Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Fit to Print!

So finally, after months of anticipation, today I signed off Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead at the printers - that's the splash page above. It was the conclusion to a frentic two days of proof-reading, lettering, proof-re-reading, balloon placement, artwork fine tuning and proof re-re-reading to make sure that the finished book will make us proud at BICS and worth anybody's £2.50.

One thing's for certain, whatever anyone makes of the content the production quality of the comic itself will be absolutely first-class, which is why finding the right printer is such an important priority. Willday and Son in Leicester is where we get our printing done and they do a phenomenally good job and have done since we first contacted them last August when we were looking fo a printer for Ragamuffins.
Before I formed Time Bomb Comics I'd always assumed that printer's were a pretty clever bunch with black ink in their veins and paper sizes in their heads. Not so. The search for a printer proved to be one of the most difficult aspects of publishing as we discovered that printers are two a penny, good printers are thin on the ground, but really good printers are as rare as rocking horse shit.
We initially contacted dozens of printers with the same brief: How much for a saddle-stitched 24-page comic an in American B5 format with a colour glossy cover and black and white interior? Some of the responses ranged from the ludicrous to the bizarre. We were told that the American paper sizes were illegal to use in the UK. We were told that due to the amount of black ink in the artwork extra costs would be incurred as the presses would need to use more ink. A significant amount of the quotes we did get included VAT despite printed matter being VAT exempt. It was becoming obvious that there were a fair few cowboys moonlighting as printers.
Not everyone was a rip-off merchant of course but in the end we chose Willday not only due to their very competitive quote (not the cheapest but more than £1500 cheaper than the most expensive quote we did receive) but because they seemed genuinely interested in what we were trying to do and had a passion for quality control that left us grinning. Case in point: when we signed the proof of Ragamuffins off one of the interior pages contained a typo in one of the word balloons that both Andy and I had missed. When I did spot it the comic had gone to print - too late to be corrected. When I picked up the printed comics later that week I noticed the typo had been corrected - Willday had spotted it and done the fix for us. How great is that?
So if you are seriously thinking about putting out a comic of your own (and if not, why not?) the message is shop around. Find a printer that's as passionate about your product as you are. And if you're having a hard time finding one then contact the team at Willday - but make sure you tell them I sent you!

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