Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Comic Market (ComiKet) 2009

I haven’t had the impetus to write for a while now – blame it on the humidity, the one month gap I had to take while in Cyprus… I am definitely not short on possible reasons I could quote. Well, finally I managed to convince myself that  I should come back and write more since if I don’t start anytime soon I will never get back to this blog.


It is no secret that the Japanese market for comics, or Manga (漫画/まんが) is huge. There are hundreds of series followed by millions of all ages and genders. In fact, it is a pretty usual sight to see businessmen reading manga on the train home or stacks of manga from different series in any convenience store. Many of the animated series start their lives as mangas and as they gain in popularity a spinoff animation series gets developed. The manga usually keeps going even after the animated series concludes but there is a completely different type of manga that has almost a cult following – doujinshi or fan manga.

P8150408 Fan manga can exist because of Japan’s very liberal “fair-use” clause for copyright (at least for manga) in that readers are allowed to draw their own stories involving characters from famous well established mangas. Not only can they draw these they also get to publish them and sell them for prices much higher than the original manga since usually the amount printed is very limited. Comic Market, or ComiKet for short, is where one can find hundreds of such artists, reinterpreting other stories or creating completely new stories, and selling the comics they produce. These events take place twice a year and the limited number of the prints make these extremely popular amongst manga fans.


The last ComiKet was actually on Saturday and I made my way to Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba to check it out for myself. The sheer number of people there was a sight to behold on its own but as I was there in the afternoon, long after the prime stuff is already sold out, the wait was just 30 minutes or so (which was not very pleasant I should add since the corridors of the building was not a/c’d enough to handle so many people) before I could go into the exhibition hall. The manga selection was interesting – ranging from stories introducing romance between characters who are not normally in a relationship in the actual manga (both same and different sexes and all ages, some R rated, some PG) to just new storylines. There was supposed to be an area reserved for cosplayers but I did not get a chance to check that out. I did see some people in costume though… The way back was an interesting endeavor with the train stations being completely swamped by the people returning from the exhibition.

It was definitely an interesting experience for me.  I don’t know if I would do it again seeing how I don’t really follow a certain manga with passion but hey maybe I will do it again just to people-watch… :)

No comments: