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How Not to Crash as a Comic Artist

By Myka Santiago

Comics has succeeded in creating its own tradition in the Philippine Literature, owing history to Filipino artist-writers who contributed art and stories to Hapi, Holiday, Hiwaga, Aliwan, Tagalog Klasiks, Espesyal Komiks and other popular comic magazines of long-ago. And then, there were the likes of Alfredo P. Alacala, Nestor Redondo and Francisco V. Conching who became well recognized in the field. Now, young readers still choose to patronize the great works of Larry Alcala and Pol Medina Jr., as new names aspire to be included in the list of Filipino comic artists.

In contemporary days, a college barkada headed by Jescie James “Da Bhoss” Palabay started a Filipino Comic Magazine publication. “Ilabas ang utak ng Pinoy” was their art’s primary thesis, and “Culture Shock” was the first title they came up with. After a short while, they changed it to “Culture Crash” which basically concerned the rowdy crash of cultures taking place in the Filipino system. Culture Crash Comics was launched in the year 2000, with the appearance of the very first issue on August. Issue No. 14, the last one to be sold in the market, was released in 2004. Culture Crash followers were disheartened when the group stopped their publications. The artists said, comic-making seems easy but it never is. Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge they encountered was the lack of resources—time and finances.

Despite the breakup, each Culture Crash artist still has his presence felt in the comics industry. And to relate the stories of a few, Mark Navarro is now a creative director of Level Up and a freelance comic books seller, while Jon Zamar is a freelance graphic artist (concept art and digital art) for local and international companies.   

And in line with their group and individual success, Jio Beltran, Jon, Mark, Melvin Calingo also known as Taga-Ilog and the rest of the gang willingly shared some tips for aspiring independent comic artists.

  • Passion. Every comic artist must love what he or she is doing. Passion will drive you to create more and more comics. It will also help if you find a graphic art-related job to complement your hobby. With this lifestyle, you will get to earn and have fun at the same time.
  • Support. Find a financier who believes in you and in what you do. However, Jio related, your product must already be in good quality to start with. 
  • Publicity. Let the public feel your presence. Release as much comics (books, magazines, etc.) as you can.
  • Controversy. Create buzz. Take advantage of the functions of the Internet and popular social networking sites to promote your works.
  • Media. Since everything has already started to roll up in the Internet, web comics are now gaining popularity in the online scene. You may choose to upload your comics in the cyberspace and make it accessible to the public as what Jio plans to do. Or just put supplements in the net and publish the real thing as Indie like what the Taga-Ilog prefers.
  • Time Management. It is difficult to find time and funds, especially if you are already raising your own family. In this case, it is always better to take comics as a sideline. But if you have a financier who can really carry you on, do it full-time.   
  • Decision Making. If your comics are now in hype, think hard before accepting any television offer. Be sure you have already completed a series before doing so and that the television company that will buy your publication is a trusted one. As Mark stated, “TV is a very different animal (compared to comics)”.  

The popular artists behind Culture Crash Magazine continue to amaze their fans with their achievements in the arts. Perhaps, the legendary comic magazine has not suffered an upsetting crash at all. Kubori Kikiam is still in business and if only each of them would have enough reserves, more Indie komiks will be released under these well-liked names.   

Meet some of aspiring comic artists here.

Issue: Feb. 06, 2009
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