Ticktank’s English Guide to Comiket (コミケット) Part 2B: Selecting your Targets & Planning your time
**Warning: Sexual content (cartoon nudity) on this page. Do not proceed if you’re not of legal age or don’t want to be.
This is a continuation of an amateur’s guide to the Comic Market convention (Comiket). Part 2A can be found [here]. In this section, I’ll talk about how to find circles/artists that you may want to visit during the Comiket, based on the series you are interested in, and how to manage your time there.
As per the warning above, there are some softcore sexual images on this site, but nothing that will leave you scarred for life, unless you’re a pansy.
Locating circles of interest
I came across some illustrations/works and I really like them. How do I check if the artist/circle would be showcasing their new works at the Comiket? I’m not concerned about the series they would be producing works on. I just like their art and want more.
I’ll be using CGs and doujinshis as an example here. To determine whether an artist/circle you like will be showcasing stuff at the Comiket, simply locate and check their website and look for keywords associated to the Comiket (in Japanese too), such as “コミケット”, Comiket dates, assigned booth numbers e.g. 東2, K22-B etc. You may have to ask around or search for the website, if the pic was not found on the artist’s site (or worse, found inside a pay-site). Also, note that a small proportion of artists/circles do not have a web presence.
For Doujinshi’s, check around the last or first few pages, or sometimes even the back covers, to see if you can find similar info. The picture on the left below for example is a cover scan from the latest C74 doujinshi by one of my long-time favorite circles: ET-CYCLE. (Note: I did not scan this comic and I never will, as I support their works by buying them. Still, I think its possible to get some good out of this act of piracy 😛 )
Now lets assume you’ve never heard or seen their works before. Suppose one day while surfing for hentai you come across this FF4 comic, and having been impressed, are keen to find out if the artists are going to be at the upcoming Comiket. So after fapping and washing your hands (do it!), you do a quick scan of the front and back pages, and discover the following information as seen in the above right pic (poor Cecil by the way) – a website link, the name of the circle, and even the release date (Comiket 74 in this case)! Hopping over to take a look at their website, you see this:
Looks like ET-Cycle has submitted a circle cut for the next Comiket (75), and that they would be producing some works on “DQ5” (Dragon Quest 5?). All that remains now till the release of the Catalog is to keep track of the circle’s plans via its website, and see which booth they would be assigned to, and what they would be producing etc (may not eventually or just be DQ5). Assuming they do get lucky on the ballot – an exhibition space at the Comiket isn’t guaranteed because of high participation numbers, so a lucky draw is conducted for all circles who apply.
I’m a fan of [anime/manga series]. How to I find out which circles are going to be selling fan works during the Comiket?
There are several ways of going about this. I recommend trying all of them, as it can be quite satisfying when you do manage to pinpoint circles of your interest.
By circle cut – In other words, by visually scanning the hundreds of circle cuts to see if they mention anything about the series you are interested in. This is probably the best method if the series is popular e.g. NARUTO (kill yourself), but very unproductive and time consuming if the subject (such as BS6) is rare. Still fun nevertheless, as you may come across other circles that interest you, in the course of your scanning.
By CDROM catalog searching – I.e. by capitalizing on the key advantages the CDROM catalog has over its paper counterpart: website links to circles, as well as an option to search the database using keywords. As mentioned in part 2A of the guide however, not all circles will give a full list of the genres they would be producing works on. But still a very powerful means of locating stuff you want nonetheless, and one more reason to get the CDROM version.
By searching for existing works on the subject – This method isn’t very necessary if the series is popular, but absolutely essential if the series is obscure/rare. I’ll use BS6 as an appropriate latter example here. The first step in this method would be to do a thorough web search (using image search engines, danbooru etc) for BS6 fan material. Suppose one day while in the midst of such a search, you come across a nice piece of fanart of e.g. Hayami. If the fanart was found on the artist’s website, then you have your work cut out for you – just browse the website and see if you can find info on Comiket participation. This was how I managed to locate Pigeon Wharf – through finding one of her old BS6 fanarts. I learned eventually however that while she wasn’t selling any new BS6 works at Comiket 74, she would still be selling old BS6 works. Woot!
Just because a circle/artist has done fan work on a subject you like before doesn’t mean that they’ll be doing it again though. In fact, in most instances, they won’t! This is especially the case for old and not very popular series (like BS6 😦 ). An example would be the case below: I found a nice B/W sketch on Mutio, and traced it to the circle known as Chilled House. Through checking out the circle’s website, I learned that the circle was going to participate in Comiket 74, but would not be producing BS6 works. Unfortunate, but understandable.
This Mutio sketch eventually led me to the artist’s (Chilled House’s) website
There are however some artists/circles who seem to enjoy creating fan works on a particular series repeatedly over an extended period. The artist “Black Dog” for example has been a consistent producer of Sailor Moon (hentai) doujinshi. I’m personally not at all into that series, but for fans of Sailor Moon hentai, my guess is he’s quite beloved. 😛
Another (and the only) ‘repeater’ circle in the context of BS6 would be 09Factory (info is correct as of August 2008). Checking his website, uncovered the following below. It looks like he’s applied for December’s Comiket 75, with a Mutio circle-cut no less! Whats up with her eyes?!
In summary, searching for circles of interest can require considerable effort and time on your part, but it should be a none issue if you’re passionate about the subject (which you should be….right?). Identifying them is not the final step however, as you will still need to plan your travel route and do some prioritizing. This leads us to the next section:
Prioritizing and Mapping
Time management is the next big issue you will need to tackle, as the event is held only for 6 hours a day from 10AM to 4PM, during which a good 1-1.5 hours of it will be spent trying to get in, unless you queue really early.
This is the priority ranking I tend to work with, in order from most to least important.
- Any works (Print or Software) that will only be sold at the Comiket i.e. limited edition/prints
- Printed works that will be sold at shops after the Comiket
- Software works (like CG and CDRom games) that will be sold at shops after the Comiket
Unless the item(s) in question is pertaining to a particular genre that you’re obsessed with and really must have (e.g. BS6 in my case), resist the temptation to devote your first few critical hours towards getting items under (2) and (3), and instead aim to get the items that you would never be sold first-hand again after the event. Note however, that in many instances, items under (2) and (3) are not sold in large numbers at the shops either, so you’ll have to work fast and weigh your options.
I’m not really sure how to structure this section of the guide, so I’ll just list some of the pointers/tips that have been of great help to me during the planning process.
Popular circles will tend to run out of their items by 11.30AM-12PM. Realistically, you cannot expect to get works from more than 3 of such circles, as each queue will take at least 30-45 mins. Usually an hour.
Many works in general will start to sell out by 2.30PM, give or take 30 minutes.
If your priority list requires that you have to move between halls within the same cluster to get what you want, then be disciplined and stick to it. Don’t be distracted by other works you may come across in the meantime. You’ll kick yourself for missing out on the last available item you want by 2 mins, because you spent that time browsing a circle that wasn’t on your list.
Keep your list realistic – its impossible to browse even a third of all the circles during the event. My typical list has at most 7 circles on the ‘must visit’ tag per day, with only 1 of them being a heavyweight circle with massive crowds. Any more, and you may be up for disappointments.
Is it advisable to cross between the West and East Hall clusters?
Unless there are absolutely must-get goods in both clusters, my advice would be no. This is because crossing from one cluster to another takes around 20 mins, is very unpleasant on a Summer day, and it wastes time. Not to mention the mental and physical fatigue you may suffer (don’t underestimate this). From the way the genres are placed, it is unlikely that you’ll want to cross between clusters. If its Yaoi or Hentai you want, they can be found within the East Hall clusters.
Crowded tables (actual and potential ones). Which ones?
Be especially wary of the following tables and areas on the map, as they tend to have big queues and/or packed crowds around their areas.
Tables assigned to rows “A” and “ッ” (Red & Pink Tables) – these booths are always given to popular circles (T2, Black Dog, Lapis Lazuli etc), and are lined up along the hall’s perimeter, facing outwards. This is done to give queue lines sufficient space to extend outwards towards the open air carpark, so that the people inside the halls are not obstructed by said queues. To join these queues, look for the corresponding sign or placard holders standing at the start of the queue, outside the building.
Tables assigned to the corners of each rectangular cluster i.e. 4 per cluster (Orange Tables). These are *usually* semi-popular or once heavyweight circles that have been demoted from the “A” and “ッ” rows (Saigado Publishing, Fake Star, Et-Cycle etc), but are otherwise still popular and well-known. Sometimes, the lines to these tables would unexpectedly explode with people, and jam up the entire row.
Table clusters selling works of popular genrese.g. Final Fantasy, Gundam, or that annoying schoolgirl with the orange hair-ribbon. Crowds lining up and browsing these clusters can become very dense, making it extremely tiring and time consuming to move through them. You can’t avoid the clusterfuck if you’re intending to buy goods from a circle situated there, but its good to know nonetheless. Now why can’t there be a BS6 column…sigh.
Armed with the knowledge of what circles to visit and where they would be, you can then proceed to draw up a priority list, containing all the essential information you need. The CDROM version of the catalog has a nifty program to help you with this step. It even lets you color code the circles you have shortlisted, in order of popularity.
Its to your interest to have your final list and battle plan prepared before you head to the event. I recommend reviewing it again the night before, or during the time you travel to the Tokyo Big Sight. In the next part (3) (link can be found at the top and bottom of this post), I’ll talk about the fine art of queuing, and transportation. Hope this has been helpful.