Tutorial: How to build a book press

DIY Book Press

Flatten your staple-bound books with this tutorial

When we received the copies of one of our books from the printers, the books’ spines had an annoying habit of popping up in the middle two pages. In retrospect, we’d probably pushed out luck in making a 72-page book saddle-stitched (a.k.a. staple bound). You can only fold so many pieces of paper and expect it to lie flat. But I’ve seen this same problem plenty of times with homemade comics.

There’s no point in spending all that time inking and lettering just to have your books come out looking unprofessional, so here’s a (relatively) quick and dirty DIY way to build a reusable book press that will flatten the hell out of your comics’ spines.

The guiding principle in this project was to build it as cheaply as possible. In the same spirit, you should feel free to replace materials as you see fit, and as you can find them.

Total cost for the version detailed below: $67.87
I’m sure you can do better if you can shop at a big box store rather than pricier, independently-owned city stores (much as I love local business).

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Back to work


Swiped from deefilly at Flickr. Thanks.

It’s been about 9 months since the release of Ragbox, Vol. 1. It’s time to get back to work.

It’s time to round up artists for Vol. 2. It’s time to start scripting the next book (a totally different storyline). It’s time to clean up this website. It’s time to find a really stupid picture (done!).

Boston Comics Roundtable Fundraiser – Aug. 20th @PA’s Lounge

Wild Ink Promo Poster by David Marshall (http://www.illdave.com/comicbooks/)

Wild Ink Promo Poster by David Marshall (http://www.illdave.com/comicbooks/)

My organization, the Boston Comics Roundtable, is holding a fundraiser on August 20th at PA’s Lounge in Somerville, MA. This promises to be a very, very fun time. We’re planning a lot of unusual events that we hope will kepp the crowd entertained and engaged. On the docket: “World’s Fastest Artist” contest, a huge audience-generated comic book, and a gallery of artists for live “speciality” sketches. The original press release is below:

WILD INK: Live Comics, Live Music Event – August 20, 2009

“Wild Ink,” a live arts and music event, will be held at P.A.’s Lounge on Thursday, August 20th. “Wild Ink” is a fundraiser for the Boston Comics Roundtable, and will include amazing live comics creation, artistic head-to-head showdowns, the world’s most unusual live sketch gallery, big raffle prizes, and live music from Rotary.

Created in 2006, the Boston Comics Roundtable is a collective of comics creators in the Greater Boston area. Its mission: to network, teach, workshop, encourage, and publish the best and brightest artists and writers in the creation of comics. All proceeds will benefit the upcoming publication of Inbound #4, A Comics Anthology, featuring local artists taking on the strange but true history of Boston.

The event begins at 9 p.m. (doors at 8 p.m.) at P.A.’s Lounge in Somerville, MA (345 Somerville Ave., 617-776-1557). This is an 18+ show. Tickets are $12, paid at the door.

For more details, and to learn more about the Boston Comics Roundtable, visit www.bostoncomicsroundtable.com.

Marketing is where you find it

The Adidas Store, Mass Ave, Harvard Square.

I had a strange experience the other day. On my way to drop my books off at New England Comics in Harvard Square, I stopped in the Adidas store to look at sneakers. A clerk saw the stack of books in my hand and asked to see them. To my amazement, and with no provocation on my part, he asked if I wanted to leave a copy at the front counter.

“Uh… yeah. Sure,” was the best I manger to reply. Why was a sneaker store so eager to feature a comic book on their counter?

There are two answers. The first is “who cares?” If they want it, they should absolutely have it. This is the cheapest, easiest marketing opportunity I’ve ever been presented. Secondly, and more to the point, I’d overlooked an important fact. Customers for my book exist well outside of comic shops and book stores. The Adidas store is actually perfect, in a way. They present an ultra-cool image – cool shoes, cool clothes, even a live DJ on the weekends. And for the time being, comics are cool, too.

There were a few details that required some finessing. The Adidas store would not agree to actually sell the book, but I could add a little sign that pointed interested parties toward the Harvard Book Store immediately next door. So I scrawled a little note that said as much until I could get home to make a proper sign.

Well, of course, I got busy and put off making the sign for a few days. Nearly a week later when I returned, the manager had shoved my book on a drawer. The clerk explained in a friendly but honest way, “it looked a little ghetto.” It was true. That hand-written sign looked like crap. I replaced it with a much sleeker looking band that wrapped around the cover (printed on plain paper straight out of my printer after two minutes in Adobe Illustrator). Adidas was happy, I was happy, and maybe I’ll sell some books.

Lesson I learned: Opportunities abound, but sometimes you need to get off your ass to make sure they work out.

Support the stores that support us! Part 3

Comicazi in Davis Square, Somerville, MA

Comicazi is the only comic shop in Davis Square – an amazing fact considering the hipster per square foot density. Micheal Burke runs the shop. He’s a really nice guy and he clearly has a devoted clientle. Comicazi has more mainstream appeal than Million Year Picnic or Comicopia, but the Boston Comics Roundtable books have always done really well here, thanks to Micheal’s support.

In December ’08, Comicazi staged a small comics show for the first time, right in Davis Square. I’m hoping it becomes an annual event.

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