What is Comic Binding?
Comic binding is a relatively new hobby amongst comic collectors. For those who don’t know, binding is the process of taking a run of comic books and forming them together into a hard or soft cover book. It’s sending your favorite run of Spider-Man books in to be turned into a trade paperback or hard bound book. Those that get bitten by the bug tend to pool a lot of resources into getting these collections made. What you’re about to read is my personal account of how I got my books done last month. I am, in no way, an expert on this subject, but I will say that the process was pain free and the results, satisfying.
When I first set out to get my comics bound, I looked up as many resources on the web I could find regarding the subject. I’ve posted these resources at the end of this article if this seems like something you’re interested in doing. On the various message boards that I visited, I found examples of several books people had gotten done and I was instantly inspired to do my own. The time and money fans have spent getting these books created is crazy, but the end results are as good or better than the stuff big publishers pump out.
Choosing the Right Title
The most important thing to consider when getting your comics bound is what title(s) you want to send in. Most people tend to assemble runs of modern titles since there’s less “cash” involved and the glossy pages really look good when bound into a hardcover. One of the prime examples I’ve seen is DC’s 52 series. People have broken that series up into two volumes, while including all the spin-offs. Another example is Marvel’s Civil War and all the crossover books that went with it. When assembled in the right order, it’s a fantastic read, and because the back issues are relatively cheap to come by, a project like this is inexpensive.
For me, I went with a few runs I already had finished: Web of Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and Sensational Spider-Man. I figured, the chances of Marvel putting out an omnibus of these series is rare, so why not go for it? Besides, I’d rather have these runs in hardcover than in a collection of six or seven different softcover trades.
Considering Your Options, Costs
With that, I contacted Library Binding. Their site offers a lot of answers to people interested in getting their books bound, but because navigation is a little cumbersome, I couldn’t find everything I needed. I emailed their customer service address and was surprised at how quickly they responded (within an hour). Their representative responded very concisely to any questions I had about shipping, costs, extras, and spine width, and seemed to actually care about getting my business.
After getting the info I needed, I compiled all the books I wanted together. I’ll use Web of Spider-Man for this example. With Web of Spider-Man, the series is broken up into 125 issues plus nine annuals. What I did was divide the series up into three volumes. Each volume would contain roughly 40 issues and three annuals. Library Binding recommends people use 20-25 issues per volume to keep the books “manageable”. Anything more and the book becomes pretty heavy. Luckily for me, I like my books huge, so having 40+ books wasn’t an issue for me.
Next, I had to prepare the packing slip (which can be downloaded from Library Binding’s website). This packing slip will include what you want on the cover, the spine, and other options like what type of font, color of font, color of the cover, an optional ribbon that acts like a book mark, and other special instructions. The more options you want, the higher the price goes. For me, my four books cost around $140 to get done. This included UPS shipping back to my house.
The reason it was more expensive is because I opted for the Marvel logo to be stamped on the spine, ribbons for bookmarks, and a larger spine because of how many issues I was cramming into my volumes. If you think about the price Marvel charges for an Omnibus ($99 for 30-40 issues) or a hardcover ($30 for 12 issues), this price isn’t so outrageous. Sure, they’re not oversized and you don’t get a dust jacket, but people have made resources available so that you can make them yourself.
Packing & Shipping
To prepare my books for shipping, I took them all out of their bags and boards and rubber banded them together. Now this is an option, but it doesn’t have to be done. You can also wrap them up in a paper or plastic bag and tape the sides to brace the books. It’s very important that you include two packing slips with each volume you intend to get made. There is no need to remove the staples. You can, however remove any unwanted ads if you feel like they’re in the way. The choice is yours.
If you’re worried about the books getting damaged from the rubber bands, don’t. As the company disassembles your books, they also perform a minor trim to the edges to make sure the pages are all uniform. Trust me, you won’t be missing anything from this process. Once your books are in the box, secure them with newspaper or styrofoam peanuts to keep them from shifting around. I highly suggest sending the books either UPS / Fed Ex / or USPS Priority Mail (via flat rate box). They’ll get there quickly and once they receive your books Library Binding either call or email you to confirm.
Payment & Receipt
Within 2-3 weeks, you’ll receive another phone call from them telling you that your books are done. Be prepared to supply them with a credit card. After payment is received and confirm they’ll ship your books out via UPS and within a week or so you’ll have some beautiful hard bound books to add to your collection!
Hopefully this little article has been helpful. Binding is quite an interesting hobby and I’ve found myself looking for older obscure titles like Dazzler, Ms. Marvel, and Marvel Saga. Titles like these may have been given the Essential treatment, but to get these originals as hard bounded books is just too much fun. If you’re interested in trying this out, do your research, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and most importantly, have fun!
– J. Montes