This project was serendipitous on a couple of levels. My husband, who is a comic illustrator and an avid comic collector, and I had been talking for awhile about making my blank books using comic books. Sometime during these musings of ours, I was contacted by someone on Etsy about doing a custom photo album. It started off as a common enough request. But then the potential customer told me she wanted a Superman theme. A bell went off; this would be a perfect foray into the new comics series. Then she told me that she and her husband had called their late son their little Superman. And another bell went off; this would be a very important book for these people. Their son had been born with a larger than life spirit, but tragically with a number of complications. They only had a few months with their gorgeous little boy. His name is Beck and he was his parents’ Little Superman, and of all the bookbinders on Etsy, they had found and chosen me to make the photo album that would catalog the photographs of his all too short life. His mother, Lindsey, is an inspiring, positive and open woman, with strength that I can only admire awestruck. She has blogged about her life with and after Beck, just follow the links if you would like to read more about their story.

So I began making a book that I felt not terribly qualified to make. My dear husband immediately recognized the importance of this new book to me, and jumped online and with some help from his other comic collector friends, found me a beautiful reprint of the very first Superman comic, Superman no.1 (not to be confused with the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics no.1!) It wasn’t in the best of shape, even for a reprint, but that just added to the authenticity of the retro look of it (and honestly, made it affordable enough to be used for the book.) We bought the reprint on Ebay and when it arrived, it was perfect.

So, the front and back covers are the front and back cover of Superman no.1.

With a simple light blue as pastedowns.

I used some random internal pages for spine- and fly-papers, which turned out to be an affect that I really enjoyed, and have since employed on a number of my new comics books.

On the spine, I tried to sew the central bindings in a shape that would be a nod to the Superman emblem, but I’m afraid it got a bit lost in translation. I was actually envisioning this to be much clearer and at one point nearly tore the book apart and started the sewing over. Thankfully, my husband can talk me back from the ledge when necessary.

I’ve included a couple of step-by-steps shots for this post. When I sew bindings in any way but straight horizontal lines across the spine, I use a white charcoal pencil to mark where to punch. Although the top and bottom bindings are straight horizontal lines, the center binding is a (vaguely) in the shape of the Superman emblem.

Prior to sewing, I punch each signature by spreading it along a cardboard box.

As long as I’m divulging Eyes Only details… I’ll show you what I use instead of a bodkin. I use bodkins, but rarely for what they’re intended. Instead I pull the blade from an Exact-O knife and insert whatever size needle I’m choosing to sew with in the blade slot. That way, the holes punched are no bigger than I need.

I think the book turned out pretty darn cool. And how cool is the subtitle of Superman no. 1? The parents really seemed to like it, too. I don’t think any book could have been quite special enough for this little boy, but I tried my best to at least make it pretty darn cool.

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