Collecting 101: How to Protect and Preserve Comic Books

3 years     Jonathan M.       Comic Books

Hello friend, so maybe you are here because you would like to start a comic book collection or perhaps you realized that your side table stack of comics has a very limited lifetime. Well you came to the right place. In the following little essay I will show the readers how to properly protect and store your comics so you can preserve them for a very long time. I will be describing not only some of my personal habits I picked up over the years but also many industry standards. Unfortunately, I will have to be honest with you, collecting is a very expensive hobby but no worries, I’m going to enumerate various the options available for various budgets.


Like many people purchasing comics, something I enjoy doing with them is reading them. It may sound like a simple task but trust me, handling your comics is an essential part of preserving them. A good understanding of the handling will prevent ripped pages, bumped corners and various stains. So let’s start at the beginning, the comic book store. Let’s assume you just purchased a near mint copy of the most recent Amazing Spider-Man issue (by the way, you should always verify the state of the book before purchasing it, in my opinion a new book should always be near mint). Now most retailers will offer a complementary Bag and Board (we’ll talk about this item later on), but a common practice is to offer it as an option for an extra .25¢, TAKE IT!! you have no idea how fragile the books are. One little crease produced by wind, one little finger print and you just lost half of the value.


**Extra Tips**
An item that I cannot recommend enough are the BCW Supplies’ “STOR-FOLIO”.
This traveling item is an absolute stress reliever.


Now that you are home, the work is not over. First off, go wash your hand with soap and remove all excess of oils and dirt particles. These oils can leave finger prints and create long term damages to the paper . Secondly, install yourself in front of a clean, dry and comfortable flat surface with no obviously hazardous items in the immediate area, such as: food, drinks, pets, kids, etc.


Now you are ready to read. Slowly pull the comic from the bag and gently place it on the surface in front of you. Turn the pages from the middle of the right edge to the left (seems silly, but I have ripped too many pages using the bottom edge). After reading, replace the comic immediately back in the bag to be stored away as soon as you’re done reading this week’s pile.
Another noteworthy thing is, if you plan on laying on the sofa with your dog while eating Cheetos (guilty), you should really look into Graphic Novels. This option offers you all the content, they look amazing on shelves and there is no need to protect those reprints since they will mostly never gain any value.


Bags and Boards:
Now that the heavy stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about Bags And Boards. It’s pretty simple, the science behind it is that regular paper and everyday plastic will release acid agents that are part of their composition. These acid can and will unfortunately “burn” your comics over time. One of the way to prevent this phenomenon is use Bags and Boards specifically tailored for this type of preservation and are luckily sold in every comic book stores in North America, if not the world.

They are produced by many different companies, but the two main types that you may encounter are Polypropylenes and Mylars. The first one is very common, most stores even uses them for their own collections. Most Polypropylenes Bags and acid-free Boards are sold for approximately .25¢ per set, and usually come in packs of 100s and I highly recommend the resealable ones. The Mylars on the other hand, are top of the line in preservation, so good, that the USA’s library of congress uses them to protect the Declaration of Independence. They can go up to 1.25¢ per set and are sold in packs of 50s.

The downside of this is that Polypropylenes bags have a lifetime of 3-5 years before they become obsolete and start yellowing AKA “burning” while Mylars are, well, “Forever”. Most of the items in a regular collection will not need more than a regular Bag and Board but my personal gauging on this is: If the comic is worth more than 30$ it is worth the extra 1.25¢. Don’t forget that they come in various sizes to fit the various possible formats. Get an appropriate size and never force a comic in.



**Extra Tips**
A cool item that heavily protects your worthy items are Top-Loaders.
At 2.50$ a piece, this is for the holy grails of your collection.


Because of their fragility and their unique format, comic boxes are the most efficient way of keeping your comics. They usually come in two sizes, Longboxes (350 comics) and Shortboxes(200 comics). Personally, I like the nimble Shortboxes, it’s way easier to manage than their impossible to carry counterpart. A lot of people have the very bad habit of stacking their boxes in a corner as it is very hard to make these huge white boxes fit anywhere. I find this practice very messy as mountains can easily build up. Fortunately, the Shortboxes are the perfect add-ons to many IKEA furnitures (see below).



Last but not least, the location where you store your comics is very important for preservation. Humidity and sunlight is the #1 cause of deterioration of paper. So mainly keep your boxes in a dry place away from any sunlight. Don’t forget that fluctuation in temperature can easily destroy your collection on the long run.

Many have opted for their man cave basements, which is exactly where I would like mine.

But keep in mind a few things. You need control over:
– The Humidity;
– The Temperature;
– The Bugs;
– And keep your collection at least a foot from the floor. (One water leak and you lose everything)


**Extra Tips**
One or two Silica bags in each of your boxes will help control the humidity.
It has a low impact level, but it still helps a bit.



On this, I hope that you enjoyed this post and that you’ll be building tons of shelves for that, soon to be fabulous, collection.


That’s it folks, see you next time!


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