Comic Village, in Manga Country

It’s strange the things one has to do to try selling comics. Just because I enjoy making funny books, I have to spend weekends in university halls with geeks, or art spaces with hipsters, or in an enormous exhibition centre full of children in fancy dress. But hey, it’s good to meet your public…

So on two autumnal mornings I make my way to London with a big bag of comics, and follow the costumed youngsters to Docklands, to join the Comic Village, a growing part of the twice-yearly MCM Expo. Though MCM stands for Movies/Comic/Media, the Excel Centre seems mostly full of manga and games, and the comic creators are overwhelmed and sometimes mutually bemused by hordes of these cosplayers.

Perhaps the one thing we can all agree on about cosplayers is that they certainly have enthusiasm. This is shown by their shrieking on packed trains, their rushing off the DLR to join the long convention queue, and by the lengths they go to in dressing up. There’s an amazing display of outfits: zombies, schoolgirls, pokemons; a few characters I recognise from Studio Ghibli productions, and many who I look at and have no idea who they are; a Tinkerbell, a Buzz Lightyear, a Silk Spectre and a Tom Baker (but not THE Tom Baker, although he was actually there, I didn’t get to see him!); a Mario, a Wally, a Princess Leia. Some of these costumes are wrong in many ways. Some of the homemade outfits are quite impressive (flashing lights!), some not so much (a cardboard box!); but these people probably deserve respect for going out in public dressed like that…

The cosplay also livens up our people-watching as the audience pass by our table, and helps to keep the weekend enjoyable while not being especially profitable. The main thing these people want is of course Manga, and my characters just don’t have big enough eyes! But my table buddy Joe Decie managed to keep up a good patter for drawing in customers, and this makes our sales at least respectable. Through our sales pitches I know now the story of Joe’s Hourly Comic off by heart, and I’m sure he’s equally au fait with my subject matter (animals! robots! demons! people!), but you have to talk about your comics in order to get people interested, even after you’ve caught their eye with a cute postcard of a cow.

I was pleased to sell a copy of Animal Paper on the idea that it would be good for colouring-in, and to sell a copy to a furry dinosaur whose money I had to help out of her clumsy paws. I was also pleased with my own purchases and enjoyed seeing the comics friends as usual, discussing such subjects as “How much should a creator charge for their comics / How can we take our comics to a wider audience / Do Smurfs have tails?”

So all in all it was worth a visit, for sight-seeing and for shopping; while our own trading appealed to a minority, I’m glad to have the chance to sell somewhere different. Thanks for putting on a good show!

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One Response to “Comic Village, in Manga Country”

  1. Prozacville Says:

    Jesus I feel old.

    I think I used to know what cosplay was, but I’ve forgotten. Time for my hot-cocoa and late-evening wank.

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