If you’re a die-hard comic enthusiast or considering self-publishing a comic book, you might be wondering about the process of creating a great comic book. Read on for a play-by-play of the printing process.
Each book starts with a goal
The printing process will be informed by the goals the creator is hoping to accomplish. An established comic company is likely looking to sell a certain number of comic books, while an individual artist might want to print some books to build their readership.
Before engaging with a printing company, the creator should also have an idea of how he or she will market and sell the book as well as what the final print product should look like.
Make printing choices
Comic books come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, which means the publisher or author makes lots of choices.
Choose the size
The standard comic book size is usually considered 6.625” x 10.25”, although comic books also commonly come in sizes as small as 5.5” x 7.75” to books as large as 9” x 12”.
Choose the paper type
Interior sheets are commonly printed on an offset printing paper while cover sheets can be printed on gloss-covered cardstock or matte cover stock.
Choose the binding
Square (perfect) binding is created using binding glue and is often used for larger comic books. Perfect bound books are durable and professional looking but more expensive to create.
Saddle stitch (staple) binding is a more cost-effective way to produce a comic book. This method makes use of small wire staples and is suitable for up to 64-page books.
Choose the color options
Comic books can be printed in full color or black and white varieties. Color printing is more expensive but generally makes a bigger impression on readers. Black and white books can often be printed with full-color covers.
Choose a printing company
Publishing companies send their products to printing companies that handle comic book or graphic projects for the printing process. Online printing companies allow you to submit your comic art as a PDF file and order physical comic books. You can request a proof copy to ensure your book will turn out properly.
Writing and illustrating
At this point, a comic piece should be revisited to ensure it fits the goal. Refine the page layout according to the size and number of pages of your comic books. Comic books that will be bound with the saddle stitch technique should have an individual page count that is divisible by four.
Comic books can be drawn by hand or created with digital art products. Hand drawn work will eventually need to be converted to a digital file, and words are often added digitally. Artists mark spaces for sound effects, word balloons, and narrative boxes with a blue pencil.
Color printing methods have improved immensely over the years. Comics were originally printed using spots of one color at a time. This method was replaced by the Ben-Day dots method of using much smaller, closely spaced dots to create secondary colors and shades that resulted in deeper, richer illustrations.
Modern comics are usually colored digitally and a code that relates the four base colors to the desired color is assigned to each part of the art.
The comic book printing process
Large sheets of paper are fed between rotating plates so that each side of the paper can be printed at once. Up to eight individual pages can be printed on each side of a sheet.
In four-color printing, each sheet color is applied individually to create the finished effect, while other printing presses use four rotating plates to apply each color in a single pass.
After printing, the sheets will be cut to the proper size and stacked in the proper order. Next, the pages will be bound using staples or glue.
The pre-printing process
Before a comic book can be taken to the printing press, it must be written and illustrated, an often time-consuming, recursive, and often multi-person task.
The script is often written first and run by others to ensure it flows properly. If the author is not also the illustrator, they will often work together to create an outline for the book using small, thumbnail sketches.
Next, the artist will ink the pages with the proper colors, create cover art, and scan it all into a computer to create a digital file of the piece. The digital format makes it easier for the artist to perfect the page layout.
Masterful writing and artistry aren’t the only things required to make a great comic book; comic creators and publishers must put thought and care into the publishing process to create the professional pieces people love to read.
Luckily, comic book printing services are accessible to hobbyists as well as professionals. Comix Well Spring of Greko Printing offers high-quality comic book printing and excellent customer service. Call us at (734) 345-6922 to learn about how we can help you create your own comic book.