Comitia 94 and Zinester Gathering in Tokyo!

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Yesterday I got to exhibit at two events in Tokyo! The original comic event, Comitia, and then the more punky Tokyo Zinester Gathering  I haven’t been in Japan for 10 years, so lots to process on just being back, but this post will mainly be about Comitia.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit with and exhibit with my longtime friend Yuuko Koyama, author of the great  comic Yocchi. She usually gets tables at Comitia twice a year. It is an event that happens four times a year. So, imagine a show four times a year at Javits Center in NYC just for indie comics. Yeah, that’s pretty much the size of it!

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We were the only exhibitors with a balloon (Yuuko’s brilliant idea!), can you find our table in the above photo?

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Another balloon shot.

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Though sales were good, it didn’t seem like people wanted to have their books signed, but I did do a sketch request.

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One thing I thought was really cool is that they have a section near the entrance with tables for each row at the show. The tables have sample copies of books supplied by the exhibitors of each row. This is a great way for people to browse the merchandise so they can plan their route once they get onto the sales floor. Here I spied someone looking at Dolltopia on the sample table.

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The samples each have a sticker on the back with the location of the table, price, and circle (exhibiting author or group) information.

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Nearby they had an area with a manga workshop going on. Also, there is a portfolio review section where authors could speak with publishers, but I didn’t get a photo of that area.

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These are some sweet minis by Mon, some also happened to be bilingual!  Really cute!

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Here’s a table I liked a lot. It’s for illustrator Akayuki-Hime.

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I liked this art by Sakura Yutsuki too.

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A good convenience they offered is delivery service so people could have their boxes shipped back to avoid carrying books home. Here is a small army of workers at the ready to ship everybody’s boxes.  I know you can arrange to ship from US conventions, but I feel like this was run in a really smooth way for such a large crowd.

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This is the exterior of Tokyo Big Site. It’s the same venue that Comiket is held at, but not using as much of the event space. Comiket is larger and crazier, but most of the comics sold there are parody doujnshi. They also have cosplayers at Comiket. Comitia is a lot more in line comics-wise with US indie shows. There were also several DIY crafters there too, lots of  beads and jewelry. Big Site also has good, affordable food and drink options and the bathrooms never seemed busy. The experience was infinitely better in those areas than shows at Javits Center or San Diego Convention Center.

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My one complaint is that the show was too short. It’s a one day show that goes from 11am-4pm. I was honestly startled when it was over! Sales seemed to vary, some circles sold out early, packed up and left. I’m sure I saw several tables that made little to no sales at all!  We did OK and I felt very welcome by the attendees and Yuuko’s friends who came by the table. It seemed like I was the only American there. I think it would be daunting to do this myself if I didn’t have a Japanese creator to exhibit with since my Japanese is pretty weak, but I loved it and would do it again for sure!

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Then after Comitia, we made our way to the  Tokyo Zinester Gathering, this was a totally punk rock DIY style event including bands! The zine exhibitors camped out on the top floor, spreading blankets on the ground flea market style.

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There seemed to be a lot of vegetarian themed zines and  there was a mixed crowd with Americans and Brits there too. The venue, Pool,  reminded me a bit of ABCnorio in NY. Very gritty, but everyone was creative and having fun.

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Here’s our layout on the floor, funnily enough, I think we sold well at this show too. Almost as much as it Comitia! Thanks to Momo Nonaka for such a cool event!