What is COMITIA: A “Treasure-hunting Place”
While Comic Market (Comiket) often gains international attention for its sheer size and importance in Japanese popular cultures and subcultures, COMITIA plays a significant role in the manga publishing industry and independent creator’s scene. Founded in November 1984, COMITIA is a convention where professionals and amateurs can sell self-published books and creative works.
Unlike Comiket, a biannual marketplace for both doujin and original manga, novels, and goods held in Tokyo, COMITIA creates a space solely for original works. It is held four times a year (February, May, August, and November) at Tokyo Big Site and, as of May 2018, has occurred 124 times. (Regarding the naming of COMITIA, the organizers add the number of times it has been held. For example, the COMITIA in February was titled COMITIA 123 and COMITIA 124 in May.) Affiliated organizations in Osaka, Nagoya, Niigata, Hokkaido, and Fukushima also host COMITIA throughout the year. As described by the official website, this event “is a stage for artists to freely express their unique and novel imaginations through their publications as well as it is a treasure-hunting place for readers who are not satisfied with off-the-shelf books and want to explore new works.”
Due to the nature of the convention, COMITIA tends to be smaller than Comiket. Around 3,000 to 5,000 circles participate, and 2,000 to 3,000 people come to it on average. This size allows for a (relatively) more relaxed environment where people can browse and discover artists. COMITIA is also a place for manga publishers to recruit and nurture new talent. In this intimate environment, aspiring mangaka can talk with manga editors from publishers like Shueisha, Kadokawa, and many others. Many mangaka started here and still attend even after debuting, making this event a key component to the birth of new manga.
Not just for Japanese Creators
Circle participants come from all over the world. Manga Planet had the opportunity to say hello to Rasenth and Billies at COMITIA 123 and hear about their experiences creating original comics and illustrations.
Keep it Simple, Make Stuff!
My COMITIA table! Selling Chimi Mouryou books! The cover image is printed wrong due to my formatting mistake. TT However the insides are good! pic.twitter.com/QyRO16Mnyp
— ラセンス✏️コミティア東4 B20b (@rasenth) May 5, 2018
Rasenth is an American working as a game artist in Japan. This past February was their first COMITIA, and they are currently active in the Yuri!! on Ice doujinshi scene. As noted by Rasenth, at COMITIA “you aren’t expected to make any profit, but it is for fun.”
“Make stuff, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s bad, just make it because you enjoy it,” Rasenth tells creators eager to apply to COMITIA. With the desire to focus on their original work and connect with fellow artists, they tabled at COMITIA 123 and COMITIA 124. You can follow Rasenth on Twitter at @rasenth
Ready for COMITIA124 ! 東4B20a pic.twitter.com/Zk2RM7HV1y
— ビリー⭐️デザフェス50【A-131】両日 (@birries) May 5, 2018
Billies is an illustrator based in South Korea and part of Uchuu Summer, an artists collective. She is a veteran doujinshi artist who has tabled at various events in Japan and America. Like Rasenth, Billies pointed out that at COMITIA, people mainly attend because of their hobbies and interests. In a message to artists who want to table at events in Japan, Billies emphasized the importance of using social media to promote your work. Billies also attended COMITIA 124. You can follow Billies on Twitter at @billies.
Want to be a mangaka in Japan? Remember COMITIA!
For those who dream of becoming a mangaka in Japan, this is an event to keep in mind. Be sure to read the official website for more information: http://www.comitia.co.jp
If you are interested in other manga and anime events in Tokyo, be sure to read our articles on the Cheese!’s Ikebo x Shōjo Manga Genga-ten, Land of the Lustrous Exhibit at Yurakucho Marui, Kizu Natsuki at Manga10, Yoneda Kou’s Op: The Colourless Days of Yoake Itaru Book Fair@Shosen and Himouto Umaru-chan Exhibit.