Kaigai Manga Festa Report!

Matt and I are back from our honeymoon and I’m finally getting some time to start writing about our amazing trip to Japan!  We went for two weeks, visiting Fukuoka, Nara, Osaka, and Tokyo. A highlight of our Tokyo trip was exhibiting in the Artist Alley of Kaigai Manga Festa (seems like their site is being updated now, but here is the official twitter), the first ever international comics show in Japan which was put on in conjunction with the quarterly indie comic event, Comitia! Originally, we were going to exhibit with our friend Yuuko Koyama at Comitia as I had done in the past (full post on that here), but when the Festa was announced we felt we should be there to represent our aspect of American comics. Luckily we were able to get a table and it worked out great!

Comitia and the Kaigai Manga Festa ran for one day, Sunday Nov. 18th from 11am-4pm. It took place at Tokyo Big Sight, a huge convention center that features two giant inverted pyramids as part of the design.

(this is a shot of one of the rooms of the main Comitia floor)

Big Sight is huge, pretty much the equivalent of Javits Center in NY, probably bigger, I’m always impressed with this show because of the sheer quantity of self-published manga artists that participate, far more than would in an American indie comics show.

(semi-aerial shot of the Festa floor, the left side is where talks were happening, Artist Alley was on the right side)

The Festa was located at the entry lobby to Comitia, so the Comitia attendees could see us as they came in and anybody who was particularly interested in international comics could find us easily. That was a major plus of exhibiting there as opposed to being part of Comitia’s main floor, though both are fun! The Festa had also arranged some panels featuring very important and famous manga artists Katsuhiro Otomo and Naoki Urasawa as well as several major European artists. It was an honor to be associated with them and Matt even got to meet Katsuhiro Otomo when he walked by our table! Cool!

I have to admit I didn’t get to look around much at the other tables since we were busy at our table almost the whole time. Our friends from TCAF and ShiftyLook were there as well as Deb Aoki and Erica Friedman, Marvel had a booth too. I was psyched to meet FSc from Singapore, she was exhibiting at the Comitia floor, many thanks to Professor Fusami Ogi for introducing us! I sold nearly all of the copies of Dolltopia I brought as well as several minis. I also had fun trading minis with other artists. Mini comics are so great for trading!

Big Sight is not far from Diver City where the big Gundam statue is, so we had to stop over there for a visit afterward!

A big highlight for us was getting to meet other artists and I got to reunite with Kaneko Atsushi (author of Bambi and Her Pink Gun, Soil, and Wet Moon), who I had met earlier this year at Angoulême. Matt and I had a great time hanging out with him and his editor Yoshi from Comic Beam at the festival guests’ after-party. If I was more literate in Japanese I have a feeling Comic Beam would be my favorite manga magazine (the cover copy bills itself as “a magazine for the comic freaks!”), I’ve got to learn more kanji! The titles Wandering Son and Thermae Romae run in Comic Beam, and you can get those in the US now, so check them out!

All in all, we had a great time, the staff of the Festa (especially Youri Morinaga, Yoko Oikawa, and Simona Stanzani) were amazing and a great help! Many thanks to them, they did a great job. I’ve always wished for a more international show in Japan that we could participate in, and now my wish has come true! We are looking forward to next year!