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.


The Irredeemable Shag said...

Jon - That is friggin' awesome! I can't wait to see the finished product. I know you'd rather show the book to Palmiotti and Conner yourself, but if you can't get access to them, they frequent the Dragon*Con convention I go to every year. I'd be happy to get it signed for you if you can't get access to the creators yourself.

The Irredeemable Shag

Jon said...

Hey man. Thanks for the offer, that's pretty tempting. They came over here a couple of years ago. We don't get repeat guests very often, so it's likely to be a fair while, if ever, before they come back.

Assuming this thing actually turns out and doesn't fall apart ;)