Organizing, Displaying and Storing Comic Books in Five Easy Steps
I’m sure you’ve heard the horror story about the guy whose mom tossed out his pristine copy of Action Comics #1 when he left for college. Chances are your entire collection of comic books will never be worth $2.6 million, but, as a collector, we know every issue is near and dear to you. After all, who can put a price on childhood memories? That’s why it’s so important to take the proper steps when it comes to the immediate and long-term storage of your comics. By nature, paper fades, tears, crinkles, and does all those great things that can be detrimental to the intrinsic and sentimental value of your collection. So before you throw your comic books into a cardboard box in your mom’s attic, take the following into consideration.
Step 1: Assess and Condense your Collection
All decluttering projects start the same way: determine what’s a treasure, what’s trash and what can be given away to somebody who will appreciate your gift. Only you can place a sentimental value on your comics and magazines, but finding out their cash worth is relatively easy. There are dozens of online resources that buy and sell vintage periodicals. However, if you suspect you have something really valuable, for the fairest assessment, check with an appraiser who does not buy or sell. You will probably have to pay a fee, but you’ll get an unbiased opinion. Then you can whittle down your collection and see which pieces are candidates for proper comic book storage, donation or another option.
You can always give your comics—depending on their levels of appropriateness—to a senior center or a branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs. You may even be able to deduct these donations as charitable contributions (be sure to check with your tax preparer first). But before you toss anything, Pamela Wiggins, an About.com guide who specializes in antiques and collectibles, recommends that you check them for ads and illustrations that might be worth more than the magazine. “Many eager decorators and collectors will pay $50 to $300 for a magazine cover alone if a prominent artist’s signature accompanies the cover art,” says Wiggins. Likewise, old ads, such as those featuring the Coca-Cola Classic Santa Claus, may be collectibles.
Step 2: Handle the Good Stuff with Care
Whether you’re hanging on to your comic books for sentimental reasons or as a hedge against inflation, WikiHow writers advise that you handle the keepers with care. “Wash your hands with soap and water before handling comics. This will remove any oils from your hands, which can cause staining.” They also highly recommend that you wear gloves and never pick periodicals up by the stapled edge to avoid spine stress marks. When it comes to comic storage, they advise changing up any plastic or cardboard used to be replaced every seven years or so.
The experts at Wired.com weigh in on the right way to protect comics and similar paper publications. Bagging and acid-free boarding, they say, is essential for long-term maintenance. “The bags keep your books free of dust and offer a general layer of environmental protection. A book bagged with a board will ‘store straight,’ keeping it sharp and preventing excess wear on the binding.” They also advise that you store the comic with the glossy side of the board facing the comic.
Step 3: Organize Your Comics
How you organize your comics and magazines is a matter of personal preference. Some options include by author, topic, type, publisher, and date. Whichever you decide, you can easily separate sections of your collection with labeled, plastic divider cards.
Regarding where you organize your comics, comic book aficionados recommend any of the following:
- Specialty Comic Boxes
- Long Boxes
- Short Boxes
- Archival Storage Boxes
Note: 9″x 26″ DrawerBoxes can hold up to 235 bagged-and-boarded comics.
Step 4: Display and Store Your Favorites
If you want to allow others to enjoy your collection without damaging it, the best way may be to frame them and hang them on the wall, according to writers at eHow. You can also keep a series of multiple comics laid flat on a desk or table or in a lockable case with a glass panel on top that displays the a representative issue from the series or in a hanging Plexiglas display case.
For less valuable comics and magazines, eHow writers suggest plastic sheet protectors in a three-ring binder. “A large binder will hold dozens of comic books with ease.”
Step 5: Carefully Put What’s Left into Long-term Comic Storage
If you aren’t going to display your collection, Wired writers recommend keeping the bagged-and-boarded comics in a cool, dry place. “Slightly below room temperature (72◦ F) is typically a good guideline. It’s also not a bad idea for your storage to use soft light when possible.” Since humidity can be especially damaging, they suggest a climate-controlled storage unit or any well-ventilated closet. Adding desiccant bags to your long box will also help control moisture. You may also consider teaming up with a like-minded friend and creating a shared space with your comic storage partner.