launched this fourth book, we've sold nearly 3000 copies and have landed in National Bookstore's Bestseller List for Philippine Publications.

This was definitely a great way to start the week. All of which would not have been possible, if it wasn't for you, our wonderful, magical, diabolical readers.  
thanks for all your support and your most generous feedback!
And though we suspect approximately the same thing with local sales of ELMER, ZSA ZSA ZATURNAH, AFTER EDEN, etc. put together its hardly commercial production level. The book publishing business in this country only targets the tiny and affluent 7-12% of the population according to  Antonio Hidalgo, Publisher and CEO of Milflores Publishing. But you know, this blogger could be wrong. Tell you what. How about you, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlo Vergara, etc. scan your Income Tax Returns or check vouchers signed by your respective book publishers and then show them to us. Make a sworn/notarized declaration of how many copies of your “bestselling” masterpieces were sold within a week or month and we’ll take it from there. Unless that happens, it’s a big fat EX on commercial production of goods/books/graphic novels.
“diligence”, “systematic work” and “habitual employment”? check, check, and check.
EX, EX and EX, Captain Macoy. Jeez. How often are these graphic novel books coming out anyway? Every two years? After Eden, what next? Where’s the follow-up to ELMER?

Was that three or four years before the 2nd Zsa Zsa Zaturnah came out? WHERE are the other titles? That’s hardly diligent, systematic nor does it create “habitual” and “regular” employment. You mean to say Alanguilan, Arre and Vergara are employees of Visprint, or some other book or magazine publisher? They’re freelancers or are self-employed. They have book publishing contracts with 15% royalties on net price for each book actually sold.  Or given a fee for their magazine contributions. That’s not employment.
"trade or occupation?" check.
EX again. Bet you ten to one Alanguilan, Vergara, Tan, Baldosino, Sta. Maria and Arre have day jobs and its not producing these graphic novels for the local Filipino market full time.
(and may i add that the multi-disciplinary list in part 2 of your epic saga: "the business capitalist owner or entrepreneur, paid or salaried business managers, circulation managers, distributors, accountants, researchers, statisticians, banking people, professional negotiators, lawyers, public relations people, advertising people, salespeople, drivers, printers, paper and art suppliers, newsstand dealers, insurance people, and others," is satisfied buy these large, mainstream, real, actual komiks-publishing publishers as well.)
FALSE and MISLEADING, Macoy. And you didn’t even check this! Your list of visprint, summit, precious pages, psicom and anvil are NOT local komiks or comics publishers but BOOK and/or MAGAZINE publishers primarily.  They are not komiks publishers PER SE. Komiks for these people are a sub-branch, maybe even an experimental venue in their overall book publishing operation. Their energy and focus is hardly centered on local komiks publication. Remember the dictionary definition that human effort has been harnessed as a force for the commercial production of goods and services? These book publishers do not harness their efforts exclusively to the commercial production of local komiks as a FORCE. Get it?
“let's not even get into how well these komiks sell (*ubo* NBS bestseller list *ubo*), the MERE FACT THAT THESE BIG 'OL CORPORATIONS ARE MAKING KOMIKS SATISFIES THE DEFINITION OF KOMIKS INDUSTRY. and all your chikka and insider information cannot change that fact.”
Five (5) book or magazine publishers on your list currently publishing these indie titles that do not even meet the above criteria hardly makes it an industry my friend. Sorry. The NBS bestseller list? Where’s the official statistic? You mean you believe hook line and sinker that those indie titles in book form sell at least 50,000 in a week or a month? Where’s NBS’ proof? How does National Book Store determine if a book is a bestseller anyway? You don’t care? Aw.
Its admirable and maybe even inspiring for you and the other komikeros but please, do not DELUDE yourself into thinking that AT THIS POINT IN TIME these book and magazine publishers are a KOMIKS INDUSTRY. They’re NOT. You can speculate and conjecture that you MAY get there in the future but please, don’t mislead people into thinking that its definitely going to happen. You have no proof. Don’t increase the number of gullible idiots in the internet. Komiks, becoming an industry through ‘book’ publishing?

And what is the state of book publishing in the Philippines anyway? In answer why not let Antonio Hidalgo, President and CEO of Milflores do the talking. Cited below is an exerpt from his 2007 paper read before the U.P. round table discussion on Literary Publishing in the Philippines, 12th Biennial Symposium:  
Widespread poverty, which also causes low levels of education, is a major constraint to selling literary titles in the Philippines. This is the reason why a majority of readers can only afford to spend P200 or less a year on books, which is the price of only one book, and why most readers buy information, rather than literary, titles. In turn, the miniscule market for literary titles breeds a vicious cycle whereby publishers are forced into smaller print runs that cause higher unit prices that unavoidably result in less sales. Print runs of 500 to 1,000 copies are fairly common for Philippine literary titles. In contrast, the U.S. print run for the penultimate Harry Potter book was reportedly 5 million.

An important problem is our postcolonial situation, which has resulted in a highly fractionalized society. Scholars in the indigenization movement in the University of the Philippines often refer to The Great Cultural Divide (Ang Dambuhalang Pagkakahating Kultural) between the elites and the masses. This divide explains why there is a mismatch between what many of our best writers write and the needs and preferences of most readers. Too many Filipino writers write in English, while most readers read in Filipino; the best writers concentrate on writing fiction, while most readers want information books; because of class differences in lifestyles and experiences, the content of the best Filipino literature in English is often at odds with what most readers want from fiction, so they turn, instead to telenovelas, formulaic romance novels in Filipino, and lately, badly-written ghost and horror stories in Filipino.

The tiny, but affluent, A and B market (variously estimated at 7-12 percent of the population) should be the audience for Filipino literature in English by the best writers. Unfortunately, again because of our postcolonial situation, this segment is extremely Westernized and prefers books by foreign authors. This is why our largest book stores all carry many more foreign literary titles than local ones, often 20 or more foreign titles for every local one.

The limited reach of book stores in our country is another limiting factor. Selling through book stores is more efficient than direct sales to the general public. In our case, 80 percent of our sales are through book stores and only 20 percent are sales through agents or direct sales to readers through launchings and other means. Therefore, our market for literary titles is basically that portion of the market that has access to book stores.

In an article in the December 2004 issue of Book Watch, Karina Bolasco of Anvil Publishing, Inc. (one of our larger publishers) said that Anvil’s research in 1995 showed that there are, at most, 2,500 book stores in the entire country, or one book store, on the average, per 34,000 people. The Anvil mapping of these stores showed that most of them are concentrated in Metro Manila and the National Capital Region (NCR). In Mindanao, there are far fewer bookstores and the average in our poorer regions is about one bookstore per 200,000 people.

In our experience, the figure of 2,500 bookstores is misleading, for most of these are marginal outlets that don’t have the capital to carry many books and that often close down within a year or two of opening.

On the plus side, however, is the fact that the largest chain in the country, the National/PowerBooks chain of book stores, is rapidly expanding. When Milflores started selling books, the National chain had only about 40 branches. Today, we are selling our books through 109 National/PowerBooks branches for this chain has nearly tripled in size in only eight years.

At the operational level, local printing, though relatively cheap because of lower labor costs, is generally of poor quality due to outdated technology and poorly trained workers. We sometimes get as much as 5-10% rejects in our print runs. This forces us to bear the costs of inspecting each and every book to protect our readers and our reputation.

An operational problem stemming from poverty is that some readers use book stores as public libraries—they read books while standing without buying them. This destroys many books—our rate for our most popular books is about 5% of the books we place on the shelves. All book stores simply return damaged books and publishers have to take the loss. This has forced us to wrap all our books in plastic to discourage reading without buying, and this has increased our production costs.

The latest 2012 SWS survey commissioned by the National Book Development Board is not all roses either that there is a steady decline in non-textbook reading by Fillipinos as reported in this Philippine Daily Inquirer report:

Pinoy TV watchers are wider readers, NBDB readership survey says

 August 23, 2012 1:39pm

xxx         xxx

While such findings seem encouraging, the survey also revealed that the proportion of book readers is in decline.

During the first survey in 2003, 94 percent read; 90 percent of this 94 percent read books. In 2007, 92 percent read; 83 percent of this 92 percent read books. In 2012, 88 percent read; 80 percent of this 88 percent read books.

xxx        xxx

"The 2012 survey has good news and not so good news, perhaps not making the trends in the country so different from patterns seen in other countries," said NBDB Chair Flor Marie Sta. Romana-Cruz, citing two articles she had read online.

"Both lament the decline in reading," she said, citing Adrian Hon's "The Long Decline of Reading", and one of Hon's bases for his article, the 2007 National Endowment for the Arts study "To Read or Not to Read."

"Among the points highlighted is the general decline across the ages in the reading of literature or challenging text," Cruz said, referring to Hon's work.

"Thinking in reading is just too difficult and books do not offer the instant gratification that they and their peers are in search of," was what a group of girls from a private high school in Manila told Cruz when she asked them what the reasons were for the rise of reluctant readers among their peers.

So there you have it. If readers of BOOKS are in decline as of 2012, whose target market is the affluent but tiny 7-12% of the population, how can you say the comics being published in book format by only five (5) BOOK publishers are headed towards becoming an INDUSTRY someday? But hey, this is all just the opinion of a “close-minded” blogger, right Gerry?
“Buhay pa pala si Aklas Isip? I've long put people who have nothing of substance to say or who completely and utterly clueless of the facts in my ignore list. Dead and buried. For someone whose handle supposedly means "open mind", Aklas Isip has one of the most closed minds I've ever encountered in my life.”
And on that note of unwavering, unbridled support thank you Macoy and hoping to hear from you and your ninja master soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Give record enthusiasts an I-pad with 5,000 songs and they would still prefer the old vinyl with record player.

Show die-hard theater-going fans  the latest sfx laden action adventure film in blu-ray and they’d still pay tickets for an old film masterpiece’s theatrical re-release in some Metropolitan movie house or University screening; warts and all.

Tell Japanese manga readers that their favorite twenty volume manga story is now a compressed one hour cgi animated feature on the internet and they’d still maintain their loyalty to the volumes upon volumes of printed manga.

What gives? Surely the I-pad, blu-ray and cgi animation, innovative technological marvels all, can sufficiently dazzle and convert. But why are there still many of the “old school” that remain unconvinced and stubbornly maintain their loyalty and belief systems to the “old ways”? 

On an individual and personal level this could all be explained away by the saying: “Old habits die hard.”

On a broader, social level this shared “habit” by a great number of people that is often passed from generation to generation is called “Culture and tradition.”

In the Philippines, we had a local komiks “reading” culture. From the late 1940s to the 1980s, it was not uncommon to see children and adults grouped together in droves reading Filipino komiks in plain public view.

It was an accepted cultural experience shared by a great many people, majority of whom were low-income. And this patronage continued even with the advent of television, movies, video players and other forms of entertainment. Go to a bus, train or shipboat terminal, the university belt, the corner sari-sari store, parking lots, schools, and other public venues, you were sure to see this amazing sight of a group reading not English but FILIPINO komiks. It was not just Manila, but all over the PHILIPPINES.

And it was the best form of advertisement ever. Just to see your friends or other people reading together, you want to join in the experience. There were no small talk, loud music, or people dressed in ridiculous Halloween costumes to distract you like in today’s Komikons. Other times there would be two or three persons for one komik reading together. No wonder Filipinos were more literate then than they are now.

In Japan (here we go again) we see the same thing particularly in their bullet train stations where captive passengers avidly read their manga commuting great distances to and from home. Sometimes they leave a copy when they get off the train so that incoming passengers would devour them next. Its infectious and habit forming, just to see people around you reading something makes you want to join in.

The near equivalent of that experience would probably be going to the Metro Rail Transit (in Manila) in the early morning. After paying your  fare, you go join the crowd as each grab a free copy of “Inquirer LIBRE” tabloid size newspaper from the nearby stack on each station. Then, as you board your cab compartment you realize that almost everyone around you is reading the same thing as you go from station to station.

“LIBRE” is only a few pages and its articles are not that long. Its only enough for one to finish reading as the MRT train moves from its Baclaran or EDSA station to the North station at Trinoma. And passengers often leave with the copies which they distribute or share to their separate and individual destinations: office, school or home. A few others leave a copy which is picked up by incoming passengers. The whole scenario had developed into a habit.

Or, it could be going into a Jollibee eating establishment in the morning, pay for your breakfast meal, take your free and complimentary Philippine Star newspaper counter, then as you go look for an available table, almost everybody is reading the same newspaper at every corner. Again, developed as a habit for most people. 

To participate in this collective, shared and open human experience for a longer period of time, ultimately develops into a ‘cultural experience’. It becomes actually, a popular cultural experience hence the term ‘pop culture’.

Inquirer LIBRE has spawned imitators in the same MRT stations, but they are not as popular as LIBRE. Bulletin Today, another newspaper broadsheet has imitated the STAR by going for McDonald’s establishments. These experiences however, though continuous and going on since the late 1990s are not as widespread and are confined to the few urbanized cities in the country. They are an approximation of how the lowly and affordable Filipino newsprint/pulp komiks of yesteryear was a shared, nationwide and cultural reading experience.

And did you know that in the 1970s and 1980s there were more Komiks than newspapers and magazines combined? Some bestselling titles (mostly from the Roces komiks monopoly sister companies of Atlas and GASI) were appearing weekly in the hundreds of thousands. If you were selling below below 50,000 copies a week you were bound for cancellation. A Filipino writer isn’t a bestselling author if he isn’t working in the local (and monopolized) Filipino komiks industry where millions of Filipinos had a shared common READING experience.

With that backgrounder in mind, you then ask yourself: did this komiks reading culture rise out spontaneously by itself or is it just another form of “manufactured joy” deliberately planned, orchestrated and made on the sidelines by its publishers?

Put another way: Can a local komiks reading culture arise without the komiks product?

And the obvious answer is, it CANNOT. You need a corporate publishing culture behind it to create and form the pop culture.

The business or industry behind the pop culture is also a corporate (not popular) culture in itself in that its predecessors pass on their knowledge and habits to subsequent successors to ensure the longevity of the operation. The past also serves as a template for tomorrow’s formulation of new business strategies and approaches.

Contrary to what a few misinformed komikeros propagate, the business of creating/publishing  komiks as a mass media of communication and as a form of pop culture is not wholly dependent on creatives.

It may work in a komikero’s usual one-man operation which is small and limited to a cult few where income mostly goes to the creative. Not so in an honest to goodness komiks publishing enterprise.

No, the operation and business of a komiks enterprise is dependent on other disciplines besides production/creatives. These are: the business capitalist owner or entrepreneur, paid or salaried business managers, circulation managers, distributors, accountants, researchers, statisticians, banking people, professional negotiators, lawyers, public relations people, advertising people, salespeople, drivers, printers, paper and art suppliers, newsstand dealers, insurance people, and others.

In other words, without a business or INDUSTRY composed of  different multi-disciplines to create and deliver the product in the millions or hundreds of thousands of copies on a regular, continuous basis, there would be no local komiks reading culture. Manufactured joy, ladies and gentlemen. It does not arise out of thin air. It is planned and deliberate human action that makes the pop culture happen as well as sustain the business or industry behind it.

You think the late Tony Velasquez, the so-called father of Philippine Komiks and creator of ‘Kenkoy” was just a writer-artist “komikero”? He has a degree in business both here and in the U.S. He studied and he applied what he knew.That’s why he was able to position Don Ramon Roces’ ACE Publications at the forefront of local Filipino komiks publishing during the 1950s. You think if you were just an editor, or writer or artist, top management will entrust to you money to make the whole operation work on a regular basis? No way, Tina Fey.   

Such an industry and the know-how that goes along with it, creates jobs, employs people, perpetuates itself, and most important of all, is part of the national consciousness thereby garnering respect and sometimes awe from the general public.

Kill the industry or its  corporate culture and you eliminate the formation of a local komiks reading culture. You are then left with what Macoy describes as a small, sporadic, disorganized, petty and immature SUB-culture buzzing on the corner fringes of the general PUBLISHING industry like a twig or sub-branch of book publishing. 

It may remain a medium of expression for the monied, creative indie/komikero few, cheering tearfully at the brief sound bites from tv or radio coverage or praise from their American or Fil-AM comic gods that  it gets once in a while, but it stops right there. Since the 1990s it has NEVER grown into a bona-fide, publicly acknowledged INDUSTRY nor has it spawned a local komiks reading culture. Yet you hear the usual b.s. from some delusional komikeros going: “Oh look, we got another mention at HERO-TV, God, we were covered by GMA and ABS-CBN again, the EISNER awards just nominated a “Filipino” indie comic! Mark Millar is coming to Manila because we won the vote and look, he’s endorsing Filipino artists! YABBA-DABBA-DOO! WE’RE AN INDUSTRY!” What logic. If that’s what it takes to be an industry these days, Tony Velasquez must be turning in his grave right now.

What this has succeeded in doing is inspire a sub-culture of a do-it-yourself (DIY) hobby. That hobby is creating your own “artform” of mostly unedited photocopy comics for limited distribution for a limited audience at usually expensive prices, at once in a blue moon Komikons. Komikons that are attended mostly by anime’ cosplayers and vendors of second-hand U.S. comics and action figures, who don’t really give a rat’s ass about indie/komikero comics. THIS is a local komiks INDUSTRY? THIS is a popular komiks reading culture? Eyes roll and facepalm PLEASE. 

It is not even an industry that provides employment to multi-disciplinary people. Rather, it prides itself with having all the money go to the creator-distributor-publisher. It may not immediately put food on the table nor is it a source of regular income, but it does the job of nourishing one’s individual vanity. 
Why did this happen? Where are those corporate suits to replace the fallen Roces komiks monopoly of yesteryear? WHERE IS THE CORPORATE CULTURE? Where are the business plans? The strategies? The kind of media people to make this work? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE KOMIKS READING POP CULTURE of yesteryear?

A possible explanation in Part 3.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Thank you for your comment Macoy. Saw the charts lately and was surprised that it went up significantly after the last Oct. 27  post. People are still out there? Anyway, thank you again for taking the time and trouble to air your view. It is much appreciated, especially your focusing on the ideas expressed in the first part of the post. And no worries, as no personal offense was taken to some  statements made. Addressing now the points raised in your comment:

oist, welkam back aklas! more or less :D mukhang na-inspire ka sa komikon kahapon ah.

Don’t know what you mean. What Komikon is that and where? Maybe you could share what inspiring matter that was that came out of the Komikon. 

anyways, a few refutations:

pinapairal mo nanaman ang makitid na depinisyon mo ng komiks bilang "masa" komiks. i.e. kung walang masa komiks, walang komiks.

“If there are no comics for the masses, there’s no comics”? Sorry. Don’t think that was ever stated in this blog, Macoy. Before you ascribe something can you first cite the particular post title and date that statement was made?

“Comics is defined as “masa” comics”? Don’t think that was also stated in this blog, Macoy.  But wouldn’t  you agree that most of the limited number of photocopy comics put out now by so-called “indies” and westernized  komikeros  are not accessible and/or affordable to majority of low income Filipinos outside of highly urbanized Metro Manila? Wouldn’t you also agree that this state of affairs does not even generate jobs nor can it sustain a livelihood?  

And what’s wrong with making comics for such a majority anyway? What’s wrong with going commercial, making affordable comics based on what the general public wants and not what a lone komikero artist thinks?  

“bago na ang panahon... bagamat di natin matutuldukan na di na uubra ang masa-style komiks sa kasalukuyang market, malabo nang may investor na tumaya pa dito. not after the caparas komiks fiasco.”

By gum, you’re absolutely right. Times do change. But you know what? The more times change the more things stay the same. From the 1970s to the present, the Japanese black and white newsprint manga comics industry has grown not because of an isolated, marginalized, indie comics scene like we have right here.

Do you see English written in their manga? Do you see these manga as being accessible and affordable only to an economically select and privileged few? Do you see Japanese comics creators worried about not getting the attention and approval of their U.S. or other foreign counterparts? The answer to all of this all this is in the negative. The same can be said of the comics industries of France, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. Yet, you see the exact opposite here in the Philippines. Colonial mentality here is alive and well.

What “market” are you talking about when you say “sa kasalukuyang market”?  Look around you. The Philippines is STILL a “MASA” market. Almost every industry and everything here is for the low income: sachet shampoo, sachet corned beef, snack foods, soft drinks, sms, clothing, housing, tabloid newspapers, tagalog romance pocketbooks, to name a few. Today’s so-called “indies” and komikeros do NOT target this market which is why they remain small, disorganized and sporadic since the 1990s. 

Yes Virginia, the Philippines is STILL a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. We’ve been that way since Marcos took office in 1965. If that offends or shocks your senses you should have seen how shocked, tongue-tied and dumbfounded Whilce Portacio was when he saw those three words in this blog. He thought his First World assumptions and solutions were automatically applicable to Third World problems. Apples and oranges indeed. Photaytoe-Pohtahtoe my foot.

“malabo nang may investor na tumaya pa dito. not after the caparas komiks fiasco” Well this is a matter of your personal opinion now isn’t it? It’s not definite, incontrovertible fact. Can you say the same with the indie/komikero scene after James Palabay finally walked out of Culture Crash? When Buy and Sell dropped Neo-Comics?  When the Juico family set-aside the indie/komikero type titles offered by Martin Cadlum after he left Sterling? We don’t even hear those upper income type titles like “Fantasya” of Psi-Com outselling its Filipino Ghost Stories. Summit Media didn’t even follow-up on – what’s that title? “Underwear”? Jun Matias of Precious Pages is delayed in releasing their English “Black Ink” comics for the “urbanized” indie and komikero market. Do you think it will last a long time  when it does comes out?  And let’s not forget Whilce Portacio’s short-lived “Stone” that was supposed to trailblaze the local comics scene in the 1990s. Do you think Whilce right now is gung-ho in investing his money because he thinks TRESE, SKYWORLD or ELMER will earn him millions or hundreds of thousands of Petro-dollars? Ha!

The Caparas komiks fiasco. That’s a very sweeping and misleading statement there, Macoy. From where we’re standing, it looks like the  upper-income, urbanized target market has a lot of misses than hits. But to get back to your statement.  It would be more correct to say that investors who are not properly informed, made research studies, and truly devoted to making the enterprise work, would NOT invest in a comics venture similar to Caparas/Sterling.

And that was part of the problem wasn’t it? Apart from the lack of an honest to goodness business plan and project study, there was no real devotion or dedication to make it work in the first place. 

Recall that before contracting with Sterling, Caparas through Jo Lad Santos announced before an assembly of geriatric, veteran and unemployed komiks writers and artists that they would be provided with employment. He didn’t qualify if it was temporary or permanent. But hey, it was a quick buck and that was all that mattered. 

So what happened? Santos, who was with the Malacanang Press Corps at the time, worked for the release of funding by then President Gloria Arroyo. It was a one-time and fixed fund. Caparas during his nationwide Komiks Karavan announced that the fund will be used for his Caparas Komiks.  Bulletin Today and Sterling then bid for the project and, thanks to Martin Cadlum, Caparas went with Sterling.

Did Sterling conduct a prior research study or formulated a business plan before embarking with Caparas? There was none. Yet, who cared? Sterling got paid and Caparas was able to employ, albeit temporarily, his aging contemporaries. That was all that mattered. 

Was there any real desire to make this go on continuously? Are you kidding? Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo looked like a Saint when she appeared to be a patron of local komiks at the Intramuros signing, Caparas got wide exposure especially from the gullible komiks veterans, and Sterling had other more profitable and ongoing businesses to attend to as local komiks publishing was not its forte’. 

Anyway, with the fund already having run out it was time for the fat lady to sing. This, compounded by petty internal squabbles did the whole thing in. This is no big secret. And yes, potential investors who are well aware of that backgrounder would not surely invest in a komiks enterprise under the same or similar set of circumstances.

What’s stopping them though? That is the topic of the succeeding parts of this latest post, Macoy. And it is hoped that you’ll be there too to share your two cents’ worth.  Don’t want to preempt matters by giving it all away.

“sa nakikita ko, nakailang subok na ng komiks ang summit media (kwentillion, underpass). anjan din yung tiktik na base sa pelikula. anjan din ang indie komiks scene na papalago ng papalago napapansin na ng mainstream (at foreign!) media. so... MERONG industriya. maliit, di organisado, sporadic ang output, pero MERON.”

This has been addressed in the immediately preceding discussion, Macoy.  And, yes, it’s small, disorganized, sporadic, and might we add, petty and immature. We say that last part as a matter of fact without malice or spite intended.

You make a big thing that it has sporadic output? That its growing and being noticed by mainstream and foreign media? Big deal. Nobody's turning at this side of the graveyard. But assuming for the sake of argument, that there's some semblance of truth in what you say, does this so-called industry's numerous vanity publications generate any jobs or inspire big investors to put up a local comics company with Arnold Arre, Budgette Tan, David Hontiveros, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlo Pagulayan, Harvey Tolibao, Mico Suayan, etc. at the helm? No? Again, our question: Why is there STILL no local comics industry?

That segue over, look now at what the Free Online Dictionary says about ‘Industry”:

“Word History: A clear indication of the way in which human effort has been harnessed as a force for the commercial production of goods and services is the change in meaning of the word industry. Coming from the Latin word industria, meaning "diligent activity directed to some purpose," and its descendant, Old French industrie, with the senses "activity," "ability," and "a trade or occupation," our word (first recorded in 1475) originally meant "skill," "a device," and "diligence" as well as "a trade." Over the course of the Industrial Revolution, as more and more human effort became involved in producing goods and services for sale, the last sense of industry as well as the slightly newer sense "systematic work or habitual employment" grew in importance, to a large extent taking over the word. We can even speak now of the Shakespeare industry, rather like the garment industry.”

Note the use of the words: “commercial production of goods and services”, “trade or occupation”, “diligence”, “systematic work” and “habitual employment”. They are not found in your personal conception of a small, disorganized and sporadic “industry”. What we have right now is NOT properly a local comics “INDUSTRY”, Macoy. We don’t appear to be headed there or anywhere either. We’re in LIMBO. And we don’t mean the dance either. Its getting more and more like a TRAVESTY than an INDUSTRY. All those wonderful trees, all that good money put to waste by the vanity photocopy publications for a non-"masa" market. And you say this is a good thing? You're happy and content with this present state of affairs? Can you confidently put in your bank loan, SSS application or Income Tax Return your occupation and livelihood as a "komikero"? More on succeeding posts regarding this matter.

“of course, pohteytoe-pohtahto situation tayo malamang dito dahil ayon sa depinisyon mo, hindi bumubuo ng industriya (at malamang hindi maka-pilipino) ang mga nabanggit kong komiks.”

This point has been sufficiently addressed in the immediately preceding discussion.

“binabanggit ko lang para makita mga ibang readers ng blog mo na di black-and-white ang sitwasyon ng pinoy komiks ngayon.”

You are entitled to that opinion, Macoy. But am sure that as the days and months and years roll by you will be able to step aside and reflect on this more fully with a smile wistfully reminiscing back to this moment and realize with some poignancy at the irony of it all that maybe, just maybe, you were slightly delusional when you made that statement. 

“the times are changing friend, your world view is getting left farther and farther behind. “

Well Mr. Dylan, don't you think that after what has been said here, its the other way around?