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Paper

Paper choice plays an important role in all facets of the final product. It affects everything from how bright the ink looks on the page to the number of readings the comic can sustain. In the United States, paper is measured based on how much 500 uncut sheets weigh. As an example, standard printer paper measures around 20lbs, while the weight of the newsprint many of the first comics used was about 30lbs. 

Newsprint is a cheap option with several flaws. The mechanically processed wood pulp that makes up this form of paper is often more acidic than more expensive options because it still contains lignin. A naturally occurring chemical that promotes stronger cell growth in plants, Lignin has a highly complex structure that when broken can form acids detrimental to wood, thus leading to quicker deterioration. Papers that are chemically treated to remove lignin last longer as the decomposition process is slowed. Many art papers are made this way to increase the longevity of the finished piece.

Newsprint and other lighter stocks such as printer paper are fairly translucent. Ink applied to one surface is often visible on the other side and has the risk of bleeding through altogether. Thicker papers better withstand multiple readings and tend to absorb more ink without bleedthrough. But to much absorption can become an issue in and of itself. Over-absorption of ink dulls the appearance of colors, and can lead to bleedthrough paper becomes saturated. Ink applied to newsprint spreads out and absorbs easily, which is why colors printed on it tend to be duller. Gloss and semi-gloss paper traps ink in a more concentrated manner than matte papers. Their colors are more vibrant because the gloss coating does not allow the ink to spread out much from the point of application. Comics today are typically printed on chemically treated semi-gloss sheets around a weight of 70lb with slightly heavier covers in the 100lb range.

Click on the images below for more information about paper choice!

Citations

"The Deterioration and Preservation of Paper: Some Essential Facts." The Deterioration and Preservation of Paper: Some Essential Facts - Collections Care - Resources (Preservation, Library of Congress). Accessed May 29, 2019. https://www.loc.gov/preservation/care/deterioratebrochure.html.

McCrady, Ellen. "The Nature of Lignin." [CoOL]. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/ap/ap04/ap04-4/ap04-402.html.

"The Problem of Newsprint and Other Printing Paper." Unesdoc.unesco.org. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000043907

Bear, Jacci Howard. "What Kind of Paper Is Newsprint?" Lifewire. May 19, 2019. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://www.lifewire.com/newsprint-in-printing-1078129.

Nightmare, Ninja. "Choosing Paper Weight for Printing Comic Books." Litho Ninja Comic Book Printer. July 14, 2016. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://lithoninja.com/blog/choosing-paper-weight-for-printing-comic-books.

"Paper Weight Comparisons." PrintNinja. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://www.printninja.com/printing-resource-center/printing-options/book-services/paper/weight.

"The Complete Paper Weight Guide." Quill. September 15, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://www.quill.com/content/index/paper-buying-guide/paper-weight/default.cshtml?gclsrc=aw.ds&ds_rl=1246461&cm_mmc=SEM_GGL_PPR_NONRLSA_N_N_N&mcode=SEM_GGL_PPR_NONRLSA_N_N_N&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIud2E9v_A4gIVwUsNCh1O6QZXEAAYASAAEgIZxvD_BwE.