6 Things to Consider When Printing a Comic Book or Graphic Novel
Are you constantly creating your own comics and graphic novels in notebooks and design programs? Are you interested in taking things to the next level and actually having a comic book or graphic novel printed? It’s far more practical than you realize. However, there are some logistical details you’ll need to consider and work through before getting started.
6 Tips for Printing Your Own Comic Book
Printing a professional looking comic book takes some effort. However, thanks to accessible tools and online platforms, it’s easier than ever before. The key is to focus in on the details and to make smart, disciplined choices throughout the process.
Here are a few tips that you may find helpful as you progress from start to finish:
1. Set a Clear Purpose
Begin with your goal or objective. In doing so, you’ll establish a clear purpose for the project and find it easier to stay focused when working through the various steps and phases of the project.
For some people, printing a comic book is a personal project meant for nothing more than having a memento on hand. For others, it’s designed to serve as a portfolio that can be circulated in job interviews and networking situations. And then there are those who actually want to sell copies and make money as a side income. Each situation is very different, and you’ll do yourself a favor by clearly identifying the main objective up front.
2. Choose a Size
The size of your comic book will also determine how you approach the project. Bigger books are more expensive, while smaller books tend to be more cost-effective. However, larger sizes also allow your illustrations to be bigger and more discernable, whereas smaller pages require you to scale down your designs.
You’re welcome to choose virtually any size, but most of today’s graphic novels are either 5.5 x 8.5 or 8.5 x 11. You’ll also want to think about page numbering and length. To save on production prices, you’ll need to ensure the total pages in the book are divisible by four.
3. Select the Right Paper
Paper selection is also important. The weight of paper, as well as the look and feel, has an impact on the quality and appeal of your comic book.
Do you want glossy or shiny paper to help your vibrant illustrations pop off the page, or would you prefer a subtler, flat page that’s clean and professional? Regarding thickness, you want the pages to be thick enough that they’re durable, but not so heavy that they’re hard to turn. Thickness also impacts the bleed-through onto the backside of the pages. In general, 80lb paper is considered adequate for comic books.
4. Choose the Binding
Binding is one of those details the average person never thinks about until they’re tasked with printing their own book. For the most part, comic books are traditionally printed using saddle-stitched binding. However, if you’re going to be using a larger page count and prioritize durability of the book, perfect binding is worth a look. It creates a durable, square spine that can be printed on.
5. Create a Layout
All of the choices above can be made fairly quickly and effortlessly. It’s the layout and design that’s going to consume most of your time and energy. For the most part, this comes down to your own inspirations, skills, and creative limitations. It’s your book, and you can design it how you please. If you prefer to design on paper and then use software to upload these into a digital format, go for it. But if you have the skills to use a digital design platform, this is the easiest way to go.
6. Fund Your Project
How will you pay for the project? If you’re only printing a handful of books, then it’s not going to cost you very much. But if you’re planning to print hundreds or thousands of individual copies, it can get expensive. In this case, you may consider accepting preorders or using some sort of credit system to access enough cash up front to pay for the order and enjoy the lower costs that come with higher quantity orders.
Enjoy the Process
While there’s certainly part of you that wants to complete your comic book and have it in your hands, don’t underestimate the joy that comes from the process of designing the book. This is a creative art form in and of itself – so have fun with each phase and don’t neglect the details.
Patience will prove to be one of your greatest assets in this sort of project.