Just to clarify, many seem to assume doujin-only means zine/comics-only while my definition of doujin is actually “amateur works” in general, the way this word is used in Japan. (“Doujinshi” is the one meaning “amateur comic”) Many people have expressed on wanting an event with more focus on doujin comics/books and less on merchandise, and while I personally agree on that, but I would like to keep this event as a platform to promote all kinds of amateur works that goes as far as games or other variety of items, even handicrafts, both fanworks and original. I mean, where else can you get Pokemon glass handkerchiefs after all? ;)
The reason I want to do this event in the first half of the year is because there’s a huge lack of ACG events in that period and that translates to a lack of outlet for doujin groups to culticate their activities. By the time July or August rolls in, I’m sure many would just wait for CF so I think having an event before June would help fill up the void for those who like to buy or make doujins at least.
I’m still scared on whether this whole doujin-only event idea is a hasty decision or not though, I mean, how many people goes to ACG events in Malaysia just for doujins, right? (I do, though) CF has pointed out that we will need to find as many ways to get the crowd in or the organizers and doujin booth owners will end up losing money instead, thus making the event unsuccessful. So I decided to send out a questionnaire of sorts to as many doujinka as I can remember to ask for people’s opinions on the doujin situation and whether or not the doujin-only event idea is good or not.
Surprisingly I got quite a number of responses and many shared some very good points and suggestions about this idea. Since some people are quite interested to hear what were the responses too, I decided to digest most of the information I got in here so that all the other doujin lovers can also take note and maybe gain some perspective out of it.
These were my questions:
1. Have you had doujin/art booths in Malaysian ACG events?
2. If yes, which events? (CF, AFA, Animangaki, etc?)
3. How was the reception/sales for your booth in those events? (Satisfying, disappointing, etc?)
4. Why would you want a doujin-only event?
5. What are you interested to see in a doujin-only event? (only doujins? or more?)
6. Should we set up a community for local doujinkas as a platform for discussions on how to improve each others' performances? (like tips on printing, pricing, promotion, booth setup, etc) (There's already the Doujinshi section of CF Forum but it's not used much...)
7. Any opinions about the 'attraction' ideas I brought up above? Any other ideas you want to add in?
On to the results:
Out of 15 replies, 14 people have had booths at CF. 4 at MGCC, 3 at AFA, 2 at MMU Melaka, 2 at C2AGE and the rest are Cosmas, ACGC, Pekomikon and Urbanscapes (only 1 person per event). Most participants broke even with their booth sales but I forgot to ask exactly how many copies they printed and how many got sold, so I guess we can’t make much judgement there.
Many wishes for a doujin-only event to be organized so that we can bring the focus back to doujin books and help promote more general interest into self-published works. Having more opportunities to sell their works and socialize with other doujinka are definitely plusses too. There’s also the general love for doujin and hoping to have more chances of buying doujin stuff. ;)
Listing down what people are interested to see more in a doujin event (besides the obvious doujin loot in general lol):
- original works (majority speaks this)
- less focus on popular fandoms and more attention to the obscure ones (western fandoms included)doujin novel and/or games (we’ve seen more of them popping up last CF though :D)
- more variety of merchandise like mugs/phone charms
- less sponsor booths (unless it’s really necessary)
- panels by professionals for those aiming for a career or wanting to know more about self-publishing methods or how to improve it (many agree to this)
“I think Malaysia has quite a sizeable Picture Book Artist community, and even a Society of Children's Books Writers/Artists on FB. While their art style is obviously very far from the anime/comic style, they can surely give some insight on what it's like to work full time in this industry, tips, advice, and let's say for budding writers perhaps they can find an artist to pair up with?”
As for a forum of some sorts for doujinka, many agree for us to have one but not many suggest us to build a new place. Sticking to the CF Doujin forum is already good enough. We just need to bring the attention back to it. Having an updated list on tips on how/where to print doujins (good printing locations), good booth decoration/promotion, good price ranges and so on would be very helpful for starters. Maybe even tips to doujin buyers on how to make their shopping easier (prepare small change, eco bags, etc).
Now for other misc opinions/suggestions:
- Let publishers/industry people have booths and make portfolio reviews for those interested in pursuing a career or wanting to receive critiques from professionals for self-improvement. (They have this in Japan’s Comitia too actually!)
- Categorizing booths by fandom and originals? It may be a good idea if it’s a big event like Comike, but since the doujin scene is still not big enough in this country and we’re still trying to promote all works in general, I think it’s better to mix all of them first to prevent certain sections from being alienated. As we can tell right now, originals are still not as popular as fanworks.
- Many pointed out that prints/badges/merch sells better than books or vice versa. BUT in the end, what matters is the quality of the item, how much it costs, its attraction and each customer’s mindset (what they’re looking for in terms of fandom, cost and standards). As you can see at the end of CF, not all groups’ badges/prints/etc sell out. Sales may seem better but in the end they all go through the same judgment as books do.
- Inviting foreign artists for more exposure to international works. The main obstacle here would be language barriers and costs, though.
- Language barriers: Even though majority of doujin works are in English, not everyone are good in English and there are some works only available in Malay or Chinese. How do we help these people who are scared to make doujin books or can’t sell their doujin books because of language barriers?
- If making one book alone is too difficult a task, then anthologies are definitely the best way, especially if you don’t have confidence in your own skills.
Back to the topic of the doujin-only event, yes, entrance will be free of charge, especially if we’re not planning to have guests on the first event. Adding panels and guests are what increases organization costs, thus the entrance fees for CF, but we won’t be worrying about that yet, I think?
I was thinking of holding it on April but a couple of people have expressed it’s a bit too early especially if we’re only announcing the event around this time. So since MGCC won’t be held this year, maybe May or June? It may be easier for students because it’ll be around the school holidays too, right? If we’re planning to hold another event next year, maybe that can be brought forward to April?
One burning question, though. I noticed majority of doujin groups get booths at CF but not many go for other events, so why is that? Is it the interest in that event (or lack of)? Or lack of information on other events (especially on booth registrations)? The timing? Booth costs? I guess I’m curious because what would make you go for THIS doujin-only event if you wouldn’t go for other events?
Well, that's a wrap! This is already a very TL;DR post, I'm so sorry. (I at least bolded the main highlights?) Feel free to do discuss!