It’s no myth that collecting comics can become incredibly profitable. CAN being the operative word. Every collector, speculator, or social reader understands the value of protecting your comics and your potential.
Every local comic retailer will have different suggestions, different preferences, especially with bags and boards. From MyLites to ComiCare, it’s easy to get lost in the name-mix. But, from this retailer’s perspective, the options are far more specific.
The first question you want to ask yourself is, what size: Silver Age or Current (also known as New)? Almost every period in comics have their own specific size of bags and boards. But Silver and Current are more common for the books now released. Silver Age bags are a little wider, which can hold some of the specialty “extra-sized” comics. The additional room can allow for less edge bending but it may also permit extra movement when traveling.
Current Sized bags and boards are specifically sized for the current market. Though they can get a little tight with larger issues (usually anything above 48-55 page counts, depending on the publication company) and can cause slight creasing on the edges. But, once again, these bags and boards are made for the issues currently on the racks and are thus the most common types of supplies found in local comic shops.
Personally, I choose Silver Age. I choose Silver Age. Though the books have a tendency to slide, larger books fit more comfortably. I read A LOT of Independent Publisher titles which, especially at the beginning and ending of arcs, can be larger issues. Even more importantly, the paper. Though the “Big 2″ have thinner paper, Independents tend to have thicker stock and Silver Age accommodates those books best. But, as always, this is by preference. Protecting your comics is completely up to you.
Comic Defense System (CDS) bags are the most durable and suggested on the market. The polypropylene ProBags take travel well, are the best bags if you prefer folding in the edge instead of taping and are 2.4-mil in thickness versus the more standard ComiCare or BCW bags which are only 2.0.
Note: On the brief topic of “taping”. Though a resealable adhesive bag (most popularly found on BCW Bags) can be time saving, the cost of the bags themselves are usually much higher and the life expectancy is much shorter. Most polypropylene bags should be replaced, approximately, every 10 years but, as long as they are properly store, can survive up to 15. Bags with the adhesive need a more stable environment and should be replaced more in the 5 – 10 range, even if they are polypropylene.
I DO NOT ever suggest polyethylene. These bags have a tendency to be cheaper but they only last about 5 years. They are prone to discolor and shrink. And, even worse, when they begin to break apart or can become gooey and sticky, which can be detrimental to your comics. Though they have a life expectancy of up to 5 years, if you do decide to try polyethylene, it would be safer to replace them every 3 years.
Does your local comic shop not carry CDS? No problem! Though CDS is, personally, the best in the market, ComiCare product comes in at a very close second. And there is little to no difference in price.
I would like to take a second to talk MyLites… Though they are not usually suggested for introductory collectors, there is something to say on spending the extra cash. Their specialty plastic is meant for permanent storage. They are resistant to discoloring, aging and decomposition. But, they are far more brittle and, if you are the type who moves their books from place to place, these bags could tear and thus are not for you. But, if you want to become the type of collector that reads once and then stores your books in a temperature controlled storage unit* for the remainder of your life (and possibly those of your children), ask your local retailer to order MyLites. (Or… If you are already willing to spend the additional dollar, look on Amazon for Mylar Bags.)
*Temperature controlled rooms should be kept between 72-75o Fahrenheit (22-24o Celsius) with Humidity at 50% or less.
On to picking the perfect backer boards for your growing comics collection. Boards are simple! All you have to do is purchase the corresponding Boards to Bags. Want Current bags? Buy Current boards! Easy as that!
Choosing boxes are almost as easy. CDS boxes are preferable but, at nearly the same cost and almost the same quality, ComiCare boxes are viable options. The bigger concern would be space. Long boxes can usually hold up to 350 Comics, depending on if you use bags and boards, while short boxes hold closer to 200 Issues. Which option is better for you is completely up to personal preference. And storage space!
You have your boards, bags and everything is stored safely in your specific sized boxes. But what if, even as a new collector you have issues you want Graded? To begin, this is not for the faint-of-heart. Grading is for collectors who are looking to protect their best and most important, not valuable, but important issues. Key events, origins and first appearances. But, depending on your issues, the price and time may be worth it.
Understanding the cost and the grading process itself is pivotal. If you get your book signed (AND it is witnessed by a representative) you could spend $50-60 just to get your book sealed and back within a three month time period. (Yes! You do have to send your book away.) The benefit? You will never, EVER have to have them resealed.
The two best grading companies are Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) or Comic Book Certification Services (CBCS). But! A warning: Please remember that the grade is not going to be what you expected. Even if you go to a retailer and ask them to grade your books, always expect a 0.2 – 0.5 less grade than originally anticipated. All grading companies have their own methods and their own calculations. The grading process is long and time-consuming, but almost always fair. What you get is what you get.
When it come to protecting your comics, and how to begin, know that it all comes down to you. Try a few different products, browse through the supplies options on Previews World or speak with your local comics retailers and get their opinions. Have fun collecting, speculate the potential and, most importantly, enjoy your collection!