Comiket April 2012

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Yesterday was the first comiket of the year. Organised by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury as part of the Comica festival, it took place in the Bishopsgate institute.

The last comiket was great, but not without flaws. A sizeable portion of the room was given over to chairs set out to watch the drawing parade. This meant that the rest of the room was cramped, hot and difficult to navigate. This was addressed this time around by having less chairs and splitting the tables across two rooms. I was lucky enough to be in the main hall and had a fairly steady stream of visitors all day. The other room, down a hallway and a couple of flights of stairs, referred to as the ‘Nobrow Room’ as that is where Nobrow’s stall was laid out had a handful of other stalls and a signing table. I only managed to get away from my table once or twice, and when I went down there, it was much quieter than the main hall. I wouldn’t have been happy to have a table down there, and I don’t think many of the exhibitors down there were particularly happy about it either. There was talk of expanding the event across the two big halls at the Bishopsgate Institute for next time, which might be a good idea if the event is to grow in scale.

This is the only complaint though, it was otherwise an excellent event for me. I was really busy all day and sold quite a lot of books. This was the first outing that Cat Island had been available at a show, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

I would have liked more of a chance to get around and see what everyone else had on sale and to meet everyone for drinks afterwards, but it was so busy I couldn’t really get away from my table and had to leave fairly soon afterwards.

My top tip for comiket if you are driving is to park at the barbican. It cost me £7.50 for the whole day!

Next Saturday is the LACF in Leeds. I’m looking forward to that. See you there!

UPDATE;

I’ve had some thoughts on how to make comics shows better for exhibitors. Happy exhibitors make for better shows I think.

1. Aisle space. There’s nothing worse than having people’s bags or jackets inadvertently knocking your precious comics onto the floor or having your table blocked by people just trying to get past. Here’s what organisers need to do; in setup, get the three huskiest members of the team to stand face to face with big camping rucksacks on and then try to squeeze past between the tables. Can’t do it? Not enough aisle space.

2. Exhibitor space. Same as above really, but with chairs in the equation too. Some kind of left-luggage or cloakroom would be ideal.

3. Timings. Having time at the start before visitors arrive to look through what everyone else has on display would be great. It’s not essential, but if it is a particularly well attended show, this may be the only chance people get to see other people’s work. Trying to get everyone in and set up can be a challenge, but trying to get all the visitors out as well as getting all the exhibitors and their tables packed away at the same time is horrible. Giving exhibitors an extra half hour at the end to pack up without having someone trying to buy something from you or having someone hurry you along to fold down your table would be great.

4. Hospitality. It would be worth considering having some kind of organised drinks-run system. At the moment, if you want a hot drink, you have to abandon your table and fight through the crowds to bring back a half-spilled lukewarm drink. Using a portion of the profits from selling tables to pay someone to fetch refreshments for exhibitors would result in an awful lot of goodwill.

What do you think? Anything else to add?

14 comments

  • Hey Dan
    Just read After We Shot The Grizzly (which I bought from you yesterday), great stuff. love the panel with the feverish captain (gasp) and the guy falling off the mountain.
    nice to meet you yesterday
     joel

  • It was great meeting you! I second your wider aisles suggestion. I was there with a walking stick & struggled to move. I wasn’t able to see even half the exhibitors.

  • Hey Dan,
    I was one of the exhibitors down in the “Nowbrow room” (i.e. the Basement). The fraction of visitors who came down there was minimal, sales taking a massive hit by being allocated there. It also felt, due to it’s remoteness and lack of the sights and sounds of the convention, like not being part of the whole affair.

    I was lucky enough to ‘escape’ at about 2 o’clock - I got word that half a table was free upstairs. When I talked to punters about the downstairs their /universal/ response was ‘there’s a downstairs room?’ I sold more in my first hour in the main hall than I had the whole time downstairs.

    Considering this was not part of the advertised billing, and that we didn’t know we were down there until failing to find our name tags in the main hall, it kinda left a bitter taste.

  • Good solid words Dan.

    This Comiket was the most thought through show i’ve been to in London town.

    My favourite thing was the live drawing and curated music. It gave the day a bit more personality. Yes, I consider this a welcome alternative to the repeating MCM drum sessions, that made me go quite mad on two occasions.

    Although, in MCM’s defence they do offer you water, so you don’t get ‘dry mouth’.

  • Great post and wise words indeed. The drawing parade is a brilliant idea and the atmosphere at Comica was really exciting but sadly, like Luke, I was in the basement so was only able go experience any of it when I briefly came up for air. At times the room was empty with only the midi sounds of Wake Me Up Before You Go Go auto-played on a mini keyboard whereas the main hall was constantly packed. I appreciate it must have been difficult to accommodate everyone but the lack of signage directing people to the basement room (until we made our own) didn’t help things either.

    If we had paid less for our tables then fair enough but since the price was the same to be downstairs in a room with less than a tenth of the footfall as it was to be in the main hall, it felt like we had been forgotten.

    It’s a shame, Comica as a whole is fantastic. The people I met and got to hang around with after were incredibly nice and the gathering of indie publishers is something to certainly get excited about but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I and the others doomed to sit in the lower room were missing out on what Comica is all about.

  • A follow-up: those of us who were downstairs have been offered a free (main hall) table in the November Comiket. That seems pretty decent of them.

  • Hello and thanks for everyone’s valuable feedback here. Megan, Peter and I are glad most people had a great Comiket last Saturday but we do understand there were problems with the downstairs room for some exhibitors. SOOO we have offered to either refund those exhibitors affected in full or offer them the same equivalent table space at our next Comiket in November at no cost and guaranteed to be in The Great Hall. We hope this will go some way towards apologising and compensating for this disappointment. We had hoped that the programme of interviews and signings and regular announcements would draw more of the public to the extra rooms, but this did not work out. We’re listening to your suggestions and learning lessons, as we try to develop Comiket further. We’ll be making some important changes to Comiket in November, more news to follow shortly. Comica: Putting Comics First! Cheers, Paul

  • Thanks Paul, I’m sure that means a lot to everyone involved. Really looking forward to November!

    Dan

  • Wow, thanks Paul, that’s fantastic news and really good of you. I was excited for November’s Comiket and now I can’t wait!

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