In which is documented a day and night of preparation, followed by a day of circle participation at Comiket 73. Caution: this post should not be read by minors, those desirous of continued employment, offended by bad art, or with any sense of taste whatsoever. If you find the details of this post to be stultifying and the content drab and awful, congratulations – you’re perfectly normal.

The second day of Comic Market began at 8:00 o’clock in the morning with rolling out of bed to work on the copy book I planned to release the next day. Still feeling a bit short on sleep I forged through the day and through the following night, finishing pencil work, inking, scanning, and printing. I managed to finish 8 pages worth of copy book and print 50 copies by 3:20 AM on the third day, which is when I was picked up by a friend to begin the winding trek to the Big Sight.

Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1 Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1

We had two pickups to making before heading into Tokyo, first swinging over to pick up my longtime acquaintance Xiarobo. He’s generously bestowed circle tickets upon me in the past, but since I would be entering on my own this time he gave the remaining ticket to another friend of his who we picked up last before heading into town.

Heading in to what has become our typical Akihabara parking place we encountered a newly opened highway tunnel in the middle of Tokyo, and in true ana ga attara, buchikomitai fashion we headed straight in. It ended up leading nowhere near Akiba so we lost some time on the scenic route, but ended up making it to the Big Sight comfortably before the 9:00 AM cutoff for circle entry.

Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1 Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1 Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1 Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1

We met up with kransom at the Kokusai-Tenjijou Seimon station on the Yurikamome monorail line near the Big Sight, walked together past the amassed hordes of regular participants gathered under the quadruple inverted pyramids, handed out circle tickets, and made our way into the hall.

Unlike smaller events such as Wonder Festival, entering the Big Sight before Comiket begins doesn’t feel particularly empty. With 10,000+ circles each day and each circle having at least three tickets, there are 30,000 people inside the Big Sight before the doors officially open – a population rather larger than that of the town where I grew up.

I had handed off my third ticket to Animaestro prior to the event and he arrived there before us, so we met up with him at what would be my little piece of real estate for the day: space K37a (see if you can find it on this map!). Many hours of toil spread over several months finally came together in that moment, as almost magically the box of my first offset-printed doujinshi was there waiting for me beneath the table.

Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1 Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1

I opened it hastily, and there it was – a proper doujinshi, ready to stack on the table and sell. I was interested to find that they had included both the original data CD I sent in, and 18 extra copies of the book beyond what I had ordered; apparently this is common practice to account for printing errors, though I didn’t discover any as I looked through them.

Animaestro and kransom split at 9:00 to head for the other side of the halls (east 4-6) as their priority purchases for the morning began over yonder. I entrusted them both with my own list in the hopes they’d be able to pick up some of what I was hoping to acquire whilst being trapped behind my table for the day, and then set about getting my table ready for the big event.

I had prepared most of what I needed, but ended up with one final scare before the event opened – apparently the ID stickers to be placed on sample books given to the event staff were contained in the application packet, which was the one piece of documentation I’d neglected to bring along. Thankfully the staff in charge of my section of the hall had extra, and I was able to register to sell without difficulty.

Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1

After getting the table mostly in order I began to staple the copy book as fast as I could. Printing the thing earlier that morning had taken all the time available (note to self: cheap laser printer means sloooooow printing) so I was stuck assembling it in the little time left before the event opening at 10:00; the photo you see here includes my shiny metal stapler as well as sheafs of loose paper (on the right) destined to become copy books. I didn’t get them all finished in time for the event opening, but I got enough to make a nice little stack and hold off while I assembled the rest.

The announcement of the event opening came on the dot at ten o’clock, as usual, and I stood up and clapped with everyone as heartily as I ever have. The race was on, the day had begun, and I was selling for the first time as my own circle at Comic Market.

The day passed in a blur of foggy-headed sleeplessness mixed with euphoric delerium. It’s hard to recall in detail what all happened, but I know it involved several great conversations with both Japanese (“did you draw this?” “where are you from?” “lol”) and fellow gaijin (“did you draw this?” “where are you from?” “lol”). Most were more nuanced than that, and it was great to meet everyone who braved the maniac ero section to stop by. I hope to get in touch with you soon.

In the middle of the afternoon I took the opportunity to wander around to the circles of various acquaintances and hand out copies of my book, returning to man the booth until four when we packed up and I received the spoils of war gathered for me by Animaestro and kransom. There are a few things I was hoping to get that didn’t make the cut, but for a day spent largely behind my table I’d say the haul wasn’t too shabby.

Heisei Democracy event report: Comic Market 73, day 1

Comiket 73 fallout

I managed to pack all the loot in the half-empty box in which my doujin had come in the morning, and loaded it on to the hand cart I’d brought for the purpose. I rejoined Xiarobo and company and we headed back to the car in Akiba, where I had an hour and a half to kill while the others went shopping (if I wasn’t a total zombie at this point I would’ve been taking pictures, as all of the otaku shops had lines like you wouldn’t believe). Instead I wandered around looking for brains to eat before finally hopping in the car and heading for home. I made it back in at around eleven and was finally able to collapse into bed, thus ending the tale of one man’s madcap Comiket circle-participating adventure.

Footnote: In some earlier coverage I speculated that this event would be a litmus test to reveal the effects of the creeping tide of censorship that manifested itself over the past year. My worst fears in this respect were allayed, as a perusal of content in the books I was able to acquire shows fare much the same as that of previous events. A more rigorous application of censor bars is about the extent of the difference, and it seems that for now at least a balance has been reached: creators, printers, and event organizers are all on their guard, but none seem substantially cowed by the threat (real or illusory) of a harsh crackdown on freedom of expression in the imminent future.

Footnote II: “Bote” (ボテ) is short for “harabote” (腹ボテ), and is a Japanese slang term for pregnancy (or large stomachs in general).

Footnote III: By the end of the day I sold out of all the copy books I had time to print and assemble (~40 copies plus ~10 given away), as well as roughly 55-60 copies of the offset book. This was on the higher end of what I was expecting, credit for which I give to the advantageous corner placement of my table (I’m guessing they put me in such a high traffic area because they knew I wouldn’t sell many copies to begin with, thus reducing line congestion) as well as the exotic foreigner factor (“this book isn’t very good, but some crazy gaijin dude is selling it so what the hell”).

Footnote IV: If for some crazy reason you’re interested in obtaining a copy of the book I put out at the event (trust me, it sucks and you don’t want it) feel free to stop by and ask on IRC. I’ll be prepping a digital version soon.

Up next on the doujin docket: Sunshine Creation 38 on February 10th, as well as application to C74 and a few other spring events. Ganbaru kara~