Sunday, April 14, 2013

summer komikon 2013: a point of decision

a respectable haul, but i missed so many good titles :(
after missing both indiekon and winter komikon in 2012, it felt really good to be back behind a table selling komiks again at the bayanihan center yesterday. it was my first time at the indie tiangge since it got moved to a separate room away from the main hall, a decision that aroused quite a bit of controversy within the indie komiks community last year.

the good bits:

- the laid-back atmosphere. the indie tiangge occupied two conference rooms and was never crowded or noisy. you could chat with people without having to yell. some people took advantage of this and used the area as a place to rest before plunging back into the crush of the main hall.

- security. much-improved security this year; i haven't heard of any burgling incidents so far. still, not having a crowd to cover their movements kept prospective thieves away from out little nook.

- my sales were good. better than last year's, in fact.

the not-so-good bits:

- being cut off from the programming. the komikon folks were nice enough to set up a widescreen projector hooked up to a camera in front of the main stage, but there was no audio so we couldn't really tell what was happening. which was too bad, because having all that stuff in the background, and occasionally throwing in a cheer or a heckle, is a big part of the komikon experience; i never realized how big a part until now.

some people STILL do not realize that the indie tiangge is in a separate room. i know, i know, it's in all the promo materials, they say it onstage every five minutes, indie creators spread the word via social media, but you can still hear passersby saying things like, "what's in this room?" and "oh, there are more comics here." exactly how many people? i don't know. but they were out there.

- hardly any browsers. folks who wanted to buy indies made a point to drop by the tiangge. folks who didn't know they wanted to buy indies, however, were generally absent. i am convinced that although we sold well overall, we lost a number of the kind of impulse buys that result from people wandering around and seeing something they like out of sheer chance. being in a separate room cut off that element of chance. well, paid tables are going to be better than free ones, right? still, i missed having people hanging around, scanning a book or two, and then coming back later to make a purchase. or heck, even reading the whole school run series, asking when the next one comes out, and not buying a thing. i just missed the feeling of being discovered.

this is a big issue for komikon going forward. with the new limit on the number of times an indie creator/group can join the indie tiangge, established creators and their following will eventually move into the main hall, further lessening foot traffic to the tiangge, as well the chances of the next generations of indie artists getting the exposure and curiosity purchases they need to build readerships of their own.

of course, it can be said that komikon has grown so much in attendance and prestige that even the reduced traffic going into the tiangge is as good as, or even better than, the traffic and exposure received by the current crop of indie stars back in their UP bahay ng alumni days. i don't have the stats to prove anything either way, though.

another way of looking at it is that this is komikon's way of saying, "all right indies, it's about time you started earning your keep. make your content, take your output and your bottom line seriously. the training wheels are coming off." and that this is how things should be: indie artists shouldn't be allowed to hog the free tables forever, and should make room for newer artists to have their turn.

which leaves me... where? i knew something was up when the summerkon indie tiangge list came out and most of my creator friends had gone over to the paid side. now i'm left to seriously debate whether forking over P3 k (or P1.5 k if i can find someone to go halfies with) next time is worth it.

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