Not only is comic book collecting fun for enthusiasts, there’s a robust market for used comic books on sites like eBay.
However, if your comic books aren’t in good condition, you could be missing out on money, according to Robert Scott, owner of Comickaze Comics Books and More and head of the Comic Book Industry Alliance. Every drop in condition from, say, good to fair to poor “reduces the value about 60 percent on most comics,” Scott said.
Whether you plan to sell your comic book collection one day or you just want to enjoy your books for years to come, here are six tips for storing them.
1. Handle with Care
If your hands are dirty or oily, you can transfer the muck onto your comic books. Take the extra time to wash and dry your hands before packing up and storing your collection. You may even want to wear gloves when handling valuable Golden or Silver Age comics. That way, you avoid staining the cover and inner pages.
2. Support the Backs
The spines of your comic books are particularly important. To help protect his comic book collection, which consists of every issue of “Amazing Spider-Man” ever published since 1963, Mark Ginocchio makes sure “every comic has an appropriately sized backing board”—a product that keeps comic books from bending.
Backing boards are basically precisely cut cardboard pieces that are inserted along with the comic into a protective sleeve. Without them your comics are more susceptible to bending when crowded together in a box or being handled. This bending will damage the spine and reduce the value of your collectibles.
3. Bag Them Up
Mylar sleeves are the best type of bag for storing comic books because they “minimize the amount of air that can reach the comic and cause the paper to yellow,” Scott said. Mylar bags are not as flimsy as other types of comic plastic bags that are made from polyethylene or polypropylene. Mylar bags cost significantly more than polypropylene bags, but the additional protection they provide is well worth the investment.
4. Use Archival Comic Boxes
If you’re going to keep your collection in self-storage, put your books in acid-free cardboard boxes. Once the comic books are in the bags, the boxes will add yet another layer of protection.
Why comic boxes instead of regular cardboard boxes? That’s because the dimensions of comic boxes are designed specifically for comic storage, which makes it extremely easy to pack. Plus they are extra sturdy and durable.
There are are two kinds of comic boxes, short and long. Long boxes hold 200-225 comic books, while short boxes hold 150-175 books. If you have a large comic collection, long boxes are probably the best choice.
5. Consider the Environment
Comic books should be kept in an area that’s dry and maintains a steady temperature, preferably between 60 and 70 degrees, according to Scott. For that reason, if you are keeping your comic collection in a self-storage unit, make sure it has climate control. In addition to regulating temperature, climate-control self-storage units often also maintain optimal humidity levels.
Also, be wary of other environmental factors. For example, when storing his comic books, Ginocchio makes sure the boxes are elevated off the ground via milk crates to help protect against any flooding. Any kind of shelving or filing cabinet can also work.
Water damage is one of the greatest threats that your valuable comics face, so keeping them off of the ground is important. You might even consider covering the stored boxes with a tarp in the unlikely even that the roof of your storage space leaks.
6. Do a Regular Checkup
Out of sight isn’t just out of mind. If you don’t check on your comics regularly, you won’t know until it’s too late whether they’re beginning to turn yellow or whether they’ve become contaminated with mold or mildew. If you are putting your comics into long-term storage then it is even more important to check on them regularly. If you check your stored collection and smell mildew, move your collection to a new location promptly and replace all of the boards, bags, and boxes. But let’s hope that never happens!