Quality matters. A book that looks and feels good is a lot easier to sell than one made at home with your personal printer. This is subjective of course so I encourage you to put thought into it and choose the option that works best for your story.

Warning: This one’s a doozy. It has some really important information though so stick with it and I’ll try my best to make it somewhat comprehensible.

Paper Weight

Paper Weight Comparisons (article) - Print Ninja

First off, when I say paper weight or paper stock, I’m talking about its thickness.

In comics, there are three main types of weights to watch out for:

  • Text weight is thinner and used for interior pages and floppy covers. It’s measured in lb. (lb is sometimes referred to with the ‘#’ symbol and is just a unit of measurement like millimetres or centimetres. The specifics behind it don’t matter but you can see here if you insist on knowing all the gory details.)

  • Cover weight is thicker and used for things like soft covers. It’s also measured in lb. From what I’ve seen, most comic printers don’t measure in cover weight and instead use…

  • Point weight which is used to measure very thick pages like hard covers but also some thicker soft covers. Measured in pt.

Confused yet?

The important take away here is to make sure you know which weight type(s) your printer references. 85 lb text stock is NOT the same as 85 lb cover stock and definitely not the same as 85 pt.

Here’s a table to help you understand the differences. The columns you should care about are offset text and point (and cover if your printer measures that way). You can compare them to their equivalent thickness in millimetres as well if you’d like.

For your sanity, all the page weights I’ll be referencing from now on are either text weight (measured in lb) or point weight (measured in pt). Just ignore cover weight unless your printer uses it explicitly.

Let’s talk interior pages!

According to Print Ninja, the average paper weight for saddle stitched comics is 55 lb for the thin, floppy style (Marvel/DC) and 70 - 85 lb for the thicker, firmer style (Image).

Kraken print recommends 80 - 85lb for soft covers and 100 - 135 lb for hardcovers.

In general, the more interior pages your book has, the thicker the pages should be.

When it comes to covers, there are two types: self cover and plus covers.

  • Self covers are printed on the same stock as the interior pages. For example, a 28 page comic with 80 lb interior pages and a 80 lb cover can also be referred to as a 32 page self covered comic. Self covers are only really ever used on saddle-stitched comics (floppies).

  • Plus covers are covers that are printed on thicker paper stock than the interior pages. A 28 page comic with 80 lb interior pages and a 100 lb cover is still a 28 page comic.

The price difference between these two options is pretty insignificant (roughly 15 USD if you’re printing 250 copies) so it really comes down to preference. Personally I like plus covers because I prefer my covers to be slightly thicker than my interior pages.

The average weight for a saddle stitched plus cover is 85 lb. 105lb if you want it really firm.

For soft covers the average weight is 100 lb - 12 pt.

Paper Coating

Paper coating is applied during the manufacturing process. This means your ink goes on top of whatever coating you choose.

Print Ninja describes pretty much all you need to know about the different coatings here but to summarise, in comics there are three main paper coating types:

  • Gloss coating will give your pages a reflective shine. This is the choice of most modern day saddle-stitched comics.

  • Matte coating has less of a shine than gloss coating. It’s the midway option. This is a popular choice for softcover comics.

  • No coating is an option as well and results in no shine. The pages are unprotected however and thus more vulnerable to rips and fingerprint smudges.

Paper Finish

Paper Finish: Varnish, Laminated and None Explained (article) - Print Ninja

Unlike paper coating, paper finish is applied after the printing process. This means it will go overtop of your inked pages.

Paper finish is meant to add a layer of protection to your page. It can also further increase the shine of a page. Finish is usually only applied to covers.

There are three main paper finish types:

  • Regular varnish is the default for most single issue comics and it comes in two styles: Gloss and matte. These varnish styles function essentially the same as the paper coating but remember finishes are applied OVERTOP of the inks. Choose gloss for a more reflective surface or matte for less reflection and a smoother surface.

  • Uv is like a regular varnish but even shinier. Here’s a short video comparing the two. Apparently uv covers are prone to cracking on floppy cover comics as the coating is less flexible.

  • Lamination is the thickest most protective coating and is recommended for all softcover and hardcover books. It’s also available in the matte or gloss styles.

Of course no finish is an option as well, just be weary that you’re leaving your comic more vulnerable to damage.

Specialty Printing

Everyone wants their book to stand out in a crowd and sometimes specialty printing options are the way to do it.

Want a raised surface to add texture to your cover? Maybe a foil or spot varnish to make your book shine? Want it to glow in the dark? (That’s seriously an option for some printers.)

Check out this section by Print Ninja describing all the fun stuff you can add to your comic.

While these add-ons are really cool, make sure to use them with purpose. Throwing a bunch of stuff onto a cover will not automatically make it look amazing. Make sure you have a reason for adding something on before you throw your money at it.