Printing & Self-publishing pt. 2Posted: December 21, 2012
In case you missed Part 1, where I discuss print-on-demand services, check it out:
Part 2: Printing ‘at home’
One of the coolest things about printing your own comics now is that photocopiers have gotten about 10 million times better than they were even 8-10 years ago. Even at a local kinkos (or whatever they call them now), you generally are going to find full featured B/W and Color copiers, capable of about any task you can dream up. I often use these big stores, but with this in mind: They will not help you unless you demand it. They could care less what you need or how the machines work. If you want something cleaned or a new toner put in the printer, demand it. They’ll do it.
Of course, this is only part of the process. If you are planning to use commercial photocopy/printing places and do your own assembly & binding, I recommend doing a few things to bring more life to your project:
1. Buy your own paper: A nice paper stock that fits your project will goes miles to improving the overall look/quality of your final product. I LOVE paper. I can spend hours in a papershop looking at, touching, and smelling (yeah I know) paper. It’s not easy to find stores with a lot of paper variety or paper sizes, but they do exist. Just look for ‘office supply outlet stores’ or ‘paper wholesale’ in your fine city. Here in Chicago, I used to go to xpedx before it closed. And of course there is always paper source. Really look at the tooth of the paper, the way it folds, the color. It’s as much a part of the finished piece as the drawings!
2. Buy your own stapler: You can use big staplers at the kinkos type places, but it’s much easier to do this at home at your convenience, especially since you’ll probably do the majority of your collating and folding at home. I prefer the A-frame/booklet style, but many of my self-made comics folks love the long-neck staplers. I’ll also mention that staplers are one of those things that ‘you get what you pay for’. So plan to spend 20-40 bucks on your stapler.
3. Get a bone folder: Dude… bone folders are the coolest things. Mine is almost like a security blanket. I just like carrying it around an holding it. Weird I know (hey, I smell paper). These little guys will save your fingers, speed up the process, and give your books a much cleaner fold.
4. Get a guillotine cutter: Or find access to a mechanical industrial paper cutter. Cutters are kinda expensive, so if you can use one somewhere else, you can avoid buying one. I’m currently able to use both a regular guillotine and and industrial cutter at my place of work (lucky me!). If you are getting one, I recommend something large enough to cut at least 15″ paper.
For my Simon comics, each piece/book is usually a different size, number of pages, paper type, binding, etc. I find this to be one of the coolest and most fun things about self publishing. I love that I can make books of the same ‘series’ a large variety of forms. Publishers don’t really do that (unless you’re Chris Ware).
For these books, I generally go down to the fedex/kinkos/ups/local print shop and do all the printing. I bring my own paper. Sometimes you can get them to give you a discount if you ask (since you are providing my own paper). Generally, my stuff is B/W so the cost is not CRAZY. But it’s not cheap either. I always keep track of the price to print each book, as I’ll use that when determining price later.
I do all the collating, binding, folding, (and some) cutting at home. I enjoy this part of the process. It’s very zen. Also, when I sell a Simon book to someone, I know they are getting something special. Something personal. It’s one of the purest forms of communication in art that you can participate in. You are putting a precious object into someone’s hands and (hopefully) that item will become a precious object to them as well.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting some rock stars in regards to ‘at-home’ self-publishing. Here are a couple creators you can’t go wrong with:
Kenan is blowing my mind with his latest comic Last Train to Old Town. This is a great artist hitting his stride and making something beautiful. Get on board! Lucky for us, Kenan is making printed copies of Last Train, and he puts most of us to shame with the utter quality of his constructions. For a real master class, check out his blog.
Marnie’s In the Sounds and Seas just won a Xeric Grant (I think this might be the last xeric). Try to get a hand-made copy if you can, as they show a real care in their construction and accentuate her beautiful artwork. Everything I’ve seen her exhibit is top notch and you can see more of her process on her website.
Here is some other stuff I’ve been looking at lately:
I love these ornamental letters
an amazing ‘cover’ of a Moebius drawing by this gentleman
and one from Joseph Noel Paton
Happy holidays to you all! I hope you have safe and fun times with your loved ones!