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

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? 


Blogger macoy said...

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.

10:12 AM


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