A hard-hitting first-person account of the many-hyphenated adventures surrounding one man’s participation, as a circle, at a doujinshi convention. First installment: just the facts, ma’am.

Sunshine Creation 33 catalog and circle ticket

Sunshine Creation
33 catalog and
circle ticket

The story of HD’s participation in Sunshine Creation 33 (henceforth referred to as Sankuri, from the Japanese abbreviation サンクリ) begins three and a half months ago, at Sankuri 32.

They were accepting applications for the subsequent event there, so I stood in line in a very hot stairwell for fifteen minutes, plunked down my 4,000 yen and single-sheet application (so much easier than Comiket’s monstrosity), and left, promptly relegating the whole affair to the back of my consciousness, somewhere close to the roughly fifty HD site updates currently in planning and the vague intention to send out the Negative Campaign prizes some time this millennium.

There it stayed, lurking like a ring buried in the bottom of a riverbed for countless centuries, until early August – the first day of C70, if I recall correctly. The event was dredged rudely back into not-so-subconsciousness with the arrival of a fat little envelope containing the notice that my circle application had been accepted, and three circle tickets (passes to enter the event hall early to set up). This was the real deal, it seemed.

It was so real, in fact, that I promptly shoved it back into the dark recesses of memory where it lurked virtually unnoticed until about two weeks ago, when I realized there was a week remaining until the event and I’d done little more than sketch out a few character designs. The following seven days were a blur of juggling work on the manga and work at my day job. I managed to sketch out a rough flow of the book during idle time at work, in the course of which it grew from 12, to 16, to 20, and finally to 22 pages in length. This left me with 22 pages of manga to draw, from outlines, in the 40 hours leading up to the event.

Anyone who has ever drawn any sort of comics will tell you that you can’t draw 22 pages in one sitting and end up with anything even remotely resembling “good”, and they would be right. Nevertheless I put my nose-hand to the grindstone like I’d never done before, and I drew. I drew through Friday afternoon into the evening, slept for six hours, and drew from early Saturday morning straight through until about 4:30 on Sunday. Morning. Around midnight I started putting my hand on ice; I’d never drawn that much at a stretch and tendons whose existence I had previously been unaware of were protesting something fierce.

The time from 4:30 to 7:30 was spent scanning, adjusting levels, adding mosaics and the cover text (didn’t have time to add any dialogue to the book, so it reads like a silent movie… I had the thought yesterday of a line of doujinshi that would follow the evolution of film, maybe the next one will come with a piano roll), printing, cutting the paper down to copiable size and format, and panicking about not having enough time to actually photocopy and staple the book before the event began at 11:00 in Ikebukuro, two hours from my present location.

Inma Dorei Denki ep. 0 cover

cover of The
Book, in all its
hastily-sketched
glory

It was at this point that I called Animaestro, a friend of mine who would perhaps be poorly described as the not-ugly gaijin futanari fan version of Saizensen-kun (I realize this isn’t a flattering comparison, but it’s meant in the best possible way – his devotion to superabundantly-gendered two-dimensional females cannot be exaggerated). He had agreed to meet me in Ikebukuro at around nine that morning, which at 7:30 with a two hour travel time obviously wasn’t going to happen. We decided that he would go on ahead to Ikebukuro anyway and look for a place I could copy the book, and I’d meet him there closer to 10:00. With a game plan in place I set off.

Travel went smoothly and I arrived at the East exit of Ikebukuro station a little after ten in the morning. Animaestro had located a Kinko’s in the vicinity, and after leading me there we parted ways – he with one of my circle tickets and myself with a whole lot of copying to do. I charged him with the task of leaving a note on my chunk of table real estate in the event hall to the effect that I’d be there later with copies, and got down to work.

A half hour and 630 copies later (the odd 30 were printed backwards by accident, THANKS SLEEPLESSNESS) I left Kinko’s and hot-footed it over to Sunshine City – or more properly speaking the Bunka Kaikan hall behind the Sunshine City shopping complex, where Sunshine Creation (wonder where they got the name) is typically held. I arrived a few minutes after the event officially opened, and was thus denied access to the hall until the queue of regular participants who had been waiting to enter had all filed in. Note to self and other prospective doujin circles: don’t do any of what I had done up to this point. Entering the hall with a circle ticket after all of the regular folks just feels stupid.

I made my way to the slice of table alotted me, gave a hasty “yoroshiku” to the circle next door, and started folding. A side note: folding and stapling (and folding and stapling and folding and stapling) is neither fun nor glamorous, especially not on 0 hours of sleep. Highly recommended against. The rest of the day until the event’s closure at 3:30 was a blur of folding and stapling, punctuated by the book officially going on sale at 12:30 after I’d collated ten copies (of the fifty I printed), meeting a few friends who had said they would stop by (including the redoubtable Animaestro, who had done some shopping for me – all praise his wine and ale), and selling a total of five (5) books – two or three of them to folks who actually seemed interested in the content.

Despite being a textbook example of how not to enjoyably participate in a doujin event, I had a pretty good (if deliriously fatigued) time. As things were winding down Animaestro introduced me to Shimokata Kouzou and Sakai Hamachi, with whom we proceeded to dine at a fair-to-middling Italian restaurant and discuss moe, porn, and various net memes (Churuya-san~~) before my brain shut down and I had to call it quits, switching to low-power survival mode for the long trip home.

Thus concludes the first installment of the Heisei Democracy doujin saga. Those interested in the content of the crappy book I put out would do well to point their browsers to heiseidemocracy.net in a few days, as I’m planning to strip it down and retrofit it into a personal circle site of sorts; those interested in the continuation of the story, in which I attend Abnormal Carnival 4 (WARNING: not for the faint of heart or stomach) yesterday, managing to sell a few more books and draw my very first sketchbook entry, would do well to point their browsers to this bat time and bat channel, also in the next few days.

This entry was pretty much the nuts and bolts of the event; in the subsequent ABC post I’ll be addressing some of the more metaphysical and preponderous aspects of the circle participation experience. There’s a lot to mull over that hasn’t been touched on yet, but my post-event brainfried state (and need to leave for work in five minutes) isn’t allowing me to express it coherently here… do stay tuned.