It’s almost time to greet a steady stream of colorful registered trademarks with a bowlful of mass-produced cheap chocolate. So many people outsource their opportunity to create something of their own, and instead allow Hollywood and a cheap imported costume to decorate their offspring for a night of the tamest “wildness” imaginable.
But if you’re lucky, one of your neighbor’s kids couldn’t settle for another plastic mask from the corner store. They took the the time to create their own costume, executing a clever pun or transforming themselves into a character from their favorite book. It wouldn’t do to reward all that hard work with another hunk of high-fructose corn syrup in bright wrapping.
It is time you returned that effort with effort of your own. It’s time you got to drawing your own Halloween comic book.
I first got this idea from my friend Elio, who packages a minicomic with a few pieces of candy (OK, OK — you can give them both, so your house won’t get egged or TP’ed) for his trick-or-treating guests. I’ve only managed to pull this off once in the three years since I heard of the idea, but I still hear from neighbors about how much their kids liked the comic I made. It’s just a little different and surprising, just like that handsome homemade costume.
Step 1: The folding pattern
The beauty of this folding pattern is that each booklet is only one sheet of paper, all printed on a single side. It makes it easy to reproduce it on a photocopier, or to scan your original and print as many as you like from your computer.
Essentially, you need to fold your paper into eighths (fold it in half three times), unfold it and cut an opening down the center. Start by folding a blank sheet of paper to figure out the pattern, and then you can use it as a mock-up for figuring out your page-turns, panels and the front and back covers.
Step 2: The prototype
Once you understand the layout of the paper, you can make a rough version of your idea. I have made comics like this with three or four drafts before I go to the final art, but I have also done many where I just draw my final ink lines at the first go. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun, and you really only have three spreads (or six or seven pages) to tell your story.
When you have the idea figured out, get it all sketched and planned on a blank paper version to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Step 3: The master copy
Now you need to draw the “real thing.” It really doesn’t matter what materials you draw with, but be sure you can reproduce it to your satisfaction. Most comics and ‘zines are drawn in ink because the black ink contrasts well with the white paper, which means photocopies of the work won’t be quite so muddy. If you aren’t sure if it is going to work, do a quick test with the materials you want to use. I’ve drawn mine directly on the computer, so I just have to print it when I’m done.
When you draw your final art, make sure to think about the limitations of your printer or photocopier. Many modern output devices can print from edge to edge on the paper, but anything that uses toner (like a laser printer or photocopier, rather than ink jet) probably requires a margin where the machine grips the edge of the paper to feed it through. I tend to leave a .1/4-inch margin for cheap copies like this, just to be sure any misfeeds will still show all of the art without clipping anything.
Step 4: Print, cut, fold
If you have drawn on paper, you can directly photocopy the finished art, or you can scan it into your favorite drawing program and print it from your computer. In my example here, I have drawn directly into Photoshop, so I could skip scanning, but I’ve made these with a Sharpie on printer paper, too, and taken it to the local copy shop. Anything that works! There are no rules!
Whatever you choose to do, make as many copies as you think you can handle folding and cutting, and/or you think you might need to satisfy your neighborhood monsters. I live in a small town, so I only made about 30 copies the first time I did this, and I had a few left over. This time, since people are looking for it, I’ll probably make a few more, just in case.
Step 5: Your book release party!
Now that you have a stack of adorable (or horrifying) comics (know your audience!), light your jack-o-lanterns and stand by the door — your adoring fans-to-be are out there waiting for your comic to make their Halloween a little different this year! You can download and print my own finished comic here.