Monday, April 14, 2003

How Exciting!!

Taking a step outside and looking at what's happening in the local comics scene, it's all very exciting.

Culture Crash has proven that, with its manga-phile fan base, a comic book anthology series can sustain itself. Though I've heard that money is still hard to come by because of the absence of sponsors, the mere fact that they come this far is very commendable and enviable. They took the risk and they're reaping their rewards. Word is that some Japanese businessman has taken interest in the quality of their work.

Mango Comics has upped the ante by taking a bigger risk. Billboards along EDSA, a major launch in Eastwood for their Darna comic, plus a few more projects slated for release -- the passion behind this effort is astounding. Sure, while there has been some feelings of disappointment (mine included) over their debut Darna issue, I'd like to believe that Mango has a lot of surprises up its sleeve. I'm anticipating great things coming from this group.

Psi-Com Publishing has forayed into comics publishing, too. They've released TxtMen as well as comics based on Philippine Myth (Bernardo Carpio, Mariang Makiling, etc.), and have also reprinted Antarctic Press highly successful How To Draw Manga series.

Then there's, of course, the small independent comics publishers. 'Nuff said.

Comics appreciation courses are being introduced in the major universities. I'm curious to see how they're actually doing this in terms of the syllabus. These courses would obviously be electives, but the mere fact that they're there shows that the academe is beginning to recognize the medium as an artform worthy of study. Some of the Alamat books (mine included) have already been used by students for their book reports in Literature classes. (My cousin's ex got top points for his thesis on Arnold Arre's The Mythology Class). For the comics business, this is a good sign. A long-term benefit of this has to do with market expansion. When more people become aware of the artistic and entertainment merits of the medium, there's a bigger chance that more people would buy. Here begins an economic domino effect.

The Manila Critics Circle deserves special mention for including a comics category in their annual book awards. The dream scenario here would be to have more than two finalists in this category from creators who're not close friends. The mass media have also become more receptive in featuring comics-related articles -- I've seen more of these in the past couple of years compared to the entire 1990s.

If the players play their cards right, the Philippine comics scene is sure to reach new heights in the coming years.

It's really great to be part of something big.

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