Post-Komikon thoughts/learnings from a newbie
by rick olivares
When you sit behind a table as an exhibitor during the Komikon, you adopt a different view say as opposed to the fan who comes in looking to satisfy his four-colored cravings and get a picture or an autograph to go with them. For the first time, I wasn’t one of them.
In Komikons past, I would quickly race to the booths of the comic specialty shops looking for back issues before others could beat me to them. Then I’d go to the local creators and get a large number of them. I only recently discovered the full breadth of the local komiks scene and fell in love with it like I first did to the four-colored medium when I was but three years old.
I pre-sold about 40 copies to friends before Komikon so I came in with no expectations. I told both Tepai Pascual and Paolo Herras of Noodle Boy, Maktan 1521, and Sumpa fame, that Saturday was the true test to see if my stories could attract people who had no connection to me.
As the doors swung open to the fans who had patiently lined up outside the Bayanihan Center in spite of the rainy weather, I sat and watched as they raced in.
In many ways it was the most fun I had at Komikon. I was able to sell 70% of the 200 books I brought in and got most of the stuff I wanted. Moreover, I came away with a lot of learnings and thoughts I want to share.
It’s nice to have a variety of books and products to sell. I sold two komiks that day – Ang Ilog, that came in a regular and oversized format and with English and Filipino versions; and Dante. I am actually glad that I had two because my table (located at Comic Odyssey) would have been bare if I only had one. It looks good too if you have quite a few so people have choices.
Many asked why I chose to do an oversized format (close to magazine size). I realize that the collector might have problems with its storage but maybe they can place it where they keep their graphic novels that are usually larger in size as opposed to their long boxes.
About three months ago, Image Comics released an oversized version of The Fade-Out #1. I loved it and thought that it helped the artwork a lot. And since both the artist and I really paid attention to the detail in each and every panel (I wrote very detailed scripts for Rey Asturias as he preferred it that way), it gives the reader a chance to savor each and every panel. It sure cost a lot more to produce it that way (and the profit margin wasn’t much) but still it was worth it.
I brought 35 of these oversized komiks and was left with 12 by day’s end. I also previously sold 20 of them. I guess the larger format works.
The Filipino version of Ang Ilog sold better. As I said, I had two versions – one in the vernacular and one in our second language in order to draw in a larger audience. To my surprise, the Filipino version of Ang Ilog sold much better than its English counterpart. Maybe it was because the story was set in 1903 and the artwork was rendered n the classic Filipino style. I was surprised by even how some well moneyed folks opted to pick it up in the vernacular.
Dress up your table. It is important to have standees and easels to prop up your products. And it’s also good to have browsing copies because some people lick their fingers before turning pages (what a gross habit).
You need to be able to sell your book. Fans will pick up books first from the established stars before going down the line to sample new fare. More often than not, they come in with a set budget. I didn’t just want the cover art to entice them. I chatted with them. Talked to them about the basic premise, how long the series would last, and where it is headed.
I had four customers who spent about five minutes looking reading through the book, asking a few questions before saying, “thanks” then leaving. It’s fine. It’s all part of the show. However, those four customers came back and purchased one or two copies. One of them explained that it was it was the “new book” syndrome and “indie feel” of not only my books but generally everyone else save for the established ones. Again, I am totally fine with it. I understand. I do the same as well.
Some patrons don’t mind collecting a series; some do and opt for one shots. Personally, for me it depends. Some stories are meant to end right away while others need to go on.
I explained that the first story arc in the Ang Ilog universe will end in Book Two before spinning off in another direction featuring another character who makes an appearance in Book One. Some fans are regular comic book buyers. Some just dropped by and will never know if they will come back. The idea is – you want them to come back.
Having said that, how huge a factor does the art playing in selling a komik? Huge I’d say because that is what draws them first not knowing if the story is good or bad. Some said that maybe as a writer, I go for the story first before the art. Actually, for me it has to be the whole package. I can have a good story but if the artwork isn’t so good, I don’t keep it in my collection. And if the story is terrible but the art is good, it’s the same thing. I don’t keep it. I like to keep my collection “pure” (for lack of a better term); only with what I truly like. Of course, not everyone is like me so each to his own.
My last word about fans/customers is I am quite lucky that several of the buyers were fans of my sports blog and writing and wanted to check out my initial foray into local komiks. I am so thankful and grateful.
Pricing is important. As much as you’d like to have more people fit your book into their budget, you do not want to sell yourself short or even devalue the book. A pre-Komikon discussion with Tepai Pascual, Paolo Herras, and Mervin Malonzo set me straight about that matter. I must say that I am indebted to them.
Smile. It’s good to be able to interact with the fans and buyers (doesn’t that sound weird because I am one as well). It’s good to create a bond with them (as well as all the nice komiks veterans who will help you out). And it will help in bringing them back to try out your new titles.
It was a great experience. And the butterflies are gone.
P.S. Thanks to Sandy Sansolis and the fine folks at Comic Odyssey for accommodating me. And to Pio Garcia and Jason Inocencio for writing about Ang Ilog and Dante.
|With Jiggy Cruz!|
|With Ruey De Vera|
|With Roy Afable|