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What is binding?

Binding is the process of taking a stack of comics, sending it to a bindery, and having a custom hardcover made. The beauty of this kind of project is that you can have it done any way you like, include or don't include whatever strikes you. Include material from your favorite runs of comics, from many titles or crossover, or rearrange issues that suit the way you think a story should be read. It's custom and one-of-a-kind, so go crazy.

A quick overview of the process:

-collect all the issues/material you want to include in each volume, including Indexes, Table of Contents, sketches, etc.

- decided how you want to handle common questions. For example, do you want to keep back covers and pages with ads on both sides? If not, you need to remove them. It's pretty easy to cut or carefully tear them out.

- Fill out the binding slip.

- Securely package each volume of your comics in the EXACT ORDER you want them bound. Include TWO copies of the binding slip with each volume (one for their records and one to stay with the book at all times).

- Send them to bindery, preferably using a trackable shipping method like UPS. No need to call or contact them in advance, they will get started at their first opportunity after they get them. They will call you if they have any questions.

- Wait 4-8 weeks. They will call you when the books are finished and you'll need to give them a credit card number on the phone for payment.

- within a few days, you'll receive a UPS box with your new bound volumes.

- take pics and share with your comic-loving 'net friends!


Will it hurt my comics?

Yes and no. They are permanently altered so that you cannot 'unbind' them, but I prefer to think of it as making them into a better form. The binding house actually trims the books on all edges about 1/8th of an inch (don't cringe, they don't get into the artwork or text). They trim the spine enough to get the staples out, and they trim the edges just enough to make them exactly even like any other hardbound book. Then the issues are actually sewn together and bound. It's very professional looking and very sturdy.

However, since it's permanent, if you have a copy of Detective Comics #27, bind a reprint!

Who does the binding?

There are probably more binderies than I'm aware of, but the one that I've used exclusively is Library Binding Company. They do great work and are very detail oriented. If you have special or unusual specifications, they are friendly and easy to talk to.

I've also seen work from a company called Capitol Bindery, and their work looks fantastic. However, their prices are significantly higher than LBC, and thus the reason I've never tried them.

How much does it cost? I'm quoting LBC's price list here (check their site for the latest info). Aside from the cost of collecting all the issues, each volume costs $15 to bind, and the optional cover and spine stamps are about $5 each. By the time I ship them to and from the bindery, I've got another $5 each in them. So my volumes come to about $25-$30 each by the time I'm completely finished.

There are lots of a-la-cart options to the binding too (tail lines, panel lines, bookmarkers, custom font work, etc.) But the bare bones cost is $15 plus shipping, not bad at all.
How long does it take? Depending on how many volumes you send in at once and how busy they are (binding comics is only a small portion of their business), turnaround times are anywhere from 4-8 weeks.    
What is a binding slip? This is the form that tells the bindery which colors to use, the options you want, the text you want, and dies stamps you want. The more descriptive, the better. Draw pictures if you must. They bind comics, but they aren't mind readers. This form is available on the LBC website.    
What is gutter loss?

Technically the gutter is the blank edge around the artwork. If the book is too thick, more of the page curves down into the crack, and there is the potential that art and text near the bind could be more difficult to see, thus the term 'gutter loss'.

The "acceptable" level of gutter loss is completely subjective, but I'm pretty picky, and I don't want to struggle to read the middle edges because I crammed too many issues into a volume. This plays into the next question.

How many comics can I fit into one volume?

You can bind up to 2" at no additional charge, but I prefer to limit to 18-22 issues (if you don't remove ads and back covers). More than that and the volumes are a little too unwieldy and you tend to get more gutter loss. I've seen people put up to 30 issues in a single book, but if the point is to make re-reading more enjoyable, then that's too many, in my opinion.

Again, that's just my preference, yours may vary.

What grade of comics do I need for a successful bind? As a rule of thumb, you do NOT need perfect comics for your binding project. The majority of reader copies in the VG / F / VF spectrum have defects like blunt corners, spine stresses, or minor folds/bends. Since the binding process removes about 1/8th of an inch from each edge, that pretty much eliminates all spine and corner defects right from the start. This makes cheaper comics perfect for binding, and they look just as good bound as NM copies. That being said, you do need to watch out for particular defects that will affect your binding project. Try to avoid using comics that are brittle, excessively yellowed, water-damaged, or that have any significant tears.    
How do I get logos stamped on the books? When many of us started binding, there were no logo die stamps, so we collectively each made our favorites and made them available to everyone. Thus with LBC's help, there are a ton of spine and cover logos available now. Cruise on over to LBC's logo gallery to see if your favorites are there. If your fav is not there, contact James at LBC and he'll give you a quote on having your own favorite logo made into a die stamp.    
How do I make Table of Contents pages?

You can make them with any graphics program that you have available to you. Whatever you're comfortable using. I typically use Adobe Illustrator for my ToCs. If you're only doing one book, you can get away with any program you like. However, I rely heavily on scalable vector graphics and layers to make reusing a template very easy when doing a set of books.

People ask about paper choices, and I simply use a heavy bright white laser printer paper. It's nice paper, but nothing exotic.

If you want to find a superhero or publisher's logo, try searching www.brandsoftheworld.com

How do I make dustjackets?

Personally I like using Adobe InDesign. This is another place where you could use any graphics program, but I've found that it's pretty user friendly for anyone that's ever used Photoshop or Illustrator.

I typically make my dustjackets 10.375" tall and 19-23" wide. Make sure to measure the widths of the spine of each volume, as they are all a little different.

What color choices do I have?

LBC has a handy color chart to help you with your selections.


Can I bind monthlies, trades, and loose pages together? You can bind anything you can imagine. I had bound a volume of Captain Britain comics that included a trade paperback, a squarebound prestige issue, and several single issues all in one. It came out GREAT! Seriously, you can bind anything. I've even seen where people don't want to remove an issue from their collection to bind so they color xerox copy the pages and bind those. The sky's the limit. There are no rigid rules, just preferences and budgets.    
Do you know the order I should arrange story XYZ? If it's not a project I've previously done, then I probably don't know. However, there are a ton of helpful / informative / friendly people in the CGS binding forum. They can probably help you with any storyline mapping questions you have.    
Final Thoughts:

Some of my fellow binders over at the CGS forum have started threads with good tips:

10 Recommendations For The First Time Binder - The Comic Forums

Comic Book Binding FAQ

The most important part is that you have 100% control over your volumes, what's included, what they look like, etc. It's only limited by your budget and imagination.