Comic Market History

First Comikets

From 1975 to 1981 the number of circles increased from 32 to 500, and general attendees – from seven to ten thousand. Comic Market was established to counter prevailing trends in manga forums, such as shojo manga (young girl’s comics) boom, Space Cruiser Yamato boom, Mobile Suit Gundam boom and Lolicon (comics that feature girls, aimed for men).

Congestion became a problem since 1979 as total allotted space for circles is outstripped by demand, so only lottery system can save situation.

At the time, offset printing was still very expensive, and only a few printing houses cater to doujinshi publishing needs. Many books were printed with whiteprint printing machines.

From 1981 to 1986 the number of circles increased from 600 to 4000, and general attendees – from 9000 to 35000. At that time the notable trends were: Lolicon boom and Rumiko Takahashi boom among men, and Captain Tsubasa mega-boom among women.

Comic Market Preparation Committee tries to keep up with swift expansion as moving to Harumi place brings more operational challenges such as police, fire department, security guards, clean-up issues, etc. From Comiket 21 begins the publication of catalog, as well as shift from three times a year to twice a year format.

Offset printing becomes affordable as more printers cater to doujinshi publishing. Books become more sophisticated with more pronounced use of color, especially among women publishers.

In 1986 – 1990 (Comiket 31 through 39) the venue for comiket changes as follows – Tokyo Ryutsu Center to Harumi to Makuhari Messe. There are a lot of trade shows in Japan, and its number is ever increasing, so to find a place for Comiket becomes more and more difficult.

The number of circles increases from 4400 to 13 000, and general attendees – from 40 000 to 250 000. The notable trends of the period: Saint Seiya boom among women, Samurai Troopers boom among women, Bishojo boom among men.

Explosive increase in size and popularity of Comiket constantly challenges Preparation Committee to adapt. Sometimes there are entrance lines of people extending up to 2 km, onto public roadways. Comiket setup is extended to become a two-day event. Computers are involved from CM31 onwards as paperwork becomes a nightmare.

Doujinshi printers start carrying-in printed stock directly to Comiket. Now there are medium sized doujinshi marketplaces: Comic City, Comic Live, Comic Revolution, etc., and increasing size of the doujinshi marketplace makes it possible for doujinshi authors to make a living from publishing doujinshi alone.

Comiket Images

Doujinshi Area
Doujinshi Area
Line for entrance
Line for entrance
Doujinshi circle
Doujinshi circle

Third Harumi Era

The period from 1991 to 1995 can be designated as the third Harumi Era, as CM40 through CM49 were held in the Harumi Tokyo International Exhibition Center. There are a lot of discussion and polemics around comics and especially Hazardous Comic Controversy case as there was a serial killer that was believed to become influenced by comics. Makuhari place refuses to house the Comiket. Harumi allows it only with the condition that all books go through contents verification checking.

The number of circles increases from 11 000 to 22 000, and general attendees – from 200 000 to 250 000.

There are following trends: YuYu Hakusho boom, Slam Dunk boom, Gundam W boom, Sailor Moon boom, and men’s erotic fiction genres boom: Evangelion, Tokimeki Memorial, etc.

Preparation Committee has the following concerns. Some people arrive before event takes place, and camp out on the street. It is very difficult to maintain lines of people in order. At CM48, Comiket is help three days in a row for the first time.

Middle sized doujinshi marketplaces are becoming popular all over Japan, and Comic City takes place in different locations from 1994. From there appeared masquerading activities that supported cosplay stores, cosplay dancing parties. Used bookstores start to sell used doujinshis from 1995.

First Ariake Era

From 1996 to 1999 Comiket moves to the Tokyo Big Sight, a new Tokyo International Exhibition Center. The number of circles increases from 18 000 to 35 000, and the number of general attendees – from 350 000 to 400 000. The important trends of that period include losing stream of doujinshis for women, and megaboom of Galgames (video games that feature girls that aim at men).

This period is called the First Ariake Era.

New exhibition facilities demanded reorganization of Comiket Preparation Committee, and starting from CM57 the winter session lasts for three days, too. Some people are against Comiket, so there are a lot of threatening letters being sent, and even a firebomb incident takes place. There are some intellectual property issues as well. Full digital authoring of doujinshi manuscripts becomes increasingly popular among male publishers from 1997.

Second Ariake Era

The Second Ariake Era starts from 2000, and from Comiket 58 the event takes place at the Tokyo Big Sight. There are about 550 000 attendees for each session, and about 35 000 doujinshi circles. Notable trends include Shonen Jump titles such as Naruto, One Piece, the Prince of Tennis, etc. Gundam Seed boom begins in 2003, and Fullmetal Alchemist boom starts in 2003.

Increased numbers of general attendees act as customers in a store, so many shared values and expectations are shifted and eroded.

Still, Comiket history is a history of vast success. This is by far the largest comic market in the world, with more than half a million attendees that stay in one place for three days, twice in a year.

Comiket Participation

Have You Even Been to Comiket Comic Market in Tokyo?

  • Yes, and it was fantastic.
  • Yes, but I felt terrible in this crowd of 500 000 attendees..
  • No, but I will surely go. I like doujinshi and cosplay.
  • No, and do not plan in the future
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Comiket Interviews

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