This is my first time writing a review for a printing company -- while I'm mainly doing it for
and her sister, I hope this also helps anyone like me who wants to be sure about which printing companies and which aren't. This is solely my experience, as I'm sure anyone can attest to the fact that everyone's experiences are different. For me, printing with this company was nothing short of positive. If you have any comments, or other things to say about RA Comics Direct, feel free to add to this journal
So, last year I decided to print the entire first chapter of Legendary Beings Ara & Celi
for MetaCon. The only time this comic has ever seen print *technically* was in a four-page sample I printed with the folks at KaBlam back in 2007(?), in order to see how it would look and if I needed to up the tones and such. The black-and-white was fine, but the color cover turned out too saturated for me. Still, their customer service was great. I thought about them as my first option, but horror stories had popped up about them by then, so I was wary. The prices this time were also not viable for me. (For one thing, the cost per product did not go down no matter how many copies you bought. That's a no go for me.)
Comixpress was awful
in getting back to me -- and with everyone else, it seemed, when I found that any new orders made before they closed doors some months ago would NOT be finished (or charged for, thankfully). Only old orders in progress would be finished. This, after they replied once
after I sent them another email after
my initial order was done through their form on their site. *breathes for a second* Then they said that they would definitely get back to me with a rough estimate as soon as they received a new email from me with my order copy/pasted. >_>;; I lost count of the emails I sent, but I digress.
There was also Endeavor Printing. The costs didn't make me go through with them. However they answered quite rapidly and nicely, as well as having very good-looking products. So, here is the link to them if you want to check it out! www.endeavorprinting.com/
NOW TO THE GOOD (LONG) PART!
I actually knew about RA Comics Direct
before, due to the fact that they followed me eons ago on Twitter. At the time I noticed they were in California and well, basically shipping costs were extreme
and printing even more so. Therefore, I crossed them off my list of options, as I ain't a millionaire.
Then came the last resort stage, and I checked them out again. I have no clue what happened --maybe I misunderstood things upon my first visit--but their prices were reasonable compared to others!
They have a plethora of options available in regards to book sizes, interiors/paper and cover paper. I almost panicked because I simply didn't know what to choose, there were so many. But I was also elated, since a quick Google search obviously helps in deciding. I ultimately chose 80lb gloss text paper stock with a .004 thickness for cover paper and 60lb opaque uncoated text paper stock for interiors. The minimum quantity for orders is a nice number of 25 copies -- also a very good point, as most places seem to ask you for a min. of 50 or more. The page count was 36 pages including covers--so yes, you do have to make sure you order with the correct count!-- and size 6.625"x10.25" with left side saddle-stitching. Since my pages were in black-and-white, I obviously chose B&W text with color cover. But the printer accepted CMYK files only, even for greyscale. So I changed the color format for each of my files.
So far, so good.
Before sending them my order however, I first contacted them through their site's livechat. Since they advertised as being live, I thought I'd get a speedier reply to my questions. This was on July 26; they were offline when I did this around 6:38PM and only about two-three hours later around 8:49PM I got an answer! Holy socks, that was really fast. Now, my question was about the fact that the site does not provide templates
For those who've self-published anything, this is more than important; this is necessary.
So I asked them about templates and if we just send our pages with the crop and trim lines where we want them in case there weren't any. In fact, they did not provide templates--a big worry button right there and then-- BUT if I built the pages with my own crop marks and allowed for a 1/8" bleed (this was the most important detail), that would be all they needed.
All right, I guess I can work with that! Some of my pages for Chapter 1 were awkwardly done even in the redone versions (even now page setups sometimes still confuse me), so it was more convenient than not for me. On August 2, I replied back with an another question: what about double spreads?
Most printing places, in my experience, ask you to split up the spread into two separate pages. In this case I asked if I would have to do that, or would I place the trim in the middle?
They replied to me on the same day, only about two-three hours later. They said that I should just provide these spreads as they are and label them as pages 3-4, for example. They will be doing the separations when they impose the comic. Some of you out there who've worked with offset printers might recognize this term, I'm assuming, since it sounds like a process related to it. Either way, I breathed relief over not having to stress anymore about splitting double spreads badly -- but at the same time this was again worrying. I had never heard of a professional printing company working this way before.
The fact that I controlled how my pages should be printed/trimmed is great. If anything, it's perfect for a control freak like me, who loses sleep often just so a small bob on someone's finger looks the way I want it 8D It's the freedom and control that I'd like and appreciate personally, printing-wise. But things are like templates are super helpful, because there are people like me who are not adept at pre-press setups.
It only took me printing postcards
just to finally understand how trims, crops and bleeds work! Not even comic pages, postcards! XD
But I digress. Sent my order in after all pertinent questions were answered and hoped for the best!
The price went down or up naturally, depending on all previously mentioned choices; to boot, you had the option of a high quality digital pdf or a hard copy one. I went for the former since, well, it was free. I was worried for quality reasons of course, but when they senf the pdf in a link -- well, if anyone has had the chance to visit an official Japanese manga reading site, then you will know you can read select free manga in a way where you turn the page literally in the same window without having to press previous or next. This pdf was similar to that, which helped a lot in seeing how the comic will flow once it has been trimmed and finished.They literally promise you to ship your order in three-to-four days no matter what and THEY DID
. That is also the standard
I was so shocked at how accommodating and willing they were to help me with certain printing things, and at how fast they were in getting back to me. It's as if they wanted my little comic to be the very best it could look! Their quality is amazing too; besides an excellent looking comic, the box arrived and...there were two rows wrapped. Two times. If that's not great care, then I don't know what is.
The total for all this was around 75 dollars for 25 copies, great customer service, errors fixed free-of-charge. Shipping cost approx. 17, for a total of approx. 91 dollars.
That's a steal, even on a budget.
Next time I need Chapter 2 printed, or really any other comic printed, I will most definitely come back to R.A. Comics. Besides comics, they also have custom orders for other neat stuff like cutouts, gliceé prints and lunchboxes!
By the way, the person who answered my chat questions and handled communications with me when the time came to order -- as well as personally overlooked my order and any errors with it was someone named Jim Anderson
. He was amazingly helpful and patient; it was also nice to see the same person taking charge of my order, after having chatted with him