Last Saturday, August 2, was 2014’s Indieket Day or the Independent Komiks Market event of the local Komikon, the Philippines’ own comics convention. Indieket is the second of three bigger Komikon events held annually, the other two being the Summer Komikon (keyword: summer) and the regular one usually held November or December (my friend Sherwin The Kraken tries to call it the Winter Komikon, nevermind that we have no winter). Other often smaller but equally special conventions happen in provinces once in a while, too, like in Cebu, Baguio and, recently, Iloilo.
I’ve been attending these three Komikons a few years now and *BIG SIGH* last Saturday, I was absent. For the first time since I began patronizing the once-again blooming comics industry, I missed an event. *MORE SIGHS* For more personal reasons that can actually be elaborated some other time, I stayed home instead and got busy.
Well, comics-related events have been around for quite a while before I discovered one, but I do believe I can say that I am now credible enough to share what I know. So since I have not been sharing my experiences in the more recent events, I thought I’d come up with this post. If you’re a Komikon dummy like I was, read on. This can help you on your first–or your next–Komikon experience.
The Dos-and-Don’ts Guide for Komikon Dummies
To the uninitiated, lemme explain. The occasion is for comics artists to showcase their works and for enthusiasts to take advantage of this. Rarely do you encounter dozens of artists and creators crammed in one place, so good for you. Here, you will find both newbie creators and more seasoned ones — take your pick. Okay, let’s start…
1. KNOW the venue. Sounds duh, but it’s great advice coming from experience. Around two years ago, my officemates and I were to attend a Gaming, Toys, Manga/Anime and Cosplay Convention or GTMACCON (this is not Komikon, but just to drive a point…). We were a big enough bunch who came from Makati and went somewhere in UP Diliman to attend. We waited on university grounds until it was way beyond schedule and it seemed the place wasn’t even going to open. Finally, I texted comics guy Andoyman, asking where the exact venue was as someone got stuck with the wrong info that got disseminated to us.
Lo and behold! We were not even close! To add insult to injury, the venue was just in Makati, WHERE WE CAME FROM…Wow, mali (wrong). GTMACCON: Go To MAling Comics CONvention. The usual venue for the Komikon, by the way, is the Bayanihan Center located at the Unilab Compound in Pasig.
2. Come early. It’s not like you’re going to be thrown out of the event or anything if you come in the afternoon. But it has been observed that the Summer Komikon and the “Winter” one tend to draw a big crowd. You’ll want to be one of the first to see the various merchandise, talk to the artists and ask for autographs and/or photographs. If you’re lucky, some artists give away their own simple freebies like little snacks, stickers, etcetera, as a form of appreciation. Better be there before supplies end.
The organizers do give away freebies also right at the event entrance (not the building entrance, but where you are allowed entry after paying P100 for your ticket). Don’t expect too much, though. This is not Oprah or Ellen. Sometimes, sponsors put up booths/tables like 711 that once gave away free Slurpee and commemorative Lord of the Rings tumblers.
Oh, and at times, they give away catalogs with lots of free space on them where you can ask artists to draw something for you for free (do buy something first, please!). You can do that throughout the day, but being early means you’ll have more time to approach more artists for it, plus they won’t be too tired already to draw anything.
3. Don’t be a snob. If you look down on local comics based on them being, well, local, this is not the event for you. Either you beat it, pal, or give local comics a chance. There are ways, though, to get your fix of foreign ones by visiting booths of edition sellers like Comic Odyssey that has somehow become a sort of fixture, so to speak, in Komikon events because I see them there every time.
Meanwhile, we know you most probably know the creators of Kiko Machine, Pugad Baboy, Kubori Kikiam and the likes. These guys get the longest lines of people wanting to buy their products for some great photo-ops and autograph-signing with their idols. BUT the Komikon is mainly one giant showcase of newer talents. It won’t hurt to get to know them and their works. It’s actually fun to be “there” when a comic book is just starting and to gradually see it grow, so to speak.
By the way, while the Indieket gives much more chance for new creators by giving them the spotlight, on other Komikons, they are provided a separate area called the Indie Tiangge. It’s a sort of rite of passage before they are finally allowed to make it big…Er, well, before they are allowed to take space in the main activity area, that is. Some not-so-new ones are there as well simply because they are new participants of the event. There are various factors considered but I’m not an authority on that, ergo, I leave it to you to interview anyone there. Make sure, though, to pay the Tiangge a visit. Not because they’re there, they are not worth a look. That’s not how it works. You’ll never know what treasure lies undiscovered in that room.
4. Have ka-ching, will buy. Sure, no one will send you away for “window shopping”. But the point of being there is to purchase, at the least, one or two comics. You don’t have to have a lot of moolah, believe me, I know. It’s one big decision-making exercise. A limited budget can still buy you more or less a dozen titles. A lot of them are priced from as low as P30, even P20. That’s already a steal, considering it’s art and the labor of one’s love. Of course, for such a price, do not expect a thick, glossy, full-colored edition. Generally, you’ll get photocopied versions, or limitedly colored ones, at least. But if you’re any good at choosing your comics, you can get clear, respectable-looking ones. Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily have to mean cheap.
Also, I have stumbled upon inexpensive comics that have much better stories and illustrations than some pricier, glossier ones. It’s not just about getting your money’s worth when obviously, you can get much more satisfaction with still the least possible expense. If you do have more money to spare, then by all means, go for more gold! Maybe you’d like to purchase other comics-inspired merchandise, too, such as posters, stickers, plushies, beanie hats, keychains…You can even have works commissioned.
5. Choose wisely. It’s another decision-making exercise. If you don’t know the artist/creator in front of you and can’t tell by just looking that you’d like to purchase, browse through a copy. If the premise does not interest you whatsoever, or the storytelling is bad, or the supposed humor is lacking, or the drawings either leave much to be desired or are totally horrendous (that totally happens), put the copy down and walk away.
Try not to engage or be pulled to engage in a conversation with the artist unless you sincerely would really like to learn more about the comic book. Just saying, because that would be the more humane thing to do than to put his hopes up and have him waste time and energy trying to convince you when you’re not even buying.
On a more positive note, it’s a win-win situation, whether you buy or not. If you don’t, you don’t end up with something you don’t want. If you do, at least you’ve helped someone and maybe given him the inspiration to do better next time.
6. Pay more attention. Enthusiasts are expected to walk around the area sizing up comics and getting to know the people behind the comics. By all means, do that. But you might also want to pay attention to the stage and what they announce over the microphone once in a while. Why? The organizers have prepared more stuff and surprises for you: Contests. Interviews with well-known international Pinoy artists like Whilce Portacio of X-Men fame. Featured guests, like those from the Macoy comics-based indie film ANG MASKOT. Even surprise wedding proposals!!! Also, talks and film showings are sometimes held in other rooms.
I also say pay attention because being a much-attended event, it has gotten the attention of bad elements as well and there have been unfortunate cases of loss of valuables. Take care of your things and, as signs always say, “Please do not leave your valuables unattended.”
7. Don’t expect a food fair. Don’t go around complaining where the food stalls are–it’s not a food fair. There is a designated area for a limited bunch of food to buy, so find out where it is. There may be a hotdog-eating game happening onstage so if you’re also up to it, why not??? (hint: it normally happens pre-lunch period). Some participants actually give away little snacks so it pays to be early before they run out. Some do get to sell munchies at stalls outside the main Komikon area. However, if you really want fuller meals, just have your wrist stamped for re-entry later and get out of the venue. There are fast-food and regular restos around.
8. Expect cosplayers. Encounters with comic characters in the flesh are quite possible so get your cameras ready. The Komikon is often attended by cosplayers who are either there for fun or are representing artists’ creations, like the famous Amber from Ambush and Dennis and his pal from Alphario: The World Connection. Do not expect many of them, though. It’s not a cosplay event after all.
9. Join contests. It can be as simple as the aforementioned eating contest, or raffles the organizers or artists themselves are holding, or a meet-and-greet with well-known international artists, or an actual video game at someone’s booth. Whatever the organizers and its participants’ clever minds can think of! My Komikon buddy Sherwin actually joined a create-your-character thing sponsored by Filbar’s. His and the other competitors’ works were simply amazing!
10. ENJOY!!! Totally self-explanatory, right? I just saved the best for last 🙂
Well, I hope I’ve given you ideas, you Komikon newbies. There could be lots more I have not covered, but I’ll let you discover those for yourselves. That’s part of enjoying the whole Komikon experience. Meanwhile, here are some more random but nice pics I haven’t shared before. Forgive the layout, I am editing it (there are still stuff that I don’t understand in WordPress…), and will add links soon.
Thanks so much just for dropping by and I hope you got even the tiniest bit of new info. For more Komikon-related posts, please go to COMICS TRIPS.