Largest Fan Gathering On Earth?
Comic Market – known as Comiket to millions of fans – is an amateur manga sale event with huge professional credibility in Japan and worldwide.
Tokyo’s Big Sight conference centre hosts dozens of major events every year, including many for anime and manga fans, like the twice-yearly Wonder Festival. But in terms of sheer size and longevity, Comiket is the daddy of them all.
World’s Biggest Comic Convention
Comiket is a showcase and selling event for creators of amateur comics – doujinshi as they are known in Japan. Starting out ten years before Wonder Festival, in 1975, with thirty-two comic creators and 700 attendees, the fan-run event has grown to epic proportions. Comiket 74, in August 2008, had a total of 35,000 comic creators and over 500,000 visitors over its three days.
The 2008 San Diego Comic-Con in California, its nearest rival in the blockbuster comic convention stakes, attracted 125,000 attendees in 2007. Comiket is far and away the world’s largest comic event, and a strong contender for the largest fan gathering on the planet.
History of Comiket
Comiket grew out of the Japan Manga Convention. A group of fans who disagreed with aspects of JMC policy decided to set up a separate event which would be all-inclusive. By and large this policy still endures, although the convention has operated a review system for pornographic material since 1989.
After moving around various halls in Tokyo as numbers attending grew, Comiket moved to Big Sight for Comiket 50 in summer 1996. 30,000 comic creators sold their wares to around 300,000 attendees. From 2000, fan game creators began to sell their wares at Comiket. Music fans followed suit, and now almost every kind of popular artform – including costume, dollmaking, printmaking and software design – can be found at Comiket.
Springboard to Careers in Comics and Games
Comiket 51 offered professional companies the chance to participate for the first time in 1997, and now many household names in anime and manga have corporate booths. Many fan creators have entered the profession thanks to exposure at Comiket.
CLAMP are among the most famous. Big-name professional artists and game designers attend. Talent scouts tour the event, picking up on fan favourites and offering them professional contracts.
Otaku Cosplayers Invade Tokyo
Costume play, or cosplay, has been a major part of Comiket for many years. Fans dress up as their favourite characters, and many also act out the parts, adopting mannerisms or performing moves from the TV shows.
Both group and individual cosplay can be seen, and special photography areas are set up to allow snappers to get the best shots. Some of the most polished cosplay fans have made Comiket a springboard to book and video deals and promotional work, but many simply enjoy dressing up for fun. Comiket cosplay veterans even bring their children along to join in the fun.
Admission to Comiket is currently free. There’s a helpful multi-lingual website with information for non-Japanese attendees, and an online doujinshi shopping service. Big Sight also posts details of event times and admissions on its English language website.
There are many reasonably priced hotels in Tokyo – rooms can be found from as little as Y3,000/US$25/UK£15 and you can book online in English using the Japan National Tourist Organisation’s Welcome Inn Reservation Centre. Public transport in Tokyo is safe, clean, reliable and inexpensive, making this and other must-see venues for anime, manga or cosplay fans easy for foreigners to visit.