Comic Party Vol. 1: Party Time!

by Patrick King

The doujinshi scene: huge gatherings of manga fans getting together to check out the self-published works of independent artists. Some of the comics you'd find at one of these conventions would be an homage to a familiar series, others would be something you'd never dreamt of before. This is where CLAMP got their start, where fans are able to get stories of their favorite characters doing things their creators never intended, where passion is poured into print and sold for a meager return. Wouldn't it be cool if this aspect of Japanese culture were over here in America?

If you aren't able to fly to Japan to get the doujinshi experience firsthand, then Comic Party is the next best thing. Incidentally, if you are able to fly to Japan for a doujinshi convention, then keep me in mind the next time you go...

Sixteen unique artists were chosen to provide the material for the first volume of Comic Party, though they all feature the same cast of characters. Kazuki could be considered the main character of the story. He's a talented artist who has only recently rediscovered his passion for drawing.

The fellow who is entirely responsible for Kazuki's entrance into the realm of doujinshi would be Taishi, a man who is at times sexually ambiguous. Whether he's into guys or girls remains a mystery, but no one will deny that he hopes to one day control the world. Taishi sees the doujinshi scene as a stepping stone to world dominance, and thus Kazuki is the weapon he has chosen to achieve his goal.

While Taishi forced Kazuki into drawing doujinshi, other more important characters keep him there. With the support of other artists, such as the genki-girl Yuu, the quiet but very talented Subaru, and the egotistical bestselling doujinshi manga-ka Eimi, Kazuki is able to find the inspiration and motivation to keep on drawing. Most importantly, however, is the support of his girlfriend Mizuki, even though his passion for manga occasionally forces him to spend more time with pencil, pen, and paper than with her.

The stories and art within, while created by independent artists, are quite up to the standards of professional manga-ka. Some, in fact, exceed those standards.

This edition of Comic Party reads from right to left and boasts the original sound effects. The localization is very readable, and cultural explanations are provided in the sidebars when necessary. Websites for the artists, as well as a small bio page is provided to give more information about the creators of the comics.

Overall, Comic Party is funny, interesting and different, and it offers a unique insight to the wild, sometimes frightening, but always entertaining world of fan comics. For a more continual storyline, check out The Right Stuf's local publication of the Comic Party anime series. Otherwise, this manga is great inspiration for aspiring artists. If enough people get into this series, perhaps one day we'll have our own doujinshi scene.

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