It’s a rainy Sunday in Tokyo. I went to the manga event Comitia 106 at Tokyo Big Sight, the big fair venue. Comitia is a doujinshi event, but unlike Comiket, it is focused on “original” works, meaning no parodies (manga featuring famous characters) are allowed.
I had planned this visit since before I came to Japan this time. I wanted to buy the latest bicycle manga by Yomoyama Akira. I searched for the desk number, but that desk was empty. Walked around. Searched some more. Asked some girls. (There were about 98 percent girls at this event.) Checked twitter and saw that Yomoyama had tweeted a photo of the desk:
So why couldn’t I find it? I searched some more before tweeting Yomoyama, who confirmed the desk number. So I asked a member of the staff, who told me that I was at the wrong event! Comitia was in hall 5 and 6, whereas I had entered オータムオンリーフェスタ/Autumn Only Festa 2013. All these events, there are so many of them! (I picked up many flyers and posters for other events as well.)
I found Yomoyama and it was nice to talk a bit to the creator of the first manga I read entirely in Japanese (photos here). Apparently Yomoyama is a fulltime mangaka, working as an assistant (I know what that is since I’ve watched Bakuman) at bigger productions (not Jump though, I asked), and regularly contributing in anthologies of other genres. (I see now that Yomoyama invited me to an event last weekend too, but I haven’t used Twitter in the last months so I missed it.)
Comitia was more mixed (both male and female visitors) and I enjoyed it more. I’m so amazed at all these skilled creators and their beautifully printed doujinshi. This small scale hobby business takes both craftsmanship – not only drawing the manga, but also managing the technical side with the printers – and business-mindedness; you have to take a risk, invest in the offset printing of at least a hundred copies which you can’t be sure you will sell.
I encountered a Belgian exhibitor too at Comitia. I passed him first, and then looked back: What was that?! We talked a bit, he’s apparently studying in Tokyo now. Here is his comic’s Facebook page. I hope he has some success at Comitia, I found it really sweet to see him sit there, maybe because I could relate a bit. We weren’t the only foreigners though, there was a whole area dedicated to foreign comics and their creators.
Doujinshi printers were exhibiting, and so were traditional publishers. The latter didn’t market their work though; they were there to discover new talents! You could have your own manga (or sketches of one) professionally judged by maybe 20 different publishers in one end of the hall. Very inspiring.
There were lots of etchy stuff too. Such an absurd feeling to see several police officers walking around the premises to watch over the general order, not caring the slightest bit about the manga where eight-year-old girls are being gang-raped. Nothing reflects better the advanced society that Japan is, a society that manages to differ between fiction and reality. The West is like a primitive tribe in comparison. (We’re like: “Oh look, the totem pole is crying! We have hurt the totem pole’s feelings! Now God will punish us for violating the totem pole’s spirit!”)
Details of my purchases will follow.