KAIGAI MANGA FEST 2012 / COMITIA #102
I really had a good time at this festival. Comitia is a quarterly convention that’s like 5 or 10 times SPX size in terms of scale, but it’s only 1 day, 5-hours long. It’s all indie/self-publishing/doujinshi circles/individual artists with tables. It’s reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally big. Lines and lines and lines of tables in rooms and rooms.
It’s not unmanageable:
- The festival organizes artists based on what genre they draw/write in, so visitors can easily find what they like.
- Your “entrance ticket” to the festival is a 12-dollar catalog, that’s very big and comprehensive! This is a smart idea.
- More popular artists are on the outside of the sections so you can get to them quickly/line up easily.
- The festival is so full of people but the spaces are all wide enough that it’s never crowded or stuffy, btw. That was nice.
I didn’t spend much time in the larger Comitia.
- I don’t know where to start, it’s seemingly endless.
- A lot of the work I just don’t care about - you know, lots of books of cover-drawings/illustrations of cute girls, printed in color, bound in 16 A4 pages, that’s it.
- There were a lot of pitifully shy artists with 1 book on a small table, the artists looking down at their laps when a visitor approached.
- There were normal artists, too, though. But there were so many, and so little time.
This quarter’s Comitia features the first ever KAIGAI International Manga Festival - basically a new section within Comitia featuring international exhibitors, artists, publishers. It will be an annual thing (I think) from now. It was surprisingly good.
- KAIGAI had good placement near the entrance.
- Marvel, Udon, Drawn and Quarterly, Koyama Press, TCAF, & “other” were there.
- Lotsa traffic. People were nice. People bought books!
- No one expected artists to sign or draw inside books, which was nice (we sometimes did it anyway, to the genuine astonishment of the “lucky”(?) customer).
- Everyone happily accepted business cards/stickers/pins. I strongly recommend bringing lots of free cards/pins/stickers to this event.
- The crowds were friendly, even if they didn’t speak the same language as the exhibitor. Lotsa girls, but lots boys. I suspect 60/40 g/b.?
I arrived late because I was only “unofficially” there and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wish I had arrived earlier because it was great! i.e. friendly people behind and in front of the tables, and good sales. Lemme run through the Kaigai area, from my POV…
I met Helen Koyama (not Annie) and Robin & Daniel Nishio at the Koyama Press table.
- They let me sell my books with them and sell their books and “rep” KP. I was proud to do this. Robin gave me a big hug from Ryan Sands - thank you Ryan! They were all very nice to me and I was so grateful.
- By the time I got there, they had already sold a lot of books. I watched Koyama sell out Root Rot first, and I think every stack of books they brought sold well, if not sold-out. It was cool to see the audience interested in all the different types for sale. I hope KP brings a wider variety of books next year (assuming this festival happens again and KP goes) because I think the audience was hungry for different types of books.
- I didn’t bring very many copies of my books and I wish I had brought more.
TCAF had a nice display.
- They were drumming up Japanese interest in the festival, explaining what it was, giving out a book of diary comics about the festival in Japanese. They did a good job.
- I was so happy to see my friend Chris Butcher, who I met last year on another trip of his to Japan. He introduced me to Peter Birkemoe, the owner of The Beguiling, and Andrew Woodrow Butcher, who runs The Beguiling's kid's book store Little Island. All so nice and cool!
- Drawn & Quarterly was there, too. They had a great display, I bought Black Blizzard, & also I was so excited to see beautiful editions that have been published in America while I’ve been away.
- D&Q books are so nice!! That new Tomine book about New York is really nice looking (I believe it sold out quick). I looked at the book for about 55 seconds and was too overwhelmed. It feels like “an accomplishment.”
- Marvel was there, a guy was doing portfolio reviews, I heard they were interested in talent-scouting at this show. I listened in on a critique briefly, it was a guy showing a portfolio of cover-drawings, no story/actual comics. Meh.
- Udon Press was there. Were they cosplaying or was that a different booth? They had a great display. Lotsa books, lots colors, they had a big portfolio of original drawings out, it was cool.
There was a big area for browsing (but curiously, not buying) French B.D. These tables were run by (I think) a company that specifically works with selling international rights of French books, NOT a publisher or a reseller. The nice French woman told me that she usually never sees the public interact with books. She just kinda sat far behind the table reading a book, ignoring most visitors and not interacting much (but she was nice and cool and friendly when I and presumably anyone else wanted to have a chat). This seemed like a wasted opportunity or something… but whatever, I guess it’s cool. The goal was to “generate interest” and show publishers that the public is into the books (which were of course in French).
BTW Kaigai was centered around a big open stage where guys like Naoto Urusawa and Katsuhiro Otomo and some French artists were speaking. This was cool!
I randomly ran into Chris, Peter, Maurice Vellekoop and Debra Aoki the day before the fest, and went book shopping with them. This made me, lonely traveller RCS, so happy. BTW I have followed Debra’s twitter account for a long time - I personally have learned a lot about comics/manga/book sales/commerce from the discussions she leads and publishes via RT. I recommend that you follow her.
The last thing I did before boarding the night bus was to watch Chris, Maurice, and Love Love Hill do a presentation/book reading at PARCO in Shibuya. This was cool! I had to leave in the middle of Wai reading something of hers, it was good. I left, ran to my night bus, and took off for Osaka. Now it’s Monday morning and I’m back at work, yes that’s right sitting at my desk at school typing a con-report.
RCS’s VERDICT: Kaigai was real good. If you can come, then you should do it.