Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Komiks makers are now entrepeneurs

Just a short post today, I have a headache and no energy to continue the komiks crowdsourcing topic right now.

There is a lot of disagreement with the state of komiks today. If this has not yet been made fully clear, the komiks industry as we once knew it, ran and dominated by Roces publications, is no more. The last holdout, Atlas Publishing, was bought by National Book Store in 1996, and was essentially subsidized until it ceased publication in 2006. (1) Carlo J. Caparas did spearhead an komiks revival called Carlo J. Caparas Komiks, with the company Sterling Publishing in 2007. This was also allegedly goverment funded, but it folded after publishing nine issues. (2)

Under the old industry, komiks makers had a market to cater to. Much like the American, Japanese, French-Belgian and Chinese comics markets, komiks shaped up to reflect the culture that originated it, and were made to cater to Pinoy's particular tastes.

As an example, Pinoy komiks had a particular format. Pinoys liked their stories serialized, and frequently updated (an issue every two weeks). They liked reading several stories rather than taking them one at a time, and the cliffhanger became a necessary staple.

These and other mores became an informal set of rules that all komiks makers were expected to follow. Not because their freedom to express was being stifled, but because this is what everybody making and reading komiks is used to. There was no question as to whether you could break these rules or not, it was just the way things were.

This ready made market no longer exists. Now, everybody who wants to make komiks needs to figure out where to find funding, who to hire to produce (writer, graphic artist, editor), how it will be produced, etc. Some komiks makers get a contract with a publishing company, some komiks makers self publish, and some setup their own companies, but there are no large companies dedicated to publishing komiks.

The good news is today, the old rules no longer apply. Pinoy komiks makers now are free to use whatever format they wish. Komiks nowadays follow formats of 30 page U.S. comics, the popularized Pugad baboy reprints format, manga format, the maxiseries/graphic novel format, ashcans. Some komiks are famously serialized in local magazines. Some projects attempt to simulate the anthologization of the older komiks format.

The bad news (which is still good news, depending on the context) is that there is no ready made komiks market. Instead, each individual komiks project is marketed to a particular niche; komiks traditionalists, U.S. comics fans, manga and anime fans, hipster indies, syndicated cartoon fans, etc.

In the sense that each komiks maker is out on their own in the business of making and distributing their own komiks, we can safely say that there is a new komiks industry. A komiks entrepeneur industry. The flip side to this is that the old market, were komiks makers can make a living as purely writers or artists, no longer exists.

So before anybody dips their feet into making their own komiks, even if they intend to work for other companies or want to make noncommercial work, they need to think as an entrepeneur. Who do you want to read your work? How will you get your work to them? How will you get the money to invest in your project? And if it is for-profit, how do you intend to make money off of it? All aspiring komiks makers need to think of all of this for each of their komiks projects.

Supplementary Reading: Kasaysayan ng Komiks sa Pilipinas (History Of Komiks in the Philippines) http://fil.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Kasaysayan_ng_Komiks_sa_Pilipinas

If you agree or disagree, please share your thoughts below.

Promo: Komikon is this Saturday! Starmall EDSA, Trade Hall PH P 80 Entrance fee. For more details, go to http://www.komikon.org/

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