(This is a post from the publisher of Antartic Press, replying to Adam Swan's article on publishing color comics.)

Adam Swan, legacy@accent.net writes:

"Most comics are 32 pages long with 4 covers. It isn't economical to print anything below 10,000 units in colour. Last year, before the latest round of paper price hikes, printing a standard comic in full colour cost:"

Adam, since you're from Canada and responding to a Canadian query, I assume the dollar amounts you quoted are in Canadian dollars?

Here are the prices for us, with 32-page interiors, 50# glossy interior paper, 70# glossy cover stock, including all film and pre-press costs:

 5,000  -  approx. US $ 4,000  (.80 per) 
10,000  -  approx. US $ 6,000  (.60 per)
25,000  -  approx. US $10,000  (.40 per)

"For optimum quality in a colour comic, you want to be able to scan at 2008 dpi."

Actually you only really need to scan (and work with) 300 dpi files. At 300dpi, a full-sized comic page will be about 24.3 Mb in size. However, when you output the page from computer to film you want the highest resolution possible (2000+ dpi, 133 line screen) in order to get the optimal effects on shading and color gradations.

"You should budget another $3000 for the pre-press work, meaning that the total cost of printing a full-colour comic will be easily over $10,000 (Canadian) or more than $1 per book. Since distributors work on a 60% discount and charge 2% S&H, you will have to set the cover price of your comic higher than $2.65 to make any profit on a print run in the 10 000 copy range. You will be paid 38% of whatever the cover price is, by the distributor, and so obviously, 38% of the cover price has to be more than a dollar for you to make any money. Also, these figures are outdated, because of the paper price increases, so you will probably be looking more around the $1.10 or &1.15 area for a break even on a 10 000 unit print run."

We are able to do all of our color and/or scanning in-house, so our total pre-press costs are relatively low. Our 32-page color comics have a cover price of $2.95 US ($4.10 Canadian), and we get about 34% of the cover price. So, we can (barely) break even at around 5000 units sold on a color comic.

Just another publisher's views,
- "Travelling Matt"

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