Printing Comics & Zines

Where and how to print your comics & zines


11/24/20235 min read

Before you get to printing, it’s always good to search around for a locally-owned print shop in your city or town. Local/small business rules and usually forming a relationship with the folks handling your product is better. You get to look at physical proofs, get a feel for products up close and in person, and maybe you can access local riso or screen printing in your neighborhood to create cool, original pieces of work.

This list, however, is primarily online/digital printing. For the resources that I’ve personally used, I’ve shared a bit more about my experience with the ordering and final product, but for those that I’ve not used, I’ll add a general overview of their services.

Online/Digital Printing


Their highlighted “bestseller” services cover art prints, booklet printing, magazines, and catalogs, and they specifically have an option for comics and zines. They also have self-publishing print-on-demand. (It's way cheaper than Lulu, which I’ve also used.)

Mixam has been my latest go-to for ordering small comics and zines. I like their digital proofing setup (normally I hate digital proofs), because you can flip through and rearrange pages in case things get out of order, and you can download the print-ready file for additional thoroughness. Their quoting/ordering system is a little confusing and might spook you into thinking you’re already paying for something, but they won’t proceed with an order until you “approve” the artwork. I’ve had some issues where their website doesn’t want to register card payment options, and I’ve got to refresh the transaction, but otherwise, there are no issues with quality or speed.

Spinn Print

Super easy for doing bulk zines, especially in black and white. They’re fast and pretty cost-effective for saddle stitch booklets. They offer a comic book size in their printing options and can also do lay flat soft covers (aka perfect bound).

Best Value Copy

I’ve never used Best Value Copy, but it’s been recommended to me before. They appear to be a one-stop shop for all your printing needs, from booklets to brochures, business cards, and banners. They have limited size options for booklet printing, but their online quoting seems pretty easy and straight-forward, and they do saddle stitch and perfect bound.

Bookmobile Craft Digital

Touted as being the best-kept secret in the small press comics world (sorry y’all), Bookmobile is a short-run digital printer with a great reputation for quality. They work with independent and literary presses, museums, galleries, and artists. Their whole thing is book printing, but they also offer Kickstarter book services and have a really great blog with tips. I’ve seen the quality up close and in person, and they do great work. Definitely going to be trying them out in the future.


I’ve only worked with Cereal Box Studio in Cincinnati regarding riso, and rather than try to learn where all the riso in America is, I will share this AMAZING website,

Their Atlas of Modern Riso has an incredible interactive map, showing you riso around the world with links to everything and a list of all types of riso machines. They also list art book fairs and other riso printing resources.

Preparing to print

Before you’re ready to print, consider what size you’ve got your work and what size you want to print at, depending on what’s available for the service you’re using. A general rule of thumb is half the page size (I.e. 11 x 17 art printed at 5.5 x 8.5) or true to page size if you’re working small.

Scan your pages at most 300 dpi (dots per image) for optimal resolution and file size. Saved scan files can be TIFFs, JPG, PNGs, etc. I’ve had no problem with high-res JPGs for something like a zine, but TIFF would make sense for the best quality and handling.

Some scanners have software for editing your images, but you could use Photoshop, Clip Studio, or Procreate if you need to edit images before setting up your pages. Just be sure you save the edited images at the same high quality. Curves is the go-to tool for getting your contrast right if you work in black and white.

If you’re using an online service, there’s a strong chance they have a template you can download or recommended spec. Ideally, you want a high-res PDF file setup. I use Adobe InDesign to set up my pages, but if you have software where you can easily set up a bleed and trim edge and export layers or pages to PDF, use whatever is accessible to you. Digital printers usually print in CMYK, so if your comic or zine is in color, you’ll want your final file in CMYK.

In the end, you’ve got to have all your covers and pages set up in a single order (not spread or facing pages) PDF. I use for easy and free compiling if you don’t have a way to compile or export your pages all in one go. If you can look at a digital or physical proof, that’s great. You can also create little paper mock-ups to go to the next level.

For layouts, this website has some nifty templates, but if you're using online printing services, they may also have templates available for download.

Printing off the Copier or at Home

For true DIY, especially with collage zines, I’m a big fan of printing directly from the copier. If you want to achieve different layers or textures, you can xerox multiple sheets and assemble them digitally or analog. But, if you need a place to print your shit for cheap, I like to bring my selection of paper (for doing different colored covers) to FedEx and use their self-service copiers. If you have a local copy shop, that’s even better. I’ve never tried to use Staples, though I’ve had subpar customer service and poor print quality in those before.

For home printing, many cartoonists and zinesters I know preach the Brothers brand printers. I have a cheap HP inkjet printer I found off the curb, and it’s handy for doing low-coverage zines, but think about what’s more cost-effective. Ink is expensive, and a toner printer might last you longer and get more copies per click. And if you're doing it purely DIY at home, you should invest in a long-arm stapler (Bostitch of Tru Red is fine; try and get it during a sale if ya can) to assemble and a guillotine-style paper cutter for easy trimming if you want to be somewhat fancy about it. I also recommend a bone folder or a speedball roller for easy folding.

That's all for now, folks. Hope that general overview is helpful. If you have tips or tricks you want to share, send them to us!