Archive for March, 2012

Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

DOG BOY Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.

Wednesday Weekly Update | Heaven And The Dead City

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

New page of Heaven and the Dead City
by Raine Szramski, now available.

HEAVEN And The DEAD CITY Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!

Tuesday Weekly Update |
CAPTAIN OBESE

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

New page of
The Heavy Adventures of CAPTAIN OBESE
by Don Lomax is now available.

CAPTAIN OBESE Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!


Stop the Presses: Part 2

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012


At the turn of the second millennium it was Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press that was identified as having the greatest influence on humankind in the last thousand years. The printing press revolutionized the way information was disseminated and created a greater opportunity for education and the spread of social culture throughout the world. There surely would have been no comic books without the printing press and what a tragedy that would have been! We have to give credit to printers for their role and influence in the medium.

Though Richard F. Outcault’s Yellow Kid, heavily influenced by the use of colored inks in the printing process and published in 1895 is widely considered as the first comic strip because of its use of word balloons, it was a printer, Benjamin Franklin, who created and published in 1754 the first editorial cartoon in America, composed of an illustration of a snake with a severed head and the printed words “Join, or Die.”

Franklin who had been apprenticed as a printer to his older brother James left Boston and opened his own print shop in Philadelphia at the age of seventeen. Franklin often used his political cartoons in his publications  to advise readers about politics and the social unrest of the colonies that would lead to the American Revolution.

Like Franklin’s publications, early comics were printed on letterpresses where  engraved or photo-etched images and moveable type were covered with ink and pressed onto the surface of the paper which would then be folded,  trimmed and bound into a pamphlet. The size of the paper sheet dictated the final size of the original comic books which was about 7 1/4″ x 10 1/4.” The sheet of paper printed on both sides is considered a signature. Each signature has has eight pages on each side resulting in comic books  having page counts in increments of sixteen.

The early comics generally consisted of four signatures giving them a sixty-four page count plus an additional cover. Today’s comics usually have two signatures equalling thirty-two pages plus a cover. More recently, as discussed in  Stop The Presses Part 1 comics are using a self cover format meaning that the entire comic, including the cover, is generated by the two bound signatures.

Front and back of Signature #1

Joe Williams, co-creator  of CO2 Comics’ feature Monkey and Bird and all around great guy has a wonderful blog post showing how to set up the page layout for a print signature that is 12″ x 18.”  These dimensions are quite different than that of a traditional comic but it is a great illustration of how pagination works and clearly shows how the print size of the paper will dictate the size of the final comic.

Gerard Jones in his incredibly fascinating book, Men of Tomorrow, describes how Jewish immigrant printers played a specific role in the development of the comic book. He contends that these immigrants were dependent on having their own letterpresses so they could print with their distinctive Hebrew type faces. In a search for ways to keep their presses running, along with mob associations in this Depression /Prohibition Era, these printers relied on popular and inexpensive products like pulp magazines  and comic books that could be distributed along with  booze and other contraband to a large network of city news stands.

Jones tracks the corrupt exploits of  Harry Donenfeld and the evolution of his family run printing company through the $130 acquisition of Superman from two other young Jewish men, Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster. The ensuing unexpected and overwhelming success of comic books featuring The Man of Steel sealed the comic book’s place in history as an icon of popular culture and created an industry that no longer was dependent on mob money to support it.

Publishing comics became more glamorous than just printing them and soon the job of printing the comics was farmed out to larger printers who could handle the massive duty of printing millions of comic books each month and distributing them to a national audience.  Eventually only one printer would dominate the production of comic books for decades.

To be continued…

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Monday Weekly Update | RIBIT!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

New page of RIBIT!
by Frank Thorne, now available.

RIBIT_Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!

Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

DOG BOY Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.

Wednesday Weekly Update | Heaven And The Dead City

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

New page of Heaven and the Dead City
by Raine Szramski, now available.

HEAVEN And The DEAD CITY Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!

Tuesday Weekly Update |
CAPTAIN OBESE

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

New page of
The Heavy Adventures of CAPTAIN OBESE
by Don Lomax is now available.

Click here to read this comic NOW!


Stop the Presses: Part 1

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The new trend in the production  of the traditional comic book pamphlet is the self-cover format and it has people talking. Some are disturbed by the idea that the form of the product  is being dictated too heavily by production costs, especially now when comic book prices are generally three to four dollars. Others are waxing nostalgic, calling for a return to newsprint interiors and flat color in an effort to maintain  tradition.

The irony is that the format of the comic book as we know it has always been dictated by cost and convenience. The earliest comic books were conceived as a way to keep presses running in print shops. Their size was determined by the maximum number of pages that could fit on a print signature without excessive, wasteful trim.


Much of the technology developed for the printing of comic books can be attributed to World Color Press,  a company who for decades was the largest and most innovative printer of comic books.  Even their central location in Sparta, Illinois facilitated the least expensive shipping nationwide.

In the 1980′s when independent publishers began producing comics on paper grades that were more expensive than traditional newsprint it was not because they necessarily wanted to. By that point in history World Color Press was the only game in town and publishers had to line up for a coveted place on their print schedule that was dominated by product produced by Marvel and DC who could squeeze competition off the presses simply by increasing their line of comics. This practice of manipulating the instigated a lawsuit by First Comics in 1984 siting anti-competitive practices.

Forced off the presses in Sparta the new wave of indy publishers went to printers that though they could not compete with World Color’s prices on newsprint, they could offer specialized production of comics on improved paper stock that would allow these new publishers to compete with Marvel and DC on a quality level that could justify higher pricing of comics. Popular stocks of paper called Mando and Baxter were much denser and brighter than newsprint and gave publishers an opportunity to explore full-color in ways that they could not before.

The superior production quality allowed the independent publishers an opportunity to gain a foothold in the growing Direct Market. Watching the competition grow forced Marvel and DC to eventually adopt the new production standards constituting their own price increases which evaporated the expendable income of the comic book consumer, crippling the market and ringing the death knell for most of those early independent publishers.

Advances in digital printing production have made printing on newsprint no longer an affordable option for comic books. The current self-cover format is most similar to the production of circulars that we get in the mail or in our newspapers for free every day, keeping with the time honored tradition of producing comics as cheaply and as conveniently as possible thus ensuring the medium’s perception as disposable entertainment, at least to the casual reader.

Comics in print will never go away. There will always be a place for comics preserved as graphic novels or presented in a deluxe format to be held and admired but if the tradition of producing comics in the most cost effective and convenient manner is to be maintained, the days of the pamphlet are surely numbered. The cost of producing comics for digital distribution are so negligible compared to print that as soon as a reliable distribution method is in place and fully accepted by consumers you can be sure that industry leaders will be quick to pull the plug and yell, “Stop the presses!”

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Monday Weekly Update | RIBIT!

Monday, March 19th, 2012

New page of RIBIT!
by Frank Thorne, now available.

RIBIT Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!


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