The Bridge, and the Update
I'd like to think that every lover of comics has something to say about the current status of the medium, and I also think that at this time everyone has a point. No one is entirely right and no one is entirely wrong, though some people's opinions may have more bearing given their experience. And this experience doesn't necessarily have anything to do with comics--any related industry can provide its own unique insight.
In one of my conversations with Gwyn, we talked about the differing fashion sense of Filipinos across socio-economic strata. Gwyn observed that Filipinos from the D and E markets dress differently than those belonging to the B and C levels, and much more compared to the A market. And different doesn't mean "baduy." It's a manner of dress that's of a different aesthetic. You'll see this difference when you compare the selections of Top Shop with those of
Penshoppe, and those of Surplus Shop. As Joel Lamangan had told me in one of our meetings last year, it's a matter of taste.
So issuing opinions about what the comics industry needs is hinged on market specifics. Which market are we referring to? I don't know if Carlo Caparas' P10 comics will click, because I don't know fully the language of that market, nor can I claim knowledge of how that market thinks or operates. I hope the P10 comics clicks, in effect taking care of one sector of society.
But there's the B and upper C markets as well, a large group with relatively more disposable income, that remains untapped for the most part. Since I've dealt with people from this group more often, I'd like to think that I share the same way of thinking, which can explain why the Zaturnnah book came out the way it did. I've been told that the book wasn't "pang-masa," even though it's in Filipino, and I don't doubt that feedback one bit.
To find out what the B and C markets want out of their narrative entertainment, all we have to do is look around, or ask. When I spoke with some high school students from the Ateneo, the words "comedy" and "romance" were stressed. Not action. Not drama. Not fantasy. They may not represent the entire Ateneo high school population, but it's a place to start.
Of course, here comes the art vs. commerce question. While some would scoff at the idea of creating something that's meant to sell, I've always believed that a creator can produce a book that has sales potential without sacrificing artistic integrity, or the creative voice. To a creator, having a positive attitude towards this can transform the ick-factor into an awarding creative challenge.
I think I've mentioned in a previous post that several book publishers are already open to publishing graphic novels, but I wonder sometimes if our comics creators have a kind of aversion to letting a publisher handle their work. Having done the self-publishing thing, I can safely say that going for a book publisher is a worthy avenue to take, since they distribute primarily for the B and C markets, as long as you've got your asses covered. There's still some stress involved, sure, but seeing your book on the shelves of a major bookstore is highly rewarding.
But it all boils down to the work, the story, the product, and the overall quality thereof. My above rambling is pretty useless when there's nothing to sell. Which reminds me...
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I say this to seal my fate and, because I've invested a lot of time into this, I might as well give an update.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I've found a point to the next Zaturnnah book. So I've spent the past few weeks doing further development. Finally, finally, I have a full plot for the second book, and I'm now in the process of writing the individual scenes. I call on the Universal Intelligence to aid me in this endeavor.
Now at the risk of thinking way ahead of myself, I've been contemplating releasing it on the Web, for free, in weekly installments. So it's going to be available to anyone, wherever. Again, I'm still contemplating on it, since the pull of freshly printed pages off the press is still tempting...