I'm sure there are lots of tutorials about how to make mini-comix on the web, but I figured I'd make a little photo guide of how I make them because I thought it might be interesting and informative. So here goes:
The first step is to draw your comic. It's important to keep in mind the format you are working in. The end result is going to be a 4.25" x 5.5" comic that has been cut/folded/stapled down from a standard 8.5"x11" page. This means that the page count needs to be a multiple of 8 (8, 16, 24, 32, etc). I draw my original art at 8.5"x11" which is twice-up and will reduce down perfectly for the final printed size. After all my art is done I scan it into the computer at 600 dpi, apply a threshold and convert it to a 1-bit black and white image (If you are using monochromatic tones you definitely don't want to do this. My line art is all solid black ink with no washes or anything so a pure black bitmap is what I need), do any clean up in GIMP or Photoshop, then set the file mode back to grayscale (this is important for reducing the art later on) and save each page as an LZW compressed TIF file (this is lossless compression and won't affect the art in any way except it makes the file take up a fraction of the space on your HDD). After all of the pages have been processed individually, its time to format everything for print.
I make a mock-up of the book to help figure out how I should be formatting the pages for print. I have several different ones for different length comics.
When they are unfolded they give you a guide on where to place each page. I have a GIMP file that I have formatted so I can just import the pages into it and move them to their proper place. After the page is set up I flatten it and reduce by 50%. This will give me a final page that is 600dpi grayscale. I save it as a postscript file and do the next page. Once all the pages are formatted I use a free program called PDFCreator to merge all the postscript files into one PDF (make sure to save using zip compression and not jpeg or you'll get compression artifacts on your master page). Now I'm ready to print.
When printing I select odd pages first (these will all be side one) and print them out. Since I'm using an inkjet I allow the first side to dry for a little while before printing the back side (if you're using a laser printer or copier you don't really need to do this). My printer has the ability to do duplex printing but it takes a lot longer and doesn't throw as much ink down on the page in that mode. I've mentioned it a lot in previous blog posts but I am using the Brother MFC-J6510DW. It uses high capacity ink tanks, which have extremely cheap third-party replacements. After running through a full black tank I was able to print around 400 of my comic pages (total sides) and that made my costs less than $0.02 a page (the G&G ink tanks are only $6.99 compared to $30 for a Brother cartridge.) Its a big cost savings and I like the fact that my comics are now completely homemade. Plus it saves me the embarrassment of having the guy at the copy shop looking at my stuff.
After they're all printed I give them some more drying time before folding. Time to print the covers.
I'm printing these covers on a natural cardstock. I use the bypass tray because the cardstock would jam in the regular paper tray. I think this will be the regular trade-dress for the BDP series from now on.
After the pages have had time to dry, I get to work on folding them in half. I use a large spoon which makes folding a lot easier. You can use a bone folder but a spoon works just fine for me.
It is now time to cut the pages in half. I like to be pretty precise with this step so the final product looks nice and consistent. The most I will cut is 3 pages at a time. Any more than that and you risk jamming the rotary blade or making an uneven cut. Most of the time I am watching tv or a movie while doing all this, so I'll just cut one at time because its some sort of weird obsessive compulsive fun for me. I'm not worried about getting it done quickly.
Once I've cut all the pages in half I'll collate them along with the covers so they're ready to be folded into their final form.
I fold the whole comic in one go (I tap them on the table to make sure all the pages are level and even). I used to fold each page individually but that takes forever and it leaves a cone shaped outer edge to the comic, which I would trim off later. Folding it all together leaves a more flat outer edge and doesn't really need to be trimmed.
This is the part where you go "what the fuck is going on in this picture?!?". I'm way too cheap, poor, and lazy to buy a long arm stapler so I just use a pushpin to make the holes for the staples. I've mastered the technique so it doesn't take too long to do, but way longer than the fraction of a second it would take if I had a stapler.
I press the comics under some heavy books for a few hours or overnight to get the spines nice and flat.
Now my comics are finished and ready for sale!