Posted January 19, 2017 by Drew Bagay in Comics



A few days ago Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah creator Carlo Vergara made a Facebook post about thinking of quitting comics. In the post, he talked about the balance between cost/effort and income returns in creating graphic novels in the local industry, and pondered on whether it’s still worthwhile doing them. Naturally it garnered a massive response, and since then the post has been shared more than a hundred times on Facebook.

In light of this recent news, we reached out to Carlo Vergara to further expound on the issue and what his plans for Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah are going forward.

FlipGeeks: First of all, was leaving komiks on your mind for a while now?
Carlo Vergara: Well, I said I was “thinking” of leaving comics. There’s a big difference there. And yes, I actually mentioned this to a couple of creators last year.

FG: With your post, what do you think of the responses you got from your peers and fans?
At first, I was surprised. A bit teary-eyed. I haven’t said an ultimate goodbye, though. I still think there’s still a bit of chance. Thing is, I’m not the kind of person who would fault a reader. Readers have a limited budget, and they can’t spend every waking hour promoting books. But, ultimately, it’s a numbers game. An awareness game. And the solo creator has very little time to devote to promoting his own work.


FG Exclusive: First page of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Part 3.

FG: As you said, more sales would be the most helpful. But do you think the komiks industry can do something different with regard to getting better percentage from the sales?
I don’t want people to think that I’m ranting against the publishing system, because it is what it is. Printing and distributing a book is a huge portion of its price. If the price went any higher, then fewer people would be buying books.

The core of my post is effort vs. returns. My art style isn’t simple, nor are my stories. Those require a lot of thought and energy. It might be different if I wasn’t too invested in making my comics as good as they should.

FG: You mentioned digital sales. And now in this digital age, do you think that would significantly help in sales?
With digital, it’s now about customer habits. How many people are comfortable reading long-form comics on a digital device? While there are people who read e-books, not many read comics. A lot of my audience are not comics readers.

It would really help if local comics fans across the country adopted a culture of reading digital comics. Something like a “Read Digital” campaign.

FG: What are your thoughts on getting an artist?
I’d have to pay the artist. Even if I got an artist, there’s no guarantee that submissions will be on time. Because he’ll prioritize projects that will make money. Especially if the artist is of a certain age and experience. With younger artists, quality becomes the concern.

FG: What’s going to happen to Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah now?
Well, I’m still finishing Zaturnnah sa Maynila. It’s almost 12 years in the making, especially that Zaturnnah will be 15 years old this year. After that, I still have a couple of comics-related projects in mind, but I’ll be switching to English and treat it as a fresh start.

FG: Will this be the last Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah book?
[It will be the last] in Filipino, unless a miracle happens. There are a number of people overseas who have asked me if there’s an English version.

FG: Is there a problem doing it in English?
If I were to do a translation of the book, it might not work. I have to reboot it by thinking in English. So, new art, too.

The plan for now is to post pages for free and lead readers to a PDF download.


A page from Zaturnnah sa Maynila Part 3.

FG: What would be a good way for you to stay in the industry and keep making more comics?
I’ll be turning 46 this month, so it’s all about stability. There have been creators who gave up in their 20s and 30s, but I’ve managed to hold on.

FG: Have you considered doing work-for-hire for other publishers, and maybe international comics publishers as well?
Well, I do know that Marvel doesn’t like my stuff. I submitted samples during the time C.B. Cebulski was looking for talent. But seriously, I have thought about that.

FG: What further advise can you give to the komiks creators who has read your post?
Build their audience online first over a number of years, so that when they release a book, they already have potential buyers. There are two ways to do this. One is to do what they want to do, the other is to be market-conscious.


FG: Should aspring komikeros need to have a day job in the meantime?
In my experience, having a job is really important, even if it’s part-time. It still pays the bills. But, for me, it would really help to be really good at making stories, at writing, at illustration. Because it’s those skills that get jobs. Making comics is a culmination of those skills.

For instance, I managed to get my foot into the theatre world as a playwright. I got tapped to be a screenwriter. I recently did a storyboard for a film. By being good at writing and in art, one can make really good comics. At the same time, being good at writing and in art can attract jobs.

Drew Bagay

Drew is a lover of comic books, movies, and all things pop culture. He enjoys crime/thriller/noir fiction, playing the guitar, and taking long walks. He also doesn't like talking in third person.