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culture by Jonathan Lansang

Learn what it takes to put out great work at Komiket University

Aspiring comic book creators can get a real-world perspective in this weekend workshop.

In Japan, there is a huge market for self-published comics (doujinshi), some of which may be as simple as the author’s photocopied works on bond paper just stapled together. These comics are often sold at conventions such as Comiket (a portmanteau of comics and market), an event which started with around 600 attendees in 1975 and has since ballooned to accommodate more than half a million people in recent years.

With the breadth of talent available on our own shores, it was only a matter of time before someone would organize our very own Filipino Komiks and Art Market, or Komiket. The event, described as “an affordable comics and art market that aims to discover new comics creators, new readers and celebrate new comic book launches,” has been held thrice. Like its namesake, it aims to provide a venue for unknowns to showcase their talents. As part of this mission, organizers Paolo Herras (writer, Noodle Boy, Buhay Habang Buhay) and Mark Navarro (artist, Kubori Kikiam) put up Komiket University, a four-day workshop designed to help developing scribes by sharing their experiences in the industry. I immediately signed up to see if the experience might bring some spark back into my long dormant dream of being a comic book writer.

The first two days of the workshop were dedicated to the core of our fledgling comic books: the story. As the first of many “Creator’s Life Hacks” he would share, Paolo explained to us that stories are lessons learned. Every single adventure, exploit, or clash of titans, are all an experience that results in the main character’s growth. The formula is essentially a hero, trying to achieve a goal, with a villain trying to prevent it. Through exercises that helped define said hero and identify our writing styles, jumbled ideas were put on paper and slowly organized. At one particularly nerve-wracking point, we all wrote down up to three of our story concepts and placed them around the room for our classmates to comment on. In the spirit of camaraderie though, all comments were kept positive and helped identify potential bugs to iron out. The third day saw one of Paolo’s frequent collaborators, Tepai Pascual (Maktan 1521), sharing some of her techniques to create visually stunning panels. While I cannot claim that I possess any gifts in the art department, it was still interesting to see how the construction and flow of a page could affect its overall impact.

Throughout the workshop, Paolo and Mark both kept in touch with the class, continuing to give us feedback on our evolving storylines and helping us enrich them. Yet of all the lessons we were taught, what was shared on the fourth day was probably the most enlightening of the entire experience. We’ve all tried writing. Most of us have tried our hand at art. There aren’t that many that can say that they’ve attempted to sell their self-published works alongside dozens of other people all doing the same. Getting more real, they emphasized that it wasn’t easy. You won’t always be able to sell your work, and sometimes you may face harsh criticism even if you do. In the end though, those that stick it out still find the experience rewarding because being a comic book creator is the very passion that drives them, and it is for these individuals that the lessons taught in Komiket University will prove the most beneficial. If you think that you have what it takes, and you have that yearning from deep within to let the world see your work, then you’re in luck! Komiket will be holding another Creator’s Workshop later this month. For those that attend, I look forward to seeing your work proudly displayed on your table at the next Komiket.

Art by Mags Ocampo

THE NEXT WORKSHOP WILL BE HELD AT BUKU-BUKU KAFE, SM SOUTHMALL ON JULY 22 TO 23 FROM 10:30AM TO 5:30PM. FOR INQUIRES AND MORE INFORMATION, EMAIL KOMIKET.STUDENT@GMAIL.COM, OR VISIT THEIR PAGE AT FACEBOOK.COM/KOMIKETINC.
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Jonathan Lansang
Jonathan Lansang is a self-confessed geek and player (of board and video games, not hearts). When he isn’t dazzling people with his vast wealth of useless trivia, he enjoys cooking and eating. Mostly eating.