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

Friday, July 29, 2005

The business of comics publishing means treating comics as a medium, not as an artform

Works of art are uncommon. They do not come easily. They are not produced in huge commercial quantities and their valuation is largely based on the subjective nuances of a snooty few. The artworld and its audience are limited. Their appreciation is confined to the narrow and fickle market of "art lovers". Here, the artiste' rules. Anything that has no subjective artistic merit or non-entertainment value is shunned and excluded. Galleries and auction houses that sell individual pieces of act at high prices are the usual business enterprises that prosper in this enclosed world. Now take a look at the local Filipino komix scene (or the American comics scene for that matter). See any similarites? Same banana right?

As of this writing, the number of Filipino comics works appearing in the Philippine comics market are few and far between, not even reaching the million copy levels of yesteryear. Frankly, they are not as ubiquitous as before. They are wholly entertainment and "art" based with the comics artist in full control such that if anyone dares to suggest an opening up of the now defunct medium to content that is non-entertainment or art based, the poor soul is chastised by the comics artist as an alien pariah. "No" they say. "Comics can only entertain. It can't be anything else." Duh.

The sensitive (and oftimes immature) nature of the comics artist is easily intimidated when faced with the truth. The comics artist's impulse is to immediately pounce on these alien, non-art suggestions as wily attempts to bastardize "their" artform. As a result, the audience for this now marginalized artform has been parochially limited to geeky "comics art aficionados". Like paintings, original pinoy komix pages of yesteryear are auctioned off in tidy sums on the internet or displayed in out of the way galleries or upcoming specialized and customized "komix museums". It is in these enterprises, not the actual creation and publication of new komix, that the real money changes hands. Not between komix readers and publishers, but between komix art collectors and speculators. This is pinoy komix as an artform. Take a good, wide-eyed look.

Revive the Philippine Komix industry through good stories and art? How amusingly quixotic. Its a group effort, Juan. A group "cooperative" effort involving other people who are not necessarily (gulp!) artists like you. We're talking about publishers, marketeers, distribution people, computer people, lawyers, accountants, public relations, insurance and others. In short, you'll have to get out of your "comfort zone" Juan, and start networking with these people who will help you form a business and possibly a company. Stop thinking small for once. Get out of that little barangay of yours. Art alone will not save the world.

Without this mutual cooperation with other "non-artistic" people, you'll never make a decent living out of your beloved and chosen "artform". Its a dog eat dog world out there and you can't carry the world on your shoulders forever. Widen your horizons. We'll ALL be the better for it.


Post a Comment

<< Home