There are casual collectors and there are hardcore collectors.  I find myself somewhere in the middle, but no matter where you fall into it, there are certain guidelines to properly caring for your comic book collection.  There are a few schools of thought on the matter, but in this case it’s safe to say that doing something is better than doing nothing at all.

Back when I was buying comic books as a kid, I just threw them into an empty drawer and that was their place.  I was a kid and I didn’t know any better.  It pains me today to think of all the great comics that I lost or destroyed by not taking proper care of them.  Back then the prices of comics were a fraction of what they cost today and I really never put much thought into it until I was in high school.

In those days I was buying my comics at a used book store that also sold comics.  It was run by a husband and wife who although they were incredibly nice, scared me because they looked as if they lived in that place.  They smelled, had poor hygiene, and were grossly overweight.  But the guy knew his comic books, and he put me on the path to properly caring for my collection.

They sold all their comics already boarded and bagged which at first I thought was a great annoyance because I would have to take the tape off the stupid bag to get at the comic to read it.  I also found myself reading the same comic multiple times and having to deal with the bag was a pain.  So I asked the guy one day why he sold his comics with the bag and board.  He told me that was the best way to protect them and he explained why.

They make comic books differently today than they did back then.  The paper and ink is different and is made to last longer and resist the elements.  But then, comics were printed on basically the same paper as newspapers and were susceptible to dirt, dust, oils and moisture.  Any paper product is going to be susceptible to the elements over time and with a little care you can prolong the life of your comics.  Colors will fade and the paper will yellow over time.  A good polypropylene or mylar bag along with an acid free cardboard board will help protect the comic.

The guy at the store also explained to me about boxes and how once your comics were bagged and boarded they needed to be stored upright in a box that was made to fit comic books.  The box then needs to be stored in a place free from excessive heat, light and pests.  Needless to say it didn’t take much convincing at that point that I had to take proper care of my comics.  He was even nice enough to give me enough free bags and boards to get me started.  With that and a couple of long boxes, he sent me on my way and I have been caring for my comics that way ever since.

If you are fortunate, the store where you buy your comics sell them already bagged and boarded and that is great; but not all stores do that.  Those that do may or may not be giving you the best quality bags and boards so be sure to check.  The store that I buy at does not bag and board their comics.  They do however sell some of the best bags and boards I have ever used.  No this isn’t a commercial for the store, but I will say that their stuff is top quality.  The gentleman who owns the store is also an avid collector and he takes the care of his collection VERY seriously, so I trust his judgement.

When it comes to bags and boards be careful.  You can get them in different sizes to match the particular era of comic book.  Comics books have varied in sizes over the years and you should really use bags that fit properly.  An oversized bag lets too much air get inside and may speed up the deterioration over time.  Be sure to buy bags and boards that fit the particular size of comic.  Boards will be a slightly smaller width to fit inside the bag but should match the era size of the bags.

Current size – 1980s to today
6 7/8″ by 10 1/2″

Regular size – mid 1960s to 1970s
7 1/8″ by 10 1/2″

Silver Age – 1950s to early 1960s
7 1/4″ by 10 1/2″

Golden Age – early 1950s or older
7 3/4″ by 10 1/2″

As I said earlier, doing something is better than doing nothing and keeping your comics piled on the floor of your bedroom isn’t going to cut it.  If you’re serious about caring for your collection or ever have thoughts of one day selling them to someone, you’re going to need to take care of them.  A comic in near mint condition will fetch you far more money than the same comic with ketchup stains and dog eared pages.  Many comic book fans think of it not only as a passion but also an investment.  Whether for monetary gain or just being able to pass them on to your kids, you’ll want to protect that investment.

A comic book today costs around three dollars, sometimes more.  I remember buying comics for twenty-five cents when I was a kid (now I am showing my age).  At today’s prices, are you just going to read it and then toss it in the corner to collect dust?  I know some guys who wear surgical gloves when handling their comics new and old.  So making sure your comics are stored in bags doesn’t sound all that extreme now does it?