Saturday, 1 June 2013

Dementia Dad: The Printing Lesson

Who knew with making a comic that the printing would be just as challenging as the creating!
Funnily enough lots of people, except me.

So I am going to share with you guys my experiences as a noob of the printing world.

Discovery no.1
Trying to print double-sided on a domestic printer, don't work, well they just won't line up. You get this huge white gap at the bottom. If I had my own printer I would seriously mess about with the settings. This would only be good for a short run or good for doing a double-sided template to take to the printers.

Discovery no.2
Most photocopy machines will put a big fat white border round your image and chop into it, boooo I say boooo! 
Apparently they can't turn it off, darn it, I bet I could get it working if I had one.
If it weren't so damned mahoosive I would steal it.
So this is what a bleed is all about, and every copy shop will tell you they need a different sized bleed and/crop marks.
The nice chap at Copy Express in Holborn said it's because every machine has it's own personality.

Ok I'm gonna stop this Discovery listing thing cause it has not been that simple.
My first print was with my Chondalamalcia Patalae knee comic that I did. I had a lovely chap at the local print shop work really hard to get it to print right, lining up etc. I tried not to gripe too much when it chopped my image *wince*
I wasn't too precious about this project as it was an experiment.

But my next one was more important to me.
Dementia Dad

So I tried a different copyshop, who chopped into it, barely batting an eyelid *inside tears*
I decided I better try a proffesional printing shop.

Shop 1- "oh we need it digital, yes you always get a white border" - oh they're rubbish
Shop 2- "oh we need a PDF or Indesign file" *huh?*

Stumpted again
I start emailing peoples, one company proper talks me through what they need via their website, ExWhyZed
And I discovered the beginnings of a magical formula, which is:

CMYK, 300dpi, 3-5mm bleed, crop marks (sometimes) PDF

I got myself a trial version of Indesign, taught myself the basics, pumped out PDF
As every copy shop has different specs they like. I have, to date, pumped out 12 different versions, with crop marks, without crop marks, bleed 3,4 and 5 mm, with cover, without cover.

Not all copy shops have everything you want.
I really want a grey cover in matt, but a lot of people don't stock it, but one copy shop said I could supply the paper and they'd print on it (one place outright won't do other's peoples paper)
It is important to stay true to what you imagine as otherwise you'll get lost in their can's and can-not dos

I have spoken to at least 10 different copy shops now and have whittled it down to two I am working with, a small business Copy Express and a big chain, ProntaPrint.
Both mainly because they were helpful, informative, friendly and accommodating.

So fellow noobs of print!
1st scan your image, make sure it is 300dpi and to the size you want it finally (A4-A5)
Make sure it is CMYK with a bleed of between 3-5mm.

As your order gets larger the costing decreases. So an order of 100 will individually cost less than an order of 30... of course you need the collateral up front and some way to sell it.

I settled for a costly order of 20 at Pronta Print
and a run of 10 at Copy Express in Holborn.
Pronta print let me use my own coloured paper for the cover, which unfortunately didn't suit a black and white print and smudged in the trial so I had to do the cover on a colour print which cost more....lesson learnt.
1. Source suitable printable paper
2. or if your gonna pay colour, make it colour!

So far I have sold 12 to friends and family- woot!

The real dream come true though is GOSH, my all-time long-time favourite comic shop in the world, took three of my comics to sell, wooo!
I didn't get much back (mainly because my errors pushed the cost up of the make) BUT I am selling in GOSH that is one wish box ticked.

I have showed this book to mum and dad as I wored on it to make sure they were ok with it. They both thought it was very funny and emotional and I have their approval which is important to me.
My mum told my Dad about selling in GOSH and even he was impressed, he took me there in the first place, back when I was an early teen, hey it only took me 20 years Dad ;)

I have put a few on Etsy:
Dementia Dad selling at £5 inc p&p, you can either go through Etsy or me at

This has been such a fantastic learning curve and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have now got the task of putting it out there. If all goes well I shall print a larger run hopefully at a cheaper cost.

I now have a taste for print and am working on about 4 other projects which include murals, space porn, buses and photocopiers. I am also writing the follow ups to Dementia Dad and as you can see on other posts I am doing the occasion one pager for my own amusement.

I have a real taste for print now, wish me luck!

I also, as an additional touch, hand-printed the back with a self portrait in linocut and my hand print letter set. I love stamps and hand printing.

1 comment:

  1. OMG!I so remember the pain of trying to find a decent printer who was both helpful and knew no1) what they were talking about and no2) what you wanted. I used to use kinko's in London,and I've had various other hit and miss experiences.
    This is a very useful blog post for other small press newbies. I wish I'd seen advice like that back in my small press days!