Thursday, January 19, 2006

[Blog Entry] One Track Mind

One Track Mind

Mainly in reference to anonymous blogger's blog in general. Not that casual readers should be bothered with it, since this is mostly deals with the comic industry (so you shouldn't really waste your time visiting it unless you're really interested, either at his views of the komik industry, or why it gets me so riled up).

Methodology-wise, it seems that the guy did his homework, stating sources left and right much like a term paper. Unfortunately, this is one reason why you shouldn't "academize" something. Just because you've read all the books doesn't mean you're an expert in something. Experience goes a long way. I mean I'm (relatively) well-read, but admittedly, that doesn't make me a great writer. And I'm sure there are people who have encyclopedic knowledge of biology, but that doesn't make them doctors either. And when I say experience, it doensn't necessarily mean creating comics yourself if you want to be knowledgeable in the comic industry (although it helps). It could mean associating with the comic creators themselves, actively monitoring the indie scene, talking to store owners, etc. And in the end, this is what anonymous blogger lacks.

Take, for example, his latest blog entry, How do you revive the Filipino Comics Industry? I don't even have to write an entire essay to counter some of his points or flaws. Somebody infinitely more experienced and wiser than me indirectly answered it in his blog: Gerry Alanguilan's How to get into comics today entry.

Back to being one-track minded, anonymous blogger sticks to his one single theory for success: big industry = mass market audience + quantity + cheap prices. It's a good formula really. But one that isn't universal. I mean look at mobile phones. They're not cheap, but somehow they manage to attract a big audience and sell a lot of units. Telecom rates follow that formula, which is why we have Pasaloads and other micropayment systems for cellphone credit. But look at other things, such as BMWs, coffee table books, lomo cameras, and other nonmainstream commodities. They're not mainstream, and don't always contain all (or any) of the elements in that formula, yet they succeed nonetheless. There are various formulas for success (although picking which is the right one FOR YOU is the difficult part).

As for luxury items, I think everyone needs luxury items. People just don't work, eat, and sleep. People need recreation, something to make them feel good. It could be something as simple as talking to a friend. Perhaps that's a reason why Fiipinos love to gossip. But luxury items also depend on who you are. I mean for the poverty-stricken, a bottle of pop cola might already be a luxury. For some richer, Hagendas ice cream. Heck, Filipinos, no matter what the income demographic, usually find ways of purchasing a cellphone and credit. The real problem isn't if people have the budget to spend for your luxury item (as long as it's within their means of course... I mean I don't think the DE class will start buying BMWs of Condos in Rockwell, for example, but they will manage to find the money to buy the lastest Nokia model) but persuading them to use their budget for your luxury item. You could be a food brand, a publication, a gaming company, whatever. I didn't learn that from any textbook, but from experience and my faculties of observation.

It's a sad state, because the guy has good intentions. He wants a healthier Pinoy comic industry. That's the same thing a lot of us want, especially the likes of Elbert Or, Dean Alfar, Gerry Alanguilan, and Budjette Tan. He wants a different approach to comics, one that isn't a rip off of America or Japan. The people I previously mentioned want that too. But the one thing they don't do is talk down on other people, making claims such as he's making. Anonymous blogger has blatant disrespect for a lot of the indie creators (which he's ignorant of) and simply blames comic creatores and the nation for the lack of a komik industry. Unlike him, the comic creators do put out comics, to make a change. And while the scene right now is nowhere as big as it was decades ago, I can be proud to say that we have people like Gerry Alanguilan and Arnold Arre and Dean Alfar. At the very least, they don't pretend to act knowledgeable and hide under a pseudonym; they publish, they create, and lay their name down on the line.

And you know what, I'm not an expert in comics (be it local or foreign). I don't profess to be one, especially in the local scene (if anything, I'd specialize more in manga). I just hang out and listen with people who are involved in the industry (it's nice to know that I learned something from them). Perhaps that's why I'm writing all of this (it's not like anonymous blogger is insulting fiction or SF or fantasy or whatever after all). Yet his lack of research is glaring. He insults PsiCom, blaming them for publishing only two locally-made comics? Apparently, he wasn't aware that they released Nikki Alfar's TXTMen back in 2003, and Cherry Blossom High a year or two ago, among other projects. And even in their foreign titles such as reprints of Justice League or Batman/Superman, one merely needs to browse through the pages that the comic doesn't contan just comics. There are articles about comics written there, and some of these writers are involved in the comic industry, such as Vin Simbulan and David Hontiveros. So even if a foreign title is selling, there's still cashflow among people in the local comic industry. And of course, there's the all-out disdain for comics not in print, such as web comics and the like.

For a guy who claims we should be more business-minded about comics and how we should do something to revive the industry, he's simply blathering. Again, check out Gerry's long entry on our local comic entrepreneurs. And as I said before, not everything is measured in profit. Some comic creators work with different formulas in mind, and that's not necessarily the wrong way of doing things.

And that, my friend, is my reply to your reply to charles. I've commented on your blog but they haven't been approved yet. And while your mission and vision is admirable, please, don't reduce people to statistics, don't make everything an academic exercise.


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