Preservation & Storage… And, of course, Zombies
By J.C. Vaughn
One of the frequent topics of concern at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum – as it would be for any institution or individual collector – is the preservation and storage of collectibles or fine art. While what is detailed specifically concerns comic books, the brief notes below are food for thought for anyone who collects paper items.
Comics, after all, were not manufactured for the long haul. They were built to last just a short time, made with acidic newsprint paper, thin covers, and inconsistent inks. They weren’t originally made with bags and boards, long boxes, Mylar snugs or CGC slabs. They were created, as painful as this is for a true collector to think about, to be disposable.
Is there any way to combat the ravages of time on your comics? Yes! We might not be able to keep comics in Gem Mint condition forever, but we can slow the damage with good methods of preservation and storage.
Some of the best advice for preserving a comic is simply to handle it carefully. Most dealers would prefer to remove the comic from its bag and show it to the customer themselves. In this way, if the book is damaged, it would be the dealer’s responsibility and not the customer’s.
When handling high-grade comics, always wash and dry your hands first, eliminating harmful oils from the skin. Lay the comic on a flat surface or in the palm of your hand and slowly turn the pages. This will minimize the stress to the staples and spine.
Careful storage is also a key element in the preservation of a cherished comic book. They must be protected from the elements, including the dangers of light, heat, and humidity. In addition to thinking about where you store your comics, you should also consider what you store them in. For years there have been arguments about what materials are acceptable.
For many years, it has been the policy of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide that in the short term, under good conditions, most plastic bags and boards are acceptable. It is vital to remember that it is up to you as a collector to find out what materials are used to make your collector supplies and to understand that when combined with negative conditions, particularly heat and humidity, the safe lifespan of bags that might otherwise be fine in the short term is quickly decreased.
For long term preservation, only archivally sound materials should be used. Generally speaking, this means Mylar snugs and acid-free backing boards, but there are numerous variations on these subjects. The time you spend learning about these materials, though, will be time you don’t have to spend later wondering what happened to your collection.
Even when it comes to boxes, care must be taken. Some contain chemicals that will actually help to destroy your collection rather than save it. Always be aware whether you are purchasing materials designed for long-term storage or not.
You can read more about these subjects in The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Comics, available at local comic shops or online.
Zombie Gras 3 a Hit at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum’s Zombie Gras 3 turned out to be one of the – if not the – biggest events in GEM’s history. With zombies and their friends lined up waiting to get in and also waiting for the zombie pub crawl to begin, the Saturday, March 30, 2013 event included zombie merchandise vendors, a raffle, a scavenger hunt, contests for best zombie make-up and costumes, a zombie caricature artist, a special effects zombie make-up artist, a zombie face painter, and a Pixilated Photobooth.
The zombie pub crawl through downtown Baltimore included stops at Pickles Pub, Sliders Bar and Grille, Tir Na Nog, La Tasca, Houlihan’s, Dick’s Last Resort, Pratt St. Ale House, and Frank & Nic’s West End Grille.
“It’s great to see our event being embraced so readily by Baltimore,” said Melissa Bowersox, President of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. “The attendance was awesome, the feedback was excellent, and people are already talking about what they’d like to do or see for Zombie Gras 4.”
J.C. Vaughn is the Associate Publisher & Executive Editor of Gemstone Publishing. Members of the Gemstone Publishing and GEM staffs contributed to this piece.