Format is something that every comic artist needs to take into consideration when compiling their story into book form. These days, comics come in a variety of different formats, not just your standard Marvel or DC size. With the rising popularity of manga comics in North America, we have seen a variety of different ways in which comics can be consolidated into digests, exemplified in the ‘graphic novel’. So how does one even begin to choose what sort of format will be best for printing and publication? Well, here are a few things to consider.
1. Do you work in traditional media or digitally? What does your page layout look like? You’re going to need your raw copies for duplication in print. If you can digitize your comics your options open up a bit in regards to what format you’re going to be printing by being able to size and re-size images beforehand.
2. Distribution. Are you going to be handing these out at every opportunity? Are you going to a structured event like a comic or book convention? Mailing? What is the method that you will use to get your comic into the hands of the public (outside of your family and friends).
3. Budget. How much are you willing to spend on print costs? Are you going to paste and cut your own dummy and kick it old-school down at your local print and copy shop? Pay some big bucks for a glossy full color separated cover and splash page?
There are a lot of ways to cut costs in constructing your own comics. However, what you save in cost is what you will be spending in your own time. Bookbinding is an excellent skill to have under your belt when it comes to comics. Even just understanding the fundamentals of bookbinding will give you a leg up in the production process. By understanding the principles of bookbinding it will give you a better idea of the printing process as well, and if you choose to do a lot of the printing and compiling on your own, you shouldn’t need to suffer through the trial and error process.
Mini-comics and ashcan comics are a great way to begin to learn how to compile your own comics as well. They let you work out the fundamentals of page format and really challenge you to make your point in a very limited amount of space. I actually became familiar with mini-comic format after reading a lot of anarchist zines published in the 1990s that use a lot of the basic fundamentals of producing mini-comics. In fact, I would say that mini-comics and radical literature come from the same family. The basic idea is to have a small, compact item that can be handed out whenever the opportunity arises. They are easy to cary in a wallet, purse or pocket and are generally around the size of a business or credit card.
Here are some great resources to get you started on mini-comics and bookbinding.