ComicCon Asia: A New Platform for the Local Komiks Industry?

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ComicCon Asia recently held its media conference at the Heritage Hotel tonight. Apart from the bells and whistles that your standard fare comic convention has, the event got our attention with a couple of its main event features that focused on local talent.

Introduced first among these features was Project X: The Search for the New Pinoy Superhero, a passion project by Richard Estuesta, President of DV Tech Media Corp. In Project X, the aspiring creators are required to not only provide a visual design of the character, but to also develop the the character description and the overall plot of the superhero comic. The requirements are quite rigorous, but it does present their work to a wider demographic, not just by the Project X judges alone.

Boboy Yonzon II, ComicCon Asia’s Program Director, on the other hand, presented another way to be thrust into the mainstream of the komiks industry. ComicCon Asia will be hosting The Great Filipino Graphic Novel contest, where chosen talents will be required to submit a full-color, 36-page graphic novel with Filipino culture as the source material. Eight finalists have already been selected, and are currently working on their final outputs for judging at the main event on March 24-25, 2018.

This provides a new platform for relatively unknown or budding artists to showcase their original creations. It allows for that rare chance to publicize their creations, and pitch the idea to local or international publishers and other multimedia avenues. Suffice to say, ComicCon Asia is trying to take a more proactive approach to opening mainstream avenues and expanding the local komiks industry. Estuesta did justify that the country is indeed filled with creators, and all it needs is the right platform for them to create.

Self-publishing and indie publications are often sought as the most common way to market their work; while others go to great lengths to pitch their ideas to the industry veterans and multimedia outlets. We’re even blessed with numerous pop culture events that provide spaces for indie and aspiring artists to sell their work. With this new door opening at the horizon, perhaps it’s possible to visualize a unique future where publishing giants produce a new imprint of creator-owned Filipino komiks (ala Image or DC’s Vertigo/Young Animal line).

ComicCon Asia’s methods aren’t the be-all, end-all for mainstreaming Filipino komiks. These two main event features are still just contests, and is still partly predicated on luck and a bit of PR/marketing elbow grease. It still engenders the classic vicious cycle of Natural Selection, to which the runners-up wait once again for their next big shot, while the winners wait for bigger opportunities once their one-shot to fame ends.

All of these are small steps for the industry. Most of what we have nowadays, including ComicCon Asia, are just springboards to a larger dream. The question lingers: How will ComicCon Asia address the issue of sustainability once the chosen winners have published their pieces? As laudable as the intention is, our komiks industry still needs a solid strategy to keep original Pinoy komiks continuously afloat by maintaining demand. Multiple comic con events yearly are great, but it’s not enough open space to keep up the momentum.

With ComicCon Asia’s contribution, here’s hoping that dialogues and pitches to bring more local komiks to the shelves will ramp up as their event matures. Perhaps, the comic panels at the event will try to address this situation.
Article revised and updated to clearly reflect thr writer’s opinions