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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Don't go into comics publishing (yet)

Traditionally, the comics business in the Philippines has experienced only one form of organized business activity: the publishing and selling of entertainment-based comics directly to the individual consumer. Whether in the form of original or licensed material, whether in magazine, periodical, digest or book compilation format, revenue from this activity is wholly dependent on advertising and sales.

However, as previously discussed, when compared to other competing media such as magazines, television, movies, radio, and the internet, printed comics which are in the measly few thousand copies, are generally ignored by advertisers as they are not as widely distributed and patronized as the former media. Advertisers are more assured that with television, radio, magazines,and newspapers, their products would be seen by millions of people thus ensuring the possible chances of a sale. The media presence of printed comics is thus negligible if not altogether non-existent.

Unless comics publications cater to an advertiser's target market composed of a reasonable number of people who are financially qualified to purchase their advertised product, no advertiser would risk his money on a mere comics publication.

Take Summit Publications' "W.i.t.c.h." booklet-sized comics for instance. This is a licensed comics property from Walt Disney of America. Witch's audience are largely teen-age, urban girls within the very discriminating class A and B demographic. This is the same audience targeted by cellfone, cosmetics, personal care products, junkfood and movie distribution companies which is why their ads appear frequently and in every issue of Witch. Though Witch is not selling in the million copy range, it can financially support itself through advertising thanks to its limited but paying target market.

On the whole however, there are not that many comics publications in the Philippines similar to Witch's success. Rather, the reverse is true in that there are only a measly few comics titles that don't even sell in the million copy level. It is no wonder then that the traditional komiks industry in the Philippines, like its counterpart mainstream movie industry, is flatline dead. Kaput.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that with the almost yearly increase in taxes, spiralling inflation, and rising costs of living without any commensurate increase in wages and salaries, sales of many print publications such as newspapers and magazines, have gone down. With sales going down, not many people get to see the ads inside these print publications. This is why many advertisers favor television and radio as ad carriers. Millions of people don't pay anything before they get to see or hear an ad on a television or radio program.

In conclusion then, if one is to go about the traditional business of publishing comics in 21st century Philippines relying solely on sales and advertising for revenue, a rude awakening is waiting just around the corner. Amidst this bleak scenario, one is compelled to rethink old premises, presumptions and solutions. New approaches, novel schemes and innovative players must come in. The entire machine has to be overhauled and reinvented if need be. As the Chinese (and John F. Kennedy) would say, there is opportunity in every crisis. Are we prepared to take it?


Post a Comment

<< Home