Otaku Trendspotting: The Printer-shi

When a doujin author finds himself short on time with the deadline of an event fast approaching, he is faced with a difficult choice. He can either

  1. Press ahead toward an offset-printed book, risking a high premium on his printing costs for the compressed timeframe and possibly missing the cutoff for the event altogether
  2. Opt to abandon the prospect of a release, effectively dropping out of the event, or
  3. Compromise and produce a “kopii-shi” or “kopii-bon”, a photocopied and stapled volume of the work he’s managed to complete by the time the event begins.

For the sake of today’s piece we will assume that the author in question is undisciplined to the point that 1. is not a realistic option, and that he has a rabid fanbase who would tear him limb from limb if he missed the event, thus ruling out 2. Until recently, the path would have been clear: gather what loose scribbles you’ve managed to hash out, rush them to your local Seven Eleven, and furtively print as many as you can before people start giving you strange looks when the printer jams and you spill your stack of preggo scat loli dickgirl tentacle rape bestiality drawings into the snacks aisle in a frantic effort to fix it (alternative Comic Party option: grow a harem and have them do it for you).
Recently, though, a compelling alternative to this scenario has emerged with the advent of the cheap laser printer. In addition to the advantage of privacy, the laser printer offers greater fidelity to the original page layout, control over paper stock, no printing defects from scratched photocopy plates, and greater resolution, precision, and dynamic range in printing quality.
Figure 1 (NOT WORK SAFE) below illustrates this difference, featuring two recent printer-shi (left: Juubaori Mashumaro / Escargot Club’s Futanari Ni A, center: Trump / Team Shuffle’s Ginkan Tanin) and a recent copy-shi (right: some crappy circle’s book):

a comparison of laser printed doujinshi vs. photocopied doujinshi
fig. 1

The quality difference is apparent, with much greater contrast and a finer level of detail available to the laser-printed books versus the photocopied one. The poor alignment of the photocopied book’s cover could have been avoided with the use of a printer, as well.
Standing by is our aspiring doujin artist in residence, Shingo. As of yet he has only produced photocopied books, but for his next project he’s considering the switch to printer-shi. We asked him why, in this exclusive interview:
HD: Why are you considering the switch to printer-shi for your next book, Shingo?
Shingo: I’m glad you asked, HD.
For my last book, released at Futaket vs. ABC (I’ve been meaning to write up a review of that event for some stupid website, but keep getting distracted), I found myself having to photocopy at peak shopping time on a Saturday evening at the local equivalent of Home Depot. I shielded my activities from the passersby to the best of my ability, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re printing stuff like this. It’s embarrassing, you know?
HD: You sick bastard. So what are you planning to do for your next release?
Shingo: I recently applied to participate in ABC 5, and if I make it in I’m planning to pick up a cheap laser printer and do all the work in-house this time around. It’ll save time, increase the quality of the resulting product, avoid the hypothetical dickgirl avalanche in the snacks aisle scenario, and hey – there might even be legitimate uses for it as well.
HD: Thanks for stopping by to talk with us today, Shingo.
Shingo: Any time, HD, any time.
And there you have it, straight from the horse’s (?) mouth: in the world of last minute doujinshi publishing, laser printers über alles.
–Jargon file edit:
The kanji 誌 shi simply means “document”. It is included in compounds such as 雑誌 zasshi for magazine (literally “miscellaneous document”) and 同人誌 doujinshi for fanzine (literally “kindred association document”). As a suffix it has been appropriated for hybrid words such as copy-shi and printer-shi, as used above. Copy-shi are also referred to as コピー本 kopii-bon, which translates simply as “copy book”.

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0 Responses to Otaku Trendspotting: The Printer-shi

  1. Demian April 6, 2007 at 9:31 am #

    The world of doujinshi is truly a fascinating one. Out of curiosity, what was the name of the doujinshi you released at Futaket?

  2. Shingo April 6, 2007 at 9:48 am #

    I gave it the rather pretentious title 異常性愛研究紀行 ijou seiai kenkyuu kikou, roughly translated as “travel research diary of abnormal erotica”. -_-;;
    As a bit of trivia, ijou seiai is also the subtitle of Soft Circle Courreges’ doujin game DISCODE, as well as the accompanying eroanime OVA.

  3. Nemo_N April 6, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    I’ve used a laser printer at my work and I can vouch for the great looks of the prints; the best part is that it can keep the screen-tones as dots, which helps to keep some neat effects.
    I have to save for one.

  4. TheBigN April 6, 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    An interesting look into a little bit of what goes into making/finishing doujinshi.

  5. Adun April 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm #

    Also hopefully with a laser printer, you’ll get more rest before heading off to sell your doujinshi.

  6. P Laskey April 6, 2007 at 7:51 pm #

    Online search for vendor of laser printers commencing now… I’ve got a suggestion here, print the covers on coloured paper stock. It may not equal full colour printing but it certainly makes the covers look nicer.

  7. Sydney2K April 7, 2007 at 11:04 am #

    What are the economics, comparing a printer shop, as per a laser printer, given the price of toner and reams of paper?

  8. Shingo April 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    >>Nemo_N
    Having to worry less about halftone patterns and stuff would be really nice. ;;
    >>TheBigN
    I’m going to try to deal more with the topic in the future as I learn more about it. It’s a bizarre and fascinating world.
    >>Adun
    That would be a great additional benefit, though I have the feeling that a printer would just let me slide the whole production schedule back and I’d end up with the same dismal lack of sleep as always… orz
    >>P Laskey
    That’s a great idea, and one I was thinking of myself. It’s nice to have a bit of variation from the standard black-and-white cover combination.
    >>Sydney2K
    Good question, I don’t know. I’ll be able to crunch the numbers in more detail when I start actually shopping around.

  9. AT1987 April 8, 2007 at 9:59 pm #

    After I read the article, I know why most of Japanese doujin books are high quality. My country there are many comic events.(but very very smaller size than Japan.)
    For who can’t afford the offset print, they usually use copier center to print their works. The quality are varied but are often bad because the shops seldom clean their machines. There is a good point that the shop will staple your books for free if you don’t need any fancy staple. My friends usually borrow textbooks from library and make copy of them. (It’s bad thing. I don’t like it.)
    Now there are print on demand shops that use large format laser printer to print the work just send the pdf file and they will send you your finish books at the event. This kind of shop is very new in my country and the price isn’t cheap but the quality is better than copier center and the price is cheaper than offset print.
    I hope to see the doujin technique article from you again.It’s great.Thanks you.

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