Monday, June 7, 2010

Comic Box Craft Project

Note: This post contains the willful mutilation of comic books, which may offend sensitive readers.

A while back I got a "comic brick" from my shop as a present. It's kind of a grab bag of comics, all no older than 2006. There were quite a few in there that I liked, but it did include some duplicates and some that I'm not interested in reading. I left them in a big pile on top of one of my longboxes until I could figure out what to do with them when it occurred to me: I could cut them up and plaster them across said boxes!

With the help of my much-craftier-than-I wife, I set to the task. This post constitutes a bit of a how to, along with some things I learned from making the prototype if you would care to try it yourself.


This is the glue/finishing coat stuff. It looks like white glue and dries amazingly clear. Along with this I got three foam craft brushes of different sizes. These items are available at any craft store or (undoubtedly) on the internet.

I applied the glue to the center and corners of full comic pages and overlapped them at different angles, as you can see below. Make sure you get any creases out, that's really important. The picture below is the cover of the box.


Dealing with the "triple point" corner is a problem I wasn't able to fully work out. Having three sides come together and having to fold the page doesn't really work, so I tended to band individual panels around the edges. Not ideal, really. If you can think of a better way I'd love to hear it.

This is the box itself after I was well along. The box is obviously easier than the cover.




You can see I tested having a page fold all the way over into the box. I realized right after I did this that the cover actually falls a considerable distance down the box, so you don't have to get anywhere near the top.

Once the pages were all attached I applied a surface coat of the glue using a small brush, then smoothing it out before it dried using a larger dry brush. I found this gave the best results for getting an even and smooth coat. I applied two surface coats, but more should probably be done.

Here is a finished shot of the cover.


Which leads to the final finished product.


You can see the problem that the box top corners pose. In the closest corner the naked box is clearly visible, and on the left you can see the top of the panel cutout sticking up, waiting to be torn.

You might also notice that I did not cut holes for the handles. Given the small openings I didn't want to deal with folding panels into the holes. Conceivably I could just cut a hole now and not worry about the potential ripping, but I wanted to see what it was like without handles. The answer: really hard to lift. Then again, the whole thing makes this crackling noise when you move it. So in the end you probably don't want to do this to your whole collection, but maybe just a few shortboxes that you want out on display because A) they contain your read pile or B) they are a themed box of your favorite comics. I have some duplicate ROM comics that I was going to use to make a ROM shortbox, since the entire ROM series plus tie-ins will easily fit in a shortbox.

Things I learned:
  • Using primarily whole pages is not ideal. You run into a lot of problems doing folds at corners. I think the best procedure (and the one I'll use in the future) would be to use pages to cover massive areas but then paste individual panels over most of the box. I'm concerned that this might give a very cluttered look, but the only way to know for sure is to try.
  • Applying glue only to the corners and the center of the page is a bad idea. As I added more layers I found that some earlier layers would wrinkle. Or when the box shifted it would cause a wrinkle. I think the best bet is to plaster the entire pack of the page with glue. This is what I did with individual panels and they came out much better.
  • Selecting pages and panels isn't as easy as you'd think. You want stuff that really pops and is interesting visually outside the context of the comic. You also have to pick something that you're going to want to look at for a while. This is actually a very fun part of the process.
  • I was concerned that the "new" glossy comic paper might not take the glue well. Turns out that isn't a problem at all.

  • An unanswered question that requires testing is how older comics will respond to this process. As I said, I want to make a ROM box. All the above comics were printed on glossy paper. I'm not sure how the old newsprint style comics will respond to this much glue. Mainly I'm concerned about bleeding colors. I'm optimistic though.

    This project also strikes me as something that a kid would love to do. Raid the quarter bin at your shop (or convention) and give it a go! I used pages from four or five different comics to make this box. It would also be really easy to make a themed box, using (say) Spider-Man comics. I intentionally used a little of everything on this box to make it generic.

    Let me know what you think in the comments, and feel free to ask any questions. I've never written a craft how to before, so I'm not sure if it's entirely clear. Of course, if you make your own I'd love to see pictures! Email them to me and I'll post them on the site if you'd like!

    For the complete gallery of the project, click here.

    1 comment:

    Lauren @ LessLauren.com said...

    Awesome! Mod Podge will stick anything to anything, it's great! I love craftiness. :)