Ever since I got the first 20 issues of Peter David’s Aquaman and the non-collected issues of HERO bound, I’ve been hooked on the idea. As I said in a previous post, I am far more likely to go back and read my comics if they’re in a handy book instead of in single issues. Even if you get past keeping all your issues in bags and boards, it’s just more of a hassle and they’re harder to store as floppies. The two things keeping me from getting everything bound sooner are cost and not actually having full access to my collection (most of my boxes are back home in Toledo). But, I do have my entire post-Crisis Justice League collection in one box and decided to bind some of them. Since DC is already collecting the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International stuff, I figured I’d be safe if I went for the first two post- “Breakdowns” waves. So, I read through them again to make sure I still wanted them and got ready for binding.
The first step was figuring out exactly what to collect in my custom hardcovers. It worked out well that Dan Jurgens’ run on Justice League America ran a fairly concise 17 issues (#61-77), so that just made sense. Meanwhile, Justice League Europe only went up to issue #50 after “Breakdowns” before turning into Justice League International, so that also made sense. So, I put together Justice League Europe #37-50 and Annual #3 to make a nice book. I also happened to have two copies of the Justice League Spectacular one-shot that lead into both runs, so one of each went into the beginning of each volume. With the issues decided, I then figured out I’d go through the Houchen Bindery. The place I used previously actually shut down and Houchen gives you the opportunity to create your own cover, so I was sold. Plus, their pricing is pretty good at $17.50 per book when you do 2-4 volumes plus shipping. I then got to work making the covers based on a template and some notes I downloaded from Houchen’s site. This actually took quite a while because I’m not very well-versed in Photoshop, but I think they turned out great. I tried to get good team shots from actual issues and scanned those covers. I then used some cloning tools to get rid of things like the company logo and creative team lists. After that, I got an interesting image for the back, did some silhouetting, created the spine text, chose the colors and was good to go. The part I had the most difficulty with was the spines because I originally wanted to use the actual logo, but I couldn’t find one online that was big enough and I couldn’t get one clean enough with Photoshop. I discovered that Impact Bold font is actually pretty close to the Justice League logo of the day, so that worked out quite well. That last element is what I was most worried about in the finished version, but wound up looking pretty good. I packed up the issues and put a PDF of each cover on a cheap memory stick (which they returned) and sent them off. The whole thing took about a full month, maybe five weeks, but I think that’s because I sent the books out around Christmas and things got backed up. I got the invoice and paid and all that was fine, but waiting for them to actually get here was the hardest part. Every day last week, I hoped they might come, but didn’t. I was bummed. And then, last night, after dark, the doorbell rang and the UPS man was there with a box from Houchen. I was giddy. The books turned out great, if I do say so myself. I was worried the typed stuff would look really crummy or my cloning would look glaringly obvious, but both turned out well. I was also a little worried about gutter loss, but the only thing I noticed was that you can’t read some of the issue numbers on the covers. But that’s it and you can see them in the indicia if you need to figure out which issue is which. What I like most about getting comics bound is how customizable the process is. If you wanted to include the four issue Elongated Man miniseries that lead into Justice League Spectacular, you could. If you want to do one huge book with all of the DC One Million issues in there, go for it. That’s one of the reasons I want access to all of my collection before really getting into binding some books because I organized my collection alphabetically, so if there’s a Green Lantern crossover with someone and the other book is in another box, I can’t put things together just yet. Like I’ve said before, I don’t feel the need to get everything bound. There’s a fuzzy line in my head between comics I have an emotional attachment to that I want to keep even if in a slightly altered form. Newer books, I’m cool with just getting trades.
My only complaint about the whole process is how much they charge for shipping which was $17.85 for the two books combined. I appreciate that they want to ship via UPS, but when I did my books from the other place, we did media mail and it was much cheaper. I gotta say, being charged essentially what it would cost to get a-whole-nother stack of comics bound is a deterrent. As much as I liked Houchen’s work, I am still always looking for a local bindery that might be interested in doing the same kind of work but closer so I can save on shipping back and forth. Anyone know of one in the Orange County New York area?