I recently illustrated/designed the cover of the comics journal Magic Bullet, issue 5. With the help of Matt Dimbicki, I managed to weasel my way into the press run. Magic Bullet is printed on a “web press” (has nothing to do with the internet) which is named for its likeness to a spider’s web as the continuous sheet of paper weaves its was through the print works of the enormous, four-story press. I’ll also be screenprinting the cover of MB #5 as a poster too, and will get into the illustration and process in a future post.
Having never visited a web press, it’s a fascinating experience for anyone even remotely interesting in old-school graphic arts, hardware, optics, ink, and very large rolls of paper. Newspapers have been printed on web presses for decades. It’s very, very fast, and economical if you’ve got a big print edition. The rolls of raw newsprint can weigh around a ton, and are moved on tracks around the press. The cyan, yellow, magenta, and black inks are used in such vast amounts that the ink is not poured or spread into the presses, but it plumbed to the machines in corresponding CMYK pipes. This press was made in Japan and is about 4 levels/stories tall. It takes a team of specialists to run it, and can take a little while to set up, but once it gets rolling it prints, cuts, folds, and binds at a blindingly fast speed. You can see a short video I took on the MB #5 Facebook group page (scroll down a bit).
The people at FNP Printing are among the most friendly and accommodating print folks I’ve ever met. If you need a web press job printed, I highly recommend contacting them to bid. Magic Bullet #5 is on shelves now at comic stores in the DC/MD/VA area, and will be available at SPX this fall.