Bags, boards, and boxes. Three words every collector knows and has an opinion about. Some say you should Mylar everything, others say a regular bag and board will do, and a select few only live by front-loaders. Although encapsulation is one of the best ways to protect your investments, it is also costly when you try to slab everything. Like I said, we all have our opinions on how to best protect comics, but if you want to compare notes and save some money, keep reading below!
Before anything, I am not jumping into which age bag and board you should get. If you have modern books, get modern bags and boards. Getting the exact size for you book will help keep it nice and snug inside the bag. Some people like having a little wiggle room within the bag. This could be due to it being a thicker book or just personal preference. If you want the extra wiggle room, just upgrade your bag to a different age, i.e. a Silver or Golden Age bag and board. Personally, I have used Silver Age bags for my modern books because I feel they fit a little better. I don’t want to risk damaging my book just from trying to slide it in a bag.
Speaking of Bags, here are the 3 main types of bags you will find:
- Polypropylene Bags – Very clear which makes it great for visibility. This also makes it not as good from protection against the sun. This is more for showcasing than it is for protecting.
- Polyethylene Bags – This material is strong and flexible. It is transparent which allows you to see what is inside very easy while also having some UV protection. This is what is mostly used by comic collectors. It also has a low static charge and is resistant to dirt and dust.
- Mylar Bags – As Justin Hammer once said, “These are the Cubans, baby. This is the Cohibas, the Montecristos.” This is the best bag you can get to protect your keys and grails. This bag is sturdy and strong. It resists diffusion of gases like oxygen and Carbon Dioxide, as well as resists mildew, moisture, acid, and oils.
*Tip: If you watch Regie Collects on YouTube then you will know the importance of this tip. USE PAINTERS TAPE! When closing the flap to secure your book, regular tape has the tendency of just twisting, turning, and sticking to every part of the comic. Avoid this by using Painter’s tape. It comes off very easy and helps keep your comic from getting torn.*
So which should you use?
This depends on what you want to do with the books. If they are high valued books (FMV of $100 and above), I say use Mylar. Especially considering that a change in grade could mean the difference between hundreds if not thousands of dollars, it’s worth it to splurge here. For your regular books, storing them in a Polyethylene Bag will work just fine. I had my Batman #612 in one of these that went through hell and back for 4 years. When I finally had it signed by Jim Lee and graded, it came out as a 9.8 through CBCS. As you see they do work. Now for Polypropylene Bags, I say these are good if you have nothing else left. They work great to cover your comics till you get them in a better bag. Only leave books in these bags for a few weeks at most.
MipIt Sheets and Boards
These two items are very much needed to help fully protect your comics. MipIt sheets are micro-chamber paper sheets that remove and neutralize acids and the harmful by-products of your book breaking down. Although not many collectors have heard of this, many of us have it. Most grading companies like CGC place one of these sheets in the front and back of each comic before it is encapsulated.
A bag is not complete without a board. The main purpose of the board is to add rigidity to your comic as well as help protect it. There are two types of boards:
- Basic Boards – help provide stiffness to the comic to help avoid any bending or warping. They have a “shiny” side which is coated with a very thin 3% calcium carbonate buffer. The shiny side is the side that should be touching the book.
- Acid-Free Boards – Also known as Full/Half Backs cost more than regular backing boards but also provide better protection. These boards are coated throughout with 3% Calcium Carbonate. This means that both sides are treated and either side can be placed directly on to the book.
Obviously the best combination is the use of Acid-Free boards with the MipIt sheets, but not all of us can afford to re-bag our entire collection. Just like above, I would use the basic boards for your poly-bagged books, Acid-Free for mid-high end books in Mylars, and the MipIt sheets for the ones that are very valuable or appear to already be aging. It won’t reverse the aging process but it will stop it from continuing.
Boxes and Folios
Now that you have your books covered and protected, you need to store them. Folios are just simply awesome. It’s a small rigid box with a flap that allows you to carry about 10-15 comics. These are great to take to cons, hauls, or just to protect your new books from the LCS. The Folio boxes also can be purchased with various designs.
Boxes are no different from bags and boards. What I mean is, you will find a variety of boxes to suit your every need.
- Standard Cardboard Comic Boxes – These are your long and short boxes. Long boxes can carry about 250-300 comics while shorts can carry 150-200 comics, obviously all dependent on the thickness of the comics, bags, and boards. These do become heavy and have a HUGE weakness to water.
- Plastic Comic Boxes – These are similar to the cardboard ones except they are made with a more durable corrugated plastic material. Although they provide a little more protection compared to cardboard, they are still very heavy and cumbersome.
- Hard Plastic Comic Boxes – This is my favorite! Yes they are much more expensive (approx costs: Cardboard box-$9 and Hard Plastic-$28) but they are worth it. These can be stacked with no worry about the box placing pressure on the bottom. They are also very durable and can withstand some abuse. Granted these are not waterproof but most of these boxes do come with a small sliding lock.
At the end of it all, no one can tell you how to collect and store your comics. From personal experience, poly-bags and boards are good for all around protection, while Mylar is King for the keys and grails. I think boxes are a must to store your comics unless you have another location that will protect them from the elements. I have the majority of my collection in cardboard short boxes (I feel the shorts are better to move and store) and a regular and graded hard plastic box. Some people use filing cabinets or make their own boxes. The best thing about this hobby is that there is no real wrong way of doing things. Obviously placing your comic in a paper towel is absolutely wrong (Someone shipped me a book JUST LIKE THAT!), but you can mix and match these items to whatever suits your style.
Hope this bit of information helps you all or refreshes your memory in the least.
Till Next Time, Happy Hunting!