How to... Protect your collectible comic books


The status of comics as a major worldwide collectible is firmly established.

Now is the ideal time to consider starting your own collection.

Here are some essential tips to get you started.

1. Condition is crucial

There are many factors which can play into how your comics get damaged over time. Many older comics start to yellow, for instance, resulting from acidic content in the paper. And wrinkles and tears can lower a comic's value dramatically.

Stains and water damage can also result in signs of wear and tear, while excessive heat can make the pages go brittle. Discolouration and mildew can also appear if your comics are stored in the wrong place.

As well as tears, also beware missing pieces, chipping and creases - all of which are Kryptonite to your comic's value.

2. So how do you protect your comics?

The best way to protect your comics is to use bags. Depending on the comic you are trying to protect, there are several different sizes: modern or current, silver age, and golden age - each determined by the timeframe of your comic book.

Detective Comics #27, protected in
a Mylar jacket

There are also several types of bag to choose from. Polypropylene bags are similar to polyethylene, but are clearer for display purposes, add and nicer feel to the comic and create a glossy cover. Polypropylene bags are recommended by most experts.

Another type of storage is Mylar. Mylar protection is more expensive, but considered better over long time periods, affectively inert when it comes to acid content and they are archival.

Nevertheless, given that comics can take years to accrue value, many collectors favour the less expensive and more portable polypropylene bags.

Aside from a bag, it is also important that you reinforce your comic with a backing board. Some boards are acid free, some are not - this is worth checking before you buy one.

Acid free is, of course, the preferable option to avoid yellowing in your comic.

Finally, when placing your comic in the protective bag, it is advisable to slide it in with the backing board to avoid last-minute creasing and to ensure that your comic sits safely in the bag. Make sure that the flap is properly closed so that your comic doesn't fall out.

Be especially careful when placing your comic within Mylar. Often the collector's choice for older, more valuable comics, the edges of Mylar are very sharp and can shear the pages of your comic if you aren't careful.

Paul Fraser. 

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