If ever a convention here in America would like to take, borrow, or steal ideas to up their convention game, then they should look no further than the MANGA Plus original art exhibit on the New York Comic Con 2023 show floor, at aisle #1000.

MANGA Plus is the official online manga reader from Shueisha Inc., available worldwide except in Japan, China, and South Korea as those countries already have their own digital reading apps.

The spot is hard to miss. It’s a giant castle-like installation featuring original manga pages from some of biggest titles around, which include Spy x Family, Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia, One Piece, [Oshi No Ko], Kaiju No. 8, and Chainsaw Man. Each corner of it was dedicated to a different title and included around three to four pages for fans to enjoy. Short descriptions of the manga were included in each section, including (and this is the really clever bit) QR codes for the first chapters of each series.

While I can’t say no one else does the QR thing to get more people into their books (Mad Cave tends to give out cards with codes for free first issues, for instance), the strategy is well underused. What very, very few other publishers do is create exhibits or walkable/interactive experiences that invite audiences to appreciate the worlds they have on offer, specifically by showcasing original art.

I’m reminded of the Junji Ito Experience at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, a legit art exhibit with a fair share of iconic pages that cemented Ito as a name synonymous with horror. It made people want to go read more Ito or even go deeper into horror manga. The MANGA Plus exhibit, while smaller than Ito’s, still managed to capture that same sense of excitement that makes people want to pick up some of the manga on display.

manga plus

During my time at the MANGA Plus exhibit, I saw people scanning the QR codes in respectable numbers, taking pictures with the accompanying cutouts, and appreciating the pages they rarely see originals of. I think it’s fair to say that MANGA Plus’s idea will yield great results that extend beyond the show, with even more subscribers jumping on.

American comics, take note. In an industry that does not invest enough in promoting its books as it is, this kind of idea is what turns curious readers into dedicated fans. Take, borrow, or steal this idea. The industry needs more like it over here.

An image gallery of the MANGA Plus exhibit follows below.