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  1. #1
    (Formerly ilash) Ilan Preskovsky's Avatar
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    Default DC's Paper Stock: What's the Story?

    Since late last year, DC has radically improved its paper stock, with thick, matte paper being standard for both their comics and trades. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received copies of Black Hammer/ Justice League #1 and Doom Patrol: Weight of the World #1 to find that that they were both printed on this very flimsy paper that makes Marvel's paper stock look like something from IDW. I read the former first and I thought that it was just a Dark Horse thing but Doom Patrol was the same, except that its paper wasn't glossy at least.

    These were the only two like this from my comics last month but they really stood out in a very bad way.

    Anyone have any idea what's going on here and if there were other DC comics that came with such awful paper stock? At $4 a comic, they really have no excuse serving us such crappy product.
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  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilan Preskovsky View Post
    Since late last year, DC has radically improved its paper stock, with thick, matte paper being standard for both their comics and trades. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received copies of Black Hammer/ Justice League #1 and Doom Patrol: Weight of the World #1 to find that that they were both printed on this very flimsy paper that makes Marvel's paper stock look like something from IDW. I read the former first and I thought that it was just a Dark Horse thing but Doom Patrol was the same, except that its paper wasn't glossy at least.

    These were the only two like this from my comics last month but they really stood out in a very bad way.

    Anyone have any idea what's going on here and if there were other DC comics that came with such awful paper stock? At $4 a comic, they really have no excuse serving us such crappy product.
    Uh, upcoming price increase?
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  3. #3
    (Formerly ilash) Ilan Preskovsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy Hausler View Post
    Uh, upcoming price increase?
    Oh man, do I hope not! $5 may just be the breaking point, especially so soon after the move to $4.
    Check out my blog, Because Everyone Else Has One, for my regularly updated movie reviews.

  4. #4
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilan Preskovsky View Post
    Since late last year, DC has radically improved its paper stock, with thick, matte paper being standard for both their comics and trades. Imagine my surprise, then, when I received copies of Black Hammer/ Justice League #1 and Doom Patrol: Weight of the World #1 to find that that they were both printed on this very flimsy paper that makes Marvel's paper stock look like something from IDW. I read the former first and I thought that it was just a Dark Horse thing but Doom Patrol was the same, except that its paper wasn't glossy at least.

    These were the only two like this from my comics last month but they really stood out in a very bad way.

    Anyone have any idea what's going on here and if there were other DC comics that came with such awful paper stock? At $4 a comic, they really have no excuse serving us such crappy product.
    The Black Hammer one was published by Dark Horse, so that explains that one.

  5. #5
    (Formerly ilash) Ilan Preskovsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    The Black Hammer one was published by Dark Horse, so that explains that one.
    Yeah, I thought that was the case. Man, Dark Horse must be struggling, financially, then. Their comics used to have real weight to them, physically.

    I just hope this isn't a trend that starts spreading. I took a look inside and Doom Patrol was printed in Kentucky, while the normal DC books seem to be published in Canada. Hmmmmm...
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  6. #6
    Astonishing Member cranger's Avatar
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    For what it is worth, Terrifics has not switched over yet. None of the New Age of Heroes stuff did, even after switching to $3.99, but the rest have all been canceled anyway.

  7. #7
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilan Preskovsky View Post
    Yeah, I thought that was the case. Man, Dark Horse must be struggling, financially, then. Their comics used to have real weight to them, physically.
    They're in deep trouble, yeah. Don't forget, they lost both Star Wars and Conan to Marvel, and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Boom Studios. And nothing's replaced them. Their income must be a lot less than it used to be.

  8. #8
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    What do people consider a good paper stock for comics? I find my opinions about this have changed over the decades.

    Note also that paper, printing and binding are three different productions and are usually provided to the publisher by three different companies--which each could be located in three different states or countries.
    celebrating 50 years of 4 beatles crossing a zebra

  9. #9
    (Formerly ilash) Ilan Preskovsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    They're in deep trouble, yeah. Don't forget, they lost both Star Wars and Conan to Marvel, and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Boom Studios. And nothing's replaced them. Their income must be a lot less than it used to be.
    Yeah, fair points. They can't be having a great time of it right now. They used to be THE media tie-in company that also had major creator-owned series like Hellboy, Sin City and Usagi Yojimbo. Now? Even Karen Burger's imprint doesn't look like it's doing much for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    What do people consider a good paper stock for comics? I find my opinions about this have changed over the decades.

    Note also that paper, printing and binding are three different productions and are usually provided to the publisher by three different companies--which each could be located in three different states or countries.
    I was looking into it and that does seem to be the case, which is definitely interesting.

    As for my paper stock of choice, the current stock that DC (mostly) uses these days is pretty close to perfect. I used to like glossy but I definitely prefer matte these days and the paper should be substantial enough that it won't tear just by looking at it and should hold the colours nicely. A nice weight to it is crucial. Holding that Doom Patrol issue felt like I was holding a cheaply made pamphlet that would fall apart even as you read it. Ditto the JL/ Black Hammer book, which was like that but also glossy!

    So, in short, most of current DC, Brubaker's Image books (and others similar to it), classic Wildstorm, current Boom and peak-era Dark Horse - all good; the above-mentioned issues and anything in paperback or issue form from Marvel for, what, the past decade - very, very bad. In between are those glossy pages that also happen to be thicker and more expensive feeling (again, the opposite of Marvel) like IDW and the more deluxe hardcovers put out by DC and even Marvel at times. I don't like reading comics digitally because I like the physical experience of actually holding them in my hands and reading them - I feel oddly removed when I read things on a screen, but most especially comics - so I do have reasonably high standards in this area. Along with the rest of Marvel's awful publishing strategy (flooding the market with every third issue being grossly over-priced), it's a big reason of why I'm less willing to try their books.

    As for cardstock covers, they're awesome and a great cherry on top of a well-produced comic but they're absolutely not worth a whole extra dollar. $4 is plenty expensive already.
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  10. #10
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    What do people consider a good paper stock for comics? I find my opinions about this have changed over the decades.

    Note also that paper, printing and binding are three different productions and are usually provided to the publisher by three different companies--which each could be located in three different states or countries.
    I miss Baxter paper.
    It was thicker, a bit brighter than newsprint but not so bright that it distracted the eyes, the colors didn't look garish and the ink wasn't all reflective.
    I liked newsprint, also, but I can see why some don't.

    But ever since Mando paper, I haven't cared for DC's choice of paper.
    For me, the worst was when they used something close to cover stock (not card stock, mind you), where you had to hold comics a certain way to read them, or press each page flat because the glare interfered with the reading.

    A story needs to pull you in.
    If the paper is reflecting light it gets hard to get past the book and into the art.
    Which is why I prefer matte type papers that aren't too bright.
    "There's magic in the sound of analog audio." - CNET.

  11. #11
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    I think it really depends on what's being printed, for what kind of paper stock works best.

    The old comics were pencilled and inked with the newsprint in mind. Those comics were letter-pressed and the ink was pushed into the paper. When those comics are reproduced on bright white thick paper, using offset printing, they don't come out look how they are supposed to. The blue in Superman's costume on newsprint, using the old letterpress plates, would be washed out by the printing process. When offset pressed onto heavy white paper, that blue ink sits ontop of the page and it doesn't get washed out--so the blue is too bold. And in the old comics the colours were not supposed to overwhelm the inks--it was the inking that shaded the figures not the colours.

    I bought a great many of the Archives from DC and now I really don't like the way they look. The only Archives that I like very much are the Spirit Archives, which used a different kind of paper which was off-white and matte buff--but even these the colours are too heavy on the paper in the earlier volumes, although the colouring got better as they went along.

    Today's comics are composed digitally--and they are often read on screens. It's the colour shading that's the real show--it's as if the penciller and inker don't matter anymore. You can't put that much ink onto a thin paper stock using offset printing--so they have to be printed onto heavier paper. But I still prefer paper that is off-white and has a rough feel, rather than smooth surfaced paper. I feel like modern comics try too hard to impress you with their production qualities, so you'll believe they're worth the high price. But rightly, a good comic story shouldn't need to be that heavy with colours and could stand to be printed on low grade paper stock.
    celebrating 50 years of 4 beatles crossing a zebra

  12. #12

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    My concern for the paper DC has switched to in the last several months is that since it doesn't have the gloss finish, it might yellow more easily like the old paper did.

    I've found glossy paper doesn't yellow as noticeably, so I did prefer it in spite of the glare on the page.

  13. #13
    A Wearied Madness Vakanai's Avatar
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    I prefer a thick, glossy paper myself. Hard to rip and looks pretty.

  14. #14
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    Are comics meant to be a permanent medium? I think one of the things that fueled their popularity in their heyday was their transitory nature. Nothing gold can stay. If you really want work that's meant to survive for a hundred years, then you should probably be paying way more money for them, so they can be put in an age-resistant medium. Part of the attraction of vintage comics is that they do age.
    celebrating 50 years of 4 beatles crossing a zebra

  15. #15
    A Wearied Madness Vakanai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    Are comics meant to be a permanent medium? I think one of the things that fueled their popularity in their heyday was their transitory nature. Nothing gold can stay. If you really want work that's meant to survive for a hundred years, then you should probably be paying way more money for them, so they can be put in an age-resistant medium. Part of the attraction of vintage comics is that they do age.
    Not all of us buy our comics vintage you know, nor have money to spend on ageless anything. Hell, no medium lasts forever, I've yet to own an HD TV that hasn't died in under a decade, and it damn near broke my heart when my Hellboy DVD stopped working (man I wore that disc out watching it so much; surprised my copy of The Dark Crystal is still good considering it's seen similar use). We still want what we buy to last as long as possible considering the circumstances, especially if they just so happen to be our personal favorites.

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