Storing Your Comics: Bags & Boards & Boxes….Oh, My!!


Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Some collectors have a lot of angst about storing their comics.  What are the right bags and boards to buy?   What about boxes?  You’ve heard about Mylar, do you really need to use it to keep your comics collection from disintegrating before your eyes?  Let’s look at these topics in way more detail than non-collectors would ever care about…

Comic Bags
There is not doubt that mylar is the best material for archival storage of paper collectibles.  The Library of Congress uses it, and they know a thing or two about preserving paper products.  That said, mylar is more expensive and is not absolutely necessary for what I’d consider “run of the mill” comics.

The 3 most common materials for bags are mylar, polyethylene, and polypropylene, let’s get technical for a moment:

Mylar: A biaxially extruded polyester film that is simultaneously stretched in two directions to give it maximum strength.  Resistance to diffusion of gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, etc. is 350 times greater than polyethylene.  Resistance to moisture, insect attack, fungus, mold, mildew, acid, oils, grease, and solvents is excellent.  Mylar is the Cadillac of storage bags.

Polyethylene: A polymerized ethylene resin that is inert, translucent and creates a lower static charge than polypropylene. The translucent nature of polyethylene prohibits a  greater amount of light penetration than the transparent polypropylene.  The lower static charge produced by polyethylene as opposed to the higher charge emitted by polypropylene means that polyethylene will attract much less dirt, dust and other foreign, organic elements.  Polyethylene is more flexible than polypropylene.

Polypropylene: Propylene (CH3CH:CH2) is a sub-stratum of ethylene.  Polypropylene is a thermoplastic resin that is a polymer of propylene and is more rigid than polyethylene. Due to its rigidity, polypropylene sleeves are more prone to tearing, especially at the seams.

So, what do you need to use?   If you have a very valuable comic (worth $30 – $50 or more), I’d suggest using Mylar.  For regular comics, I’d recommend polyethylene.

Here is what E. Gerber has to say about storing comics on their web-site (keeping in mind that they are, after all, in the business of selling mylar bags):

Poly-bags will not destroy your comics. We do not preach fire and brimstone.

They then swiftly move on to saying:

Poly-bags will not actually destroy your comics. They will simply afford a lot less protection against the elements. I would definitely put my “For Sale” comics into poly-bags, but only for a short term, say a couple of months.

This is seriously implying that poly bags are not to be used for anything other than REALLY transitory storage.  This is nonsense.  That said, I’d likely be on board with this philosophy if my business was made up of selling Mylar bags to comics fans who are fearful that putting comics in poly bags is tantamount to wrapping them in a tissue and setting them out in the rain.


Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Bag Thickness
Generally, thicker bags are better.  When buying mylar, you typically can go from 1 mil thick (called Mylites at E. Gerber and Arklites at Bill Cole) to 1.4 mil thick Mylite+ bags (from E. Gerber) to 2 mil thick (Mylite2 from E. Gerber, Arklites 2 from Bill Cole) or 4 mil thick (Mylite4 or Archives from E. Gerber and Comic-Gards or Time-Loks from Bill Cole).  Personally, I dislike the 1 mil Mylites/Arklites (I’ve bought the 1 mil Arklites).  While the 1 mil thickness is the cheapest Mylar solution, they are very thin and “crinkly” feeling, though they should provide the same chemical protection as thicker Mylar.  Moving up a step, I know people who swear by the 2 mil Mylite2/Arklites2 bags.  Personally, nowadays if I’m going to take the step up to Mylar from poly bags, I go all the way to the 4 mil thick archival bags.  In addition to the Mylar brand name,  Bags Unlimited has “Museum Grade Archival Polyester” in 2 and 4 mil thickness that is compared to Mylar and is a bit cheaper.  I have never personally used or seen these bags and cannot speak to their quality.

Poly bags also come in a variety of thicknesses, with polypropylene typically being thinner (1.2 to 1.5 mil).  The difference in cost between 2 mil polyethylene and thinner polypropylene is a penny or 2 per bag.  Given the published differences between the 2 types of bags, I think 2 mil polyethylene is the “best bet” for general comics storage (even though you can get polyethylene in 3 and 4 mil thickness, if I feel the need to go up to 4 mil, I am going to go to Mylar).  A good place to get poly bags is Bags Unlimited.

Even the 1 mil thick Mylar bags cost 2-3 times as much as poly bags (wholesale/bulk).  2 mil Mylar bags can run anywhere from 18 to 22 cents each in bulk (PLUS shipping) and that does not include the board.  I don’t like to spend 30-40 cents on a bag/board for a comic that is going to be in a $1 bin in 2 years time (e.g., 80+% of the comics published every month by Marvel & DC).  For my collectible stuff I don’t mind spending 60 cents or so on an archival bag/board for a comic worth $30+, at least there the storage cost is 2% or less of the value of the item being stored.

Bag Width
Be careful, not all bags are made alike.  There are various widths, make sure you buy the right width for the comics you need to store:

7″ (aka Current) – I do not like using this width.  Frequently I find that a thicker annual or giant size comic just won’t fit, or even some indie comics that have slightly wider trims.

7 1/4″ (sometimes called Standard, sometimes Bronze) – A good overall width for comics from the 1970s onward.   In fact, most Marvel Comics from the 1960s that are normal thickness (e.g., not giant-size annuals) fit just fine in these bags.

7 3/8″ (This is Bill Cole’s “standard” width) – Fits most comics from mid to late 1960s onward.  A nice overall width that fits almost any book after the true “Golden Age”, and still able to be fit into a long box or drawer box.

7 3/4″ to 7 5/8″ (Silver/Gold) – Good for 1950s onward.  These present a challenge on storage because they are too wide to fit in a normal long box or drawer box, unless stored sideways.

8″ to 8 1/4″ (Super Golden) – Used for comics from the 1940s to early 1950s.

A Tip on Sealing Your Bags
This was proposed by Allan Phillips and sounds like a great idea! Allan’s wife was watching him re-bag/board old comics, while being very careful with the tape.  He explained to her the hazards of using normal tape on a bag. She used to do a lot of scrapbooking and suggested that he use the acid-free double-sided tape they use for mounting photos. It comes in a dispenser and can be applied in small tabs, much smaller than a piece of Scotch tape.  Applied on the back of the bag where the flap comes down so that it can never contact the comic, it works like a dream.  A little more expensive than normal tape, but worth it!

Consider your Environment
Are you someplace with high humidity?  Do you have issues with mold, mildew and fungus in general?  What about insects (especially the kinds that like to chow down on paper products, termites, silverfish, etc.)?  Do you have a lot of these factors in your area and if so, do you take steps to manage them?  There are things that can be done to manage your environment far before you get to the bags you keep your comics in, but the last line of defense if going to be the comic bag.  For instance, I live in Southern California and we don’t have many bugs compared to someplace like Florida (well, most places don’t have a lot of bugs compared to Florida, but you get the idea).  Even so, we are not totally bug-free, and I have a service that comes out monthly and sprays the perimeter of the house and property line to keep bugs out.  I rarely ever see bugs.  Problem (mostly) solved.  If you live in high humidity area, you might consider using some de-humidification and anti-dessicant solutions in the area where you store your comics.  If you get reusable dessicant packs, they will indicate via color change when they need to be “recharged”, pop them in the oven till they turn back to their original color again and when they cool off they are good to put back in your comic storage location.



Top Loaders
These are rigid plastic sleeves that you slide a bagged/boarded comic into for additional protection.  These are made of PVC and are not archival (like Mylar).  I don’t see the usefulness of these for general comics in your collection.  People usually bag and board a comic and put it in a box, they’re not tossing it around where they need this kind of extra protection.  They could be useful if you’re shipping a comic in the mail and want the extra protection.  BCW sells some of these with little stands built in that are kind of cool as a cheap alternative to a frame if you want a quick display for some of your comics.

Bottom Line on Bags
Get what feels right for you, taking the knowledge presented here into account.  I like to take the value of a comic into account when determining the cost of the storage materials I use with it.  You are not committing a “crime against comics” in using polyethylene bags.  I have bought a number of back issues in old bags that are very yellowed and deteriorated (and have replaced those with new polyethylene bags).  I believe those are mostly comics that  have been stored in harsher environmental conditions than I have.

Poly Bags 1989

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

I personally have comics that have been in poly bags in my collection since the late 1980s (when I did a large-scale re-bagging effort, apparently not even using backing boards at that point in time).  Above is a picture of a couple of comics in poly bags (I believe  polypropylene) that have been in a comic box in my garage (stored upright in a low humidity environment) since late 1989. I see no particular degradation of the bags other than a bit of “wavyness”, the comics inside are not degraded or damaged in any way. I believe that replacing poly bags ever 2-5 years is not necessary, but is encouraged by those that have a vested interest in selling collectors bags or up-selling collectors on Mylar.

Bob’s Recommendation:
Valuable comics –> 4 mil Mylar
Everything else –> 2 mil Polyethylene bags

An aside on taping your bags:  Some people like to tuck the flap in and don’t use tape, fearing that it will snag a comic when taking it in/out of the bag.  I use tape, I like keeping that flap securely in place.  If I am going to remove a comic from the bag I remove the tape COMPLETELY from the bag, I do not leave it hanging onto the flap where the possibility exists that it could snag on your comic.

A brief note on slabbing: The ultimate in protecting a comic is, of course, to get it “slabbed” by Comics Guaranty, LLC.  The comic has MicroChamber paper inserted inside the front and back covers, is sealed in Mylar, and then encapsulated in a hard-plastic shell (also called a “slab”).  The downside that the slab cannot be opened without breaking it and you’ll never be able to open and read your comic again unless you want to “crack the slab” and then you’ll need to pay a lot of money to have the comic be re-graded & re-slabbed if you want it back in the slab.  Compare this to using archival Mylar where you take off the tape, place it safely to the side, remove your comic from the sleeve, read it, and then return it to the sleeve and re-tape it.

Backing Boards & MicroChamber paper


Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Backing boards and MicroChamber paper are used in conjunction with your bags of choice to enhance the preservation of your comic.  The primary purpose of a backing board is to add some stiffness to your comic book storage and prevent unintended bending or creasing of your comics.  Beyond that, you really want to use a board that will not contribute to the deterioration of your comic (since it’s going to be sealed inside a bag with your comic).  That’s why you don’t want to use just any cardboard (which can be highly acidic), buy boards specifically created for comic storage.  For added protection, you can also place sheets of micro-chamber paper in your comic that are designed to remove and neutralize acids as well as trap pollutants.  CGC places a sheet of this inside the front & back cover of any comic they encapsulate in one of their “slabs”.

As with bags where you have Mylar and poly(ethylene/propylene), for backing boards you have 2 basic varieties:

Basic Boards: Typically .24 mil thick these are usually shiny on one side and a matte finish on the other.  The shiny side is coated with a very thin 3% calcium carbonate buffer and should be the side that is placed next to the comic book.

Acid-Free Boards: The “Mylar” of boards.  These are pH neutral cellulose fiber and are buffered throughout with 3% calcium carbonate.  There is no “shiny side”, either side can be placed next to the comic.  These typically cost 2.5x and up what standard backing boards cost.  They come in 24 mil and 42 mil thickness (depending on the stiffness you want).  Keep in mind that thicker boards take up some extra room in the bag and may make the fit for your comic very snug so it does not go in and out of the bag easily.   E. Gerber calls these Half-Backs and Full-Backs.  Bill Cole calls them Thin-X-Tenders and Time-X-Tenders.  Bags Unlimited calls them Standard Acid-Free and Super Acid-Free.  BCW also offers Acid Free boards that are “independent lab certified”

MicroChamber Paper: Very thin paper specially constructed with dispersed molecular traps that remove and neutralize acids, pollutants and the harmful by-products of deterioration.  This paper also eliminates odors such as smoke, mold and mildew.  Place a sheet inside the front & back cover of a valuable comic before bag/boarding it.  This can be purchased from BagsUnlimited, BCW (who calls them Comic Extenders) and Bill Cole (who calls them Life-X-Tender Plus).

Bob’s Recommendation:
Use basic boards with poly bags
* Use acid-free boards with Mylar
* Use MicroChamber paper with exceptionally valuable comics (particularly old comics printed on lower quality acidic paper).



Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

So you have a bunch of bagged & boarded comics, now where are you going to keep them?  Almost every collector has seen one of the white comic book storage boxes at some point, but there are more categories to choose from than you might think.

Standard Comic Boxes: These can be bought in almost any comic book store and come in different lengths & widths:

  • Short boxes hold 150-200 comics (depending on bag/board thickness and thickness of the comics).  These are ~15″ long and weigh about 30 pounds when full and most collectors find them fairly easy to move around.
  • Long boxes hold 250-300 comics (depending on bag/board thickness and thickness of the comics).   These are ~27″ long and weigh in excess of 50 pounds when full.  Many collectors find these fairly cumbersome to move around.

Plastic Comic Boxes: Are those regular cardboard boxes just not doing the trick for you?  BCW has long and short boxes made out of corrugated plastic that come in either black or white (they make the regular cardboard variety also).  I’ve never tried these, but they seem very sturdy and may be the solution to those times when I pull a long box off a shelf & the side by the handle rips out because of the weight or the corner separate (see box 191 in the picture above).

Magazine boxes: Similar to short boxes, but 9″ wide and slightly taller so they can accommodate wider magazines and wider format graphic albums.  These are also useful for certain newer comics that come out in the wider “Golden Age” format (27 and Cowboy Ninja Viking from Image come to mind, as well as the current “Life with Archie” series.  Many comic shops do not carry this size.

Graded Comic Storage Boxes: These are larger sized and made to accommodate books in CGC or PGX slabs.  Sold by E. Gerber, BCW, and Bill Cole.

Acid Free Storage Boxes: These are typically used by people storing comics bagged in Mylar, but seem a bit like like overkill, they’re VERY expensive.  E. Gerber and Bill Cole have these in acid-free buffered cardboard.  You can also get these made from corrugated plastic from BCW & BagsUnlimited.


Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

Drawer Boxes: Standard short and long boxes are not meant to be stacked up more than 2 or 3 high.  The sheer weight of the comics will cause the bottom boxes to start crushing.  To get around this and allow stacking various companies have developed boxes that fit into an outer shell that allows the comic box to be slid out like a drawer from any position in the stack while the outer shell supports the weight of the boxes in the rows above.  The stack of 5 short boxes pictured above has no problem sliding out the bottom drawer.  I know someone who has long drawer boxes stacked 6 high and also has no problem with the bottom drawers.

  • Manufacturer: The premiere manufacturer seems to be the Collection Drawer Co.  I have these myself (see above) and they work great.  These are the ones I have personal experience with and they are great.  I like to use the Box Lox with these, they are small plastic fasteners that hold multiple DrawerBoxes together, top to bottom and side to side, providing a lot of extra stability to the entire block of boxes you’re using.
    BCW has both a short box & long box drawer system called the “Comic House” where you can buy just the shell or the shell with the comic box that fits into it.  I have a comparison of the DrawerBox vs. the Comic House here.
    BagsUnlimited also sells Comic File Cabinet shells that you slide an existing short or long box into. I have no personal experience with these, if you’ve tried the Comic File Cabinet system and have positive or negative feedback, drop me a note.
  • Short or Long? As with standard comic boxes you can get these in short and long.  Personally, I don’t want to make a “fashion statement” out of the boxes so like them in a closet so I can close the doors and hide them away when desired.  The Collection Drawer Co. long boxes won’t fit in my closet so I had to go with the short boxes.
  • Cautionary Note: I would recommend being careful about placing these directly on the floor if they are in a location that could conceivably get some water on the floor (1st floor, basement, etc.)  Build up a platform of some sort to keep the bottom row at least an inch or two off the ground.


Storage Folios
BCW sells a really cool item called a Comic Book Stor-Folio.  This re-enforced case holds up to 15 bagged and boarded comic books,or up to 20 loose comic books. It can be shelved in a book case or carried in your backpack to safely transport your comics to your favorite comic book convention.  I have been using one of these to carry books to conventions for years.  Before the con I load it with comics that I want to have autographed or blank sketch cover comics that I plan to have worked on at the con.  I always have someone comment about how cool this is when they see me pull it out of my backpack at a con.

Bob’s Recommendation:
I love Drawer Boxes and would have more of them had I not filled 250 or so regular Long Boxes before they were invented.  If I was starting out today I’d have more of my collection in these.
* Regular short & long boxes are perfectly fine for most collections.

I think that’s all I’ve got for now…

If you found this to be informative, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment below.  Same thing if you have any questions or think I missed something.  I’m always up for amending/adding to make reference material more complete.  This Blog entry will eventually end up as a page on the ComicSpectrum web-site.

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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85 Responses to Storing Your Comics: Bags & Boards & Boxes….Oh, My!!

  1. Andrew says:

    Love this post. As an aside, I really recommend short boxes if you have a tricky back. I fully loaded long box is way to heavy. I slightly screwed up my back on a drawer box.

  2. kevynknox says:

    Great take on the whole subject. I just got back into collecting after almost two decades out of the game. I think I’m going to set everything up in bronze or silver age bags. I really like the idea of the drawer boxes too.

  3. Gerry McDade says:

    Great post, Bob! Very informative!

  4. Brett says:

    Drawer boxes are great. All but 20 long boxes of my collection are in them.

  5. Jason says:

    awesome awesome awesome post Bob. I had no clue that there was a product out there to get rid of that old comic funk that sometimes happens when older books soak up scents. Thanks a ton for posting!

  6. loudlysilent says:

    I put baking soda boxes around my short boxes, and sometimes I’ll even put a baking soda box *in* the short box if there’s room. Any other humidity-related and odors-related tips for the extremely paranoid, besides the obvious storing boxes somewhere dry and far from odors?

    • Baking soda is a good idea for odor. Other than the silica gel suggestion, I’ve not done anything else related to humidity, but it’s not a big problem where I live so I’ve never really had to confront it personally.

    • Jason says:

      A couple friends of mine that store their comic collections in their basements use dehumidifiers to keep the books from getting damaged by moisture.

  7. Jason Keith says:

    I started finding all these articles about bagging and boards because after a 15-year break I recently got back into collecting. I ran into a problem that my one side coated BCW boards are glossy and smooth on both sides so I don’t know which side to use! I’m still not sure which to use.

    Anyway, this the first reasonable article on storing I’ve seen. Some people out there are nuts about the hoops they go through. I stored most of my comics in the same box, in the same poly bag, with the same backboard (and I’ve never taped a bag closed) for more than 20 years, and they look just like the day I bought them. I even had some CGC graded and they came out 9.6-9.8. Changing a poly bag every few months is insanity.

    I believe environment plays the biggest role. A cool dry space halts decomposition and breakdown of materials (kinda how shipwrecks in colder water preserve really well). If you live in Michigan and store your comics in a garage the extreme temperatures are going to kill them (or humid, buggy Florida).

    Since my return to comic collecting I do use Mylar even for cheap comics because I just love the way they look much more, and I collect for my personal satisfaction not monetary investment. Since I only collect three titles it’s not a huge expense for me and I keep mine for decades.

    Great article.

    • Do you use full on archival mylars for “cheap comics” or the much thinner mylites?
      I guess it also depends on how many comics you collect. Getting a handful each month, not a problem, I add several hundred to my collection every month, so mylar would be a burdensome expense.

      • JP says:

        Yeah I assumed you have a lot of titles. I don’t think there’s a lot worth reading out there. I can’t imagine adding a dozen to my collection every month, never mind several hundred! But to each their own!

        I quit collecting after the Spider-man clone fiasco in the early 90s. I was already getting irritated with a lot of aspects of the industry and that was the last straw. I did keep collecting Spawn for a long time but that was it. When I got back into collecting a few years ago I set down rules for myself, and I’m much more satisfied.

        I started experimenting with mylar just a few months ago. I tried the standard 4 mil and 2 mil from BCW. I prefer the 2 mil so that’s what I’m using. But only for what I call my “new” collection, which after three years encompasses one and a half short boxes. A 50 count mylar bag will last me more than a year. I have quite a few new comics because I was trying out different titles, but those are all stored with standard bags and boards until I can trade or sell them.

        That goes for my “old” collection as well. It’s about 1,500 comics which I whittled down from 4,500 through trade and sales over that last couple years. Most of those I’m going to keep and I replaced the old bag and boards with standard poly and BCW boards. Most of them are from the late 70s to early 90s, so that would be a little nuts mylar them!

        I was pretty proud of my collection though it’s small compared to a lot of collectors. I started when I was 14 years old in ’85, and amassed most that 4,500 in a four year period before I turned 18 and joined the military. Even though my income went up, being overseas a lot back then made it hard to buy consistently. Then the Spidy thing happened and I nerd raged for 20 years.

      • If you don’t think there’s a lot worth reading you may just not be looking in the right places.
        Super-heroes may be something you got tired (I notice you mention the Spider-Man clone saga & Spawn) of but there are a LOT of other comics with such a wide range of styles & genres that there really is something for every taste. What apparently drove you away just drove me to find other comics that I did like. And I found a LOT.
        Check out what I’m reading here:

      • JP says:

        Wow. That’s a lot of stuff. I could never read all that. My pull list used to have six comics on it (which is the max allowed by rule number one), five of which were written by Kelly Sue. I have two young kids (8 and 9) who are fascinated by my bagging and boxing process and are interested in collecting, so a couple weeks ago I dropped two titles and let them each pick one to add to my list, and we have a comic reading night. So right now my pull list is:
        – Amazing Spider-man
        – Batman (First DC Comic I’ve ever bought!)
        – Batman Lil Gotham
        – My Little Pony Friendships is Magic
        – Pretty Deadly
        – Spawn.
        I used to get Red Team also, but it was just a limited series which irritates me. My daughter wanted Deadpool, but I wouldn’t let her. She loves Deadpool from the Lego Marvel game. And she loves to draw, so my house is full of drawings of Hello Kitty and Deadpool. She also created a Deadpool version of Hello Kitty which she calls “Hello Kitty of Doom.” I’m both proud and terrified.

        My favorite comic when I started collecting again was Bad Medicine by Oni Press which got cancelled after five months. Two LCS told me they never sold a single copy. And that’s in Portland, the home of Oni Press. Guess I was the only one who liked it. Haha. I just dropped Ghost because Kelly Sue doesn’t write it anymore and the new guy sucks (rule number two – drop a title like a hot potato if it starts to suck). Also just dropped Capt Marvel which I think it great but someone had to be sacrificed for a kid selection. There are a few titles I think are great that I don’t collect the individual issues, but get the TPB: Captain Marvel; Chew; Hawkeye; Stumptown; The Boys; and Thief of Thieves. Pretty much anything written by Garth Ennis or Kelly Sue gets read by me in some form.

        Your list has a lot of limited series on it. I’ve never really counted those as a “titles.” If I hear one is good I’ll wait for the TPB. I pretty much write them off until then. Some of them were just too far into the series to try and I wanted to start something from the ground floor, or at least not too deep into the series. Anytime I try a comic I have to like it enough to remove something else from my pull list. That’s a rule. There’s some from your list I tried:

        – BATMAN 66: Too much like the TV show which even as a kid I didn’t like. I know that’s the point.
        – AVENGERS ANY TITLE: Everyone is a damn avenger of X-Man now. I used to get Avengers Assemble, Bendis and Kelly Sue are great, but she started featuring Spider-woman and some other Spider-girl too much, so I dropped it. Uncanny Avengers and regular Avengers were good just not compelling enough to make my list.) Feel the same way about some X titles. Cable and the X-Force was good but just not good enough.
        – AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: I can’t stay away, and it’s been a pleasant surprise so far.
        – BLACK WIDOW: Wanted to like it, but it’s meh.
        – DAREDEVIL: First comic I tried when I came back and tried to avoid Spidy. Wasn’t as good as I heard. Gave it 15 issues before dropping it.
        – LOW: Just read #1 last night. Didn’t find any character compelling. Liked the story idea though.
        – SAGA: Hate this. Everything about it. I’m confused by all the love it gets.
        – SEX CRIMINALS: Read the first one. Interesting concept, but didn’t grab me hard enough to keep going.
        – WALKING DEAD: Hate the art. Black and white is a hard medium to work in, and all the artists have failed IMO.
        – RACHEL RISING: Haven’t read this, but it looks interesting. Definitely a TPB list. If I see one on sale. Yay Labor Day sales!
        – ARCHER & ARMSTRONG: Read the first two issues. Hated it. I’m not a religious guy, but the first two issues were obsessed with religion bashing – Christian specifically. It was over the top and ruined what I thought should have been a good story.
        HARBINGER: Liked the first version of this. Something is missing in this reincarnation for me.
        X-O MANOWAR: Story wasn’t compelling enough. I didn’t get it.

        Ha. Sorry my replies are so long. I rarely talk about comics.

    • Ted Litvan says:

      Keith, both sides of your comic backing board are coated

      BCW boards have been buffered with calcium carbonate which neutralizes the acid that migrates from the comic. The coated side may be on one or both sides of the backing board. You can identify the coated side by the glossy finish of the board. When you insert your comic and board inside the bag, you’ll want the coated side of the board facing the comic. If the board is coated on both sides, either side will work great.

      More info:


        Not all boards are coated on both sides (from the description of standard boards on the BCW site)
        SKU:1-BBCUR Brand:BCW
        Certified Acid Free – Independent Lab Tested
        Fit current comic bags
        Coated on one side
        Buffered with 3% calcium carbonate
        Precision cut
        Use with BCW Current Poly & Mylar Bags

      • Ted Litvan says:

        BCW guarantees one side of the backing board will be coated. This is what we require from the paper mill. The paper mill often coats both sides of the board with calcium carbonate. In that case, it is just a bonus for the collector. If both sides of the board have the same glossy appearance, both sides are coated. If only one side is coated, the comic should be touching the glossy side. Thanks

      • Excellent info, Ted!
        Bottom line is for people to look at the board and make sure a glossy side is to the comic (whether the board is glossy on one side or both!)
        I was very interested to learn about the lab certified acid-free nature of BCW boards & will need to look into them!

  8. At least you’re trying lots of things, which is good!
    A lot of this stuff is really subjective. You note how you can’t see how people love Saga and that’s a great example. My favorite title out of 150 or so, and you just don’t get it. Same book, though 🙂
    Some people will like something and others will hate it. Does not make it intrinsically good or bad, just something that is to one person’s taste and not another’s.
    I have a very wide range of tastes and love different art styles.
    Walking dead is another favorite of mine, I really like Charlie Adlard’s art (I own 2 pages of his Original Art from WD). Interesting that you say “all the artists have failed”. Adlard has been the artist on every issue from #7 to #114. Tony Moore did #1-6.

  9. JP says:

    Oh I forgot about Wormwood. Love Wormwood. Wish it was an ongoing series. I have a love-hate relationship with Templesmith’s art.

  10. JP says:

    Yeah, I know people like Adlard. Just black and white… ugh. So hard for me to find black and white art I like. If Walking Dead had been color I’d been all over it.

    It’s interesting to me what speaks to one person and not another. I took a class that focused on Ursula Le Guin books. I hated them. I was shocked at how bad the were. Fortunately I wasn’t alone. But people love her. She’s won crazy awards. One of my all time favorite movies is Shakespeare in Love. But I also really like Roadhouse, so I’m in no position to talk smack about what other people like or dislike.

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  12. PF says:

    I also like the idea of the comic drawers from However, I was reading on the collectiondrawer website that the boxes they have won’t accomodate Silver age comics with backing board.

    “DrawerBoxes were not designed to hold products such as backing boards for Golden Age or Silver/Gold comics”

    So they can only hold Modern Age comics with backing boards? I figure since you have the set-up, you would know.


    • My DrawerBoxes hold Silver Age comics just fine, but the key to what you wrote was “Silver/Gold”. Bags designed to hold Silver/Gold comics kind of by definition need to be wide enough to hold Golden Age books, and DrawerBoxes are not wide enough for Gold.
      If you get bags that top out at holding Silver Age but are NOT wide enough for Gold, you should be fine.

  13. Hey, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog site in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
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  15. Matt says:

    Excellent write-up. I appreciate it. I have the “comic file cabinets” from BagsUnlimited. They’re ok, I guess, but I wish I’d seen this post prior to purchasing them. I would have gone the Collection Drawer version that you prefer. The BagsUnlimited boxes and cabinets are without a doubt sturdy and stable. I have 10 long-box cabinets/boxes that are full and stacked 3×3 (with the 10th one on top making the middle column 4 high. They are quite sturdy and I imagine I could safely go 5 or 6 high if necessary. My problem is that they don’t slide in and out very well. They get the job done as far as storage, but they’re such a tight fit that you kind of have to brace your hand against the “frame” of the cabinet while simultaneously pulling out the box.

    I have a question about storage, though. Assuming the comics are bagged and boarded, how tight should they be in the box? If you pack the maximum in the box, you, of course can’t browse through them without taking out a handful first. Other than that is there anything detrimental about packing them tightly? Do you leave enough space to easily flip though them?

    • I leave a bit of room in my Drawer Boxes to allow for browsing, because I keep stuff in them that I’d like to be able to riffle through more easily. The drawer boxes slide open/closed very easily.

      On the bulk of my collection (the other 330+ long boxes) I keep them fairly tight and just pull out a handful (10 or 15 comics, as you say) from an end when I want to browse through the box to find something.

  16. Chad Heinrich says:

    Wow. Thanks for such a great article! Per your introduction, I have indeed found myself in a quandry of late about what to use at this point forward for storing and protecting my collection. Yours is the best article I’ve found so far on the subject, covering every point there is to cover and providing the most common sense recommendations based on a broad base of fact and experience. The approach you offer certainly meets my standards. I’m much more confident now that I will be able to give due dilligence in protecting my comics without spending more than I really need to spend.

  17. John C. Ware says:

    Doing the yearly storeroom cleaning, realized I needed more short-boxes, found this article. 1 hour of cleaning avoided! Great article, thanks much. Will be back to re-read. Never knew that about the shiny/not shiny side of the backing boards. Over the years I’ve amazed 5,600+ comics and magazines (more of the later then the former), but most of the information applies to both. Now I have to consider seriously board-side-inspection. Ugh Mo books, mo problems. :). Thanks and Happy New Year, 2015 is here!

  18. Pingback: STORAGE REVIEW: Comic Houses vs. DrawerBoxes | ComicSpectrum – Bob's Blog

  19. Michael Neumann says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was just about to replace all of my short boxes with BCW cabinet style boxes, but now I am definitely going with the Collection Drawer. Its like 50% more expensive (due to the expensive shipping), but I love the Boxsort rails idea. Those solve one of my biggest pet peeves with storage boxes in general. Now I don’t have to stuff each box full, to prevent comics from falling over. Its brilliant and its shocking that it wasn’t invented by someone in the business a LONG time ago. I’m just going to bite the bullet and order in bulk (50 short boxes). that will save me 10% in cost and 10% in shipping and it will allow me to replace all of my boxes in one foul swoop!

    I do have to disagree in regards to the whole poly bag issue. Most comic shops, at least those by me, sell poly bags for roughly $20 (for 100 bags and boards). if you buy Mylites 2’s with half backs in quantity directly from Gerber….well, it doesn’t wind up costing much more than poly bags. So I now store all of my basic issues in Mylites 2’s with half backs and I store all of my variants and valuable comics in Mylites 2’s with full backs. Of course, I’m comparing buying mylar in quantity to buying poly bags in small quantity, but then again, most comic collectors buy bags and boards in small quantity, as they need them. Basically, this just shows that if you change your buying habits and start buying in quantity instead of buying in small batches, you can upgrade to mylar for very little increase in overall cost. So personally, I will never buy another poly bag ever again. And in all honesty, the reason I am going with Mylar has very little to do with increased protection. the main reason I am using Mylar now is the comics look a hundred times better in a Mylar bag and the art is one of the main reasons why I collect comics to begin with. Poly bags are like looking at a comic through a dirty window. the increased protection and long life span….those are just bonuses in my book.

    • Michael,

      If I had a comic shop charging me $20 for 100 bags & boards I think I’d go with Mylite2’s also (after I decided to start buying from a comic shop NOT ripping me off on the price of bags/boards!)

      I get bags/boards for about $8-$10 per 100, so it is a significant difference for me. Also, it depends on how many comics you get (I get 100s per month) and what the ultimate value of those comics are. For comics that are going to end up in a $1 bin, I still think it’s silly to spend 40 to 50 cents on a bag/board 😉

      • Michael Neumann says:

        Wow, that is really cheap. Even on Amazon, 100 bags and boards from BCW is $16.95 (sold by Amazon, not a 3rd party) so the prices at my local comic shops aren’t that much higher. I am not sure which brand your using or where your buying, but I have never seen bags and boards anywhere near that cheap. the cheapest I have ever seen BCW boards is $10 for 100.

        And in regards to Mylites, if you buy in quantity directly from Gerber, it only comes out to be .26 apiece (for Mylites 2’s with halfbacks). The way I see it, if I’m going to spend 3-5 dollars on a comic, I can spend another 25 cents to make sure its looks good and is properly protected. For a $3 – $5 comic, thats only adding an additional 5% to 8% to the overall cost.

        Like you, I buy a lot of comics every month as not only do I buy comics to read, but I also buy a lot of comics just for the cover art. Its like collecting small art prints, just in comic form. In all honesty, the art is really what brought me back to comics as an adult. One of my favorite things is going through all the new releases each month and picking out all of the best covers. And again, the best part about mylar is the overall clarity. Comics look a hundred times better. Poly bags really are like looking through a dirty window. Once you get used to that quality, its very hard going back.

      • Michael,
        Getting bags/boards on-line & at a brick & mortar store is really apples & oranges. These things are HEAVY and you will get eaten alive in shipping cost. If buying via the mail, I’m not surprised that poly & Mylite2 are not that different in price. High shipping will be the same for both and will mask the price difference of the actual product to some degree.

        I buy mine locally in batches of 1000 (so get a better price because I’m buying in bulk). If I buy them like that I usually pay ~$81 for 1000 bags + 1000 boards, but I also have to drive up to where I get them which is another $8 worth of gas for the round trip, so let’s say $90 for 1000.

        Personally, I don’t notice the “looking at them through a dirty window” effect you are talking about. Perhaps my eyesight is not as acute as yours. That said, when I display a comic, I display it in Archival Mylar. Polybagged comics end up in long boxes.

  20. Michael Neumann says:

    By the way, for YEARS I have wondered if I was using the proper side of BCW’s boards. thankfully, I guessed right as I always put the glossy side facing the comic. thank you for FINALLY setting my mind at ease in regards to that subject. I guess the easy thing would have been contacting BCW a long ways back, but I just never remembered to do so when I was at my computer. Anyways, thanks again for a brilliant article and a great comments section!!

  21. Michael Neumann says:

    I am not seeing a reply button on your last post so I am making a new post as I just wanted to add that the price I mentioned from Amazon is actually with free shipping as I’m an Amazon Prime member. So that $16.95 price I quoted is just the price for the bags and boards. If someone didn’t have Amazon Prime, you would have to add another $5-6 to that price for shipping, at which point your at $22-$23 dollars, which is even more expensive than my local comic shops.

    Your definitely getting a killer deal and that would definitely make the jump to Mylar a more expensive jump. Suffice to say, the vast majority of collectors out there are not seeing prices anywhere near 9 cents apiece. Most collectors buy in smaller quantities and buy from either local comic shops, online comic shops or sites like Amazon and based on the prices I see on sites like those, your basically looking at prices between $16 and $20, without shipping factored in. A lot of those sites have free shipping if you spend over a certain amount, usually like $50-$75. Given that fact, most collectors could make the jump to Mylites 2’s with halfbacks for only 5 to 7 cents more per comic, as long as they were willing to start buying in quantity.

    So basically, for collectors like me, its either pay roughly .20 apiece for poly bags or spend .26 apiece for Mylites 2’s with Half Back’s. At that point, its a very easy decision to make. Your basically talking about a 2% increase in cost to move to Mylites 2’s w/ Half Backs.

    • Agreed, Michael. I would not pay 20 cents each for poly bags if I could get Mylite2 for 26 cents.

      PS: Just a math point: the difference between 20 cents each & 26 cents each is more like 28% more, not a 2% increase. The 6 cents is still worth it though…

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  25. Dan says:

    What box would you recommend for storing comics that are kept in top loaders? I realize it may be overkill, but I have a lot of autographed comics that are bagged/boarded and then stored in a top loaders for extra protection. The main problem is that the top loader is slightly taller than the average comic box so the lid of the box actually rests on the top loader itself. it’s not enough to damage the comic book, but it obviously shouldn’t be left like that especially if you’re stacking boxes. I’ve been doing some research and it looks like the “magazine box” may be the only option, but could end up being too big or not “snug” enough. I appreciate any suggestions!

    • Dan says:

      Yes, thank you Ted! I will end up going with either the CGC or Magazine box. Another quick question: I have a few books that will need the Magazine Top Loader. Will those fit the magazine box or stick out a little? I think I would be able to store them horizontally in the CGC or Magazine box if all else fails. Thanks again for the help!

  26. I am so glad to find this article! Pretty soon I started collecting comics and is good to know some appropriate ways of storing them. Best regards

  27. M c key says:

    Please call me, I have a question… M c key. 210-559-8303. 210-337-0800, thanks

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  29. Alyssa Laschelle says:

    I agree that long boxes are very cumbersome. As a girl who is 5’2″, it was quite the effort to move them from the front of the store to the back when we would get big sales in. They are great if you have big storage area for back issues but for home use, short boxes are the best.

    For those of us who live in humid environments, like the south east US or for me Oklahoma, I suggest sparing 5$ to get yourself a reusable silica desiccant from amazon!!

    I use them for my comic and in the lab I work in. When they turn purple, pop them in the oven till they turn green again and when they cool off the aredge good to put back in your comic storage location.

    As many of us know, cardboard holds moisture so this is a good way to dehumidify without breaking bank.

    • Agreed, on the anti-dessicant comment, Alyssa….I had that recommendation in there already, but as I’ve never personally had to use them, I was unaware you could get ones you can dry out in the over and re-use. Good info, I’m going to add that tid-bit of info to the article!

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  31. michael grim says:

    I have several old Men’s Adventure Mags that I have bagged but the bags I have are really tight around the board and mag…it tends to slightly bow the board…is this damaging to the mag in the long term? Thanks for all the meticulous info, it’s great to get this all in one place.

    • Yes, if the bag is so tight as to bow the magazine, it will probably be damaging in the long term. You should consider getting larger bags that fit.
      I didn’t go into magazine size bags, but there are a variety of sizes available. Check out the supplier sizes that I link to in the article, they generally also sell magazine sized bags & boards.

  32. Scott New says:

    Have you considered legal sized file cabinets. If you’re patient, you can get them on Craigslist for the price of a couple of long boxes. Each drawer holds 400-450 comics. And they’re 100% acid free.

    • File cabinet don’t seem like they’re as efficient a use of space for storing comics, if you have a LOT of comics. The amount of comics you can store in the floor footprint of a few file cabinets is going to be FAR less than if you built a racking system for long boxes or used DrawerBoxes.

      • LATERAL legal filing cabinets work well. They are just over two books wide (enough to slot in a divider if desired). The ones I have will hold two rows, each about 1 1/4 the length of a long box, per drawer. They actually take up LESS volume than the boxes, and the metal affords more protection than corrugated paper.

      • yes, I was thinking of normal file cabinets. Legal ones are very wide and would work better, though ones I have seen are not very tall, so would probably work better for folks with moderately sized collections.

  33. All hail the king!! Thank you sir, you are a gentlemen & a scholar. I to recently began building a very small yet decent comic collection. As I also was heavily into comics from around the late 80’s to some point in the early 2000’s? So your information is extremely helpful & I appreciate the time you took to help those less knowable amongst the comic community. Thanks again

  34. Allan Phillips says:

    I’ve been collecting since the 70’s and have numerous Silver Age comics purchased from the original Mile High Comics store in Boulder, Colorado. Recently, I’ve been re-bagging & re-boarding everything, so this information is invaluable. But I wanted to add a little trick I just discovered. My wife was watching me and I explained to her the hazards of using normal tape on a bag. She used to do a lot of scrapbooking and suggested that I use the acid-free double-sided tape they use for mounting photos. It comes in a dispenser and can be applied in small tabs, much smaller than a piece of Scotch tape. I applied it on the back of the bag where the flap comes down so that it can never contact the comic. It’s a little more expensive but it works like a dream. I’ll be converting my whole collection over to this method as I rebag.

    • That’s a great idea, Allan! Thanks for sharing!

    • I’ve added this tip into the article!

      • Allan Phillips says:

        Addendum to my suggestion: I discovered that the white double-sided tape tabs pull apart when you open the bag. It looks like the center is paper, with a glue layer on each side, so the glue sticks while the paper pulls apart. Thankfully, I found clear double-sided “crafter’s tape,” which is more like laying down a small, thin strip of glue. Those re-open and re-seal easily, despite being described as permanent. I also found some of the resealable bags with the glue strip across the back, but I was already well along in the collection and they don’t have mylars like that.

  35. Allan Phillips says:

    In addition, I’ve been investigating acid-free boxes, like those made from corrugated plastic. I came across a discussion of solid plastic storage containers, which seemed to me to be a good solution for water and insect proofing (we have a lot of silverfish where I live). The drawback I heard was that solid boxes don’t “breathe,” thereby not allowing harmful gases to escape. If that’s that case, then why do we seal the comics securely inside plastic bags and mylars that will serve to contain the gases close to the comic itself? That would say that anytime you use plastic bags, you should also insert micro-chambered paper to absorb the gases at the source. Then it shouldn’t matter if you have a sealed plastic outer box. You could also drill a few ventilation holes in a solid box and cover it with small screen material sealed at the edges to keep insects out. I also found, which sells micro-chambered boxes and boards. The drawback there is that they are only 10″-12″ long, and at about $18 each, they would be costly to use for any larger collection unless you limited them to your best books. I’d still like to use a sealable, closed, solid plastic container but have the ability to insert a long piece of micro-chambered corrugated box material in the extra box width down the full length. That would ensure that any enclosed gases were neutralized, and you wouldn’t need to vent it. Just some thoughts. Thanks!

  36. Fudai says:

    Great info. Reclaiming my collection from the 1970s and 80s from my parent’s home, where they have been for the past 25+ years. Looking at re-bagging all. Appreciate the tips.

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  38. John says:

    Hey there thanks for this article. It’s hard to find un-biased info on the net. Would you say that as far as the physical protection of comics that the boards themselves are the key to it? From what I understand the mylars are obviously best but would Polyethylene would be just as good if the comics are left alone and properly stored using the e gerber full backs? That’s sort of what I’m leaning toward. Any info on this is appreciated. Thanks

    • John, I’ve never used fullbacks myself, I use halfbacks with my mylars as I found the fullbacks made for too snug a fit. Fullbacks are certainly going to be strong/stiff due to their thickness, but at the same time the thickness could be a problem on fitting into a bag with a comic so be careful on choosing the bag/board combo you’re going to try out before you buy a large quantity.

      The problem with polyethylene bags is if storage environment is really harsh (hot, humid, etc.) it will speed the breakdown of the materials in the bags. Realistically, I have not seen this to be a problem in causing actual damage to comics over several decades in a hot but dry climate, but cannot speak to humidity.

      My practical response is going to remain the same as in the article. If you have books that are valuable enough that you’re really worried about this use mylar + true acid-free backing boards. The cost of these per book is worth if for books worth $50-$100 and up.
      For the other 99% of comics that are not super valuable just go with regular bags/boards.

  39. I’ve bought “Current Comic Assembled Bags & Boards (Standard Size)” by BCW
    but they don’t fit any of my comic books, like, Flashpoint or House of M or Infinity Gauntlet.
    May I please know if there are any special kinds of bags to fit them in since they’re thicker than a single issue. Each one of them is like a “Volume” or an entire plot rather than a single issue.

    • Abinhav, I think what you have are not actually comic books. We call those “collected editions” or “trade paperbacks”. They collect anywhare from 4-12 issues of a comic series, that’s why they won’t fit in a bag made for a regular comic.

      Collected editions come in a variety of sizes. Some will fit in a silver age sized bag, some in Golden age. Generally they’ll always fit in a magazine sized bag, though you may need to fold over and tape some excess bag.

  40. Exactly what I was looking for! I work in the coatings industry, and during a recent spring cleaning the lab was asked to get rid of a box of 1000 4 mil 8 x 12 polyethylene bags. The lab guy, knowing I collected comics, asked if I wanted them. Since I’ve only used polypropylene and mylar, I wanted to be sure these were safe.

    BTW, the same job was getting rid of some lateral legal filing cabinets. I found those provide a wonderful storage option. Long boxes themselves will not fit in the drawers, but the comics themselves fit neatly into two rows. Each drawer holds a good 2 1/2 boxes worth.

  41. poopers says:

    This was extremely thorough and helpful. My dad is moving and we’re happily tasked with organizing and storing his vast collection. i’m sure most are valuable, so will take appropriate care based on what i’ve read here. Thanks again

  42. Leonard says:

    I started collecting in the late 70’s and continued through the mid 90’s. My books were all stored in long boxes in a cool, dry, dark environment. Most were bagged, a few were loose in the boxes. I used whatever bag was available at the shops at the time so I have a lot of polyethylene, polypropylene and some mylar top loaders.

    Now, 20 years on I’m in the process of evaluating and rebagging and from what I am seeing in my boxes I’m going with mylite 2’s with halfbacks for the expensive books and polypropylene for the cheaper books.

    All the many polyethylene bags I used are yellowed and sticky on the outside. They stick together like the old colorforms toy. They’ve got to be peeled apart to look at individual books. The yellowing is really apparent when you take a few books out and stack the bags in a pile. The books inside seem none the worse for wear, but I personally wouldn’t go near polyethylene for anything you plan to keep very long.

    The polypropylene bags I used remained clear and slick. Bags didn’t stick together unless there was a tape issue. Older bags, maybe 25 years or so, start to show the rippling some have mentioned, the 20 year old bags are still smooth.

    The 4 mil mylar I used look the same as the day I bought them and the books inside look great. I don’t see any extra yellowing at the top of the books but I think the better option now is the sealable mylites. I prefer the 2 mil over the 4 mil because it is much easier to fold over and seal the 2’s. There is a visible difference between identical books in my collection that were bagged vs loose in the box. The loose books show slight yellowing vs the bagged.

    I would also point out that not all tape behaved the same over time. The Scotch magic-type tape, the kind you can write on, held up the best. The glue didn’t bleed to affect adjacent books, though it holds on pretty strong and may tear rather than peel away when you try opening an old bag. Avoid glossy tape at all costs. Most of that stuff seemed to allow the glue to bleed out from the edges causing adjacent books to stick together, and peeling open and old bag with glossy tape on it is a sticky mess.

    • I have not noticed what you did on my 25-30 year old polyethylene.
      I have noticed this (kind of yellowed, degrading, and sticking together) on the Glad Food Storage bags I used when I was a kid (in the 1970s) before I discovered proper comics bags.
      I’m not sure what those were made of.
      Good call on the tape. I avoid the glossy tape as you do and use Scotch Magic Transparent tape with a matte finish. I’ve never had a problem with it.

  43. ocrsandy says:

    I am confused, are you suggesting going with Standard (Bronze) sized bags for even Current comics?

    • I pass on tips on what I do, along with my rationale. My basic recommendation is to not buy into the “Mylar bag hysteria” fomented by companies that sell Mylar. For regular comics that are not really valuable, use poly bags.
      Re: Current vs. Standard bags
      Personally, since I buy bags in quantities of 1000 and I bag a mix of current and older comics all the time (I buy 100+ new comic series every month but I’m also buying back issues from the 60s/70s every month as well) it makes sense for me to just buy standard bags because most everything I buy fits in them and I have never observed the bit of extra space hurting a new comic. If I was buying bags/board in smaller numbers and got mostly current comics, I’d certainly buy/use current comic size.

  44. Also, sorry for the delayed response….I was at San Diego Comic Con 😉

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  46. Anon says:

    Can you leave a link to the acid free boards from bcw? Also is there anywhere online where I would be able to get a discount for buying a group of these together? Thanks!

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