Doujin-con 2006by Friezaess, Aug 13th 2006
Doujicon has been on the cards for the better part of a year now, and is something quite unlike what we have seen in this country before. Its focus is on indie comics/doujinshi/local animation/stuff and brings more attention to creators and what goes on behind the scenes rather than just being organised as a broad-ranged comic convention. For this reason some artists chose to travel interstate for a first-run on-the-cheap con, with promises of a free table to showcase their talents at with entry fee sweetening the deal.
Tentacles: Visitors were greeted at the train station by signs sporting what is possibly the most memorable convention mascot in history. Antonio the octopus (and much acclaimed Spanish lover) welcomed attendees from near and far into the artists'abyss, but he could have had even more of a presence and warped even more innocent young minds had there been better signage. Everyone more or less had to rely on their programme books to figure out where on God's Green Earth they were, or kick one of the enlisted volunteers sporting a "Ci, baby, I can helps you" shirt.
Horny Monsters: OzTAKU was a major sponsor of this event which should come as a surprise to no-one, not just because Doujicon showcases manga art but because the organiser, Avi Bernshaw, is also the co-founder of Australia's only dedicated local manga anthology. You'll notice there is no plural of 'organiser'. This is because the entire con was brought together by one person.
Cumming Midgets: There was only one place for those artists drawing content that would have had many rushing for the smelling salts, and this was within the confines of The Cumming Theatre. (Yes, that's the Uni's official name for it. One artist had the courtesy to stick post-it notes saying "Oh God I'm" next to the sign.) Here is where signage could have become even more of an issue, because even though the desks were supplied with warning signs, they were not easily seen. Wee young rugrats toddled into the area clutching their guardian's hand, curious to see why these artists were separate from the rest. Needless to say, there were flurries of paper and pens as drawings depicting druggos, hobos and homos were obscured and the parents told that they might not want their children seeing this sort of thing. Ever. Including after they've grown up and obtained a doctorate in gynecology.
By 11am around 150 people had rocked up. There were two different target audiences for Doujicon, being the artists selling stuff and the general attendees. Whilst the former were more than happy to show off their talents in accommodating surroundings, there were complaints of boredom coming from those on the other side of the fence. One of the screenings theatres was to show non-stop anime until the fellow with the DVDs was a no show and it was transformed into a last minute gaming room.
Right, so watching anime was out of the picture.
Perhaps the Madman Theatre would have more on offer. Judging by the amount of people who rocked up to Iron Artist, not many thought that way. In fact, the nationwide event was almost cancelled in this instance due to a video camera going missing in action. (History repeating itself?) Those who stayed around to watch the local animations being showcased may have been forgiven for clutching their eyes in frustration as the projector vomited out pixels all over the screen. Yuck.
Maybe the best way to spend one's time was to go back down to the second level of the building to sit in on round tables and drawing classes. Manifest's cel-painting room proved to be quite popular ? and delightfully messy ? taking up a good chunk of the afternoon. Next door people had their egos lifted and crushed into tiny quivering pieces at Q & A sessions with names like "Please Tell Me Why My Comic Sucks" or "Even You Can Make Comics!" Nearby were classes for both advanced artists and those struggling with the dynamics and proportions of stick figures. These were hosted by artists who generally kept things simple and easy to understand; it was easy to tell why some schools had hired them to show the chibis how to draw "those funny Chinese cartoons".
Let's face it, when people weren't busy picking up new skills they were either emptying their wallets or scoping out the competition up in the artists' area. This was divided up into sections for manga artists, general cartoonists, animators and those selling adult art. Around forty artists had registered a spot for their work, and this main art section attracted the most people by far. The flow seemed to be evenly spread throughout the section except for the 18+ section, which was pushed away in the rear (*ahem*). The doodling area usually attracts people, so it was understandable that someone may have thought putting it near these 'special' artists would have generated more interest, however a lot of the time both areas seemed rather barren.
Speaking of 18+, it would seem that one vendor decided it would be good to distribute pornographic materials in the main area in front of everyone. Not only that, but they were selling material from Eros, a larger distributer, when it was made clear that this convention was created to promote local, amateur artists rather than aid international artists who have more opportunities, let alone an actual distributor.
Manifest was everywhere. A stall for them to sign up attendees and distribute postcards was set up in the main art area, and if their posters around the venue had been replaced with actual signage then one would suspect attendees would have found it far easier to get around. Manifest and Manga Arts were the only ones to have full-page advertisements in the programme book.
After a day of drawing tutes and trading, people could sit back and do absolutely nothing for a while as the higher-ups began to pack up. After twiddling their thumbs, attendees eventually sauntered into the Madman Theatre to watch the performance of a live and local J-rock band who go by the name Orochi. Their music came out hard and fast, and people who could not understand a word they were saying ? even if it was in English ? headbangged along to the groovy tunes. That's the standard way to end a convention; tired, broke and trying to form a moshpit in between two extra chunky fangirls.
Doujicon ended up attracting over 300 people. Artists had come from interstate because there is nothing quite like it in the country, and whilst many did not break even there was definite interest in returning for Doujicon Z in 2007. And this may sound rather odd, but props to whoever supplied a jug of water and cups which were on hand for anyone who needed to quench their thirst after salivating over... rather well-drawn manga boys. Surely that is the REAL reason seasoned convention-goers say never to attend a convention without a bottle of water.
Ed's Note: Thanks to Jac for allowing us to use his pictures.