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How to Press Comic Books: A Guide to the Process

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BY April 30, 2020
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Comic book collectors all have one thing in common. Outside of the obvious similar reading interest, they care about their collection. For anyone with a hobby, keeping collectibles of any sort in a good condition is important. Ideally, everything that a comic book collector buys and keeps will look the same five years from now as the day they got it. Overall, the process of collecting comic books is one of keeping up their condition. It can be tough, but many are up to the task. The first question that many have is how to press comic books.

Why Keep Up the Condition of Comics?

Resale Value

An easy to understand concept is that if you are collecting something popular, it may be an investment. For most, buying and reading comic books is not a process of quick selling. Something that comes out in 2019 will not be worth hundreds of dollars in 2020. Older comics increase in value over time. Even more so, comics from the golden and silver ages of Marvel and DC are worth a lot of money. The trick is, the value is only high if they are in good condition.

Collectors do not always see themselves selling off their collection. Even a single book that someone owns may be hard to part with. In all honesty, however, things do happen in life that lead to dire circumstances. For example, if a car repair is going to cost a chunk of change, a few classic comics in good condition could really help someone out. When it comes to transportation or housing, comics often take the understudy role of the play of life. All in all, keeping comics in a good condition keeps their resale value up in case it ever comes to it.

Comic Culture Thrives on Good Condition

For any comic collectors, the pressure to keep things in a good quality is real. Not to mention, collectors who do not really care about resale value or the look of their books are often seen as outcasts to the community. There is an unwritten understanding in the culture of comic collectors that quality signifies being a responsible collector. Unfortunately, that can build resentment and pressure on collectors who just enjoy the stories. Nevertheless, if it seems like it may be time to fix the condition of some comics in your collection, pressing them is a great option. Newcomers and seasoned fans of comics often wonder how to press comic books, but the process is actually fairly simple.

DIY how to press comic books
Image Credit: Kaptain Myke

How Do You Press Comic Books?

When collectors look into restoring or fixing up their comic collection, the term pressing comes up a ton. In fact, it has become the most popular method of treating a comic book. There is some debate on whether or not pressing is considered restoration, and that debate is more important than it may seem.

Restoration Vs. Treatment of Comic Books

The term restoration comes up a lot with pressing. The jury is still out on whether or not pressing is considered restoration, but to build your own opinion on the matter, it is important to know the different types of treatments for comic book quality and condition.

Dry Cleaning

The process of dry cleaning a comic book is a popular one. Overall, one only needs a few tools to properly dry clean a comic. Dry cleaning requires no chemicals, and often no pressing. Dry cleaning a comic is often called into play when a small stain or mark has made its way to the pages. To remove this mark, things like book putty, eraser sponges, and even simple paper towels or cotton rounds come in handy. Because so many of these tools can be purchased easily at a convenience store or art shop, dry cleaning is one of the most popular forms of treating a comic. The process of dry cleaning is helpful, but not seen as restoration.

Water and Solvent Cleaning

The process of utilizing water and solvents to restore a comic book is a bit more contested. Utilizing any sort of liquid is often seen as restoration, simply because its use can help to bring back things like color, clearness, and definition. Again, this is largely up to interpretation. Some graders of comic book value do not see this as a restorative process, but one of conservation. For dulling ink and other slowly deteriorating elements to a comic, it can be the only way to return the book back to its glory.

Pressing

Comic pressing restores comics, but is not seen as restorative. At one time, when it first emerged, it may have been seen as restorative, but now, it is commonplace to fix issues that come up often. Things like spine rolling, uneven pages, poor stapling, and other cosmetic issues are easy fixes with a proper press. The trick is knowing how to press comic books.

The History of Pressing

At the beginning of the comic book boom, pressing made simple fixes easy. It offered a simple solution to fix minor cosmetic issues. The only problem was that no thought was being put into the long term effects of pressing with more rudimentary methods. For example, putting a comic underneath a pressing stone used for something like manufacturing would likely be too much pressure. The pages, even if not for years, would suffer and start to crumble more easily with age.

Knowledge of pressing developed and innovated much safer, smarter tools for the job. Because of this, pressing secures the safety of comic books while also doing a more productive job at returning their original shape and print.

DIY how to press comic books
Image Credit: Kaptain Myke

How to Press Comic Books: Professional Pressing Vs. DIY

If you are wondering how to press comic books, there are a lot of ways to press a comic book yourself. Presses sell on eBay and other e-commerce websites everyday. The issue with this is that, like any tool, professional quality resources get you professional quality outcomes. The DIY scene for comic book pressing saves people money so they do not have to go to a professional presser. That being said, many buy the means to do it themselves.

To clarify, pressing is the process of using a tool or machine to press weight into the comic book itself. This eliminates spine issues, wrinkled or creased pages, and other minor defects. Pressing does not help if a page is torn or stained. Because pressing helps to get rid of deficiencies, the value of a comic increases substantially as it moves closer to mint condition.

Because grading happens at a professional level, it is often suggested that pressing a comic book should be done by a professional as well. There are some pressing services that have been in the business for decades now. Some start ups are also made up of veterans of the comic book scene who have recently turned pressing into a job or business.

Professional pressers own the tools to provide a superior experience. Not to mention, they also possess the experience and knowledge of what works and what does not. Mastering the pressing process took years. Businesses are much more inclined to understand the ins and outs of the process than someone who has simply purchased a press and wants to give it a try.

What if I Want to Try Pressing a Comic Myself?

If pressing a comic intrigues you, testing the process and tool on a less valuable tester is recommended. Even after purchase, a pressing tool for comic books provides a range of pressures to apply to the book. The process of getting a feel for the machine and what it takes to use it correctly takes practice.

Over the years, more and more DIY tools for pressing comics release to the public. Research on which tool is best can be an important way to avoid the less productive and successful ones. Even so, the actual ritual is one that takes a long time to master.

How Should I Go About Getting a Comic Pressed?

If there is a local comic book shop in your area, they likely have a press. Many stores have moved into these conservation services because many buy comics from online stores now. To keep up with the market, most shops do have the means to press a comic book for you. To ensure the safety of a comic book you may love, ask around and see what people think. Comic pressing services are offered online as well.

If you are not concerned with selling, it is still important to press your comics to keep their condition high. This lack of concern for resale value however is convenient, as you may be more open to pressing comics yourself. If you want to give it a try, be sure to seek out the best presses for at home use.

How to Press Comic Books: A Tradition of the Trade

Pressing comic books preserves them like no other For years, pressing has allowed collectors the ability to fix cosmetic issues. Along with other forms of restoration, the condition of a comic book can be returned to almost mint condition if no major flaws exist.

Whether you seek professional services or try it yourself, pressing slightly worn comics can make them feel like brand new. For information on professional comic book restoration, consider reaching out to these experts.

COMICSHow to Press Comic Books

Taylor loves to play video games in his spare time. He has two degrees in Political Communication and wrote his thesis on Marxism and the exploitation of college athletes. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife and two Toy Australian Shepherds. He’s always got headphones in, and he’s a diehard Cubs fan.

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