Friday, January 14, 2011

Komiks industry vs. community: a question of semantics

I think semantics is important. You might have only heard of semantics when having arguments with overly intellectual friends, ie; they'll use that worn out phrase; "we're only arguing semantics." Unfortunately, using this word exclusively in this context really devalues what it is.

Under linguistics, semantics refers to the way language conveys meaning. Irregardless if you subscribe to Barthes', Chomsky's or ideas on semantics, the important thing is to understand the importance of using particular words when describing a certain person or thing.

So I want to urge everyone in komiks, whether retired, active or merely aspiring, to stop referring to the existing collective of active komiks makers as an industry and to use different words instead. The alternative I use is komiks community.

The word industry comes loaded with certain expectations that komiks makers may not necessarily meet, and may not necessarily be beneficial to them. You take a simple definition, like production of a commercial or economic good, and realize that it assumes the makers of the given good produce a steady output of said product for commercial consumption.

So I ask you, how many of you guys have been making, publishing and distributing your komiks on a monthly basis? Are you making enough money, not just to sustain production of future issues, not just to sustain a livelihood, but to safely say that you are making a substantial profit, enough to make a substantial dent in your local economy? And I don't just mean in a span of a few months, but consistently publishing and profiting from since you started until right now?

And of course, this can hurt the active komiks makers when outsiders come in and say; 'But you guys don't publish consistently!' or 'You don't make as much money here as you do for Marvel' or 'You guys are just amateurs.' Some of these unfair comments and perceptions come from unrealistic expectations, which stem from that one word.

Now, I like using the word community because it is associated with two ideas; one, that of people sharing a common interest, but also the idea that these people live in a particular area. The first idea describes the active komiks makers perfectly. However, I've been hypothesizing that the second idea has been starting to become true as well; that komiks are becoming local and komiks makers probably live near their target audience. Whether this hypothesis will be proven true remains to be seen, but in any case, this is certainly a more accurate description of the komiks makers now.

So, as of this moment, komiks is not being made by an economically driven industry. It's being made by a dedicated and closely knit community.

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