Monday, November 15, 2010

Komikon: A few notes and observations

Unfortunately, I came unprepared for Komikon, but I have to say, I was even less prepared for it than I thought! Even after going through the official site, I found myself unprepared for the sheer number of indies, exhibitors  and attendees. I went around booths to network with as many people as I could, but it was simply not possible for me to meet everyone. Thanks to everyone who  talked with me and gave me stuff, and my apologies to those I was unable to meet. Hope your hand's OK, Manix.

I have a few short observations as somebody who hasn't been in the scene for a while:

1) Most of the indies were made in ashcan b&w format. This isn't intrinsically bad, but it certainly puts limit as to what you can do with your work.

2) Most of the creators are selling their own work, whether a newcomer or a veteran. This is no different from the arrangements in comics conventions worldwide, but it is not necessarily always true that the creators can sell their own work best.

3) Komiks makers may be overreliant on the conventions. It doesn't matter if it's Komikon, the Metro Comicon, or the various regional komiks conventions, the impression I get is komiks makers work their productions around getting into the convention. The komiks conventions are great as a guaranteed market for komiks, but they should not be the only market. We may end up with a situation where access to komiks becomes exclusive to the conventions, similar to how Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals projects have unwittingly closed up opportunities for people to see indie films.

I know it's hard to find komiks readers, and the not-so-subtle nuances of getting your work placed in bookstores were hammered into my head by Karl Komendador. Still, there's a need to take the risk of finding new markets to get  into for komiks to expand.

4) There needs to be someone reviewing these komiks. The level of quality found in these conventions is all over the place. You yourself may have bought work with objectionable art, story ,writing, etc. There is a conundrum here in that there are so many barriers for any komiks maker to  produce and publish their work, and for someone to be told that that thing they worked so hard on sucks eggs is potentially devastating. But of course, they need the feedback to grow as artists. Gerry Alanguilan has already written about this need before (I will link this article when I find the time, sorry boss!)

I also want to add that considerations also to be made in terms of genre, format, etc. Superhero komiks have to be judged by different standards than those making manga komiks, which is itself different from indie/counterculture style komiks, which is also different from anthologized panel strip cartoons. There are fans putting out short online reviews fr the komiks they bought now, but there is a greater need for professional opinion.

5) komiks makers have still not figured out the webcomics game, and we need to catch up. Not only are American and European comics makers into it, but so are the Hong Kong and Japanese markets. Now, they may not necessarily be entering the web in circumstances most favorable to them, but here is a market that does not know geographical boundaries. Some comics are now showing up as smartphone apps too! Not just Marvel, but translated manga via Viz Productions, and you can imagine other markets are not far behind.

For every Axe Cop, Penny Arcade and qwantz, there are a hundred webcomics projects that did not get off the ground. Finding success in webcomics means just as much work, if not more so, as selling komiks in print. Komiks makers will need a lot of tech savvy, if they can't find people who will handle the inbound marketing campaigns and online distribution models themselves

Now, for a short announcement; I will take a short reprieve from posting articles. I will be using the time to manage the recently accumulated pool of contacts. I'm actually still not done with my series about crowdsourcing komiks, and want to get a bunch of other articles about other unexplored opportunities in as well. My apologies I have no pics of Komikon, that's how much I wasn't ready for it. Goodbye for now!

EDITED: Just wanted to share that Gilbert Monsanto wrote this Facebook note:

Why most independent komiks in the Philippines only sell their stuff during local conventions?

Interesting to see the comments there as well.

And while we're at it, Gerry Alanguilan is collating all the articles, including pictures and coverage, about Komikon here. Go have a look! Peace out.


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