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June 28, 2017

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A big draw: Tens of thousands of fans flock to comic exhibition

TAIPEI -- Tens of thousands of comic book and anime fans flocked yesterday to the opening of the Taipei Comic Exhibition, which showcases the latest in comic books and animation.

Even before the exhibition opened at 10 a.m., thousands of fans were queuing outside the venue at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1. Security guards had to corral people into waiting zones before the fair opened.

"I came here from Taichung and have been in line since 7 p.m. last night. But I was late. I heard someone came here a month ago," said Tim Liao, who spent NT$5,000 (US$166) purchasing the latest book in the popular Japanese light novel series "Date A Live" and its peripheral products, including earphones and pillows.

The 16-year-old said he was attracted to the plot of the series, which is about a high school guy who tries to contain the power of "spirits," who are a threat to humans, by making them fall in love with him.

The first five books in the series have sold a total of 120,000 copies in Taiwan, according to publisher Kadokawa Media (Taiwan) Co.

Winnie Kung, 16, expressed her excitement after spending around NT$1,000 purchasing books by Taiwanese light novelist Tsang Kuei and peripheral products related to the books. She said she plans to spend NT$2,000-NT$3,000 at the fair.

Total revenue of the six-day exhibition is expected to reach NT$200 million this year, and the number of booths has increased by around 10 percent from last year's expo, said Texi Hsia, president of the Taipei-based Chinese Animation and Comic Publishers Association, the main organizer of the event.

Revenues last year reached NT$180 million.

A total of 49 Taiwanese and Japanese graphic artists, voice actors and animation directors are taking part in book-signings and other activities at the fair. Close to 70 publishers have set up over 450 booths at the exhibition, which will run through Aug. 20, the association said.

In addition to comic books, animations and novels, the fair will also feature a special exhibition on Japanese manga artist Eiichiro Oda's "One Piece," the best selling manga series in Japanese history.

The Oda exhibition will showcase 25 replica illustrations from the series, which has sold over 280 million copies worldwide, as well as peripheral products, organizers said.

The fair, now in its 14th year, drew 550,000 visitors last year, according to the organizers.

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