Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Have No Idea What This All Means...

...but a Blue Beetle card in actual Spanish is pretty groovy.

Apparently Argentina goes nuts for superhero cards. Who knew?
Ever wished you could have your favourite heroes in peg form?

Now you can

That's kinda cool.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Binding, The Recap

Incase you're late to the game, over the last week I've been binding my Power Girl collection into a hardcover book. Get caught up here:
Day 1: getting ready
Day 2: binding
Day 3: making the cover
Day 4: attatching the core
Day 5: finishing touches
Update 1: other method

So here's a few thoughts.

The board I used to make the cover this time has been great. It's been sitting free for a couple of days now, and is still as straight as when I made it. Compare that to the cover I did for my first book...

...and you'll see the difference it makes.

Still on the subject of covers, the method I used to make it this time worked better too. For the first project, the boards got glued to the core, then covered in paper. This time, I made the cover completely, then glued it to the core. Worked out much better, as this allowed me to get everything straight, and get everything measured out properly. The first book will only open this much:

Whereas the new one opens like this:

I thought a size comparison might be interesting. Here's 20 loose comics next to the 20 bound comics:

Even pressed down, the book still comes out on top

Cost breakdown:
Cover boards: $3.50 (4 books per $14 sheet)
Paper for cover: $3.50 (2 books per $7 sheet)
Thread: $2 ($4 for 10 metres, I've gotten 2 books done, with a little left over)
PVA glue: $1 (rough guess, it's cheap)

So that's $10 in materials. The cloth and tapes are only a few cents so not really worth figuring in to that.

Next project I think will be the 25 issue run of Ghost Rider 2099. It's actually proving tricky to find complete runs in my collection- seems there's always one issue of something that crossed over with another title and I'm missing it (for example, found this morning- my Hawkman collection is incomplete because I'm missing one issue of JSA to complete the Black Reign story). Binding 52 is on the cards sometime soon as well, since I would like to collect Firestorm, Silver Surfer, Spawn and others in as big chunks as possible, so I need to find out how far I can push the whole home-binding thing (52 makes a good sacraficial lamb- it was cool at the time, but not a high priority to read again).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Victory Or Death! But Hopefully Victory.

Book binding project Day 5 (4, 3, 2, 1), and today things will either wind up awesome or be a screaming faliure.

There's one final step to finish things off completely, but now that the core is joined to the cover, we have an actual book:

It even stands up, as by some miracle I made the cover straight.

But sure, anyone can make a book look good on the outside, does this thing actually open in a way that's readable?


It opens up in the middle great too:

With everything as it should be, there's just the final cosmetic finisher: the cover and end sheets to hide the inside covers. I thought red card would go well with the gold cover, plus it ties in to PG's costume (and is more interesting than plain old white). For this we'll need a sheet of card that's twice as wide as the book (minus a little since it doesn't need to go right to the edge.

I figured I'd go with comic size, plus a little extra. Fold the card in half, and then spread out some glue.

To avoid breaking everything, prop the book open. In this case I had the help of Y: The Last Man vols 1-3.

Important note: don't get confused about which side of the card you glued ;)

Repeat for the back of the book. Now it looks presentable. The final step is to glue about 1/4" of the first page (and last page) to the cover sheet, both to hide the inner workings, and to add a final bit of strength to the whole contraption.

Just like a bought one, only more satisfying.

So yeah, this turned out awesome. I didn't take a pic of it, but the book will actually open out completely flat, and without showing any signs of being under stress. I much prefer the method of making the cover that I used this time. I was a bit iffy about binding 20 issues but it looks really cool, a nice solid volume (I just know that at some point I'll have to try binding the entire run of 52 into a single volume. I need help, and I don't mean with the binding...).

Tomorrow I'll do a review of the whole process,a few thoughts, comparisons with my first project etc

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hey, It's Almost An Actual Book Thingy

Day Four (3, 2, 1...) of turning my Power Girl collection from Near Mint into whatever condition allows for multiple holes punched in the spines.

So yeah, while yesterday I said I was waiting overnight to finish off the cover, it turns out I lack patience. I figured a few hours was long enough, so I took the liberty of folding over the edges of the paper.

Not a particularly challenging step, and self explanitory. Back under the weights to rest in peace for the remainder of the night. Incase I forgot to mention it before, there needs to be a gap between the spine and the covers, so that the book will actually close ;)

So now we're in to Day 4 proper, and with the cover finished, it's time to connect everything and make it look like the real thing. The first move is to position the book block along the spine, and then glue the material to the front cover.

I'm actually trying a slightly different method for the cover this time. I might review what I think works better once it's all done.

Once the glue's been worked in a little, the tapes get glued. Conventional wisdom suggests that you trim the cloth and tapes to be 1 or 2" long but a) this is all that holds the book together and I'm nervous, and b) I like to overdo things.

I was using scrap black card to smooth them out hence the blackish tinge to everything, it's not actually something important ;) Repeat everything for the back cover, though of course the core will need to be proped up, since closing the front cover at this stage will cause one or two problems...

Then it's more weights (I knew all my spare Rage cards would come in handy one day), and leaving it until tomorrow. Only one more thing to do and it's done!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Waiting For Glue Really Sucks

Comic Book Binding* Day 3 (Day 2, Day 1)

Today, I get to survey my handiwork and (hopefully) have it not all fall apart.

Hey, looks like that glue was useful for something after all. There's always a slight issue with removing the surrounding wood/paper from the clamps (by "always" I mean the 2 times I've done it, but I can't really see any way around it). A bit of gentle pressure releases the actual comics, and you're left with this:

The inner 1/4" of the cover to #1 is eventually going to get attatched to the cover sheet, so all that mess of material will be well hidden.

With the core of the book completed, the next step is to make it look like, well, a book.

Measure out boards (just regular cardboard) for the front and back covers to be slightly bigger than the comic. It needs to be think card- I used the thickest I could find from the art store on my first project, but it wasn't think enough it turns out, since there's been some warping already. A visit to the stationary supply store in the weekend was more successful. A strip of card also needs to be cut for the spine. Frustratingly, I couldn't measure that up until after the block had dried and was removed from the clamps. That's annoying, as we'll see later.

You then glue the boards to a cover material- paper, cloth, leather etc. I found a cool metallic paper that also has a cloth feel to the back of it, it's very flexable but very strong. With the boards in place, stick some weights on it, and leave it overnight to dry. Yeah, that's the annoying part I mentioned earlier, since from here on out things are entirely at the mercy of glue drying times. It would've been nice to've gotten this set up while the previous step was drying, but until it was dry I wasn't willing to set the spine width in stone. It's not like you can change things once it's done. Oh well.

Tomorrow, a combination of finishing off the cover and if I'm lucky, attatching the core to the boards.

*I'm sure there's an obvious joke about binding Power Girl, but for everyone's sanity let's not go there ;)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Should've Paid More Attention in Sewing Class

Destroying Power Girl comics, day two!
(Day 1 here)

Yesterday I prepared all the signatures for binding. A "signature" is a grouping of pages for binding- a regular comic with staples is a single "signature". If you look at any hardcover book, you'll be able to see the pages grouped into signatures, apparently in lots of 16 pages or so (something like that anyway, I haven't checked personally). With everything set up, it's time to do the actual binding.

To make sense of what I'm actually doing, things will ultimately be bound like so:

Each signature gets sewn around the tapes- this is what we're actually binding to and will be holding the finished book together. 3 tapes is the recommended amount based on the tutorials I've read, but since I'm doing 20 issues all up, I thought I'd add a 4th for extra strength to be on the safe side.

Before getting to the above though, the signatures need to have some holes punched in them.

At the top and bottom of each signature, there needs to be a hole about 1/2" in (this measurement varies depending on what you read, but around about). After that, it's a matter of spacing out the holes depending on how many strips of tape you're using. Open each signature up, lay the middle over something soft to allow a needle through, and get stabbing!

When it comes to sewing, I'm using a strong linen thread designed for carpet repairs etc. Tie a knot in one end, then enter the bottom hole. Note that when it comes to stitching around the tape, you go around them, not into them.

Then it's through the other side.

Once you've finished one signature, place the next one on top. Those extra holes at the top and bottom are where the signatures get sewn together.

Then you sew the 2nd signature around the tapes, exiting the hole at the opposite end, and connecting the next signature (so each new signature gets joined at the opposite end from the last one).

One thing I had trouble with on the first project was keeping everything tight as I went. With the constant opening of the comics as you sew, things have a tendancy to move. Solution: clamp the top signature from the middle, to the workbench. That way you can open it, but nothing moves.

After a few hours (I think I just spent about 3 or 4 on it), you get this:

All it needs now are the covers. Yeah, if only it was that simple ;) That is the major part done though.

Just going back to joining the signatures for a moment- when you reach the end of one, before starting on the next one, you need to tie a knot to the previous join below it:

That way even though only every second signature gets joined directly, they all wind up tied together at each end.

Even though I've now got a funky looking "block" (technical term for all the bound signatures), how it this thing actually going to be strong enough to do anything with? Glue!

If I was a professional, I'd have one of those proper book press things, but since I'm not, I make do with clamps, and lots of them!

Things need to be tightened up, so place the block between some wood and clamp it. Next I'm going to stick some cloth to the spine to really give it some strength.

There needs to be plenty of cloth on each side, since this will be the first point of contact to the covers once they're added. A decent amount of glue for the spine, and then...

After working the glue and cloth in to the spine, clamp it up and leave it to dry overnight. If all goes well, tomorrow I'll be left with a near-indestructable book block.

More to come...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Crazy But Cool

**warning: contains mutilation of comics. Not for the faint hearted**

At one of the conventions a couple of months ago, there was a guy that had a really cool thing for Mike Allred to sign- a bound hardback copy of the entire X-Force/-Statics run. He had a couple of others with him too, and they looked fantastic. His interest in collecting lies in obtaining complete runs, and then getting the comics all professionally bound.

Since then I've thought about it a fair bit. I found an online Valiant community that's basically gone nuts and they've all bound up their collections, producing a handy guide to the various comics you might want to add in to a run to get the full story (ie crossovers with other books). So it's gotten to the point where I really wanted to do this. The local book binder is in the next city over from where I work, and doesn't open on weekends, so that kills that option. Binders in other parts of the country have pretty poor websites, if they have them at all- the most likely looking place to go has a website but no email, and I don't really want to just discuss this over the phone, since I had a bunch of questions and ideas.

In my searches, I came across many websites covering how to bind things yourself (the best one being here). Not really knowing if this was a good idea or not, I decided to try it. I chose to sacrafice the 7-issue run of TAKION by DC. I love it, but if anything went wrong well, it's easily available on ebay for around $5, so no biggie. Suprisingly for a first attempt, it turned out great. I didn't bother taking pics and stuff since I was not entirely sure what I was doing, but with my next project I'll be documenting the steps as I do them. So, on that note, I present:


With the Gray/Palmiotti/Connor lineup leaving the title with #12, I figured collecting their take on PG would be cool. I decided to add in the 4 issue JSA Classified story, and the 4 issue Terra mini since it's the same creative team and Terra ties in to the PG regular series quite nicely.

First step is to remove the staples.

The pages are all getting sewn together, so they'll only get in the way. Next up is to go through and find those pesky double sided 4 page ad inserts.

These are the easiest types of ads to remove- you can just pull them out and discard them (provided they're not glued in, which annoyingly they sometimes are). If I'm going to the trouble of binding all this, I want to eliminate as many ads as possible.

One thing I found with the first project, is that when you flick though the finished book the back cover of each issue gets in the way of the front cover of the issue following it (either static, or because they're both a bit thicker than the internal pages). This is annoying as it obscures the cover, plus it's another couple of ads I could do without.

I came up with the solution of joining the covers together in pairs- binding loose pages isn't really an option (as far as I know at this stage), so it's a of matter connecting things in a way that will let them be sewn in.

Here I cut off the back cover from #1, leaving a small part to be glued to #2's cover.

Cover #2 I cut off cleanly, so that it could be glued to the inside of the strip from #1.

It does leave a slightly unsightly join on the back, but it's not obstructing any actual content and should be atleast partly hidden in the margin once bound.

The pages for issue #1 then sit in between the two covers. The pages for #2 now have no cover, but this will not be a problem once they are all bound together.

I had to think a fair bit about the next part. DC has a current fixation with inserting previews for other comics. In the old days (that being the 80's for me), such a thing would've been inserted in the middle, and no problem to remove. These days, they're at the end of the story pages, so printed as part of the overall volume. Much more of a problem to remove, since it actually involves cutting them out if you want to get rid of them (which I do!)

They also like to add glue between the last story page of the comic, and the first page of the preview. I have no idea why, since it's all printed exactly the same and bound by staples, but it means there is ripping involved to remove it, which will leave you with a loose story page.

Thankfully, this is offset by the previews being 5 pages long (which equates to 3 sheets, plus the cover). An even number of sheets means everything can be tied together (an odd number and I'd be screwed). The one change that takes place is that the loose page (that was glued) gets bound on the opposite side from how it printed in the comic (conveniently, there's an ad on the back of the page, so it doesn't matter). It's just a matter of trimming off the tatty glued part of the page, since that will now be the outer edge...

...and attatching it to the cover using the same method I did for attatching the two covers previously.

That just leave two more sheets to cut up the same way and glue.

Then they sit between the other two pages to form a little mini-signature (a "signature" being a grouping of pages to be bound. If I wasn't cutting out pages and being clever, then each issue would be a signature on it's own)

Some of this may seem a little confusing, but the reasons for doing various steps should become clearer as things progress. It took a fair while to get my head around all this the first time.

Obviously, if you like your comic collection to be in anything resembling mint condition then you'll recoil in horror at this whole idea. Personally, while I do bag all my comics and look after them, that's primarily so that 20 years from now I don't have to re-buy something I want to read. I'd much rather they be accessible so I can pull them off a bookshelf and flick through them at will, rather than having to dig each issue out of a box and unwrap them before reading. Although having said that, I'm not about to go binding my Silver Surfer vol 1 collection or anything. I'm not quite that crazy.

Stay tuned, I'll be posting at the completion of each step. Up next: sewing everything together.