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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reply to Whilce Portacio

The following is an e-mail, I assume, from the real WHILCE PORTACIO. This blogger's replies are enclosed in parenthesis after Mr. Portacio's statements and are made for purposes of brevity. So without further ado:

"Hello, I am the one responsible for enabling a lot of those local artist to "waste" their time and effort "making money" "for arts sake" with foreign publishers. Gerry, Lienil, Edgar, Jay, Gilbert, Roy included. I also was part of the rise in power at Marvel of the X-Men editorial office and the line of X-books. I was also "on the scene" as part of Image Comics as it had its unrealistically inflated rise to a million copies per month and as it crashed taking the American Superhero market with it. I also spent time (1995-2000) living in the Philippines trying to gather an artist studio and local businessmen together to start a local komix company...unsuccessfully I might add. In my twenty years of experience I have seen from the inside how comic industries rise and fall. So, I know a little of the subject at hand." (Don't you think Sir, its a tad sweeping to claim that based solely on your 20 year experience (mostly) in the United States, you have seen "from the inside" how " comic(s) industries" in the world and in general, rise and fall? Are all comic book industries in the world the same? I don't even recall the whole U.S. mainstream comics industry having fallen or totally disappeared as is the situation right now in the Philippines.

As of 2005, it was reported that the mainstream monthly comics led by the superhero comics of DC and Marvel earn an estimated $290 million a year (Source: "Comic Timing" by Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly Magazine, November 4, 2005 No. 848 issue), while the serious, literary, and alternative, non-superhero graphic novel business sold mainly in bookstore chains was at $207 million a year as of 2004 and still rising (Source: "Comic Relief" by Rana Foroohar, Newsweek International Edition, August 22, 2005 issue). Though downsized and not as thriving as before, the mainstream U.S. comics industry is still alive and kicking thanks mostly to the alternative and literary "graphic novels". It has not "fallen" or blinked out of existence (yet).

As for the 5 years spent in the Philippines trying to put together an artists studio and a local comics company that never even got off the ground, this hardly qualifies one as having seen "from the inside" how "comics industries" rise and fall, much less those in the local comics industry.

Sorry to nitpick but I think its necessary to clarify this point especially when you like us to start under the impression that you know "a little" of the subject at hand. I hope you understand my point here, Sir. --- Aklas)

"First off I'd like to beg to persuade you to identify yourself. No, not so I may hunt you down, but because where were you and your cold hard facts when I needed you in 1995?" (Even without me, those "cold hard facts" will always be there. One only needs the diligence and fortitude, not sarcasm, to unearth and understand their implications. --- Aklas)

"Even with my talks with businessmen no one had the facts. Only conjecture and vague memories." (Possibly these were not the kind of "businessmen" you should have been talking to in the first place, Sir. --- Aklas)

"The closest I got to facts was the outer gate to the Roces family house (never got in)." (Some people try knocking first. If that doesn't work, there's always the doorbell. Just Kidding. --- Aklas)

"Hard to believe you might say to yourself but I agree with almost all of your facts. I am a true believer in gathering the facts. And I find it insulting not knowing who I am dealing with." (Am sorry you feel that way. Personally, I don't think the question of "identity" is important if the information presented in these blog entries can be readily identified, verified, and safely referenced by others.

I try not to deal in vagueries and bare suppositions. I'd like to think that I deal in "informed" opinions. To that end, I strive to specify the particular source material in blog entries whenever possible so the reader can check the citations for themselves and later make their own conclusions. That to me is more than fair.

However, to go a step further, to give up my privacy and identity I find no other justification or satisfaction for that. Again, my profuse apologies if you feel insulted by my anonymity, Sir. --- Aklas)

"I also agree with the base of what you are trying to say (to build up a local industry that is truly local). Ask Gerry next time you two have coffee together from day one when I was in the Philippines I was badgering them all about writing about local stories and local characters in local sites." (Sir, I don't know Mr. Alanguilan personally, nor have I anything against him as a person. As to his (and his group's) works and actions however, its a different matter entirely.

Let's try and separate the person, his sincerity, and his intentions, from his actual deeds and product of his actions. The latter is more crucial as it causes the most effect than the former.

If people want to "anglicize" Filipino comics, that is their right just as it is the right of other people to criticize and not patronize these works. --- Aklas)

"So, again I agree with almost all the research you've gathered....I just don't agree with some of your conclusions." (Not a problem. I get that all the time. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. However, I would like to know what specific "conclusions" of mine are you referring to. --- Aklas)

"I think you take extreme effort to find the facts and correctly report them but then (as with all facts, especially those of the numbers variety) you must interpret them and most importantly you must ask WHY...WHY are the facts such?" (Please specify. What particular "facts" are we talking about here? --- Aklas)

"I think and in some cases know that your deductions are too simple and in some cases are apples and oranges.You quote millions in circulation in the golden age of Komix but you never thoroughly dive into the quest for why such a mighty industry crashed? And why that mighty industry lost all of its great artist to foreign markets?You use that as a gauge for everything past and present but that is at best apples and oranges. They look to be the same and therefore we can apply the same rules...wrong! They are not the same. That is folly's road to use those apples and oranges facts to draw conclusions. The industry back then was (at the time) a viable one (tho' again ask why did it die?) the industry now is non-existent." (Ah, THOSE facts. Right. WHY the great Filipino comics industry of the 1970s and 1980s crashed. Right.

This view is not original as it is shared by a lot of people in the press, students of mass communication courses, and some business people involved before in local comics. To understand WHY that great industry fell, one must realize at the onset that the industry was controlled or "monopolized" by the Roces family's comics companies (the biggest of which were Atlas and GASI) from production, distribution, to the collection phases of the operation. Because it was a monopoly, it was practically the industry itself.

This "fact", the actual existence of a comics monopoly, was established by way of "admission" by none other than Lydia "Cookie" Guerrero, a Roces publishing heir in her interview reproduced previously in the blog entry: "The Lydia "Cookie" Guerrero Interview", dated, October 30, 2005 , wherein she says quite plainly and clearly:

"xxx So, all these things were divided between the three and so we are independent of each other although we'd, ah, monitor each other, you know, as to we're gonna raise prices, we kind of like raise prices together, we used to do that also with, when Atlas was still alive although Atlas is still alive but it was bought by National Bookstore, okay. So, when we had Atlas and, ah, Graphic, we practically monopolize the market, okay, so we would always coordinate, you know, with one another when it came to pricing and then, ah, of course also like cost of paper, you know, how much are you buying your paper, how much, you know, um, stuff like that, so that it becomes like one, you know, one is not better than the other although we were competitors which was very, very hairy because we never talk about business when we're...socializing with one another, I mean never talk about business. When we talk about business when we're, you know, in a meeting or, you know, the office situation but we never, never, never, never talk about business in social..." (Emphasis Mine)

The fact of a monopoly is again substantiated by the former Chairman of the De La Salle University Communication Arts Department from 1982 to 1985, Fulbright scholar and multi-awarded screenwriter, Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr., in his 1985 essay entitled: "KOMIKS: An Industry, a Potent Medium, our National Book and Pablum of Art Appreciation" appearing in his book: "Philippine Mass Media: A Book of Readings":

"A fact which should be cited as a contributing element to the state of komiks today is the monopoly which runs the industry. The Roces Group of publishing companies (Atlas, Graphic Arts, Ace, Affiliated, Adventures Illustrated, and Islas Filipinas) accounts for 33 of 47 regularly published komiks in the country, and the top two komiks are under its wing-- Aliwan and Pilipino, which appear twice a week with a combined circulation of about 500,000. Since the Roces group produces about 70 percent of the regular komiks titles, it influences the industry--from prices to the kind of komiks the industry produces. Since they employ a good number of writers and illustrators, they could set the standard for fees. On the other hand, because of the advantage of economies of scale, the Roces group of comapnies is able to produce komiks at the lowest possible price, which in effect becomes the industry guide." (Source: Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr., editor, Philippine Mass Media: A Book of Readings, published by the Communication Foundation for Asia, 1986 ed.)

To get a better idea of how this monopoly controlled the local komiks industry, we turn our attention to the 1990 tagalog magazine article by Corazon Villareal which appeared in the previous blog entry: "Distribution Matters" dated, October 9, 2005. To wit:

"Para sa maliit at bagong tagapaglathala ng komiks mabigat ang problema ng pagdidistribyut. May mga 300 ahente ang Atlas at GASI sa buong Pilipinas; karamihan ay naging ahente ng lumang Ace at mga pahayaganng Roces magmula pa noong 1947. Maraming mga sub-ahenteng kilala ang mga ito kaya't praktikal lamang na makikipag-ugnay sa kanila ang sino mang pabliser ng komiks. Ngunit sa katagalan ng negosyo ng mga nasabing ahente sa mga Roces at sa laki din ng bolyum ng benta nila mula sa Atlas at GASI, malamang na hindi nila pag-ukulan ng pansin ang pabliser na walang pangalan. Ang wika nga ni Ed Plaza, dating patnugot ng Atlas, at ngayon ng Rex Group of Komiks:

"Inalagaan na ng mga distributors (ahente) ang mga sub-agents nito, say about 20 years hawak na nila. Kaya kung magpadala ang distributors sa sub-agents, malakassila sa sub-agents. Kung hindi nila (bagong pabliser) makuha ang services ng distributors, talo ka na doon."

Kaya't kadalasan, ang bago at maliit na tagapaglathala ay sapilitang nagbebenta ng komiks sa mga sub-ahente na mismo. Magandang plano sana dahil wala nang ahenteng babahaginan ng kita, subalit nagiging isang sanhi ng pagkalugi ng bago at nagsasariling tagapaglathala.

Dahil hindi pa kilala ang komiks nila at hindi pa tantiyado kung ilan ang maipagbibili, binibigyan nila ang sub-ahente ng mas maluwag na kredito at pribilehiyong magsauli ng mga siping hindi naibenta. Sa madaling salita, ang binabayaran lamang ng sub-ahente ay ang mga kopyang naipagbili. Kung minsan pa ay ipinagpapaliban ng sub-ahente ang pagbabayad hanggang sa magsara ang bagong pabliser." (Source: "Ang Industriya ng Komiks: Noon at Ngayon" by Corazon D. Villareal, Kultura Magazine, January 1990 issue).

The monopoly thrived because it catered to a large audience that is still existing today: the lower income classes in Philippine society.

In 1978, the "Illustrated Press", a trade paper of the now defunct Kapisanan ng mga Publisista at mga Patnugot ng mga Komiks-magasin sa Pilipino (Association of Publishers and Editors of Pilipino Comics Magazines or APEPCOM), cited a readership survey which found that the great bulk of local comics readers belonged to an income demographic of C and D households i.e., 38% and 41% respectively. Only 4% of local comics readers belonged to the upper A and B households, while 17% were in class E homes. This low-income C and D crowd that comprised the huge bulk of Filipino comics' readership were colloquially known as the "bakya" crowd referring to the archetype simple-minded, and less discriminating country folk who wore clogs and wooden shoes with thick wooden soles. (Source: Danny Mariano, "In the Name of the Masses", TV Times Magazine, September 10-16, 1978 issue).

In 1978, it was hypothesized that since about 2 million commercially produced komiks-magasins bearing 44 different titles appeared and were either sold or leased in the banketa (or newstand kiosk), it was assumed, albeit conservatively, that if only six people read each copy, then komiks-magasins should easily have a readership of no less than 12 million. For the komiks-magasin publishing houses this meant weekly sales of about Php 1.7 million or Php 88.4 million annually. (Source: Danny Mariano, "In the Name of the Masses" magazine article, Ibid.)

Given the above "facts" that a monopoly undoubtedly controlled the local comics industry becoming the industry itself, what do you think would happen if this "family business" failed for whatever tangential and incidental reasons you might think of such as, the gradual exodus of talented writers and illustrators for greener pastures elsewhere, labor strikes, rising production costs, rise of competitive new entertainment media, lousy management, low pay for creative people, lack of new ideas and entry of new people, etc.

Answer: it eventually brings the whole house down with it, lock, stock, and barrel. When the monopoly was bombarded by all these problems through the years, it produced mostly sub-standard work from disaffected creators turning away readers who had no alternative comics publishing competitor to turn to. Sales progressively plummeted, and the monopoly's dummy corporations closed shop and sold off, one by one.

The old banketa newstand distribution network on the other hand, not anymore getting bulk volumes of comics from the Roceses, could not rely too much on Rex and GM Miranda and Sons because their combined circulation was not enough to bring in the high supply of comics it used to get from the Roceses.

So eventually, the nationwide newstand distribution network stopped specializing in selling and renting any and ALL local comics. To survive, it instead turned to other competing media such as the cheap, second hand American magazines, comics, and pocketbooks (usually sourced from the nearby US American Bases at the time), posters, songhits, local movie gossip magazines, until you have the ubiquitous pirated dvds and vcds of today. Any kind and form of local komiks were gradually phased out. And when Atlas was sold off in the late 1990s to National Bookstore, you had a few of their comics (some say at 5,000 copies a month per ten titles that eventually dwindled) sold in a discreet corner of each branch of National Bookstore until today, you don't see them anymore.

With this predicament, Rex and GM Miranda closed shop while no other new competitors with new publishing ideas stepped in, fearful and given the misimpression that there is no money to be made in mass market comics. This perception persists even to this day.

At present, the collapse has left us with an unchartered, virgin desert that needs to be mapped anew by new, innovative players who unfortunately are busy strengthening the comics industry and culture of America and Japan.

The above may appear to be "too simplified" to some but TRUE, nevertheless. Is it false because the explanation was not made complex? Cmon.

This great industry wouldn't have died, taking along everything with it, if the comics market wasn't controlled in the first place by one "family corporation": a monopoly.

If the distributors loyal to the Roceses allowed for the free entry of new, innovative, and competing comics publishers, if these competitors were not bullied out of existence by the Roceses and their newstand distributors, the progressive crash of the Roces comics companies (along with smalltime competitors Rex and GM Miranda and Sons) would have been cushioned by the existence of these still thriving, competing, and truly independent Filipino comics publishing houses; much like what the alternative non-superhero graphic novel business is doing right now in the U.S. which is saving the mainstream kiddie superhero comics of DC and Marvel.

As it is, these local competitors were nipped off early in the bud by the Roces monopoly such that when the monopoly fell, it brought the whole industry down with it. Kill the monopoly and you kill the industry itself. Roces comics WERE Filipino comics. When it fell, there was no one left standing to carry on.

Yes, Sir. Without apology, We use the above lesson of history as a gauge in trying to understand what is happening today and many people don't think its "apples and oranges" either.

Observation: the factual backdrop conducive for a mass market local comics industry is still existing today and it is ESSENTIALLY the same as it was back then. This backdrop dictates that by necessity your product, your comics, must be customized to the needs and demands of your audience, majority of whom ARE STILL LOW INCOME.

Yes, Virginia, the Philippines is STILL a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY where majority of the populace are lower income, where the middle class is almost gone, and only a small minority are socially and economically well-off, most of whom are found in Metro Manila and other few urbanized areas in the country. Sad, but true.

The Roceses' Filipino comics of the past catered to this LARGE lower income audience. Filipino comics were cheaply priced within the majority's reach, it talked their language (Filipino/Tagalog), and it reflected their POP culture and aspirations as a people. TODAY however, the reverse is true.

TODAY, you have no comics industry because the target market of today's Globalized Filipino Comics priced from Php 50 to Php 800 a copy, is the socio-economic elite FEW who are biased in all things American and Japanese.

TODAY, most of the locally produced globalized comics are expensive, sold in a few 'specialty' stores, reflect a foreign influence and culture, are unabashedly marketed exclusively to kids and teenagers, and most importantly, are made by comics creators who don't care about WHAT their audience want, because they are engaged in an "artform" that is more "personal" and "profound" to them and their personal universe.

TODAY, locally produced globalized comics are NOT a MEDIUM OF MASS COMMUNICATION as it once was, but an "artform". It is ELITIST, GLOBALIZED, and MARGINALIZED.

If some people think that's wrong; that's too cruel, that's too "apples and oranges", then let me now present them with one big FRUITCAKE. ---Aklas)

"The only thing you can truly keep from those facts is that those artist back then were the last bunch of Filipino's in any field that created something that was and still is truly Filipino." (I'm sorry but I can't agree with your opinion here, Sir. I do not think that a comics industry is raised solely and ultimately by a comics illustrator's efforts. Also, what period are you referring to? The 1950s? 1960s? 1970s? 1980s? Mar Santana, Vincent Kua, III, Hal Santiago, Steve Gan, Karl Commendador, Jun Lofamia, E.R. Cruz, Larry Alcala, Bert Sarile, Roni Santiago, and a host of other 1970s/1980s comics artists WHO STAYED BEHIND are considered by MANY to have created comics that were and still are TRULY Filipino. The same thing with the local Filipino comics writers at the time (i.e., Elena Patron, Nerissa Cabral, Gilda Olvidado, Jim Fernandez, Carlo J. Caparas, L.P. Calixto, Ramon Marcelino, Pablo S. Gomez, R.J. Nuevas, Vic J. Poblete, etc.) who in the opinion of many, WERE THE HEART AND SOUL of FILIPINO COMICS. Without the writer who is the prime mover, you have no concept of what to draw in the first place and no intelligence to put some sense in your comicbook. --- Aklas)

"Now this topic of why all of our artist are trying to emulate Japanese or American comics and not doing a Filipino style is not as simple as because they don't want to, its because they were never taught what a Filipino style is. Most of them don't know the surnames of Conching, Redondo, and Nino to name a few. Some might remember but don't know of their works. This is a societal problem that we don't teach our kids a Filipino identity." (I don't think its mainly a question of artistic "style" Sir. Last time I checked comics are supposed to be a unique marriage of Writing and Art. If I thought comics was just art, I would not even bother reading it in the first place which I think, buyers also expect. Why is it that when you talk of Filipino comics, almost everybody nowadays have the (mis)apprehension that only "artists" are capable of doing comics? What about the writer side of things? In the 70s and 80s there were some pretty entertaining writing by Elena Patron, Nerissa Cabral, RJ Nuevas, Vincent Kua III, Ramon Marcelino, and a host of others. But we're veering away.

Personally, I do not agree with the thesis that the reason why today's young comics artists prefer to be inspired by American and Japanese comics art, is because they were never taught or shown in the first place WHAT a Filipino art style or national identity is. Believe me, they know. As comics artists, we can at least safely assume that most if not all, have seen in their lifetime examples of LOCAL works by Filipino comics artists and have encountered or read history and civics lessons in their schools to know what a national identity is.

Let's be candid about this. Despite having seen examples of local comics artworks from whatever period, or having visited Filipino comics art blogs on the net, these young "artists" STILL prefer to be inspired by the Americans and Japanese and they do so WILFULLY, DELIBERATELY, and COMPETENTLY. Why is this so? Bottom line answer: because of money and fame. It is in these countries that they get high-paying comics art jobs. Not in the Philippines today because at present we DON'T have an industry for that. Just listen to David Campiti of Glasshouse Graphics:

"Azrael Colladilla: What are your goals?

David Campiti: To make my artists rich and famous. I'm bothered a lot by how underpaid and underappreciated the great Filipino talent is. I'm here to fix that. I have artists here buying new homes, new motorcycles, new cell phones...I'm changing the lives of hundreds of people by bringing in jobs often paying many hundreds of dollars per page. Not pesos--DOLLARS." (Source: Azrael Colladilla, "Up Close with David Campiti: Glasshouse Graphics Agent and writer describes the Filipino Artist and more about his company," DC Superheroes No. 32, Psicom Publishing, Nov-Dec '06 issue)

Second, the whole American and Japanese MEDIA WAVE is very dominant in this country. Especially the AMERICANS. Open the TV and American shows outnumber Filipino shows 10 to 1. Food is american fastfood inspired. Same with music, news, clothing, education, and tech gadgets. This is no surprise considering that America and Japan are the two main trading partners of the Philippines and there is a serious imbalance of trade between the two favoring the former.

Filipino identity? Never taught a Filipino style? Tell me about it.


Just look at our National Hero Jose Rizal. If you take the cynical thought, Jose Rizal was only a Filipino who dressed , talked, and wanted to be European. He embraced modern Spanaird practices and only the year before he died became truly Filipino." (What's the basis for "cynically" saying that Rizal became truly Filipino only the year BEFORE he died? I for one would not go so far as to presume or think of such an assumption unless there is point to be made somewhere. Just what is the point, exactly? What's Rizal got to do with not having a Filipino comics art style or of reviving the Filipino comics industry in the first place? ---Aklas)

"So in the cynical light we teach our kids to worship someone who spent most of his life trying to be something other than Filipino. When you have that kind of a role model how can our children then grow up and decifer what it trully means to be Filipino and then therefore create a Filipino style in dance, song, and comics art?" (Okay. Assuming Rizal and a "lack of a national identity" is the reason why many young artists prefer to emulate American and Japanese comics styles, with all due respect, I think we're venturing on an arbitrary and unsupported premise here. I mean, there's no evidence (emprical or otherwise) showing that public or private schools in the Philippines ACTUALLY teach the kind of cynical view of Rizal you are postulating. If you continue to build on this arbitrary and unsupported assumption, we'll be putting conjecture upon conjecture with no end in sight; going in different directions to suit one's whims. --- Aklas.)

"Ergo when our kids reach the age when they question who the are there is nothing to say to them this is Filipino and this is why you should be proud to be Filipino. Nothing, so they latch on to Japanese manga and American comics." (See? Conjecture upon conjecture founded on a bare, unsubstantiated assumption: that Rizal only became Filipino before he died; an "assumed" cynical thought presumably taught to young comics artists of today. So ultimately, you are saying/proposing that if these kids were properly taught who Rizal was and what he stood for, they would be more patriotic than Captain America and wouldn't be lining up for comics jobs with David Campiti in the first place, plus, our comics industry would be revived...automatically? Wow. So to have an original "Filipino comics art style" or "revive the comics industry", we must immerse ourselves in an intensive Rizal course? --- Aklas)

"I've had arguments with both sides and they can't tell you want is a Filipino style. That is lack of a national identy talking not the lazy desire to do something else." (We're far off now. Please see my immediately preceding comments. ---Aklas.)

"Now those Golden era of Komix artist didn't make that industry what it was back then, meaning they weren't business grads and built the industry...no, far from it they were artist with loads of talent (yes, for arts sake) and they fell into an industry waiting for them." (Please continue. --Aklas)

"Unfortunately the business as it profited didn't keep up with their artist's needs. Which is pandering yes but when your business is based upon finding the best talent for the best product you must resign yourself to a little pandering." (Agree. --- Aklas)

"Same thing with Jim Lee and Bob Harras and I building the X-office to it hieghts. We were creative people Jim and I and we had an industry waiting for someone to do what we did. We didn't force it to happen, we didn't plan it to happen, we had no say business wise, it happened because unknowing to all of us players at the time...it was bound to happen when the right ingredients got together." (Agree. -- Aklas)

"Close scrunity of any business will show you a creative side and a business side. Creative to figure out a new business, service, or product and a business side to figure how the money will work and enable the creative side to do its thing." (Agee. -- Aklas)

"So I take umbrage in our simple analysis that Gerry and his "brood" are part of the problem." (Beg your pardon but I don't recall specifically ascribing to "Gerry and his brood" in any of the blog entries here as being "part of the problem." Secondly, I don't think this kind of conclusion validly connects to the premises you were establishing earlier. Its disjointed reasoning. Unlike the previous examples you gave of the Filipino Golden Age and your experiences with the X-offices at Marvel, "Gerry and his brood" today have no Filipino comics industry waiting for them. That is, a comics industry that could utilize their talents.

Conversely, you also have to ask: ARE the comics produced by them today the kind of comics that would support the rise in the first place, of a local FILIPINO comics industry? Do their works inspire a lot of business-minded people to go into local Filipino comics publishing and develop it into a thriving mass market industry as before?

In answer, we refer to your interview in the 2006 Newsarama article entitled: "Celebrating 120 Years of Komiks from the Philippines, Part One: The History of Komiks by Benjamin Ong Pang Kaen" at http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=88232) where, commenting on the present local comics scene of which "Gerry and his brood" are undeniably are part of, you viewed it as "A PERSONAL MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT" and I quote:

"What I see happening in the Philippines in terms of effort to revive komiks and the trending towards American Comics or Manga to me is a personal major disappointment. xxx "

Thereafter, you mention the so-called "in-fighting" between three groups, the Revivalist (I didn't even know there was one until you mentioned this. Who's behind this, anyway? What comics have they come out with?), the Manga influenced, and finally, the American influenced, of which "Gerry and his brood" are a part of. To this latter group, you opine as follows:

"They like many Filipinos in our society now, are practical and have successfully marketed their god-given talents to where they best serve their families. No one wants to starve. But they, like the Japanese Manga market, know very little of what it is to be Filipino and therefore have little desire to write and draw Filipino centric stories. This of late has started to change with the advent of totally Filipino characters like Trese, Wasted, and Zsa Zsa Zaturnah using the American comics model. Still, in general, there is a lack of local identity in this market."

In light of the above, others out there may seriously take umbrage to the simple analysis that "Gerry and his brood" are NOT a part of the problem.

If they are NOT a part of the problem, then is there any reason to think that they ARE a part of the solution? If so, what exactly is the solution anyway? More Rizal? More of their kind of comics? More "love" for art's sake?

If the objective is to produce affordable, better, indigenous, non-generic, intelligent, and ORIGINAL Filipino comics that can be appreciated mainly by a majority of economically disadvantaged Filipinos IN THIS COUNTRY, then it's going to be tough especially when you get comments like this from a delighted American comics journalist:

"Elmer is the kind of comic that North Americans used to see a lot of in the early 1980s: a story about life using a fantasy element -- in this case sentient chickens -- and executed with every bit of craft Alanguilan can muster. I'm not sure a story about a family of chickens is for everybody, which is one of the reasons I like it."

(Source: "www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/resources/

interviews/6314/", A Short Interview wth Gerry Alanguilan

by Tom Spurgeon, 2006.)


"In all of my experiences with Marvel and Image then and now with DC, you MUST seperate the creative from the business and you have to have both. Until those two forces get together for a shared dream nothing will happen." (I agree. Unfortunately in the present local comics scenario, there is no "business" culture to speak of relative to comics publishing. Rather, there is more of the "art" or "creative" culture aka the superficial "comics as artform" movement. So, lacking the other "commercial" or "business" element, I think its useless to insist on a union between the two. --- Aklas)

"As usual I am over-long in my statements...but be it clear I admire your research and your personal drive at attacking this problem for whatever personal reasons you may have. I just implore you, after reading almost fifty percent of your in-depth posts, and after spending the years I've spent with Gerry personally I know you both have the same goals. There are few people like you and Gerry that are knowledgeable and driven and is a waste (and believe me I've seen many succesful people and ventures and many people and ventures that were failures) to have you on opposing sides." (I think that cautionary tale should be addressed more to the other party who reacts immediately on impulse and on statements on mere face value, Sir. I don't resort to crass name-calling on this blog. Maybe you should ask the other guy? --- Aklas)

"The local industry deserves to be revived...it can be revived and be made better but not with its few minds battling wits together." (No comment. ---Aklas)

"You ask how can the industry be revived? Only until all the players business and creative decide they are in the same boat together and then dig in to build it brick by brick...I only wish I live long enough to be part of it...'Nuff said...Whilce..." (Now THAT is a deduction that is too simple and too apples and oranges even for me. :) Just kidding, Sir. --- Aklas)

Thereafter, Whilce left his e-mail address or "addy" as he would like to call it inviting moi to e-mail him sometime. You'll understand why this blogger deleted that last portion of his reply from you, his adoring public. Other than that, the above is a full and faithful reproduction of Whilce's missive.


Post a Comment

<< Home