The Airship: graphic novel printed on letterpress

John Baichtal of MAKE says:

Minneapolis letterpress printer Todd Thyberg received a Jerome Book Arts grant to write and illustrate his own 3-color graphic novel, then print it on a 90-year-old Vandercook letterpress in his studio. I had a chance to visit Todd in his his studio and checked out the huge stacks of prints and watched as he pulled prints off the Vandercook. He was outputting 400 of each page, with the expectation that he’d end up with 250, counting mistakes. One of the challenges he faced was trying to faithfully letterpress QR codes, which Todd believes may never have been done before. The final books will be sold as chapbooks or fancier, hardbound editions.
The Airship: A DIY Graphic Novel


  1. Dittos on the QR code comment. 

    That is far from the first to appear letterpress printed. Most printers I know have had one pop up on a business card job somewhere along the line. 

    I printed one on an art print years ago that sent the user to the Ottmar Mergenthaler wikipedia page, and the letterpress/screenprinting shop I co-own called Baltimore Print Studios, prints one monthly a $2 coupon for the local Final Friday’s events.

  2. AND ALSO – if they’re printing 400 in hopes of keeping 250 good ones, they must be pretty new to printing. An overprint of 60% is HUGE. 

    1. 150 overs is not huge. On a typical colour offset run I allow a minimum of 400 overs, and difficult jobs with heavy solids etc could be double – as it is easy to spoil quite a lot quickly. For a letterpress run maybe its a little more than necessary, but 250 is a small run, you could always sell them. I’ve been printing for 30 years (letterpress, offset and lately digital)

  3. Interesting project and I look forward to seeing the result. N.B. I had a set of letterpress printed QR codes (as trade cards) created about 2 years ago by Scott Vile at Ascensius Press (reading ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ And offering any who quoted it a discount at a fine press/antiquarian book fair…several takers, pleasingly).

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