“Yesterday, I met with the organizers of Komikon, and during that meeting we talked about the challenges that local comic book makers are currently facing. Suffice to say, there’s a lot.
Vergara is one of the country’s most successful graphic novelists, and even his art is not enough to pay the bills. He breaks it down below:
“What about sales, you might ask? A book author gets less than 10% of a book’s retail price. So if you buy your favorite author’s book at a price of P200, which is the price of Part One, you’re giving him less than P20 for the story. The bulk of that P200 goes into converting that story into a physical book and placing that book in a bookstore.
This is heartbreaking to fans, but also a wake-up call to the realities of being a creator. Simply put: you don’t earn enough money. Not even when you’re Carlo freaking Vergara. Not even when you are the mind behind brilliant works like Zsazsa Zaturnnah and Kung Paano Ako ay Naging Leading Lady.” Not even when your creations are loved and lauded, not even when your characters have helped shape Philippine pop culture.
This is embarrassing. We want to be constantly entertained and we’re constantly complaining about the Filipino not making enough quality work, and yet we can’t even support the ones that actually do come out with groundbreaking stuff. Sometimes, this is due to economics and can’t be helped–we’re a developing country with a high poverty rate after all, and when it comes to survival, food and shelter will always trump reading. But a lot pf people who do have money to spare either won’t but local because they complain, ‘Why is it so expensive when it’s just locally made?’ or they automatically assume that local equals corny and won’t give Filipino-created works a chance. This is why we’re losing great creators like Carlo, and we’re all going to suffer for it.
However, like many artists, for Carlo, art is a calling and not a job (otherwise, why would he have kept at it when it wasn’t financially viable? Why do any of us keep at it when it isn’t financially viable?), so he’s hoping for a way back:
“The only thing I feel that can really help the graphic novelist is if readers are willing to buy the digital version.
“Going digital helps the graphic novelist by: