Doujinshi are the fan-created comic-books which have become a huge engine of sub-culture here in Japan. The word is an abbreviation of doujin zasshi (“companion magazine”), which were originally self-published literary magazines through which writers like Kenji Miyazawa or Yasunori Kawabata got their start, through the word is perceived a bit differently these days. The Holy Land for doujinshi enthusiasts is the Comic Market, the sprawling convention held twice a year at Tokyo Big Sight, and this past December half a million fans made the pilgrimage. I remember the first Comiket I attended back in 1996, and how fast my head was spinning as I tried to take it all in — the costumes, the books, the crowds. Although most fans living outside Japan automatically equate doujinshi with “ecchi” comics parodying famous anime and video games, the reality is quite different, and I’d estimate that between 75-90% of the products sold, from comics to fan-written novels to crafts and even doujin composed music, are all-ages. (Hmmm, it seems that looking at another country’s culture through the lens of the Internet can warp things a bit.) Over the years, Japan’s underground comic world has served as an incubator for talented artists who want to go pro, and a huge number of big names got their start there, including CLAMP, Peach-Pit and Rumiko Takahashi. Incidentally, we’re posting some really awesome new items from the just-ended Comiket 79 to J-List — click to see them now!
The Comic Market is the “Mecca” for doujinshi fans.