POW! BOOM! WHAM!
When I think of comics, this is the first thing that comes to my mind, the zig-zags, the red iconic dots and, of course, The Man of Steel fighting crime. These onomatopoeias (a word or words that sound like what it describes, action scenes) are iconic and have made comics a beloved form of entertainment for over a century. But where did comics originate from? And most importantly, how can we preserve our beloved stories to last for generations?
Comics, the illustrated storytelling medium, have been a beloved form of entertainment for over a century, captivating readers with colorful characters, imaginative worlds, and epic adventures.
The history of comic books is a fascinating one, starting in 1837 with The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck. Created in Switzerland by Rudolphe Töpffer, who is said to be “the father of modern comics.” His work was targeted towards impoverished children and depicted stories of failed courtships, dueling, robberies, elopements, ghosts, attack dogs, attempted suicide, drag, double-crossings, and threats of execution. However dark, Töpffer kept his work strangely lighthearted and in American print until 1877.
Why did we need heroes?
The late 1800s to 1900s were a time of rapid change and growth in America. The invention of the printing press came in the 1800s and printed materials, including comics, became more widely available to the public. This era was a substantial time of darkness which included the American Industrial Revolution, the Civil War, and the great depression. People not only saw what war brought but they also faced a time of widespread famine, cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, and influenza, with the influx of newcomers to New York’s harbors. These illnesses claimed the lives of many due to the overcrowded living conditions and poor sanitation in the rapidly growing cities. Ultimately, it brought about significant changes in society, culture, and the urgency for a “superhero” to defend the weak.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a valuable investment.
Why should you preserve comic books? Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created Action Comic’s #1, “Man of Steel” to fight against the rise in negative stereotypes and the ever-facing doom of the 1930s… (COUGH…Hitler…COUGH) These broke ground for other superheroes such as Batman’s first appearance in 1939 and Spider-Man’s first appearance in 1962.
Comic books are not just a form of entertainment but can also be a valuable investment. In 1938, if you were one of the lucky few that purchased an Action Comic, you would have spent 10 cents, which was about $2 today, now the comic is worth about 3.55 million dollars.
While most won’t be able to shell out 3.55 million dollars, you might still be lucky enough to find one of the few 100 left in existence. Or a plethora of other comic books that are worth millions.
How to be the Page Protector Superhero
To ensure the longevity and preservation of comic books, we used the guidelines provided by the Library of Congress.
Firstly, it is important to note that comic books are made up of materials that are sensitive to environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light. Therefore, exposure to such factors can cause irreparable damage to the comic book, including yellowing of pages, fading of colors, and degradation of paper. Therefore, it is important to take proper care when storing comic books.
The first step in proper comic book storage is to use archival materials. Archival materials are acid-free and can be found at art supply stores, craft stores, or online. Such materials include acid-free polypropylene bags for individual comic books, acid-free backing boards to provide support, and acid-free boxes to store the comic books.
Before you store your comic books…
Before storing the comic book, it is important to ensure that it is clean and free from any dirt, debris, or moisture. Always use gloves (nitrile or latex gloves) when handling them to prevent any oils or sweat from damaging the pages. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any dirt or debris. It is also highly recommended to speak to an expert before taking on the task yourself as any mistakes could be detrimental to the artwork.
Once the comic book is clean, it can be placed in an acid-free polypropylene bag. The bag should be slightly larger than the comic book to allow for easy insertion and removal. The comic book should be placed upright in the bag, with the spine at the bottom. This helps prevent any stress or damage to the spine.Next, A backing board should be inserted into the bag behind the comic book. This provides support and prevents the comic book from bending or creasing. The backing board should be acid-free and slightly larger than the comic book to provide complete coverage.
After the comic book is properly bagged and boarded, it can be placed in an acid-free box for storage. The box should be made of sturdy, acid-free material and should have a lid to keep out dust and light. The boxes should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark area with an air-controlled room at 68°F or less. Avoid storing boxes in areas prone to high humidity or extreme temperature changes.
It is also important to periodically check on the comic books to ensure they are in good condition. Check for any signs of damage or degradation, such as yellowing of pages or fading of colors. If any issues are detected, it is best to take immediate action to prevent further damage.
In addition to proper storage, it is important to handle comic books with care. Avoid folding, creasing, or bending the pages. Do not use any adhesive or tape on the comic book, as this can cause damage. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, as this can cause fading and damage to the pages.
Proper storage of comic books is essential to ensure their longevity and preservation. Using archival materials, cleaning the comic book before storage, and storing it in a cool, dry, and dark area are all important steps to take. By following these guidelines, you can help protect your valuable comic book collection for years to come