I’ve been reading comics for roughly four years now, so I’m still what most people would call a newbie. I enjoy being a newbie because do you know how much stuff is out there for me to discover and love? SO MUCH. It can be overwhelming, in fact. It’s also overwhelming to navigate comics culture and figure out what is generally accepted. You can feel like you’re walking down a path with constant forks in the road that make you pick a direction: Buy monthly issues or trade wait? Print or digital? Marvel or DC? YOU CAN ONLY PICK ONE! And if you do buy single issues, you should buy bags and boards.
For years I refused to buy bags and boards because I figured that was only for serious collectors. I remember one day, I was buying comics at a new-to-me comic shop, and when I said I didn’t need a plastic shopping bag for my two comics, the employee ringing me up gave me a confused and distrustful look. “Okay. Well. Be careful with those.” I might have been a little mad at his condescending tone, and said “Thanks, I will!” as I rolled up the comics into a tube, tapped them on my leg like a baseball bat, and walked out of the store. Hey, they were my comics, and I was going to read them and enjoy them! I didn’t need to preserve and collect them.
Another year went by, and I realized I had piles of comics everywhere, with no storage solution. I sighed, and gave in to what I thought was the inevitable and only solution: I bought a bunch of bags and boards. I carefully packaged and taped up all my comics and placed them in a box that fit them perfectly, with plenty of room for new comics. “There! Problem solved.”
Except, not so much. I wanted to loan series out to friends to get them interested in reading comics, but they got intimated when I handed them a stack of plastic wrapped issues. “I don’t want to mess them up!” “No, it’s okay, they are meant to be read,” I would assure them. But I could see the doubt and fear in their eyes. Soon, I ran out of room in my comic box, so I started stacking them next to the box. Then I ran out of bags and boards, and ended up with a pile of loose comics on my desk and next to my bed.
I finally reached a breaking point two weeks ago, when I couldn’t easily find my copies of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl among the piles and stacks of comics. “Enough of this Calamity Jane!” I shouted to a stack of Lumberjanes. “I guess I’ll go and get more bags and boards and a stupid cardboard box!” And then, I had an epiphany. What if, what if, I didn’t have to bag and board my comics? What if, what if, I could store them however I saw fit?
Instead of heading to my comic book store, I went to Target, made a beeline for the One Spot, and bought 20 plastic accordion file folders for $1 each in a variety of colors and prints. I spent the rest of the day freeing half my comics from their plastic bags, organizing them all in different folders, and labeling them.
(I really like my coordinating themed folder for my Bitch Planet comics. Now I need some purple ones for my Hawkeye collection)
(the folders come with half-circle stickers to label the dividers inside, so I just used those to label what was in each folder)
Is this a perfect system? Nah. But it totally works for me! For now! It was super cheap, everything is protected from dust, they sit on my tiki bar bookcase perfectly, and if I want to loan a run of comics out to someone, I only have to grab a folder (or two).
So. You—Past Christine, trying to figure out the “right” way to do things. Hold my hands. Look deep into my eyes. Take a deep breath. *whispers* You don’t have to bag and board your comics. They will be okay. YOU will be okay. And you, out there reading this, who has their personal favorite brand of bags who can’t imagine not bagging and boarding every comic you own—you keep on doing what you want! If you want to bag and board your comics, that is great! Awesome! I totally kept some special issues and signed comics bagged and boarded, so it’s not like I think they are dumb and useless. I just realized I don’t care that much. Maybe you are a comics newbie too, and you need someone to hold your hands and tell you it’s okay to go buy $1 files or magazine holders for your comics at Target. I am here for that.