Wow, what a week. It started with a trip to my inlaws for Christmas and me feeling incredibly emo about Zemlya, and now it ends with a nice start to 2017.
If you don’t know, the end of the year also brings with it Comiket; the biannual comiket market in Tokyo. Each event attracts about 500,000 people over the three days, and I would say that at least 50,000 of that number is made up of creators. Almost all of the works available there are self-published, and it seems that practically no-one makes any money.
Here’s an 8-minute clip from Lucky Star that sums it up nicely:
Now, I know what you’re thinking; that this is just an exaggeration for television. I can tell you that it isn’t. If you’re hard-core (or, as it has become known within 4LS, ‘Surikocore’) you will be sitting in the cold from about 5 am, waiting to get into the halls and purchase the latest artbooks, doujin manga, and merchandise.
To give you an example of the lines, check the image below. This is the line inside the halls. These are the creators that are lining up to buy other creator’s items. The ‘normal’ people coming into the halls are waiting outside. We had someone come to the 4LS table within 90 seconds and, I shit you not, there were people lining up at Weee’s table before we were allowed to start selling. It took only 2 seconds to sell 4 copies each of her book, Dreamer (a short novel in English and Japanese based on the short story on this blog), and VCR’s collab artbook.
Everything moves at a crazy pace, and by 1300 pretty much everyone is sold out. But those three hours (1000-1300) are intense. It feels like it’s about 1800 by the time you can stop to take a breather. And the people buying are the same. One of our team managed to hit up 30 stalls in less than 90 minutes (and that is after waiting in line for 4 hours in freezing conditions).
But the attitude there is amazing. It’s a battle, to be sure (one person called it the equivalent of a mosh pit), but everyone is pretty well mannered. The crowds (generally) behave in an orderly manner, people line up correctly (and, more importantly, don’t try and take your spot if you have to hop out for a bathroom break etc) and at the end of the day you can see all the little purchasing teams sitting together and trading their loot.
The greatest thing for me was that I managed to sell 150 copies of Dreamer (at printing cost + booth fees) and 24 copies of Zemlya. That means a lot to me as it is more paperbacks than have been sold in the three months that Zemlya has been on sale. At the same time, the Christmas promotion for Zemlya added another 200 or so downloads, so I hope that this will revive some interest. Maybe. If it is good enough to share that is. And for those of you worried about “buying” 4LS stuff; don’t worry. We didn’t make any profit on Dreamer and I am still in the red for Zemlya! We are still mainly doing this for the fun of it (although Weee and Raide have both managed to launch careers off KS).
So, in an attempt to start 2017 on a positive note, I’m happy to report that I’m feeling a little bit less emo about my abilities. I’ll probably put out another short story for Summer Comiket (and hopefully get one of the artists to illustrate it!) and I’ve now put pen to paper on Zemlya 2.
I’ve also decided that I’m going to try and stop doing shitty blog posts about how emo I am and start doing more interesting posts about living in Japan and travelling around the world. I’d love to hear if you have any requests, e.g. “How do you register for Comiket?” “How is X country different from Country Y?” or “is it safe to get a massage in Singapore?”
2016 was a year of extreme highs, lows, stresses and excitment for me. And I hope that 2017 is the same, for me and for you.
Resolutions (I’m putting these here as public declarations are more likely to be followed):
- No more Emo blog posts – only commentary on my travels/cultural experiences
- Get more out at Comiket
- Re-apply myself at work
- Try and write more and watch crappy youtube less