The Sorry State of the Philippine Komiks Industry

November 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm (Opinion) (, , )

During the Komikon, the guys of Culture Crash got reunited and answered some questions for their fans. For a lot of us at the Komikon, that made our day. I love Culture Crash. I don’t care what anybody says. Sayang lang, the stories may never be finished. One of the questions raised was what their reaction was to a certain criticism. They were using the anime style, and were therefore branded as not Filipino.

James Palabay answered it well, but it got me thinking. Not about styles. But about how people liked to bring down other people who threatened or had the potential to be better than them. It was not only Alanguilan’s comment on Culture Crash’s art. My sister bought “Trese” during the Komikon. It’s a comic book from Visual Print Enterprise and Alamat that features a detective story with a Philippine Mythology twist. I loved it! But my friends, who were also aspiring comic artists, only said that the art was nothing great.

Let’s face it. Komiks is not a lucrative business in the Philippines. But this is, I think, because of a few problems in the people in the industry. If we adress these problems, I think the Komiks Industry has a chance. I could be wrong but this is what I think. And I say this not just to people out there, but to myself, as well.

1.) COLONNIAL MENTALITY – Let’s face it. Most of us, especially the upper class, think foreign is better. And we’ll argue, “Eh, it’s true. What we make locally are crappy.” I, myself, am guilty of this. Most of the local comics I see around I ignore. Why? Because deep inside, I feel like they’re all just Japanese wannabees. (But I shouldn’t talk. My style’s also anime) Who’s at fault here? The buyer who doesn’t want to buy, or the wannabee comic creator? BOTH!

Solution: Make better quality work, and give the local works a chance by becoming a fan of at least three local komiks.

For the comic creators, I personally find nothing wrong if one wants to write about something other than Filipino Myths. If a creator wants to make a comic that’s set in Japan, I have no problem with that. What I have a problem is, is the creator who makes comics about a place he hardly knows about. Just because one watches anime doesn’t make one an expert in Japan. They insert Japanese phrases in their comic book. But the usage isn’t correct! Yes, the creator knows the meaning. But does he know the formal and informal way of speaking and when to use them? Research! Kaoru Mori, the creator of the manga, Emma, wrote about England and about maids. She’s into the maid fettish thing in Japan? Probably, considering she has more than one comic book about maids. But she didn’t just write about the Japanese’s romantic idea of maids. She researched about the time period, the events of that period, the social structure of that period. And what she came up with, in my opinion, is a very well-researched and well-thought of book that has depth and can be appreciated by people other than just those with a maid fettish.

For the readers, it’s hard to break the thinking that local is poorly made, especially when it has been true before. But there are companies nowadays who are trying. And there is good content out there. They just have to be given a chance. We have to change our thinking that a local comic book is not worth my P50. We buy foreign comics that cost thousands of pesos, but we won’t buy our own? It sounds like we’re deliberately killing our industry! Besides, as my mom says, if someone took the time to write something, then we should take the time to read it. Time is a precious commodity, whether it’s an American, a Japanese, or a Filipino who uses it.

2.) CRAB MENTALITY – We like pulling people down, especially when they’re starting to go up (And we’ll never admit it openly that they’re going up). When my friends and I were talking after the Komikon, their reaction towards the other comic groups was like, “They’re not that good. They didn’t even sell much.”

Solution: If you’re not close with the creator, ignore the bad, praise the good. If you’re quite close, give suggestions to improve the bad (without saying, “You suck!” and adding, “Don’t get offended but,” in the beginning doesn’t make it ok) and don’t forget to praise the good (the ego of a creator is a beast. It has to be fed constantly). And if you’re the creator, learn to take criticisms graciously.

Friendly competition is good. As long as you keep it friendly. As some of you may know, my two friends and I put up a poll for our free online komiks (PLUG: Go to for FREE COMICS!). The story with the highest votes by the end of the year will come out first. And this is friendly competition. I get to see their work and compare them to mine. Then I can see that Martin has great details, and Jon has great anatomy. And I go, hmm, I should add more details to mine, and fix my anatomy so the quality of my comics would be better. They do the same, they look at the other two’s work and improve theirs. And we tell each other how we can improve our works, share techniques, and not get angry when there’s something that has to be fixed.

What we shouldn’t do is bash the other groups. We mustn’t curse them or wish they’d do bad. (And as a writer/creator, you of all people should know the power of words). Instead, we should help each other up, for the sake of the Industry.

3.) THE FEAR OF THOUGHT – As the creator of Talecraft, I see this a lot. Many people here are afraid of thinking. They either see themselves as dumb, or think that the majority of the population is dumb. They would say, “Oh, that’s just for smart people.” Like as if most of them are not smart! Yes, the literacy rate is quite low here. But I think it’s brought about by how people see people! They don’t put any priority on education because they see it as something they won’t be good at anyway.

Creators are also sometimes lazy to create more complex stories. They always also think that people in the Philippines are generally too dumb to understand it. But we watch Matrix, don’t we? And it’s philosophical, and we analyze and appreciate it, don’t we?

Solution: Research. And don’t be afraid to think! This will help us make world-quality stories. Don’t assume that people are dumb. Because if you say they are, then they will be.

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