Friday, December 3, 2010

On Self-Publishing: Elmer Damaso

The following is the fifth in a series of email interviews with some recently acquired contacts in the komiks community. If you'd like to share your own story, or just be a contact, please email me at

Today's article comes from Elmer Damaso, one of the original creators of Culture Crash:

I am Elmer Damaso. I studied BFA Visual Communication at the University of The Philippines, Diliman. Comics was a self-taught project for me. It was never taught in College and I never studied in any special art school or comic book making courses.

Below are some of the titles/comics I drew locally and abroad:
-Cat's Trail (under Culture Crash Comics, Philippines)
-One Day Isang Diwa (under Culture Crash Comics, Philippines)
-Unearthly (under Seven Seas Entertainment, USA)
-Ravenskull (under Seven Seas Entertainment, USA)
-Speed Racer (under Seven Seas Entertainment, USA)
-Ninja Diaries (under Seven Seas Entertainment and Metromix LA, USA)
-10 Beautiful Assassins (under Seven Seas Entertainment, USA)
-various K-LEB comics (serialized under K-Zone Philippines)

I also do other graphic services for other companies outside of comic books.

1 What made you decide to publish your own komiks?

I decided to publish my own comics because I wanted to give the original readers of Culture Crash a proper Cat's Trail ending. I think they deserve one. Initially, I just wanted to make it an online comics instead of printing it. It was my wife's idea to have it printed. She didn't want to settle for photocopy or risograph. She said if we wanted to give Cat's Trail another try, we should do it properly. I'm glad we did it her way.

2 What did you need to do to get into komiks?

Originally, I was lucky enough to be in the company of friends with common interests as me. I was lucky to have met Mr. James Palabay (the head honcho of Culture Crash) who not only had the financial capabilities to start a comic book company, but also had the connections and the necessary experience to start it. I was lucky that Culture Crash made waves in the local comic book industry and was actually successful in promoting the comic book business and its artists. Therefore, when my wife and I decided to re-launch Cat's Trail and self-publish it, there was already a fan/reader base to begin with.

With regards to distribution, our resources are a bit limited to direct selling it via conventions, selling it via email requests or via Comic Odyssey Galleria. Since we live in Rizal (very far from the big city), it is a bit inconvenient for us to personally deliver it to more outlets. That is the only limitation.

3 What are the main hurdles to overcome in self-publishing, and how should new komiks makers get over these hurdles?

The main hurdles in self-publishing (in my experience) are:

1.) Finances - You really have to be ready to shell out a big amount if you want to go the printed route. The photocopy or risograph method is relatively cheaper but you still have to commit a good amount of money. Be prepared to go broke. Don't expect a new title to be an instant success. It doesn't work that way all the time. Before self-publishing your work, be prepared to finance a good 4-6 issues first (If it's a short mini-series, it's best to be prepared to finance all issues). Don't rely on your first issue to pay for your next.

2.) Promotion - Being an individual (or a small group of friends) without corporate backing will be tough. You can't always rely on your friends to buy your stuff and stop there. You have to get more attention somehow. Word of mouth is good but has its limitations. Thank God for the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook, Friendster, Twitter, etc. These are a faster way to get your message across with little to no cost at all. Of course, if you have friends in high places, that always works wonders. Being visible during conventions also helps a lot.

3.) Commitment - In my case, Cat's Trail is more of a hobby and not exactly set to get food at our table and pay for our monthly expenses. So my common problem is prioritizing work. I have to work on my main projects before Cat's Trail. Sometimes I get too tired to work on it at all. You have to be committed to work on your comics. You can't always say, "I'll draw it tomorrow". Not when you've got readers waiting for the next issue. It's best to have a proper schedule set everyday or every month.

You can check out Elmer Damaso's deviantART here and his personal blog here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On Self-Publishing: Omi Remalante, Jr.

The following is the fourth in a series of email interviews with some recently acquired contacts in the komiks community. If you'd like to share your own story, or just be a contact, please email me at

Today's article comes from Omi Remalante, Jr:

My name is Omi Remalante Jr., I work as a senior artist for a computer components company in Ortigas, Pasig. I am  also a freelance digital colorist, illustrator and inker for various indie companies in the U.S. In the deviant art world, I am known as spidey0318. Aside from doing comic book sequential pages, I also do pin-up commissions for the online game City of Heroes.

1 What made you decide to publish your own komiks?

I created a character named Talim on September 2008 because a few online friends told me to create a super hero and that they were invited to join a "ala" Pinoy Justice League, in a group headed by Gilbert Monsanto. Back then, Gilbert was creating Bayan Knights. Bayan Knights as we all know is a known comic book nowadays and fans often ask: "who are these bunch of super heroes?" "where did they come from?" and some of my friends asked me : "you can draw and you can color. why not make your own comic book?".

One challenge was when I read comments of the 2008 Komikon, I stumbled upon a non-indie comic book believer. He said : "Why should I buy a crappy indie comic book? yeah it costs less but the art and story you get are all trash. Halatang minadali, walang pinatutunguhan ang kwento. Puro lang sapakan.".

These questions challenged me and this year, I decided to create my own comic book. Together with close friend R.H. Quilantang, we formed a plot. R.H. developed a kick-ass script and of course I provided the visuals to prove to non-believers that indie comic books can be cooler than your regular Marvel and D.C. comic books. I also decided that self publishing will give me freedom to produce any quantity I want, without the pressure na malulugi ang komiks mo. I also decided to go black and white because Talim's story is kinda dark, just like Sin City, Hellblazer, etc. I myself am a big crime/noir fan.

Also, I had to choose the best printing press as possible to get solid results even if the Talim pages were only photocopied. As of the moment, I haven't decided if I will sell it on comic book shops around Metro Manila. I can't find time to do that but maybe, with the help of friends, you'll see Talim on the bookshelves next year. But as of the moment, Talim will be sold exclusively during the Komikon.

2 What did you need to do to get into komiks?

I've been a comic book fanatic since I was 5 years old. My first book was the Amazing Spider-Man. As a child, I dreamt of creating my own comic book so I practiced a lot. I studied anatomy a lot, perspectives, objects, etc. until I had my own drawing style. After my stint as a digital colorist for an indie U.S. comic book group, I had the funds to create my own comic book. I never attempted to show my work to any local company because I think I am not a well-known artist here. Besides, people think that comic books are dead. I just wanted to prove them wrong and do it my own way. I have funds, I have the skills and I have a cool character so publishing was the easy part.

3 What are the main hurdles to overcome in self-publishing, and how should new komiks makers get over these hurdles?

Printing was really easy because Jon Zamar, Gio Paredes and Ner PedriƱa told me where to have my comic book printed. The hard part was how to sell it because hey, I'm not known locally, and Talim is just a supporting character in Bayan Knights. Attending comic book conventions helped me to gain new friends, new fans and new contacts.

Facebook was a big help too. During the 2010 MCC, I asked JC Villaverde (who, back then, made a Facebook page of Kalayaan) to create a fan page for Talim and told him to help me advertise my not-so-known character. I also asked my Bayan Knights friends for help and created awesome "Asan ka na?" teaser ads that created a buzz on Bayan Knights fans on Facebook and deviantART. It circulated for months and created hype. Updating my Talim fan page almost three times a day was also a good idea and tagging a bunch of friends created more awareness about my character.

November 2010. Komikon came and the big question was : "How can I sell all these books?" Thankfully, a cool woman bought one and I said to myself: "Salamat sa Diyos. one down, 99 to go!" . After that sale, I had the longest 1 1/2 hrs of my life. Walang bumibili ng Talim #1!. My table mate, Lanie told me to hang on. The first 2 hours of Komikon is always slow. After uttering those words, 5 people bought Talim and so forth and so on. Sobra na akong napagod kapipirma, ka sisigaw at kangingiti sa camera. I was also interviewed by the cool people of Astig TV (thanks!). To make a long story short, the first issue of Talim was a HUGE SUCCESS!

Advice to newbie komik book creators: If you think you're ready to show the world your drawing writing skills then go for it. Maintain a bunch of helpful friends who can help you in a lot of ways both in advertising and keeping your hopes up all the time and of course this : Facebook is your friend too. Lastly, if you wanna publish your own book, save up to P4,000 to produce you own title. There are bunch of printing press in UP Diliman and I chose YZA Printing. They know comic books I tell ya!

Hope this inspires you and help you create your own title. Whilce Portacio told me once when I asked for his autograph: " Dreams, keep them alive." I am now living my dreams and you know, IT'S SOOOO DAMN GOOD!

You can check out Omi Remalante's deviantART here. I feel I have to warn you some of his work seems NSFW.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On Self-Publishing: Tepai Pascual and Maika Ezawa

The following is the third in a series of email interviews with some recently acquired contacts in the komiks community. If you'd like to share your own story, or just be a contact, please email me at

Today's article comes from the tag team of Tepai Pascual and Maika Ezawa. We start with a list of their work:

MEGANON Comics [April 2009]
Founded by Tepai Pascual, Maika Ezawa and Dragfly. We debuted this at the Summer KOMIKON 2009 but we were still with the UP LUNAROCK (Tepai's Fine Arts Org). We released our first title, MARK 9verse47 with chapters 1 and 2 then followed by MAKTAN 1521 on SUMMER KOMIKON 2010. MAKTAN 1521 is now on SULYAP, the first KOMIKOM inc., publication that just came out last KOMIKON 2010, November 13.

MARK 9verse47. Written by Maika Ezawa and Art by Tepai Pascual. Edited by DRAGFLY.

MAKTAN 1521. Story and Art by Tepai Pascual.

1 What made you decide to publish your own komiks?

We publish our own komiks because it's hard to get a publisher who is willing to print and publish our work. Furthermore, we like the experience of selling our komiks and see the people read your komiks and see how they react to our works. The interaction with the readers is priceless for us. "Masarap magbenta" kumbaga. :)

2 What did you need to do to get into komiks?

Tepai & Maika have both been making komiks since high school. Tepai had a formal art training in UP College of Fine Arts so she's at her best but still learning a lot until now. Maika didn't have formal training in writing [she took up engineering] but she is a good storyteller and has a wild imagination, so she can write anything. The duo works together to form a better flow of story for their piece and gives it to their editor "Dragfly" to check if it's good or if there's something that needs to be revised (especially the grammar LOL)

February 14, yeah, it was valentine's day. Tepai got the chicken pox and had to stay home for 2-3 weeks. She was bored and sometimes when artists are bored, something just "clicks". Tepai began to dig up some stories and thought of Maika's draft of MARK 9verse47. She thought of making some sketches and then BOOM, she made the first page of the komiks and it went on and on. But Tepai wasn't really thinking about producing it then. She just wanted to kill time but apparently, she was invited by the METRO COMIC CON 2010 Indie go Valley that same year and the first Summer KOMIKON came to the scene. She just had to grab the opportunity to submit the requirements and named us  "MEGANONComics". She's also the one who's sponsoring the reproduction of our komiks. She first took it from her monthly salary then able to reproduce more komiks with what we've earned from the sales. Maliit ang kita, pero masaya parin kami kasi nababasa na ng mas maraming tao ang gawa namin kumpara dati na mga kaibigan at kamag-anak lang.

We sell our komiks during conventions and we distribute it outside the convention by consignment. We look for shops like Comic Quest, Comic Odyssey, Sputnik, Wakuwaku, CSCentrl. Since our MARK 9verse47 is manga-ish, we consigned in Wakuwaku and CSCentrl. It's not the usual comics shop but our target audience is going there. Maktan 1521 is now at Comic Quest so that's good for us too.

We let the whole world know through the cheapest advertising vector ever--- internet. Since Tepai works in an advertising agency, she knew which strings to pull to get people's attention. Minsan, para syang advertisement sa boxing match ni Pacquiao. Yung tipong every after ng isang round, may ads. MAKULIT at PAULIT-ULIT. But good for us, people remember us. Same reaction about our group name. MEGANON Comics was just an impulse name. Tepai heard her officemate said "meganon?!" then BOOM. We're now MEGANON Comics. And she just keeps using it everytime and everywhere like, "MEGANON sa KOMIKON" "MEGANON sa MCC" "MEGANON sa kung ano man." LOL

3 What are the main hurdles to overcome in self-publishing, and how should new komiks makers get over these hurdles?

A common hurdle for indie komiks makers; having good story but no editor; a good story but no good artist; a good art but the story isn't that good; and budget. We may have a good story and a good artist but if the budget isn't good, it's hard to keep komiks going around. Although, the answer to that is making a web comics. It's free and more people gets to read it. We can do that but like what we said earlier, we want the interaction with the readers. That's one of the priceless moments when selling your work.

Another hurdle: TROLLS. Yup, that's right. Trolls. Some people think that what we're doing isn't good or just a waste of time, money and energy. These people usually like to see us go down miserably because either no one wants to buy our comics or no one likes our works. These trolls tend to take you down by spreading bad news about you or your works. Crabs or self-proclaimed critics if I may say.

The best thing to do about this is just keep on doing your thing. These people may have some points to consider and may they may give you hints that may be used to do better in your works. LISTEN to all the things you here. Some may be harsh and cruel but some are also encouraging and enlightening. It's just a matter of breaking them down and see which of these should you consider.

Check out MEGANON Comics DeviantART page here and Tepai's personal DeviantART page here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Self-Publishing: Emmanuel Casallos

The following is the second in a series of email interviews with some recently acquired contacts in the komiks community. If you'd like to share your own story, or just be a contact, please email me at

Today's article comes from Emmanuel Casallos of Glasshouse Graphics.

I am Emmanuel Casallos. I just did Sulat-kamay for the latest Komikon. I draw comics for the international market. Currently I'm doing "Dream Police" with Jeff Seeman and a little card project from Marvel Comics on the side.

1 What made you decide to publish your own komiks?

I decided to publish my own komiks because there are no restrictions. I can publish my own stories and no one will edit it out but me. We are the master of "our universe" in the case of self-publishing. We can exercise full freedom of expression, so to speak.

2 What did you need to do to get into komiks?

I needed a know-how on drawing and writing of course. guts and courage as well. To get the word out on our komiks, we just advertised on various social networks, used word of mouth and got a little help from our friends.

3 What are the main hurdles to overcome in self-publishing, and how should new komiks makers get over these hurdles?

I don't really know of any hurdles in self-publishing... funds maybe. Yes.. Money... YES! Maybe if there are publishing houses willing to publish or would risk publishing us, that would be awesome!

Regarding the budgeting for self-publishing, it depends on how many pages and the quality of paper to be used. Xerox copies are much cheaper of course.

You can check out Emmanuel's profile in Glasshouse Graphics here and his deviantART here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

On Self Publishing: Joanah Tinio-Calingo

The following is the first in a series of email interviews with some recently acquired contacts in the komiks community. If you'd like to share your own story, or just be a contact, please email me at

And the first article comes from frequent commenter on the blog Joanah Tinio-Calingo!

       I’m Joanah Tinio-Calingo.  I’m a freelance Illustrator, art workshop facilitator, and housewife.  I’m also a member of the Point Zero indie comic group, and have been doing my comic, Cresci Prophecies (a hard-bound photocopied book), for 11 years now.  I’ve also worked on other personal comic projects namely D-koi Junkie (comic strips that came out in Manila Times), Empress 9, Curtains For Hire and I’m currently co-writing KANTO Inc.

      My college friends and I decided to make our indie anthology, after being inspired by the black and white charm of manga.  We thought it was doable.

      We planned to distribute our comic within the college.  And since we don’t have a big budget, we opted for photocopy prints.  We only planned small scale, so a few copies would be just right for us.  But that plan didn’t push through since we were all busy back then.

     I met my current group (Point Zero) a few years later (also in UPCFA).  They were already into photocopying their own comics, and they also sell their stuff during FA week.  I thought, it was about time I tried sharing the story I’ve been working on for years.  So I did, even if I only sold one the first time I released it. ^_^;

     I continued making my second issue after that, and I began giving it away to close friends.

     After that, I met a group of anime shop owners in Katipunan who were willing to distribute my comics.  Soon after, people were looking for it.  So I continued delivering my comics there.  Another comic shop, also in Katipunan, offered to distribute indies, so I took the chance.  The location of the two shops were very close to Ateneo and Miriam College, so I was lucky the two shops were there.

      The big opportunity came when Culture Crash decided to have indie booths in their event.  I grabbed the chance and tried selling my comics to a wider audience.   From there on,  I continued distributing my comics whenever and wherever possible.

    I think what you need to get into comic making, whether you’re just doing it on the side or doing it as a profession, is Patience.  Making comics is taxing even if you’re just doing it as a hobby.  It’s easy to get lazy if you’re not committed to your project or have no intention to finish it.  It’s labor intensive.  If you don’t have the time, have the patience and you’ll eventually finish it whenever you get the chance to sit on it.

       For me, you don’t need to be as good as Jim Lee or Clamp to actually decide to come out with your own comic.  Even if you can only draw stick figures,  as long as you know how to tell a story, you can make a comic. 

       I picked up storytelling techniques by reading books, observing how some of my favorite movies worked by analyzing why I liked it.  And why the visuals worked with the story.   I read novels, and I have a lot of graphic novels in my collection.  I also watch indie films, specially animated shorts.  I also have art books of some animated films, and I read about how they came up with the concepts and the final look of the films they worked on.

     If you’re worried about your drawing skill, you can get all the practice you want once you start making you own comic, even just by doing drafts.  Making the characters consistent in every page would force you to draw over and over.  I sucked at drawing when I made my first chapters, but I got my discipline and practice after doing an animated short (in college), and while doing my comic.  I experimented with halftones, and since I’m quite adept with pencils and other traditional dry media, I tried using it for my comic.  Testing out the limits of the photocopy machine helped me a lot in finding the right technique for my comic.

    Of course what you learn from others and what you pick up from art school would really help you grow.  But mind you, drawing with live models and thinking up poses to match your story without one requires a different kind of discipline.  I’m still learning from a lot of artists about new ways and new techniques to make drawing a little bit faster.

    Like any other person, I have mood swings, and I also experience burnouts.  I figured how to get around it by doing other things that would, in the end, still contribute to finishing my comic project. Like watching TV, listening to music, reading novels and other comic books, and writing.  It helps me jumpstart.

    When I work on a comic project, I usually start with a script.  It’s divided into 3 parts; setting, scene, and then the dialogues.  I do the comic breakdowns when working on the comic drafts.

     I do my rough drafts and layouts in drawing books (the type you can buy in book stores).  Normally I would work on 2 chapters worth of drafts before making the actual comic.

     I use pre-cut vellum, and draw my comic close to the actual size.  Drawing in actual size is part of coping with my mood swings.  But I practice doing detail work on small spaces by drawing detailed mini-sketches.

     After doing all the pencils, I scan all my pages for archiving, and for text fitting.  I crawl my way to finishing my inks, by working on at least 3 spreads simultaneously.  Doing that gives me the feeling that I’m getting closer to finishing.

   After the inks, I stick the text and SFX on the original art with tape (the text is printed out, done in Photoshop).  Then I have it flattened via the photocopy machine.   I had a bad experience scanning my lineart so I have it photocopied instead to preserve its sharpness.  After copying, I shade in the shadows using a special type of crayon, and colored pencils.  I photocopy that again, and let the machine interpret my grays for me.

   I cut up the pages to prepare the Sigs (signatures, 4 pages back to back).  Then I make a dummy comic book to arrange the comic pages in sig form and tape the actual pages in 2s.  After the preps, I bring it to the photocopy shop to have the Master copies done.

  When making the book (compilation) I divide the individual chapters of the books into mini-books or sets.  After combining the sets, I have it stitch bound (hardbound) in the shop.  I wrap the books after fitting the covers to each book.  Binding jobs could be unpredictable and inconsistent so it’s unavoidable for me.  It’s a very tedious process.

  I sell my books in Comic Odyssey.  Other than that, I only sell my comic during events, and via pick-up orders.  I do my promotions and get orders online,  mostly via Deviantart and Facebook.  Sometimes, I get new readers via other readers who borrowed their copies from them.

     Sometimes I make comic merchandise in forms of key chains and whatever I could think of.

  One of the things newbies have to overcome is Shyness.  You’re gonna have to get out of your cave and sell your story.  I know some artists who think they’re not good enough, but aren’t practicing.  So how are you going to get good at it if you don’t test the waters right?  It’s better to find out what you’re doing wrong after you try it.  Believe me, when people get to read your stuff and like it, you’ll be really excited to work on the next, and all the effort will be worth it. And before you know it, you’ve made enough issues to release your first volume!

   If you’re awfully shy to go solo, you could join a group.  You can learn a lot from your group, and you can help each other promote your comics.

 Another one is BUDGET.  You need to dish out funds.  But you don’t really need thousands to come up with one issue.  All you need is a few hundred bucks to invest in materials, master copy production, and the copies to sell.   The earnings you will get from the sales will be the funds for the next release.  On the safe side, you should have a day job or some other source of income to fund your comic.

  Build your resources and find good suppliers, canvass for the best service at the most affordable price. I got rejected by photocopy shops by having comics that are too dark, and Kanto Inc. was also rejected to be printed in RISO for the same reason.   It’s good to find shops that would be more considerate.

  Distribution is a big problem, even for those who want to go into mainstream.  But if you have connections, even your neighboring coffee shop or sari-sari store, take the risk to ask them if they can distribute your work for you.  And sniff around for comic shops who are willing to sell indies and never hesitate to participate in conventions.

You can check out Joanah Tinio-Calingo's DeviantART here

NB! Joanah just edited the article to make a few points clearer. Thanks Joanah!