How to preserve comic books

July 29, 2015

You may be a seasoned collector of comics, just starting out, or anywhere in between. It might be Superman comics that remind you of your youth, or a new series you're just starting. If you love comics and want to see yours last a long time, here are some guidelines.

How to preserve comic books

Keep comics in a cool, dry and dark place

  • Prior to the 1980s, the vast majority of comic books were printed on inexpensive newsprint — the grade of paper used for daily newspapers.
  • Newsprint is acidic and can be difficult to preserve. Environmental factors can dramatically accelerate the paper's aging process, so it's essential to store comics away from bright light (especially direct sunlight), high temperatures and moisture.
  • The ideal environment is between 10°C and 21°C (50°F and 70°F) with a relative humidity of about 50 per cent.

Don't use tape

  • Of course, you would have taken better care of your comics when you were a kid if you knew how much money they'd be worth now.
  • Still, it's the fact that so many people didn't care for them — or even keep them — way back when that makes those comics so valuable today.
  • Tempting though it may be, don't try to compensate for your past mistakes by trying to tape torn covers and pages in your comics now.
  • It may look better to you, but it can make them less attractive to collectors if you ever want to sell them.

How to store comics

Keeping comic books in Mylar or polypropylene sleeves — backed with acid-free backing boards — is the best way to slow down the yellowing of the paper and to protect the comics against damage from mishandling and moisture. Here are the six best practices for storing comics.

1. Place each comic, cover facing out, into a protective sleeve.

2. Next put the backing board into the sleeve. (If you purchase a buffered backing board, make sure the buffered side is facing the comic.)

3. Remember not to put any tape on the bag; you could accidentally tear the comic if it catches on the tape while you're removing it from the bag.

4. Change bags and boards every two years or so to minimize the spread of acid.

5. Store comics standing up inside specialized, acid-free comic boxes. To find box suppliers, do an online search for "comic storage boxes."

6. Be sure to label the boxes by title, publisher, year and/or volume to make it easier to locate comics later.

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