Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ernie Chan, Email Replies

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Check out Ernie Chan's newly uploaded official website here.

To sir Ernie Chan, Abe Ocampo, Jun Lofamia and other Filipino illustrators whose profiles should have gone up at the museum, many many apologies! I'm still working on fixing the site and making new updates. August and September had been very busy months for me, September even more, as I continue to work on Elmer #2 for release next month, plus a couple more installments of Humanis Rex.

I know it's taking a while, but I'll make very sure that the new improved site will be up before Komikon on Oct. 21.

I received several replies via email from my last post "We Care Only About ART, and Not The Masses." This one is from Archie Orbeta. My reply follows...

Hey Gerry, Just like to say that I really apppreciate your effort in revitalizing the local comic industry. Every now and then, I try to have some time to browse your journal (by the way is astounding) to check on current issued on comic dome. (I did like Lastikman..Elmer seems a little far-fetched)

Anyway, I\'d just like to comment on your recent post on \"criticisms\" on your work. 1. Using english as a language medium 2. Not focusing on local market For using english, i agree with you that not all Filipinos speak tagalog which is really a problem for us and most southern regions frowns upon having to learn tagalog.(what more in reading something they can\'t understand) - thus, the most logical thing is have it published in english - which is right.

- unfortunately, this sensible move leads to another misinterpretation for Filipinos that local artists are not catering to the local market but instead is targeting the international market - mostly for money and not for art.

For example, when they published Darna the comics - it was in english - and most of the promotion and marketing was centered for US release (as it turns out, most of the people involve was not even in manila but in sweet US - take raffy from the yahoogroups, he\'s not even in manila but in LA, thus the incessant promotion of a fraking filipino store)

Its pretty clear that their market are those filipinos in the US. My point is - if a local artists publishes a comic then start mentioning retailing in the US, Europe and other foreign countries, Filipinos will start to have a negative reaction to the artist - the thought is that the local artist creates art not for themselves but for the money(green money) - as miscontrue as it may appear - that is the reality. Its not crab mentality - its just that Filipinos don\'t see the effort to properly circulate the comic all around the country - (ex. no reviews from cebu critics, baguio critics, etc.)

And the absence of proper information - human conclusions are made and unfair at it may seem - one just can\'t blame them as they simply don\'t know the crap they\'re talking about. I don\'t know if my letter is sensible - I just want to share my two cent on this premise. Anyway, thank you for your time and I more power to your work.

-Archie Orbeta

First of all, thanks for taking the time to write, Archie! Feedback like this is very important to me, and unlike what other people may seem to think... I don't know everything, and more likely than not, I know far less than I should. And messages like this help me see things from a different point of view, and it enables me to either rethink my opinion, and/or help me strengthen the opinion that I already have.

I think any artist who puts his work out there needs to be prepared for criticisms. Because such observations about an artist's work, be it good or bad, will only help that artist to grow and improve. Unfortunately, many of such criticisms are based not on fact, but on speculation, assumption and like I had mentioned, false expectations. I had expected it, and when the crits did arrive, I had to write something about it lest my silence be construed as agreement.

The distribution problem is great issue in comics production. Like I mentioned in my post, I'm not a huge company. To expect me to have the distribution reach of a huge company is preposterous. It's far more difficult to distribute locally than abroad, to be honest. There are simply NO comics retailers outside Manila (except for maybe Filbars which I have yet to talk to), and some possible retailers have declined to take my work.

I've had a retailer back out in Bacolod when he read my comic book. I've had another retailer in Butuan decline when he realized my comics weren't a match for his shop, which catered mostly to kids. But he said he did like it, and he wrote to me a long letter about it. He even wants to be a member of Komikero, which is great! But the infrastructure simply isn't there for a comics self publisher to do business nationwide.

But it doesn't mean I haven't been trying. My keyboard has been smoking for the many emails I've been sending out all over the country, trying to find ways to get ELMER out there. A distribution possibility in Cebu is promising, and in fact, I've sent many copies there for free just to get the word out. I've also sent copies to Baguio, in the hopes of finding people there interested, and maybe help me find a store that could carry it, comics shop or not.

The foreign retailers are easier to deal with because they have websites, and they have emails they regularly check, and they are more open minded about comics like mine and accept them without question.

I've been around the local forums and mailing lists, and for the most part, specially the major local online forums, I've been met with uninterest and indifference. I'm not complaining. I just accept it for what it is, and move on.

However, my comic book ELMER gets to be discussed in Russia, in France, in the UK and all over, without me instigating any of it. They just saw the preview in my site and they just started talking about it. For all I know, they may HATE it, but you know, they're talking about it.

But I do get a lot of positive response from people abroad, specially the UK and America, and once again, I'm embarassed to talk about my work like this, but one of the things the critics who put me down don't seem to realize is the positive image I'm bringing the Philippines abroad. We do tend to get a bad image abroad because of the unfortunate things our countrymen do, but I'd like to think I show a different, and more positive side. You know, I'm showing that a Filipino is capable of doing something worthy, that can stand toe to toe with comics from around the world.

As to doing it for money, well of course you want to make money from your work. Who doesn't? Why do you go to school and go find jobs after if you aren't interested in making money? Who goes to the office not expecting to get paid? Doing it for the LOVE of it doesn't mean you work for free. You just have to find the job you like and love doing, and you make a living out of it, so that you can continue doing it.

I think people should exert a little more effort in thinking things out before saying anything. Not knowing the facts is not an excuse to put somebody down.

The correct and intelligent thing to do when you don't know is to ASK. If people think I'm doing something objectionable or something that offends them and their sensibilities, or if they are really just curious as to why I'm doing what I'm doing, please ASK ME. My email is freely available. I can easily be gotten in touch with to answer any question here on my site, on the message boards, etc.

But unfortunately NO, it seems some people prefer to froth at the mouth and be indignant, rather than be correctly informed.

They would rather create anonymous personas and attack me from the safety of anonymity in another blog and yak as if they know what they're talking about.

That's the tragedy with people today. No fucking balls.