How to keep your comic books in perfect condition

Whether you’re a comic collector or investor, keeping your comic books in perfect condition is a shared goal. This can be accomplished by storing and handling them correctly. But what is the correct way to handle comics? And how can you best protect your costly investments? One of our in-house comic book experts, Rik Lok, has over 30 years of experience in buying, appraising and researching comics. He has written for various publications about his comic strip research, and he has some advice on how to keep your comic books in perfect condition. Read on to learn more.

Covering your Comics

‘Slabbing’ is used to preserve valuable American comics. This is where a comic is permanently sealed in a hard plastic shell and professionally graded. It’s a viable option for investments as slabbed comics tend to sell for more money, however you’re unable to read the comic afterwards.

This practice is not common in Europe; it’s far more likely that you’ll find comics stored in transparent plastic bags. This provides some level of protection, but many are not acid free. Mylar bags however are library-grade storage, acid free and will offer a great deal of protection. They may be costly, but they’re a good investment for anyone looking to keep their comics in perfect condition. Additionally, storing your softcover comics with a backing board will help prevent collapse.

                                                                                    Image source: Dupuis

Where to Store Your Collection

Rik advises to store your comics in a room with a relatively constant temperature, ideally between 18 and 22 °C, and a relative humidity of around 50%. Warm temperatures and high humidity can cause the comics to mould. Low temperatures prevent acidification and discolouration of the paper. Large changes in temperatures can cause condensation to form if your comics are packed in plastic and unfortunately there’s no way for this to escape so it’s absorbed by the paper.

To avoid any light damage, Rik suggests storing your comics in a room facing north so they won’t be in direct sunlight. It’s also a good idea to consider what else is happening in the room. A living room is often quite busy, therefore not a good storage place for your comics. Also avoid having any plants in the room where your comics are stored because of the pollen they let off and the possibility of inviting insects. Silverfish, for example, can cause significant damage to comic books.

The positioning of your bookshelf is also important. Never place it directly against an outside wall. Also make sure that the bottom shelf is around 6 cm off the floor. This prevents paper curling from the cold floor and provides the first buffer against water damage. Remember to store hardcover comics flat. Storing hardcover comics upright can cause irreversible damage to the cover.

Handle with Care

Always wash your hands and dry them well before handling your comics. This is to remove the natural oils from your skin which can leave fingerprints on your comics, which can be difficult to remove later. While you can go so far as to wear cotton gloves while handling your comics, many find that the gloves make handling delicate works more difficult and it’s easier to be careful with bare, but clean hands. A final word of advice from Rik is to never set a full drink glass on the same table as your comic books. It only needs to go wrong once to completely ruin a perfectly good comic book.

With this expert advice, you’re ready to start or build your comic collection. Visit our weekly Comics actions to find a diverse selection of comic books and comics memorabilia from around the world. Did you know that you can also sell comic books on Catawiki? If you've invested well and kept your comic books in perfect condition, you may be able to make a tidy profit at auction. But there's only one way to find out. Register for a free account and offer up your comics for auction. Anyone is welcome to try; our comic experts can't wait to see what you have!

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