A minicomic is a creator-published comic book, often photocopied and stapled or with a handmade binding. In the United Kingdom and Europe the term "small press comic" is equivalent with minicomic, reserved for those publications measuring A6 (105 mm × 148 mm) or less.
These are a common inexpensive way for those who want to make their own comics on a very small budget, with mostly informal means of distribution. A number of cartoonists have started this way and gone on to more traditional types of publishing, while other more established artists continue to produce minicomics on the side. Comparable with indie music the phenomenon shares equal ideas about autonomy of the artist because of the DIY aspect. Many minicomics were produced by artists influenced by the underground comix scene who were unable to get work published in better known underground publications.
The term was originally used in the United States and has a somewhat confusing history. Originally, it referred only to size: a digest comic measured 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall, while a minicomic was 5.5 inches by 4.25 inches. There is not really a standard format. Anything between regular comic book size to even the size of a stamp can be a mini book. Most books have uncommon sizes for aesthetic reasons or are often connected to graphic design and book print tricks to make it look good. Most of these sizes were convenient for artists using standard office supplies: a US letter page could be folded in half to make a digest, or in quarters for a minicomic. These comics were generally photocopied, although some that were produced in larger quantities used offset printing. An early and unusually popular example of this minicomic format was Matt Feazell's Cynicalman, which began in 1980, or Alfred Huete's award-winning DADA mini. (The earliest and most popular comics in mini- and digest sizes—predating not only the term minicomic, but even the standard comic-book format—were the anonymous and pornographic Tijuana bibles of the 1920s.)
Currently, the term is used in a more general sense which emphasizes the handmade, informal aspect rather than the format. By this loose definition, a single photocopied page folded in quarters would still be a minicomic, but so would a thicker digest-sized comic, or even a large, elaborate, and relatively expensive photocopied booklet with a silkscreened cover. Even some professionally printed and bound booklets are referred to as minicomics, as long as they are published by the artist and marketed in minicomic venues, but this usage is controversial.
In North America, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, minicomics are currently rare in traditional "direct market" comic-book stores; they are often sold directly by the artist at book fairs or through the mail, ordered from websites, or handled by small bookstores and distributors that carry zines. In terms of production and distribution issues and their audience, minicomics—of all of the sizes and types mentioned above—have much more in common with each other, and with zines, than with any traditionally published comics; this may be the reason why the meaning of the term has shifted. In Europe many specialized comic books stores have a special little corner dedicated to the odd off size little self-printed books. On comic book conventions, such as the one in Angoulême, there are large markets where the little books are available. Because most of the books are rather cheap and rare, it has become a collecting target.
Minicomics typically have no editorial oversight, and both their content and quality varies over a huge range. Many of the creators of minicomics do not expect to make a significant amount of money, or even cover their costs, with the price they charge for their comics. These creators may see minicomics as a way to hone their skills or as a way to get their work seen by a larger audience, or may be drawn to the format for aesthetic reasons. Some observers have anticipated that the rise of webcomics would be the end of minicomics, but as of 2005 this does not appear to be the case.
The term minicomic also refers to the small comics that come in the packages of some toys.
Masters of the Universe
The first Masters of the Universe (MOTU) toys did not have a TV series, and thus came with little story booklets (and later, comics) that showed the original background of the series (He-Man as a barbarian, Skeletor from another dimension, etc.). However, after the later sources (DC Comics and the TV series) started to change that background (He-Man as Prince Adam, for example) the comics began to reflect those changes.
Kenner created a collection of action figures based on the DC Comics super-heroes and super-villains, called Super Powers. The first two waves of the collection came with minicomics which featured the character with which it came, one of the villains from the collection (who, obviously, was the antagonist of the story inside the comic) and other heroes featured in the collection.
This was a toyline created by Toy Biz in order to compete with Hasbro's Transformers. The Megamorphs were transforming robots patterned on Marvel Comics super heroes. Each figure came with a minicomic featuring the Megamorph with which it came. All six minicomics formed a complete storyline.
A five comic series included with certain Atari 2600 game cartridges.
- Ashcan copy
- List of He-Man Minicomics
- List of minicomics creators
- List of Super Powers Minicomics
- Miniature book
- Minicomic Co-ops
- United Fanzine Organization
- Underground comics
- Garaj Komik
- Zine newsgroup
- Jabberwocky Graphix
- Purrsia Press
- Black Light Diner (an online minicomics store)
- Parcell Press (an online comic and zine shop)
- Le Sketch - Free MiniComic
- Poopsheet Foundation
- Newave Reader (a history of Newave comix)