A good place to begin with comic book storage preparation is to make sure your hands, or any skin touching the comics, are properly cleaned. This will help remove any dirt, residue, and most importantly, oil, that can damage or stain both the cover and interior pages. Gloves or a soft cloth are great options to handle your comics with if they’re available to you. Try and handle your comics at the open edges or to lay your hand or a flat object under the comic, to keep the cover and interior pages as straight as possible. Handling the comic near the spine and staples is NOT recommended.
The terms ‘archival quality’ and ‘acid free’ are used to designate materials or products that are permanent, durable, and/or chemically stable and used for long-term preservation and conservation.
When starting the process of storing your comics, the first step is to bag and board each one.
Unless the comics are properly supervised over time with the occasional bag change, (due to yellowing or wear and tear) mylar sleeves are considered the best bag for storage purposes. Keep in mind, mylar can scratch and scuff easily if you handle your collection often, causing it to look slightly hazy. This won’t affect the protection of your comics, but if they’re on display, you may want to change the bags every now and then, for better clarity. For everyday use, ordinary bags work fine. Though, unless you’re using mylar, you should plan on changing the bags every 7 years or so.
- Polyethylene – a soft, clear material thats able to breath and let moisture escape. It has some elasticity which allows for it to conform easier for a tighter fit. Has good contact clarity.
- Polypropylene – is a very clear, high sheen, crisp material. Often uses bi-oriented polypro, which stretches the material in both directions when being produced, so that it won’t wrinkle or warp over time. Less clarity.
- Mylar (Archival Polyester) – uses material of the highest clarity. Mylar will not discolor, damage, or adhere to items placed inside it. It is a sturdy material that displays beautifully, gives extra support to fragile items, and timelessly protects your collection.
Backing boards are important for support and will prevent spine stress and corner/edge wear. Boards may be acid free when first produced, but that can change over time, creating yellow stains on the board. 24 point solid bleached sulfate boards, that are coated on one side, are typically for short term storage.The comic or item should be kept on the coated/glossy side. The rough side will create a tan image on the back over time. For longer term storage, look for boards that have a buffer throughout. Unless you’re using virgin, alkali-buffered backer boards, you should plan on changing the boards every 7 years or so.
- Basic Boards – are pH neutral, contain acid, and are typically .024 point in thickness. Double white. For short term storage.
- Chipboards – are pH neutral, contain acid, and are typically .030 point in thickness. White on one side. For short term storage
- Standard Acid-Free Boards – are acid-free all the way through, and typically .028 point in thickness. White on both sides. For intermediate to long-term storage.
- Super Acid-Free Boards – are acid-free, lignin-free, and contaminant-free with alkaline 8.0-9.0. Typically .040 point in thickness. Off-white, 100% alpha cellulose, buffered with calcium carbonate on both sides. Meets Library of Congress Archival Standards for long-term to indefinite storage.
Archival Paper is a very thin paper that is placed inside the front and back cover to help remove and neutralize acids, pollutants and by-products of deterioration. It is nearly transparent, interleaving paper that contains dispersed molecular traps that stop acid migration from the interior pages to the covers. It helps eliminate yellowing that can occur, as well as odors such as smoke, mold and mildew. Insert one or two sheets to help conserve your collection. CGC does.
Comic Book Sizes/Ages
Below is a list of comic book sizes and ages to help you find the right bags and boards you need. Not all comics throughout their respected era’s were one universal size, especially comics before the Golden Age, so I attempted to list as many confirmed sizes as I could find:
Regular Size Comics
8 ½ x 11 through 17 x 11 inches (21.6 x 27.9 through 43.2 x 27.9 cm)
- Victorian Age – 1828 to 1882
8 ½ x 9 inches (21.6 x 22.9 cm)
- Platinum Age – 1882 to 1938
7 ¾ x 10 ½ inches (19.7 x 26.7 cm)
- Golden Age – 1938 to 1945
- Atomic Age – 1945 to 1956
7 ⅛ x 10 ½ inches (18.1 x 26.7 cm)
- Silver Age – 1956 to 1971
7 ¼ x 10 ½ inches (18.4 x 26.7 cm)
- Bronze Age – 1971 to 1986
- Copper Age – 1986 to 1992
6 ⅞ x 10 ½ inches (17.5 x 26.7 cm)
- Chrome Age – 1992 to 2000
- Modern Age – 2000 to present
Magazine Size Comics
8 ½ x 11 inches (21.7 x 27.9 cm)
- Regular Magazine
8 ¾ x 11 inches (22.2 x 27.9 cm)
- Thick Magazine
Treasury Size Comics
10 x 13 ½ inches (25.4 x 34.3 cm)
- Regular Treasury
14 x 20 inches (35.6 x 50.8 cm)
- Large Treasury