Comitia 113 (aka Selling TCOM)

This past weekend, I participated in my first ever Comitia, a convention focused solely on original works — no established anime/manga characters allowed. I’ve attended this event as a guest for over a year now, but this is the first time I actually got a table, bringing along my first-ever doujinshi/minicomic.

As you can imagine, visiting and attending are a very different experience, each one rewarding in their own way.

Registering for Comitia was incredibly easy. I had previously registered a circle at the circle.ms homepage, which serves as the registration platform for Comiket, Comitia, and several other events. The registration procedure was simple, requiring not much beyond name, address, genre and such. I had to submit a thumbnail for the catalog, for which the registration website provides templates. It was crazy cool to see my art in the catalog!

Finally, the big day arrived on Sunday!

Here’s my experience from the show:

9:00am
Circle admission begins. there are two other doujinshi events being held today, one of which seems to be drawing a major, and mostly female, crowd. I smell BL…
The line for Comitia is moderate. It only takes me a few minutes to get registered (a simple process of handing in the circle ticket that came in the mail, and receiving a different one for re-entry into the hall), and enter the hall.

9:15am
I reach my table. It’s the usual bare folding thing, with a pipe chair placed on top, and positively covered in promotional flyers.

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The promo goods also contains a large, sturdy paper bag from Tora no Ana, which turns out to be a godsend since the one I brought my equipment in (the big yellow promotional one from Dark Horse they handed out at SDCC) couldn’t handle the load and tore on the way in.

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9:30
The “wandering registration” (巡回受付) begins. A friendly, bespectacled lady stops by my table, and collects my book sample and registration card. This completes the registration process. I am now officially a Comitia participant!

10:10
I finish setting up. I brought a nice big tablecloth made from Yukata/Hanten material (purchased from Yuzawaya), a little shelf and some display stands from the 100 Yen store. My poster stand is constructed from plastic pipes from the hardware store, costing below 1,000 Yen (as compared to the “proper” poster stand everyone is using that costs an outrageous 5k!)
I realize that I should have made my “menu” bigger, and brought more decorative stuff, as the table actually offers much more space than I had anticipated. I’m still well within the norm of Comitia booth presentation, but I can do much better.

I also decide to make the poster bigger (It’s A2, but I could’ve easily gotten away with A1 size), and find some cloth to wrap the little wire shelf in next time.
The table next to me is a girl selling cute fantasy-themed illustrations, and has a guy helping her out. Two chairs make the 90cm wide space quite crowded. The person who reserved the space on my other side stays empty, giving me room for my bag.

10:30
Circle admission ends, and we brace ourselves for the spectacle to begin. I make a quick run to say hi to friends like Torimura, Miki Usami, and recent acquaintance Ichigou.

11:00
Doors open to the public. Applause. I see people streaming in from the main door, but they do not make their way into our aisle until quite a bit later. I assume a lot of them are heading towards the most popular circles first, which are located in the big aisles and have the most pull (=are the most likely to sell out).
Usami stops by my booth and I wonder if she’s ok leaving her own table so early in the game (She does have someone helping).

11:20
People start finding their way into the minor aisles. Most are headed somewhere, others are browsing cursorily, but nobody stops. My neighbor starts getting visits from established fans, and sketchbook requests (lots of artists in Japan accept requests, and spend a lot of their time during conventions drawing them). A lot of the fans have a clipboard where they note down which booths to visit, and where their sketchbooks are.

I start greeting and encouraging people to take a look when I see their gaze linger on my table for longer than a second. Most walk on, some start to browse. I have a note on my book rack saying “reading is encouraged” (立ち読み歓迎), and a few people take me up on it and read the whole thing.  I also encourage them to take my free 1-page comic about visiting SDCC. (I realize that I forgot to put my Twitter account or URL on it – oops)

11:35
My first sale! One of the readers liked it enough to buy. I remember telling someone I would be happy if even one person felt my work was good enough to spend 500 Yen on, and that holds true. I am pretty ecstatic.
Shortly after, a woman zips straight to my table and asks for a copy. I wonder how she found me.

I start to realize that having something to convey the genre of my book more clearly might be of help – since my illustration skill isn’t up to the level of most of the artists here, I have a much harder time getting people to take a look in the first place. (I do think the cover of TCOM #1 does a fairly good job of invoking a Sci-fi feel though, the circuitry background was a wise choice in hindsight.)

12:30
Noticing a steady increase in traffic past noon. People are done getting the stuff they were actively looking for, and spending time just wandering the hall.
A customer, after flipping through the book and checking out my menu, purchases the only Japanese/English set of the day.

At some point I notice that Takeshi Miyazawa and Ken Niimura are only about 5 booths away and stare at their backs for a bit.

People are starting to pay with coins. Up til this point it was all 1000 Yen bills, so I am relieved I’d prepared so much change. (I saw a guy who used a roll of packing tape as a container for his change, I liked that idea)

13:30
The organizers announce that the catalogs (which double as tickets) have sold out, so anyone can enter the hall.
I cannot tell if it has any effect on attendance.

A dude in a Mad Max shirt picks up my SDCC comic, and I thank him with a V8 sign.

13:50
Mangaka and friend Tateo Retsu stops by and takes over the booth while I take a quick break. I get a fresh bottle of water and visit some friends I hadn’t gotten to in the morning. Attendees are getting visibly more tired, and harder to talk up.

I stop by the editor’s outpost (a section of the hall exclusively devoted to pitch reviews by editors from roughly 100 publications. They look for pitch-ready sequentials rather than a portfolio of works). Beside this, there is a really interesting exhibit of scenario, roughs, and inks process from several published manga, including Saint Young Men (which is really funny).

Back at the table, I chat with Tateo for a bit. She’s a cool lady, very knowledgeable about comics and the only person to notice my BPRD T-shirt.

A girl stops by to pick up my SDCC comic. She’s really into Marvel movies and dying to go to comic-con. Hasn’t looked into the comics.
I am at about 10 sales so far.

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Snacks friends brought to the table for me!

15:00
More and more sellers are packing up and going home. The shipping agents getting really busy at the end is a factor in this. I have decided not to pack up until the closing announcement.

15:30
Very few people looking at books anymore. The event is effectively over.
I sold 14 books, which, considering that it was my first time, and reported sales numbers from the event, I consider a success! I made the registration fee back, plus enough for a couple of beers 🙂

16:00
The organizers announce the end of the event. Applause. I pack up my stuff (my box is noticeably emptier, but with the handful of books I bought or received from friends, it’s about the same), fold up the chair and put it below the table. Folding up the table is optional but encouraged – at Comitia, sellers, just like attendees and organizers, are considered “participants” responsible for making sure the event goes smoothly. There are no guards shooing people out of the hall. Whoever remains is expected to help clean up, and the hall empties amazingly efficiently.

Yasuaki Funayama picks me up for an evening of Yakitori, really random drinks, and lots of taking about comics. Should be enough to get me into his next Comitia report comic! (Check out the one for Comitia112 here – it’s really funny.)

TO BE CONTINUED
(at the next Comitia and Kaigai Manga Festa in November!)

 

Comitia113参加情報

Comitia113に参加します。 I will be at Comitia on 8/30! Check out the menu and Pixiv link for more info. Booth no. is そ12b!

今回は新刊のTCOM #1(SFシリーズ物の第一作)と無料配布のコミコンレポート漫画を引っさげていきます。スペース番号そ12bです!

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Pixivにも情報をあげましたのでご確認ください。
http://www.pixiv.net/profile_event.php?event_id=4896

サンディエゴ・コミコンレポート漫画はこちらになります!

SDCC Report

 

 

 

Weekend Doujinshi Review, 15/08/09

After a brief detour for my San Diego Comic-Con report and making my own doujinshi for Comitia 113, I’m finally back to reviewing doujinshi. As usual, I am concentrating on purely original creations, the equivalent of self-published minicomics in the west.

1. 追憶の森で (In the Forest of Reminiscence) by Kamei Usuyuki (circle: Usuyuki)

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Comitia112 circle thumbnail:

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A lone soldier dashes across a snowy plane to a crashed fighter plane. He finds the pilot largely unscathed, and instructs him to follow his footsteps back to a shelter, and promises to cover his back along the way. When the pilot berates him on rushing into such a dangerous situation all alone, he replies “I hear pilots are very costly.”

Several years later, Raura, the pilot, having been dismissed from the military, meets with his estranged friend Nora in a forest, where she leads him to an enemy plane abandoned at a nearby lake. Also dismissed, she has been working with a civilian company salvaging planes and other parts for the military. She asks him to help her out by flying the plane, an offer he briskly declines.
We soon learn the reason why he is hesitant to associate with the military: The rescue mission that saved him from the battlefield had not ended quite as well for the lone soldier.

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Eventually, Nora manages to convince Raura to a test flight in one of their salvaged planes, and he meets another character whose fate he has affected in a profound way…

In the Forest of Reminiscence feels like the first chapter of a much bigger story. At the same time, the author manages to flesh out the main character’s background and emotional state extremely well in a very limited amount of pages, and offers a great chance to balance out his inner conflict in the final pages, ending on an up note.
The two protagonists’ relationship conveys the familiarity and deep understanding a decades-long friendship brings. Their way of speaking suggests that she might be a former subordinate, but Nora is clearly more at peace with her place in the world, making for fun dialogue between the two.

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The art consists of single-width, scratchy lines that are very well placed, with very limited use of spot blacks and tones. It’s an art style that I enjoy quite a bit, and I felt this instance was very well executed. The characters’s simplified, squarish faces offer a great range of emotional responses, and the planes, while also greatly simplified, are pulled off nicely, conveying a sense of motion that wouldn’t be there if they were more truthfully rendered.
I also thought the way the author indicated time jumps (by inserting a narrow blank “panel”) was also very well executed.
I found out through a tweet by the author that it’s the 2nd part of a series, but it stands on its own very well.

In the Forest of Reminiscence has 23 story pages bound in a matte cover with a cloth-like texture, which is only black lines and blue background. It’s a very nice idea that I felt made the book look very classy and presented the art well (it caught my eye immediately when I saw it at Comic Zin). I got it for 617 Yen.

The author: Kamei Usuyuki on the web, tumblr, twitter, Amazon

追憶の森でat Comic Zin

2. 人間ではない(Not Human) by Tatsumi (circle: Akatami)

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Comitia 112 Circle thumbnail:

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Not Human‘s protagonist is a teenage girl who starts her first-person narration with a tale about an exam she hat to take on her 7th birthday. We learn nothing about the contents, except for a single panel of the girl gazing at a screen, with a large helmet on, with cables sticking out in several directions, and the girl’s assertion that her parents were overjoyed when she passed the exam.

Several years later, the girl’s class teacher informs his pupils, very nonchalantly, that one of their peers has passed away, then immediately proceeding with the class, leaving the kids shellshocked and confused.
However, one year later, the protagonist suddenly encounters that same classmate, evidently alive and for some reason carrying a fireaxe. When she relates the incident to her family, her mother makes a panicked phone call before berating her daugher about responsibilities to society, saying her friend had reaped the results from “not doing what she was supposed to.”

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Days later, the girl once more undertakes one of the mysterious “exams.” Upon completion, a man approaches her and guides her into a different room for a secondary exam, but promptly sedates her. When she comes too, she has cables attached to her head, and is informed she has just died…

Not Human is a Copy-book, a minicomic made from photocopies stapled together, and has only 6 inside story pages. Even the cover is simply a reproduction of the first page, making it evident that this book is meant more as a preview for an upcoming work, rather than a stand alone story. To underscore this, it ends with a definite “to be continued.”
Despite these limitations, Not Human sticks out for me because of the sheer quality of the artwork. Super detailed, expressive, and engaging, this is some of the highest quality art I have seen in a doujinshi.

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Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out a lot about the author. There is a website, but it’s extremely sparse and hasn’t been updated this year. I haven’t been able to find any social media or pixiv accounts, which is a shame because I liked this and would have liked to know more about the author. Unfortunately he (the website does list his gender) isn’t registered for Comitia this year, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I will update here once I find out more.

That’s it for today! Hope you enjoyed the read.
In for more? Make sure to check the category for books I have previously reviewed.

As always, I welcome feedback and interaction, so I’d be happy if you liked/reblogged, or even commented. Questions and suggestions are welcome!