When it comes to comic book conventions, Japanese fans have been setting records for decades. For instance, the world renowned San Diego Comic-Con with it’s door-busting 130,000 attendees may be the largest in North America, but it pales in comparison to Tokyo’s Comiket with crowds swelling at well over half a million people. Local telecommunications companies actually install temporary antennae to control the flood of nerd data that inevitably hogs up the entire city’s bandwidth. And there are dozens of smaller shows all over the country that still boast attendance in the 10s of thousands. Manga is a big deal in Japan, in case you’ve been asleep since the 1960s.
And yet there still appears to be a demand for more. There are whole swaths of comics in Japan that slip through the cracks because they don’t belong next to the giant mech suits, and scantily clad school girl erotica. Minicomix, art zines, and indie comics tend to get lost in the shuffle at such large festivals which is why James Stacey of Tokyo based Black Hook Press, has assembled a cadre of organizers, including Nagoya based publisher Biguglyrobot to organize an all new, artist-focused event.
Inspired by the boom of like-minded festivals in North America and Europe, such as Canada’s Toronto Comics Art Festival (TCAF), The Lakes Comic Art Festival in England and the Festival d’Angoulême de la bande dessinée in France, Comic Art Tokyo is an international comic art convention focused on artists and creators, especially those based in Japan. Although this year will be the inaugural event, Comic Art Tokyo is already set to stand out from other festivals in Japan.
Unlike most Japanese comic events, this event will feature workshops and lectures that run concurrent to what is going on the main floor. There will be panel talks with advice from industry professionals, discussions about the history of alternative Japanese comics from publishers and well known manga creators and even hands-on workshops for those curious about trying comics for themselves.
Artist tables will also be carefully curated in order to create a strong and cohesive ascetic. And the best part is, in the spirit of building a stronger international comics community, the event is completely free to attend. Comic Art Tokyo is intended to show fans of Japanese manga that there is more to comics than busty anime vixens and 30 meter monsters – there is an entire world of mature, sophisticated and artistic comics out there. This event hopes to rally both fans and creators of such comics from all over the world and provide a chance to interact with each other.
Comic Art Tokyo will be held on Sunday, July 31st at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, in Akihabara. The main floor will run from 12-7pm with workshops and lectures running from 1-9pm. Registration for those who wish to table is open now at the Comic Art Tokyo website.