Looking After Comics

cb41. Handle the comics properly Wash your hands with soap and water before handling comics. Don’t just rinse, or you will still have dirty hands! This will remove any oils from your hands, which can cause staining on the cover or interior pages. Ideally, you should wear gloves when handling the comics. Never handle comics by the stapled edge, rather, pick them up at the open edge, top or bottom. The fewer spine stress marks, the better.

2. Place each comic in a bag with a backing board. Use supplies created specifically for archival storage.Mylar sleeves are considered the premiere bag or sleeve of choice (see Tips). While it may be superior, it is probably not essential, if ordinary care is taken to check the books periodically and change the bags when or if any yellowing is noticed.

Back boards are important to provide support and will prevent spine stress and corner/edge wear. Boards may be acid free at time of manufacture but that can change over time creating yellow stains on the board. 24 point solid bleached sulfate, coated on one side boards are for short term storage (<5 years) and the comic should rest on the coated/glossy side. The rough side will create a tan image transfer from the back. For longer term storage look for boards that have a buffer throughout.

For everyday use, ordinary bags and boards are less expensive and work fine. Unless you’re using Mylar with virgin, alkali-buffered backer boards, however, you should plan on changing the bags and boards every 7 years or so.

3. Get your comic books in order. Organize your comic collection and find an acid-free box to store them in. A good storage box is one made of acid-free cardboard. You can also buy smaller archival storage boxes from archival and conservation supply stores online.

4. Store your comic boxes in a cool (70 degrees F or below is ideal), dry (50-60% relative humidity), and dark location, where humidity and temperature do not fluctuate. Interior closets are usually the best places to store comics in a typical house. Do not store comics in a basement if you can avoid it, as a burst pipe can result in flooding, which will ruin your comics. If you must store comics in a basement, make sure that the boxes are at least one foot off of the ground so that if any flooding occurs, you can minimize the possibility that water will reach the comics. Moisture is a comic book’s second worst enemy; right next to fire. Also, if you plan on storing your books in a basement you should consider storing them in a plastic container, as if you do have a flood, water will not leak.. (and it might even float, but hopefully you wont have that much water.)

5. Check up on them regularly. Check for bleeding of colors onto the boards, yellowing, and mold or mildew. If you notice ANY odor of mildew, remove the books from the contaminated location, set them out to air dry, and check again in three days. If you still smell mildew around the books, re-bag and board them immediately. Finally, if the mildew smell lingers, it is best to amputate – destroy the infected books, or at least remove them from contact with the rest of your clean collection. Mildew is a living thing and will migrate right through even Mylar to destroy your books (not to mention their value – the barest whiff of mildew will send a prospective buyer running).

6. Insure your collection. Comic books are NOT covered under your homeowners policy, even if part of a collection – they require a separate insurance rider. If your collection is extensive or valuable, talk to your insurance agent to get appropriate coverage in case of fire or theft.

7. Consider having good quality, older books professionally graded by a known, respected company (such as CGC). This is the ultimate protection for these books as they are sealed in an archival acrylic “well” with alkali buffers after being appraised by a panel of experts as to their condition. They may be re-sealed and certified for a small fee if you need to open the book for any reason (such as to show to a prospective buyer).

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