In this day and age, superheroes are continuing to make their mark in modern pop culture with grandiose, multimillion-dollar appearances on the big screen, but the love and affection for their pulp paper backgrounds has not dwindled, either! Comic books—whether they are rare first editions valued in the thousands of dollars or the latest issues of a popular series—are an ingrained asset of contemporary literature.
As a fan, maintaining the condition of your personal collection is a must. It would be a shame for those magnificent drawings and immortal catchphrases to become withered by time and poor preservation.
Whether you need to store your comic book collection because you are moving, renovating your home, clearing space on the bookshelves, or simply trying to find a better locale for preservation, there are some important things you should always keep in mind.
Packing Techniques and Containers for Comic Collections
Comic books require protection from common threats such as water, moisture, and dust—even more so than most printed material since they are such a visual medium, and damage to their carefully inked drawings would destroy their worth. For example, constant exposure to sunlight could lead to the fading of their text and images. You also need to worry about the pages and covers becoming crumpled or torn from abrasion. For all of these reasons, you should never just place them willy-nilly in a random box, stack them on top of one another, and assume they will remain in good condition.
Instead, place each issue inside a comic-sized plastic or polyester slip bag and then place a backing board behind the back cover (both of these items can be obtained at most comic book stores). Since plastic and polyester are resistant to water, the slip case will insulate your comic books from hazards such as water, as well as non-liquids such a dirt and dust. The backing board behind each book will ensure the covers and all of the pages remain flat and smooth, avoiding wrinkles and other deformations. Store your comic books standing up as though they were on a bookshelf. Doing this will avoid putting pressure on the comics and will also allow you to utilize your space efficiently in a shallow, elongated container.
Speaking of containers, what kind should you use when storing comic books? A filing cabinet would offer the most protection, but these can be expensive and the more comics you own, the more cabinets you will have to buy. An alternative is to simply use cardboard boxes or plastic containers. Once again, plastic is waterproof and will offer more protection. If you’re going to use cardboard, try to find an acid-free storage box specifically designed to fit the dimensions of your comics.
You can also bind your comic books, but this is generally discouraged, as it is a permanent move and will vastly reduce the dollar value of your collection.
Comic Book Categorization
Whether you’re an avid collector or a casual fan of comics, you’ll probably want to access your favorite issues every now and then while they’re in storage. To avoid rummaging through each box or container in search of a single issue or series, take care to carefully organize your comics. Store all of the issues in a given series in the same box, if possible, and label each container so you don’t have to search high and low to find your favorite franchise.
But wait! Don’t forget we live in the digital age when you can download apps to assist you with just about any given task today. Yes, that even includes comic book categorization. Apps such as CLZ Comics allow you to keep track of which comic books you own, download information pertaining to each issue, and even group titles into folders to keep track of what you own from a particular series or publisher. You can use these folders to represent your storage boxes.
Must-Have Storage Conditions for Comics
Big or small, vintage or modern, a comic book collection needs proper storage conditions. One of the most dangerous hazards to keep in mind is harsh temperatures and humidity levels. Many comic books, especially vintage editions, are made of wood pulp paper with high acidic compounds, meaning harsh temperatures and humidity will cause the pages to prematurely deteriorate. For these reasons, you should avoid storing comic books in attics, basements, and garages. Instead, choose a climate-controlled storage environment, like a self storage locker, so that you can ensure the surrounding space remains cool with a humidity level of 30–40%.
With the proper packing and storage conditions, you can knock out environmental threats that may diminish the value of your comics. Your collection will be well-preserved to last for years to come, so those beloved stories of superheroes and supervillains can be enjoyed, admired, and remembered for generations.