Preservation Week: Tips for Preserving Comic Books
Comic books have many preservation needs in common with books and photos, but were traditionally printed on low-grade newsprint pulp paper and can quickly become acidic and brittle.
Find a Stable Storage Space
Store comic books in a clean storage area where temperature and relative humidity (RH) are moderate and stable: 68°F or less, and between 30-40% RH.
Moisture and temperature speed decay. Low humidity can crack, peel, or curl pages. Avoid attics and basements and provide good air circulation.
An air-conditioned room or closet is best. Don’t expose paper to fumes, plywood, cleaning supplies, or cardboard. Good housekeeping helps protect your treasures.
Check regularly for signs of rodents, silverfish, “book lice,” and other pests—eliminate them if found!
Protect from Light
All light, especially the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum, causes fading and other damage. Store and display items away from natural and artificial light. Comics and newsprint are particularly vulnerable.
Use Preservation Storage Enclosures
Use see-through preservation enclosures to minimize handling and prevent edge damage, creases, and tears.
If you use plastic enclosures, use uncoated polyester, cellulose triacetate, polyethylene, or polypropylene—never PVC. If you can’t keep RH below 80%, don’t use plastic enclosures.
Handle With Care
Don’t use paper clips, rubber bands, staples, marking pens, or highlighters—all can stick, stain, deform, or otherwise damage comic book issues.
Store comic books vertically. Store like sizes and types together, with good support, preferably preservation quality backing boards.
Store comic books in preservation storage boxes that are the right size for the issues. Do not over fill the boxes.
Handle gently. Wash and dry hands often, and use two hands or a support to prevent bending.
Consider carefully before repairing damaged or worn issues yourself, as this may lower value. Send issues to specialists for flattening or dry cleaning to avoid damage and decreased value.
Special issues can be submitted to a commercial expert for grading and special encapsulation in hard-shell preservation quality holders.
Libraries, museums, archives and other organizations work every day to preserve cultural history. Over 4.8 billion artifacts are held in public trust by more than 30,000 archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, scientific research collections and archaeological repositories in the United States.
Why is preservation important? Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan such as natural disasters, and 1.3 billion of these items are at risk of being lost. If billions of items are at risk at our heritage institutions, than plausibly trillions of items held by the general public are at risk.
Get involved. During Preservation Week libraries all over the country present events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.
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