Is there a comic book story arc or run of an ongoing series or mini-series you love that was never collected? Well, you don’t have to wait – you can collect it yourself.
There's a niche business that's been around for over a decade that does custom binding of comic books; that is, taking comic book issues and repurposing the binding as hardcover books. Nebraska’s Houchen Bindery Ltd. has emerged as one of the most popular in this small sub-industry, utilized by pros, publishers and fans alike to bind never-collected series such as Rom: Space Knight along with custom collections to the owner’s specifications such as My Little Pony and Avengers Vs. X-Men. Houchen does everything from single books to small runs of collections for fans.
Newsarama spoke with Tim Benson, who heads up Houchen’s custom bound comic book work,
Newsarama: Tim, how long has Houchen Bindery being doing custom bound comic books, and how did that facet of the business come about for Houchen?
Tim Benson: Houchen Bindery Ltd. has been binding books for over 70 years and has been operated by the current owners since 1977. We have bound comic books occasionally over the years, but began binding comic books regularly in 2010. In 2014 custom bound Comic books had grown to a significant branch of the bindery and Houchen Bindery Ltd. hired me, Tim Benson, to specialize in comic book binding projects. I had been providing comic book binding services to individuals for several years prior and brought a unique perspective to the bindery, since I am also a comic book reader and collector.
Nrama: How many of these custom bound comic book collections Houchen does in an average month?
Benson: Houchen Bindery Ltd is a diverse company, providing binding services to public schools and libraries, colleges and universities, edition binding, and restoration work. Custom bound comic book binding has grown significantly over the last four years for Houchen Bindery Ltd. We receive new orders nearly every day ranging from a single book to an order of 100 volumes. We currently bind an average of about 50 books each month.
Nrama: On average, what is the cost to get some comics bound?
Benson: Custom Comic Book Binding is far less expensive than most people think. A single, basic book, can be bound for as little as $22, and we offer discounts for orders of more than 2 books. Houchen BIndery Ltd also offers significant options to make each book personalized to customers' preferences. A popular feature we provide is graphic cover designs. Customers can either provide their own designs or we can create custom covers to their specifications.
Nrama: So if people want a custom bound book, do they supply the original comics or do they just pay Houchen and they find them and do the binding?
Benson: To get a book started customers simply provide the comics they would like bound along with our order form indicating how they would like their books completed.
Nrama: What would you say is your proudest custom bound books you've done, and why?
Benson: Most of the projects Houchen Bindery Ltd. completes are basic bindings of people's favorite books. These are stories that are read over and over and the custom bound hardcover provides durability and ease of reading to make those issues last. But, we also do a lot of very customized books and I am able to provide suggestions, direction, and design services to make each book the best it can be.
IDW Publisher Chris Ryall's ROM collection was fantastic and it is such a privilege to work with a comic book creator on their collection.
Other projects that I am very proud of are a two volume collection of the Marvel Handbook, a three book set of Avengers vs. X-Men, and a fabulous bound volume of My Little Pony comics that I created a video of showing all the custom elements I added to the book.
Nrama: What is the process like to do a custom bound book?
Benson: The process to create a custom bound hardcover comic book is simple. Decide which books you would like combined into a hardcover book, fill out an order form, and ship it to the bindery. And don't worry. If you have questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 1-800-869-0420. I can answer any questions about the process you have, and provide quotes in advance, including quotes for creating custom graphic covers for your books.