So the lovely Jordan Witt asked me MONTHS ago to help her with mini comics.
Because I’ve somehow confused her into thinking I know what I’m doing.
Don’t worry Jordan, if I can do it, then you can do it.
First things first, scan everything. This is horribly time consuming and boring, so put on Netflix and get some snacks because it’s going to take time to turn this mess…
Into this mess.
This next part involves planning. And math. I’m so sorry, Jordan. We’re going to talk about sizing. I do 90% of my minis at a size very close to 5.5” by 8.5” because it’s a letter sized folded in half which is easiest.
This one actually measures at 4.75” by 7.25” because I wanted some parts to be full bleed. Most printers will not do full bleed on their own. No matter what they say. They’re liars. So the largest I’d go would be 5.25” by 8” which allows for .25” on every edge. Of course, this assumes your printer prints centered. And it doesn’t.
But that’s for later. Let’s set up your photoshop file!
Have your file in CMYK, even if you’re printing black and white, it’ll save you frustration. Also keep your file at AT LEAST 300 dpi. Even though your printer can probably only print 100 dpi, you’ll be able to see the difference. A smaller dpi file looks fuzzy and gross, especially when you’re printing with crisp black and white. Now you can drag guidelines over to make your edges and centerfold line. Now if you want to be extra classy and save yourself some annoyance later, take a 3px black pencil and drop a dot in the corner of each guideline.
This way you’ll be able to trim your mini later and a 3px dot is WAY less conspicuous than an actual trim line along the whole edge that will taunt you when you’re up at 4am trimming these assholes. Now save this as your template so you won’t have to do this 16+ times.
Now if you’re doing an actual MINI COMIC with ACTUAL NUMBERED PAGES, figuring out how many pages and what order is easy. Because of the folding and front to back printing involved, your mini will be in a page count divisible by 4. So, 12, 16, 20, 24, you get it, pages. If you’re horribly lazy like me and can only scrounge up sketches for a sketchbook, then the set up becomes more time-consuming and designy. But it’s all the same idea.
I set up my files as sheets to print off, numbered for the pages inside. This one is page 2 and 23.
And this is where your brain has to do some imagining to not screw things up. When you’re looking at the file, the page physically next to it on the screen WILL NOT be the page next to it once it’s printed up and folded together. And here’s pages 3 and 22.
So open your files in couples and label them, dammit, so you won’t be cranky later. I mean, you still will be, this is mini comics and it is a cranky business, but this will help to lessen the cranky. I actually recommend tearing up a bunch of tiny paper scraps and making a mock up with clearly numbered pages. It’ll help.
Okay, you’ve set all your files up. You’ve made sure page 5 prints on the back of page 6. You’ve labeled, transformed, and perfected this mini. It’s printing time!
PAPER TANGENT: I highly recommend a thicker, laser print for your minis. It’s slick and cuts down on the ghost image. Most generic printer paper is 20lb. It’s floppy and pulpy and pretty useless for everything that isn’t essays. I love Hammermill 28lb. laser print for my stuff. If you’re going full color or have a lot black, I’d step it up to a 32lb. Keep that gross 20lb. though, you can use that for test sheets because nothing is more agonizing than ruining good paper.
So we’re printing. Print off ONE SHEET of page 01.24 or whatever your first sheet is. PAY ATTENTION TO WHICH DIRECTION IT PRINTS. Because we’re going to put that sheet right back in and print on the other side!!!
Most printers flip the sheet to print, but you’ll have to figure out how your printer works. For instance, I know that for my printer, I put the sheet back in facing up, with the bottom of the sheet to the right.
Which prints out this magical back to front sheet!
So print off everything like this. You’ll find a groove of how you like to print, whether it’s all one side first, or back to front right away. You’ll also find out how many sheets your printer can handle at once. This one at my apartment will only tolerate about 5 sheets during one PRINT command before it gets cranky and grabs too many sheets or smears ink. However, the ones at school can easily handle 15 before getting so huffy. Trial and error!
PRINTING TANGENT: Remember when I said your printer won’t print in the exact center? It’s not a problem if you’re doing lazy sketchbook minis, but if you’re working with actual comic pages and panels, things need to line up. This means, you might have to shift the back of a page as much as .25” to the right or left before printing it. Every printer is different so you’ll have to try a couple of times to figure out what works, but it’s simple enough with a bit of nudging in photo shop and holding your printed sheet up to the light.
All that’s left now is assembly, which is simply folding, stapling, and trimming.
Then you’ll be swimming in mini comics.
SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG, JORDAN. Thank you for being so patient.