animate-300.jpgMy anger is so fucking righteous.

Seriously though, I’m in Japan, everything’s goddamned awesome. I don’t even have an angry bone in my body at this point, let alone a righteously angry one (and for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, click here).

But… did you see this? http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/cr_editorial_why_comic_shops_still_matter/. Go read that, it’s really good. I wanna give Tom a big hug. Perhaps I will next time I see him, and won’t that be awkward? Anyway, Spurge wants a new direction to the discussion about comic shops, and I think that’s great… Anything to get away from the stuff the folks are saying in THE BEAT’s comments section. So, let’s go: topic starter.

I am in Japan, and there are comic book stores everywhere.

Seriously. Not American Comics, for the most part, but if you blurred your eyes a little you’d recognize many of the places I’ve been visiting as comic book shops. This is in a nation where, as I’ve already blogged, comics are readily (and volumously) available in standard book stores, at the ‘news stand’, at train stations, the 7-11, even in vending machines. Comics are everywhere, and despite that, there are still dedicated comic book stores…! The argument from a number of people is that comic book shops should go the way of the dodo, in favour of mass-market distribution in traditional book stores, and via the internet… But here I am in a country where comics ARE available in the mass-market, in fact, comics make up something like 40% of all published material in the country. And yet, despite that, there is a clear market for comic shops. Even when they have side-lines like used comics, dvds, statues, etc. Even when they don’t, and it’s all about the books… this happens in France too, btw.

The next message in my Japan travelogue is about the end of day 02, where I go to ANIMATE, an eight-floor comic book store. It’s pretty neat, and I was totally inspired. I think you might be too?

In advance of my post, you can find out more about Animate at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animate.

The comic store doesn’t need to go anywhere. We all just need to try a little harder, I think.

- Christopher


8 Comments on “Sidetracked: Let’s talk about comics shops.”

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  1. Abhay says:

    I didn’t go into an Animate store, and maybe I went into the wrong place– but the comic store I went into in Tokyo was amazing and heartening and whatever for floors 1-to-3, then the most horrifying numbing cartoon porn imaginable for floors 4-to-I-can’t take-this-anymore. I don’t know. I had very mixed feelings because of that.

  2. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Sept. 12, 2007: Dollman steals dentures says:

    [...] “I am in Japan, and there are comic book stores everywhere.” – Christopher Butcher [...]

  3. Jason Marcy says:

    EIGHT floors??
    Holy christ…that is like, comic HEAVEN even if I’m not into the Manga stuff. All the pictures you’ve shown by the way are brilliant. I can’t believe all the awesomeness Japan has to offer. I’d be in a jaw dropping induced stupor…

  4. pakaal says:

    Just had to point out that comparing Japan’s manga stores to US comics stores is a bit of an injustice. I don’t remember the statistics but I guarantee you there’s a double digit difference in the percentage of people in the US who read comics, and those in Japan who read manga. Japan doesn’t suffer from the same “comics are for kids” stigma that still pervades the US. With the rise of indy publishers and titles in the US we’re starting to crack the mainstream market, but we’ve got a long way to go before we’ll see the average guy on the subway in the US reading a comic book, whereas it’s almost impossible in Japan to find someone NOT reading one.

  5. Chris says:

    Abhay- Dude you know there’s porn here everywhere. I went to a store in Akihabara called Comic No Tora that fits the experience you describe. Comics, comics, comics, PORN!!!! for 4 floors. I can understand how that makes you squeamish, but porn comics are still comics, it’s still just product and there are plenty of ‘actual’ porn stores kicking around too. Granted, the subjects of the porn are generally a little more extreme than you find in porn comics here (ok: much more extreme. MUCH.) but… again, if that’s what Japan has decided is okay for their market, then I’ve got no problem with retailers deciding to make a buck off it. For example: Right Now I am eating French Consume flavoured Pringles, and I can’t tell if they’re good, bad, or simply never should have been a flavour of potato chips. But I don’t really care that they’re being sold…

    Pakaal- I’m pretty sure what you’re saying is exactly what I wrote, except for the “injustice” part which seems a little hyperbolic to me. My point is that comics HAVE entered the mainstream here, and are available everywhere. But, despite that, there is still a clear need for dedicated comics stores. There’s an idea that comic stores are what is “holding back” comics from entering the mainstream, but really if that were the case, there would be no comic stores in Japan, Hong Kong, France, the Netherlands, etc.

  6. Abhay says:

    Yes: there’s porn/strange-imagery everywhere, not just in the comic shops, if anyone thought I was implying it was … comic’s fault or something. I wasn’t there long enough to guess what it “means” or what judgment if any should be passed. But: yeah, I’m a prude and it made me hella-squeamish. Anyways: I’m enjoying the photo essays; thanks.

  7. Halliday says:

    Chris>Which floor do they keep the jizz covered gashapon on?

  8. Tivome says:

    Okay, first of all, Animate is NOT a comic book store – it’s mainly an anime shop for the otakus. They have floors which are dedicated to comic books, but mostly doujinshi and not-so-mainstream stuff. A lot of them are not for the kiddies. The rest of the animate is for anime DVD, figurines, assorted otaku-culture items, and games. It’s a super-store for the otaku.  

    Chris, the store you went to in Akiba is “Tora no Ana” or Tiger’s Lair. It’s a store famous for it’s massive doushinji collection, so that’s why it’s all just porn to you. They’re mostly works drawn by amatures and first sold in Comic Market; stores like Tora no Ana and Animate then carry them for the rest of the year. Again, not exclusively comics, but TnA is more famously associated with doujinshi.

    http://www.animate-world.com/
    http://www.toranoana.co.jp/

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