Starblazer was a UK Digest sized that ran (according to wikipedia) from 1979 to 1991, though not sure how they were distributed in Northern Ireland as I’m pretty sure I never saw one.
The digest size is a lovely format, I’ve been obsessed with for ages. Identical to the Commando comic (at least in terms of format) it’s 7 × 5½ inch size with 68 pages of comics. The physical size necessitates that the pages usually have an average of about 2 panels per page.
Printed on newsprint, with a glossy cover, I’ve been in love with the format since I first picked up a commando comic when I was a kid.
Where Commando specialised in war stories, Starblazer did sci fi tales.
There’s a number of things I like about the format, for one – it’s very drawable. You could draw a full page digest format sized page in an hour and a half, I think – pencils and inks. That makes producing one page a day very easy – functionally a single page is equivalent of about a quarter of a normal comic page.
What that means is you could easily draw a commando strip, a page a day on top of regular work load. (and if that’s a struggle, half a page a day, goodness, it’s so small you could draw it while you’re eating lunch).
One of the big problems with kickstarter for comics is that it’s pretty hard to get a kickstarter amount to fund the creation of a comic – John Reppion did the legwork here, and working out roughly £250 per page to make a comic (writing, pencilling, inking, colouring, lettering – all at a modest rate) you’re talking about 24 pages x £250 = £6,000.
That’s before you get in to printing the damn thing.
Let’s say you expect to sell 100 copies, and the print cost for 100 copies is £155*, and let’s call postage a simple flat £1 per issue, that’s another £100. So altogether you’re looking for £6255 – which breaks down at COST price of £ 62.55 per copy.
Which is clearly nuts.
Let’s multiple the print copies by 10 – selling 1000 = print cost £488, postage stays £1 per issue for £1000, total production cost is £7488 making each issue cost £7.48
Which basically makes the whole thing a non starter if you’re paying your team.
Now, the biggest cost is obviously script/art/lettering, but let’s say you do that yourself – while working on other things – the cost isn’t zero but you can bury the production costs into the general milieu of your day, doing a digest sized comic means you can really do a page a day (I find getting a finished page a day really helps with motivation) but you need a bigger page count, 64 pages or so …
Sums again – production of comic cost: zero.
Print cost (based on A5 print, 64 b&w pages + four pages colour cover/inside cover, for a print run of 100) £136
Postage £1 that gives a total print run cost of £236, or £2.36 per issue. Now if you can sell this at a £5 per issue on a kickstart (it’s a bit high, but it means you actually get to make a tiny profit) then bingo! You’ve made an amazing £234.
It’s not gonna make you rich, that’s for sure…
If you can scale up to 1000, you can go with : Print £581+£1000(postage) – £1581 / 1000 = £ 1.51 per issue cost, profits £3489
Which, actually, if you can then keep the momentum going and get yourself in some kind of flow, if you could manage to have a number of those little digest books coming out on a semi regular basis, say once per quarter, that’s a fairly respectable income for a project that really is just a fun little sideline.
(And if you can get some sort of momentum going and do something like that once per quarter, no reason you couldn’t do a horror, a comedy, a scifi, a romance and kids comic and more…)
And now for some Caveats:
Man, I think my postage and packing cost is way off … £1? That’s just me rounding to a nice number, probably something stupid like £2.35 or some other random, but high number)
The comparison wasn’t entirely fair, the £6k figure for a 22 page comic was assuming colours, where I’m talking b&w.
Also, I can only consider (*And I’m not really considering it, more doing some thinking-out-blog) doing this because I’m a reasonably accomplished artist who knows he can draw 64 pages and I’m comfortable lettering my work and doing a lot of the technically fiddly stuff, and while I’d probably want to write my own work, I’m sure I can put my hand up and look for someone willing to cowrite one of these little things with me, just to have something fun in print.
God it would be so cool though, right?
*This is cheaper than I expected, and just based on a quick google search and using this pricing website https://mixam.co.uk/comicbooks