The better informed you are about what will be at Comiket prior to the event the better your position will be to take advantage of what’s in the offing there. We discuss strategies for finding what you want before you even set foot in the Big Sight.

How to Comiket: Introduction

When planning a trip to Comiket in pursuit of doujinshi it is vital to know as much as possible about which circles will be participating and in what capacity. Tracking this information down is not always an easy task, but the savvy doujin hunter has several tools at his or her command.

1. Bookmarks

Most doujin circles have some online presence, and if you’re like me you’ve got a burgeoning database of links to artists’ pages that have caught your eye in the past. Roughly two months prior to Comiket circles will begin to recieve confirmation that their applications for participation have been accepted (or rejected): this is the time to open up your bookmarks (in tabs, for the Firefox-inclined), sift through their contents, and pick out the bits of information pertinent to the coming event.

If you don’t have much of a bookmark collection I recommend finding an artist whose work you like and playing six degrees of separation from that artist’s links page. In a good afternoon of work odds are you’ll build up a decent base of similarly interesting sites to start with in your quest; if you’re lucky you’ll come across a link repository such as the (very un-worksafe) Page of Boobs that may make the task considerably easier, depending on your area of interest.

2. The Back Page

Another way to track artists down is by checking their work that you already own - contact information is often printed on one of the last few pages of a volume of doujinshi, as it is in Gainamix, a C67 offering from circle Manga Super:


Gainamix, a Comiket 67 doujin from circle Manga Super

As we can see, the circle’s website is http://manpa.sakura.ne.jp/ (setting aside for the moment the fact that a Google search for “manga super” turns up the same result in a fraction of the time). Now that we’re here, what’s next?

Finding the Basics

When visiting a circle’s website, these are the questions we’re aiming to answer:

  • Will the circle in question be attending Comiket?
  • Where will it be located in the venue?
  • What will it have for sale?

The easiest way to spot Comiket-related information is to look for the corresponding katakana (コミケット) and number (68, in the current case) or season (summer 夏 or winter 冬) of the upcoming event. On the sidebar of the Manga Super page we see a set of links, one of which is Info. Let’s click it and scroll down:

Manga Super's C68 plans

Aha! Comiket spotted. If you need a little help with the Japanese I recommend one of the various mirrors of Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC. Here’s the actual text, for archival purposes:

【EVENT】

参� 予定

8/12(金)-14(日) 東京ビッグサイト
「コミックマーケット68」

スペース当選しました。
8/14(日) 東1ホール C-07a 「マンガスーパー」

BINGO! Now we’re getting somewhere. Manga Super confirms its intent to participate in Comic Market 68 and provides us with its date and location: August 14th (Sunday), East Hall #1, Row C, table 07a, circle name “Manga Super”. They may not have information on their new titles posted yet, but that’s alright - for now we’ve got the most important info. Not all sites will present it in the same way or be quite as easy to navigate, but with persistence similar patterns will emerge: the day, hall number, row letter, and table number should all be clearly listed, and as the event approaches information on new releases should come online as well.

Note: circles may not be sure of their participation status up until a couple of days before the event, especially if they are piggybacking on another group’s space - look for updates to be online at the very last minute. By a similar token, circles will for various reasons participate under different names from time to time, so be sure to note the name as well as the location to avoid confusion.

When compiling information gleaned from websites in the early stages leading up to the event, a spreadsheet might contain the following column headers:

  • Circle Name
  • Day
  • Hall/Row/Table
  • Participating As
  • New Release (Y/N)
  • Level of Interest/Priority
  • Site URL

Optionally, you can wait until a couple of weeks before the event and take advantage of the release of the single greatest source of Comiket-related information in existence: The Comic Market catalogue.


L: C67 CD-ROM catalogue R: C64 paper catalogue

3. The Catalogue

The reason I’ve saved it for last is that while the catalogue is certainly useful (especially the CD-ROM version, in which circles are searchable by several different parameters and databases are easily compiled), its utility is limited by the reader’s knowledge of circle names and ability to decipher each small “circle cut”, or slice of page real estate where a circle can hawk its wares. In addition to the illegible handwriting with which they are often cursed, due to being written during the application process six months prior to sale circle cuts are not infrequently lacking in information or just plain wrong about what a circle plans to release at the coming event.

In other words, the catalogue is a great last step - but always double check it. If you come across an unknown circle with an interesting cut, try to confirm its existence online before giving it a high priority based on that tiny wedge of image alone; you’re headed for some unpleasant and time-consuming surprises if you don’t.


A page from the C65 CD-ROM catalogue - click me!

Note: Information on cosplayers and industry reps appearing at Comiket can be found via a process similar to the one described here, although cosplayers don’t appear in the catalogue and must therefore be tracked down online. Moon Phase lists industry participation info as it breaks on maker sites, but the catalogue is usually dependable in this regard (although you’ll have to pay a visit to the sites for specifics on what’s being sold).

12/17/05 Update

A quick and dirty guide to CD-ROM catalogue manipulation

C68 CD-ROM catalogue search dialogue box

1. Click on the above picture.

2. Find the search menu in the menu bar at the top of the image. It’s the one marked (S).

3. Click it in your own iteration of the program, and you’re faced with this:

the search menu

4. Selecting the top option (or hitting Ctrl+F) will bring up the search dialogue box.

search dialogue box

The three groups of check boxes at the top allow you to limit the parameters of your search by a) day, b) circle cut attribute, and c) genre.

4. Input a keyword, hit Enter, and a list of circles containing that word somewhere among its searched attributes (such as circle name, name reading in kana, artist name, work description, etc.) will appear. I chose Tony as an example, and with only two hits it was easy to find the cut in question. Experiment with combinations of keywords and parameters until you get a suitably small sample size to browse.

5. Most circles have websites, but many choose not to include links to them in their circle cut. If this is the case, the second and third search menu options will come in handy. The second one executes an automatic Google search for the currently selected circle, and the third defines the parameters of that search (circle name, artist name, or both). Note that this Google search option is also available in one click, the button located above the large cut image in the upper right corner.

Google button

And that’s a wrap! Happy information gathering, and good luck.

Up next: How to Comiket, Part II: Strategy. Otanoshimi ni~!