Comiket

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Doujinshi Convention
Name: Comiket, Comic Market
Dates: 1975 - present
Frequency: semiannual (August and December)
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Number of Booths: 35000
Focus: All fandoms and original works
Other Activities: cosplay, other fanworks
Organization: Comiket Preparation Committee
Founded By: Yoshihiro Yonezawa
Founding Date: December 21, 1975
URL: http://www.comiket.co.jp/ (Japanese) http://www.comiket.co.jp/index_e.html (English)
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Contents

Comiket (コミケット komiketto), or Comic Market (コミックマーケット komikku maaketto), is a doujinshi convention held in Japan. It is held twice a year, once in August and once in December, referred to as Summer Comiket and Winter Comiket respectively. Each Comiket lasts for three days and takes place at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center. Editions of Comiket are numbered, and often abbreviated to C(number). The most recent edition of Comiket was "Comic Market 83"/"C83", which took place from 29 to 31 December 2012.

Comiket is the largest convention for self-published works in the world. For the 2009 Summer Comiket (C76), approximately 560,000 people attended.[1] C80, which took place in August 2011, drew about 540,000 visitors.[2] The number of attending doujinshi circles has been limited to about 35,000 since the late 90s because of size constraints of the location.[3]

History

In the middle of the 1970s, the Nihon Manga Taikai (Japan Manga Convention) was one of the most important gathering places for fans in Japan. It "followed a similar format as present-day anime and comics conventions in the United States",[4] with anime screenings and invited professional guests, but there was also room for about 20 booths where fans could sell self-created doujinshi (fanwork or original). Some doujinshi circles wanted this fan area to become a more important part of the convention, and also objected to the hierarchy that they felt convention organizers were establishing by making talks and autography sessions with professional guests into the focal points of the event. The conflict got so heated that several circles were banned from participating in Nihon Manga Taikai altogether.[5]

The members of one the most vocal banned circles, Meikyu, organized their own convention that was purely for amateurs wanting to sell self-created works. The first "Comic Market" took place on 21 December 1975. This first edition was attended by 32 circles and about 700 general participants.[6]

Soon, "Comiket" began to expand rapidly. The event outgrew multiple venues in and around Tokyo throughout its history. It also had to leave one location in neighboring Chiba prefecture, Makuhari Messe, reportedly because of problems with a local law regarding pornography. Comiket now takes place each August and December in Tokyo Big Sight, one of the largest convention centers in Japan, and lasts for three days. At the time of the move to Big Sight (August 1996), the number of participating circles fluctuated around 20000, and the number of general participants was around 250000. These numbers rose rapidly after the move, and starting from C56 (August 1999), the number of circles that could participate had to be capped at 35000. Because the number of circles that apply exceeds the number of spaces available, circle participants are selected by lottery. The number of general attendees has been above half a million since C72 (August 2007).[7] Overcrowding has become a major problem at Comiket.

In the early years of Comiket, most of the doujinshi sold there were original doujinshi. It wasn't until the middle of the 1980s that the proportion of doujinshi with fannish content at the convention began to overtake that of "original" doujinshi.[8]

(to be expanded)

Participants

Comiket uses the label "participants" (sankasha) to denote sellers, buyers, and staff, in an attempt to emphasize the egalitarian nature of the event. Although participants are commonly described as belonging to the groups listed below, there is significant blurring between these categories: people may participate as a circle on one day and as a general participant on another, cosplayers are often considered part of either the "general participants" or "circle participants" group, employees at company booths sometimes cosplay as characters from the company's works, and so on.

Circle participants

Since the number of circles that can participate is limited to 35,000 and there are generally more than 35,000 applications, a lottery determines which circles can take part in each Comiket. The lottery that determined who could have half a table for one day at Comiket 80 contained entries from 52,000 circles.[9] Each day, about 11,000 circles can sell their works.

The scale of circles’ activities and sales at Comiket varies wildly. A majority of circles report that they sell up to a hundred dojinshi while at Comiket and generally lose money on their fannish activities, but some of the more famous and successful circles sell over a thousand dojinshi during Comiket and earn several hundred thousand yen (one thousand yen is about 1300 US dollars or 970 euros) over the course of a whole year of attending conventions.[10]

General participants

Attendees who come to buy dojinshi, cosplay, and socialize. In recent years, about 200,000 visitors have attended Comiket on each day. Since entry is free and no registration is required, it's not clear how many of the visitors counted are repeat visitors who attend on more than one day. Since each day has a different theme, buyers are assumed to participate only on the day(s) that interests them.

Staff participants

Comiket's preparation committee, or Junbikai, consists of between ten and thirty volunteers throughout the year. During Comiket editions in August and December, about three thousand seasonal volunteers work at Tokyo Big Sight to regulate traffic, provide information, sell drinks, and so on.[11]

Cosplay participants

Large numbers of cosplayers participate in Comiket. Cosplayers don't need to apply for participation beforehand, but they do need to register and pay a fee upon arrival at the convention site. Cosplayers arrive in regular clothing and change into their cosplay outfits at the two dressing rooms provided at the convention site; coming to the site in cosplay is strictly prohibited.[12] Cosplayers mingle with other participants during the event, but photography of cosplay is limited to designated "cosplay squares" (cosupure hiroba) because the halls where dojinshi are sold are very crowded.

Company participants

About 150 companies, ranging from manga publishers to anime production houses to dojinshi resale shops and other fan-oriented companies, like Pixiv, participated in Comiket 80. To preserve the fannish atmosphere of Comiket, the company booths are located on a separate floor and have a separate catalog.[13] Company participants are a relatively recent phenomenon at Comiket: the company booths floor was only established after the convention moved to the Tokyo Big Sight convention center.

Press participants

Sometimes also included in "company participants" are members of the press who attend Comiket to report on the convention. Journalists are forbidden to do any newsgathering or photography inside the convention site unless they register for a press pass and agree to abide by guidelines set by the Junbikai. Journalists wear identification and an armband to indicate that they're at the event for newsgathering. In each Comiket catalog, the Junbikai publishes lists of all individuals and organizations who applied for a press pass during the previous edition of the convention.[14] The Junbikai often talks about how to deal with journalists in its publications towards attendees. It emphasizes that it's normal for such a big event to attract media attention and encourages fans to speak to the press, but also reminds people that it's important to check journalists' identity and report anyone whose way of newsgathering is making fannish attendees uncomfortable. [15]

Organization

(to be added)

Organizers

Application process

Circles and companies - in other words, participants who need a booth - need to apply beforehand to participate in Comiket. All other participants are free to attend without prior application, although cosplayers and press need to register upon arrival.

Circle application process

Because there are usually more circles wishing to participate than spaces, and because approximately 35000 spaces need to be arranged according to fandom, the application process for circles wanting to participate is quite long and involves a lottery. Circles need to send in an application form during a set week: for the Winter Comiket, approximately during the week that lasts from the start of that years's Summer Comiket, and for the Summer Comiket, approximately during the first week of February. Application forms that arrive before or after the set application week are excluded from the lottery. Application forms are usually bought during the previous edition of the convention, although they are also sold in a few other locations such as website Circle.ms and the doujin shop Comiket Service.

(to be expanded)

Circles sometimes participate together with another circle if they have a collaboration work to distribute. These circles apply for "combined participation" (合体参加, 'gattai sanka') to make sure they will be assigned to neighboring spaces. (A single circle space at Comiket usually consists of half of a fold-out table, although some larger circles are assigned more room.)

Selection criteria

Allocation of spaces

Catalog

Activities

Although Comiket involves significant cosplay and various other fannish activities, the main focus of the event is socializing and exchange of fanworks.

Sales of fanworks

Most fanworks at Comiket are sold, although some circles also hand out small free goods such as bags or postcards printed with fan art (often to the first buyers) or small doujinshi called "copy books" (kopiihon), thin doujinshi copied and stapled together by the doujinshika rather than by a professional printing company. The fanworks sold at Comiket include but are not limited to:[16]

Dojinshi: The vast majority of all fanworks sold at Comiket are printed dojinshi. Most dojinshi contain fan comics, but not insignificant nummber contain fic, original manga or fiction, meta, or other information that fans want to publish.

Goodies: Bookmarks, character plushies, character stickers, mugs, and so on.

Meta: Publications on topics of fannish interest by Comiket's Junbikai, other fan- and popular culture-related organizations and publications such as Manga Ronso[17], and meta by individual dojinshika.

Handicrafts: Accessories, homemade jewelry, cosplay materials, dolls, soaps, and so on.

Pet-related materials: Cat pictures, cat calendars, cat postcards. Dojinshi in which everybody is a cat. Miniature storybooks made with text and pictures of the seller's own cat. Cat-ear diadems. Cat hats. All of the former in flavors of dog and other animals.

Music: Fan music based on existing media and some original music. Quite a few fans digitally create videos to go with the songs and display the goods on tablets or netbooks, and many also bring headphones so people can listen before they buy.

Games: Fan-made games. Many creators show previews of their games on tablets or netbooks.

Drama cds: Dramatized readings of fannish works in all genres.

DVDs: Cosplay DVDs, fan-made animations, and so on.

Games: Fan-made games. Many creators bring laptops or tablets to show previews of their games.

Technology: Dojinshi about computer-related topics, often less "mainstream" topics such as various Linux distributions, software and hardware hacks, and so on. Also small pieces of hardware.

Art books: Collections of fan art, original art, and others, often in a larger format than manga dojinshi and printed in full color on glossy paper.

Photo books: Dojinshi containing cosplay photos, but also non-fannish photos about specific topics.

Sales of company goods

The most important non-fannish activity at Comiket takes place on the upper floor of the West Hall of Tokyo Big Sight, which is reserved for company booths. The booths are placed on a separate floor from the circles selling their dojinshi to preserve the fannish atmosphere of the main event.[18] The only company booths located within the dojinshi halls are those that sell art supplies, software, and hardware such as drawing tablets.

Companies at Comiket generate publicity for existing and upcoming projects, and sell goods, often limited editions (genteihin) that are distributed exclusively at Comiket. These limited editions are in great demand among many fans, leading to long lines for popular company booths. The company goods sold and otherwise distributed at Comiket include DVDs, music, character jewelry, art books, paper hats and paper fans, and many others. One eye-catching aspect of the company booths at Comiket are the colorful and sturdy special edition tote bags in which companies distribute goods. Fans walking around with bags full of other bags are a common sight around the convention site.

Comiket for non-Japanese speakers

Although the majority of Comiket participants are Japanese, Comiket estimates that attendance by non-Japanese participants is increasing[19], and the convention provides a dedicated barebones guide for overseas participants in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. The guide appeared in English for the first time in the catalog for C56 (1999) and in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese in the catalog for C68 (2005). The guide for overseas participants was expanded from one to four pages in 2011 and is also available in full on Comiket's website.[20] Most of the overseas attentees are general participants, but non-Japanese circles also participate, although they often need help from Japanese friends because applying for circle participation requires a Japanese home address.[21]

From the late 1990's on, an "international desk" (kokusaibu) was established for participants with limited Japanese ability who need information during the convention.[22] Regular Comiket staffers are helpful, but often speak only Japanese.

Today, English-speaking fans who want to attend Comiket also have many online resources to help them. A few examples are:

References

  1. Record Numbers at Comiket 76: 560,000 Attendees, Sankaku Complex article. From the article, it's not clear if this figure includes participating circles.
  2. Comiket as a market for fanworks, Symposium post. This figure doesn't include the number of participating circles.
  3. What is Comiket? (PDF, English version) from the official Comiket website.
  4. Tamagawa, Hiroaki. 2012. “Comic Market as Space for Self-Expression in Otaku Culture.” In Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World. Yale University Press. Location 2594-2608.
  5. Tamagawa, Hiroaki. 2012. “Comic Market as Space for Self-Expression in Otaku Culture.” In Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World. Yale University Press. Location 2622-41.
  6. Comiket. Comic Market Timeline (コミックマーケット年表). http://www.comiket.co.jp/archives/Chronology.html. Last visited 17-5-2012.
  7. Comiket. Comic Market Timeline (コミックマーケット年表). http://www.comiket.co.jp/archives/Chronology.html. Last visited 17-5-2012.
  8. Yoshihiro Yoshihiro (米沢嘉博), ed. 2001. Manga to Chosakuken: Parodi to Inyo to Dojinshi to (漫画と著作権:パロディと引用と同人誌と). Tokyo: Comiket (コミケット). p7.
  9. Comic Market 81 Circle Application Set
  10. Text copied and adapted from Comiket as a market for fanworks. Figures taken from Comiket 80 catalog, p.1325-1326, and converted to US dollars and euros on October 6, 2011.
  11. Comic Market 81 Circle Application Set, p.4
  12. What is Comiket? (PDF, English version) from the official Comiket website.
  13. Text copied and adapted from Comiket as a market for fanworks. Figures taken from Comik Market 80 Company Booths Pamphlet, p.10.
  14. For instance, pp.1199-1200 of C81's catalog list about 150 mostly Japanese but also foreign press.
  15. Yokogawa, Shun (横川俊). 2008. Hataraku ojisan soushuuhen (はたらくおぢさん 総集編 5). Comic Market Preparation Committee (コミックマーケット準備会). P15.
  16. Comic Market 80 catalog, 2011. Comic Market 81 catalog, 2011.
  17. Manga Ronso official site
  18. (add reference from Comiket catalog)
  19. Ichikawa, Koichi. 2009. “The Comic Market Today and Overseas Participants” December 30. http://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/C77/C77CMKSymposiumPresentationEnglish.pdf. Slide 18.
  20. To Attendees from Overseas. Official Comiket website.
  21. Ichikawa, Koichi. 2009. “The Comic Market Today and Overseas Participants” December 30. http://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/C77/C77CMKSymposiumPresentationEnglish.pdf. Slide 19.
  22. Ichikawa, Koichi. 2009. “The Comic Market Today and Overseas Participants” December 30. http://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/C77/C77CMKSymposiumPresentationEnglish.pdf. Slide 16.
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