THE MONOPOLY OF FORM: COUNTDOWN TO MONOPOLY THEORY (Part 1)
WHY BOLD COMICS?
Atty. Amador Sagalongos, publisher of Tiktik and seven other sex komiks (Bold, Erotika Art, Playmate, Sakdal Sexy, Sex News Komiks, Silahis Macho, Titik L), seems to have taken it upon himself to lead the crusade against the status quo in the komiks industry. Sagalongos says that business and entertainment are ‘incidental’ to his attempts at publishing; his goal is “para makatulong sa masa”, mapalaya sila sa ginagawang pagpapamangmang ng mga monopolista sa pamamagitan ng pantasya”.
The attorney, in his usual legalese, says that the monopoly in the industry is forcing him out of business. Dismissing the fantasy komiks of his compitetors as trash and other sex komiks as pure titillation, Sagalongos cites the tagline on the cover of Tiktik Komiks as his battlecry—Palayain ang Sining at Panitikang Pilipino. Whether or not his brand of komiks is a model of free art and literature and can withstand the test of the aesthetics is another issue. However, Sagalongos is in the wings, ready with his sex komiks, waiting for his dealers and vendors—“If they like to sell, I’m willing to go to jail with them.”
A fact which should be cited as a contributing element to the state of komiks today is the monopoly which runs the industry. The Roces group of publishing companies (Atlas, GASI, API, Adventures Illustrated, Islas Filipinas) accounts for 33 of the 47 regularly published komiks in the country, and the top two komiks are under its wing—Aliwan and Pilipino, which appear twice a week with a combined circulation of about 500,000. Since the Roces group produces about 70 percent of the regular komiks titles, it influences the industry—from prices to the kind of komiks the industry produces. Since they employ a good number of the writers and illustrators, they could also set the standard for fees. On the other hand, because of the advantage of economies of scale, the Roces group of companies is able to produce komiks at the lowest possible price, which in effect becomes the industry guide.
Excerpts from ‘KOMIKS: And Industry, a Potent Medium, our National “Book” and Pablum of Art Appreciation’ by Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. (Philippine Mass Media: A Book of Readings; 1986)