Choosing a printer
There are literally hundreds of different printers available. Some printers state that they specialise in printing comics, although just about any printer can print a comic provided that you provide with the details of what you need.
The main two factors that you should use when choosing a printer to use are quality and price. Quality is a difficult one, as you won’t get a feel for their quality until after you’ve used them. If possible, ask for samples of their previous work. You should also check with other people who have printed comics in Australia to get referrals on printers that you could use. Check our forum section regularly for further information, referrals and advice. We’ll also update our resources section with a list of recommended printers from both Australia and overseas.
Price is easier to gauge. To make sure you’re getting the best possible value for money, contact two or three printers to get a quotation before you choose which one to use. And remember, just because a printer promotes itself as a comic printing specialist, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that they are the only printers you can use. You may be able to get a better deal from a traditional run-of-the mill printer.
The weight of the paper you use is determined by the quality of paper used by your printer. It is therefore important that you get a sample of the paper that you will use so that you can check that it is right for your comic.
The paper you choose should have a gloss to it, and it should also be thick enough that the inks don’t show through from the other side. Your choice of paper will also be dependent on whether you will be printing offset or digital (offset is used if you are printing a large number of books – usually more than at least 1000 – and can be cheaper per book the more you get printed).
As a general guide:
- Interior pages should be printed on 90 gsm on a high bright grade of paper.
- Covers can be printed on the same stock as interiors (i.e., a self-cover) though you may prefer to use a slightly heavier weight. Standard covers should be printed on about 120 gsm glossy paper. If you are printing a trade paperback, you’ll probably want an even heavier cover – such as a 260gsm gloss art.
Saddle stich or glue
The choice of whether to print your comic as saddle stitched (i.e., stapled) or perfect bound (glued) will mostly depend on the number of pages in your book.
Interior page counts from 4-44 are saddle stitched (stapled).
Interior page counts from 48 upwards are perfect bound (glued).
Printing digital or offset
Offset print is normally only if you are printing quantities over 1000 books – though check with your printer for their specific requirements. When printing offset, you can usually get better economies of scale (i.e., a lower price per book) for the higher number of books you print. You will usually need at least a week’s lead time if printing offset.
Digital print is normally faster than offset, although the prices are often more expensive. You don’t usually get better economies of scale when printing digitally. Digital print is usually used when printing smaller numbers of books (typically less than 1000).
Getting a quote
When contacting a printer to get a quote, you will need to provide them with certain information:
- The quantity of your initial print run. It’s always a good idea to ask for a quote on several different quantities so taht you can compare cost reductions. For instance, 250, 500, 1000, 2000. You can generally get a cheaper price per book the more copies you get printed, though you should also ensure you will be able to sell that number of books.
- Your total page count, including covers. This will alwats be a multiple of four.
- The size of your book (168mm x 260mm for standard US size).
- Your binding. Saddle stitched for smaller page counts, or perfect bound for higher.
- Colour options: colour cover with black and white throughout? Full-colour print? Two-colour? Your print job will typically be cheaper the lower amounts of colours you use.
- Paper. Do you want glossy or a matt finish? You could choose glossy for the cover and matt throughout. You also need to inform the printer of the paper weight you will use.
- Always make sure you sign off on a proof check before your book goes to print. This is to make sure everything aligns right, and that the book will turn out the way you intended.
- Make sure that you obtain an ISBN and barcode and that this is included in your artwork before you send it off for print.
Printers in Australia
If you are interested in getting your comics printed in Australia, here are a few printers that specialise in comics printing. Check back regularly, as we’ll aim to continually update this list. It’s always a good idea to get quotes from a number of printers, to make sure you are getting the best price.