HxH manga rebind: vol. 1


Let me just start this off with that from my 7 years of experience bookbinding, a LOT went wrong with this project. Like, almost everything that could've went wrong. It is not to my usual standard of work, though I tried to make up for errors where I could.

Nonetheless, I'm doing this for practice and to document my progress, so here's how it went!

⍔ (More final pics at the end) ⍔

I absolutely adore the cover of the first volume as-is. It's really great graphically: the palette pops and gives a clear hierarchy to information in different areas, the illustration of Gon on the frog is super cute, it's overall just fun.

My first design decision was to retain the green/yellow/red color palette. I don't think I've ever done anything with these colors, I don't really gravitate towards them, so I definitely wanted to keep them in the design.

I didn't have a piece of leather large enough in any of these colors-- all the leather I use is industry scraps and remnants, so I don't really purchase full hides. So, I had to get creative with it:

I did have enough of this laurel green leather to cover a front and back board, but I'd need to hide the seam along the spine. I also have this really cool tie silk jacquard, I want to guess it's from the 80's (I got it for a dollar at a flea market). Technically I'm using the backside of this stuff, but I like it better because of how vibrant the colors are. I only need a thin strip for the spine, so I cut out a matching green, yellow, and orange section.

Here are some reject cover material contenders: different leathers, vintage kimono silk, and snakeskin!

I didn't want to just copy the cover for the board design, so I looked at the panels for some inspiration. My favorite panel from volume 1 is actually of the tunnel from the Hunter exam (left), but since this is the first volume, I really wanted to pay homage to this being the beginning of Gon's journey. So, I included this panel of Whale Island (right), along with a wave pattern.

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Here's the design I sketched out, and it carved into chipboard:



Normally I'd just sketch directly onto the chipboard I'm carving, but I wanted to have a template to use for gold foiling. This is my first attempt at doing so; I don't actually have the proper tools for traditional hot stamping, so I'm using a hot foil pen (video on the tool/technique).

First mistake: Trying to brute force the original cover off the block. Lesson: Use a heat gun.

Removing the text block from the original softcover was pretty straightforward, except I originally tried to get the cover off the block by gentle tearing/cutting away at the original glue, which resulted in me just destroying the attached page anyway. This volume doesn't give you many "junk" pages to sacrifice, so it meant I'd have to glue my end paper onto the last page of the volume D:


For the other cover, I hit it with a heat gun for a few seconds, and it peeled right off.

Here's a progress shot of attaching the leather to the boards, smooth sailing there:


Second mistake: Not backing fabric with Heat n' Bond Lesson: Always make bookcloth properly

I have made my own bookcloth before (video on how to do it), and really, truly, know better than to apply liquid glue to fabric. Nonetheless, I was stupid and did it anyway. I even diluted the glue with water, thinking that would mitigate the effects of glue seepage? It didn't. My spine fabric lost all its vibrancy and was just an ugly, goopy mess.

Before I attached the board and spine to the block and endpapers, I added the foiling. At first, that came out pretty well, but then I lost patience, and started freehanding Whale Island on the back.


Third mistake: Not sticking to the template Lesson: Stick to the fucking template (and start saving for a CNC)

The drawing itself was fine, so normally this wouldn't be an issue, but because I have Whale Island sitting on top of a raised embossed silhouette, it was painfully obvious that my drawing wasn't in the position or scale it was supposed to be. My freehand lettering also leaves something to be desired, though I don't think the template would have helped a lot with this either. Honestly, for a position-sensitive blind transfer for lettering like this, using a CNC like a Cricut or Silhouette would be best. This might be my push to finally invest in one?

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The endpapers are actually paper I had marbled myself, a while back, and met the green/yellow criteria. Attaching those to the block went smoothly, though I had to slightly glue over the panels at the back of the volume T^T... I used some of the spine fabric for head/endbands as well. It's... pretty ugly up close. Glue seepage, and the next mistake.

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Fourth mistake: Gluing the entire fucking block upside down Lesson: Anything but that

The cosmetic mistakes on the cover this book are pretty forgivable, but the inside is a genuinely disgusting mess. I was working on getting this done before a friend came over, and was pretty happy to get the block glued in and the whole thing in the press before she arrived. I decided to take it out of the press show her when she arrived, only to realize I HAD GLUED THE BLOCK UPSIDE DOWN. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

I tried to remove the block nicely, but the glue was already half dry and tacky and it was an awful awful mess, and I was already SO DONE with the project. So, I just cut the block out along the middle of the endpaper, and stepped away for the evening.

I really wanted to use the marbled paper I made, and I had no scraps to use over the seam where I had to flip the block, so I had to find a complimentary alternative. I just used some chiyogami, with, once again, green/yellow/red. Slapped that on the seam. Probably could've done a better job with it.

I had been saving the original covers, and wanted to incorporate them, so I decided to use them as sort of bookmark pages? Not sure how to call it, but like how hardcovers with a paper cover will have those folded flaps on the inside usually with an about or review section.

As for the cosmetic fixes:

First thing I did was properly make bookcloth with the sliver of extra silk in the right colorway that I had, and glued that over the lumpy fucked up original spine. It's not perfect by any means, but it's definitely a lot better.

When I started writing this, I had only done gold foil on the covers. But as I was looking back at early design process photos, I remember how much I wanted to incorporate the red into the design, which mine was absent of. So, I started to accent Gon and the frog with red paint.

It looked absolutely horrifying.

So I kept painting, and painting, and painting, trying to make it look good, and it was 4AM and I was tired, and I'm used to oil paint so I forgot you can't just leave ugly globs of paint wherever and wipe them up later, and it just kept looking worse and worse.

I got jumpscared by this monstrosity this morning:


Don't paint while tired!!

I tried to salvage my awful paint job the next day, and kept adding more colors and paint into the design until I had ended up just repainting the original cover. I didn't get the lettering perfect or anything, but I got it to a presentable point at least. I really wanted to make some semblance of a re-interpretation of the original illustration, but oh well, the painted version was a necessary fix.

It's not perfect by any means, (honestly, it's not even good either), but I did what I could, and I'm ready to move onto the next project. Here's the final pictures!


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Thank you for reading this far! Please leave a comment with any thoughts or suggestions!

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