Now that you have bought that special comic book, comes the
task of storing it properly.
Milk crates and paper bags stuffed under the bed aren't the
best way to store comics. Leaving them among the bathroom magazine
pile isn't recommended either.
If you are going to collect comics, it might be a good idea
to be serious about it. There is only one basic way of storing
a comic book, or even a magazine, and that is putting the comic,
supported by a backing board, into a plastic bag and then placing
it upright into a properly sized comic book box.
But there are a variety of materials used to make those bags,
boards and boxes, from the great, top-of-the-line materials to
the you-get-what-you-pay-for supplies. I recommend bags and boards
found at the higher end of the spectrum, but it can get pricey.
The point is to keep the book looking as if it just came
off the press, or in the same grade you bought it. It is to stop
time as much as possible and protect books from physical damage,
moisture, dust, bugs and rodents and sunlight.
The goal is to keep them flat and standing on edge in a box
and away from sunlight. The older the book, especially those
from before the 1980s, the lower the quality of the paper and
the inks used to make comics. So they will need extra care to
protect them. Indeed, inks were acidic and they react to air
The best, of course, are comic bags and cardboards that are inert
and acid-free to withstand the ravages of time.
There are different bag sizes and accompanying backing boards
to match the size of the bags. The plethora of sizes includes
Golden, Silver and Current Ages, Treasury edition, magazine and
Never force a book into a bag that is too small because the
pages will curve or crease, and never use a backing board that
is smaller than the magazine, because it will crease.
While we are at it, suppliers also offer storage materials
for trading cards, posters and coins.
Among the best comic bags are Mylites, a thin type of Mylar,
acid-free plastic that allows for a flap to seal the bag with
tape. Acid-free boards are highly recommended, as is acid-free
tape, but small strips of Scotch tape is acceptable as long as
it doesn't deteriorate.
There are thicker Mylar sleeves that offer more physical
protection; some designs don't allow the tops to be sealed, allowing
dust to enter and maybe bugs to devour paper.
You will be amazed at how many types of bugs like to drill
holes in paper in their quest for a daily meal. But Mylar and
Mylites are expensive, and a collector may want to store only
key books in them.
Polypropylene bags are the second best choice as they are
- supposedly - acid free. They are cheaper and can last a few
years, but note they will have to be replaced at some time because
they do become cloudy looking and deteriorate. Avoid polyethylene
plastic bags. They are economically priced, but I had to replace
them all within a year or two.
Next, the box to store the books in. They come in different
sizes, storing anywhere from about 150 books to 300 books.
The older collectors among us might do well to consider the
smaller boxes. Paper is heavier than one thinks.
Again, there are different materials and acid-free archival
boxes are best, but again expensive. There are comic boxes made
of cardboard that are for the most part good enough for storing
comics, mags, cards, coins and paper money, and posters.
A storage place that is cool and fairly dry, avoids sunlight
and ultra-violent light is optimum.
So, here is the process: First, buy a comic. Keep it flat
until you get home and place it on a board that is shiny side
up and lying on a table. Read it, but don't force the pages open,
avoiding any damage to the paper and the spine.
Always handle a comic - or any collectible - with clean,
dry hands. With the comic closed and laying flat on the board,
gently slide it into a comic bag, making sure the corners or
edges of the book don't snag on the plastic. Then turn it over
and lay it flat on the table. Gently slide the edge of your hand
bottom to top of the bag to push air out of the bag. Then flip
the flap over and seal it with tape. Never use anything other
than archival or Scotch tape. Some bags are self-sealing.
(If you need to open a bag sealed with tape, take the tape
off completely and put it somewhere far away before taking the
comic out. If tape comes into contact with a comic, the tape
The comic is then stored in a comic box. It might be a good
idea to line the front and back of the box with spare backing
boards to prevent light or a wayward, but potentially damaging,
finger entering the carrying handle from damaging a book.
There are other archival materials available, but you might
want to save them for key books, like if you happen to own an
issue of Funnies on Parade, published in 1933.
Archival paper can be placed between a few pages inside the
book to prevent acids from causing damage, such as yellowing
Age can ravage a book, so it is worth the effort to protect
your investment, whether it is for money or enjoyment.
Rob's five steps to a properly stored comic book
Inventory required to
properly store comics
Slide board halfway into bag
then the comic, avoid snagging
Lay comic on clean, dry flat surface, squeeze
Close flap on outside, use
two pieces of tape
The end result: A properly stored comic book
Let's Talk Comics
with Rob Lamberti, who started collecting comics when the going
price was 12 cents an issue and Peter Parker really was a teenager.
He dabbled in the comic convention circuit in the Toronto area
for a while, but stopped to concentrate on his career as a not-so-mild-
mannered crime reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, where
he hoped he managed to record a little bit of history the past