The most important preservation step you can take for your comic books is proper storage. Unfortunately many comic books have been made from the cheapest materials possible. Time and the elements are your enemies to preserve the paper. Heat, air and sunlight all work to degrade your collectible and diminish their value. With the correct storage environment and materials we can slow this process and keep your comics in top condition for many decades.
Today we’ll talk about comic book bag and board basics and which options are best for your specific situation. The correct solution for your collection will save you money while keeping your comic books safe.
Comic Book Bag Basics
There are two basic types of bags – polyethylene/polypropylene and Mylar®. The standard, low cost bag you see back issue comic books stored in at a comic book store is a polyethylene/polypropylene bag, otherwise known as a “poly” bag. These bags are inexpensive and get the basic job done. The downside to poly bags is they tend to discolor and the heat sealing method of securing the edges introduces a chemical (PVDC) which may be harmful over time.
The first thing you should consider is to keep your comics in a cool, dark and dry place. Store them in an unheated room, if possible, and attempt to monitor the humidity.
Once you have a suitable location the next question you must answer is how long do you plan on keeping the comic/comics you are storing? If for short term storage (a couple of years or less), you have some less expensive options. If you are storing valuable comic books or want to keep your collection for a long time, the options change.
If you are storing less valuable comic books for a short period of time (a couple of years or less), then you probably want to go with “poly” bags and a less expensive backing board. These are the bags you see most comic books stored in at a comic book store. Why? They do an adequate job at a reasonable price. They protect your comic books from handling, but they do break down or “yellow” over time. If you decide to keep your comic books for more than a couple of years you should change your bags to either another poly bag or upgrade to a Mylar®.
If you are planning to keep your comics for a long period of time or have an expensive book the only real option is Mylar®. I like to break my personal collection down into two categories: long term less valuable comics and valuable comics. Let’s look at both.
For comic books I plan on keeping for several years that aren’t extremely valuable I choose a less expensive mylite with light weight acid free backing board. This option is reasonable and I don’t have to worry about changing bags. I recently looked through some back issues I’ve kept for over 20 years in mylites (2mm) and they are still in perfect condition. The only downside to the mylite is they are a little thinner so while the material doesn’t break down like poly bags, they don’t give as much physical protection as a thicker Mylar®.
For my more valuable comic books I always go with a full Mylar® bag (4mm) and thick acid free backing board. Short of encapsulating your comics at CGC or PGX, this is about the best protection you are going to get.