My Escape from the Longboxes: Magazine Files

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

I have a confession. Like Christine Hoxmeier, I don’t like longboxes. I find them annoying for a number of reasons—they are cumbersome, they can be irritating to try to flip through (especially when packed-to-the-gills), and they look generally unappealing. Alas, as I’ve been reading comics off-and-on for about thirty years—the first comic I remember buying was an issue of Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham sometime in 1986—I have a lot of floppies sitting around, even after several ruthless moving-related culls.

After many years and many storage methods (including just sticking the bagged and boarded comics on the shelf), I’ve finally found a long-term storage solution that works well for me: having my comics bound. Instead of ~20 single issues taking up space in their very reader-unfriendly bags inside a box, I have them all bound together into a custom hardcover that can sit prettily on my shelf.

Bound comics on shelf

Four of these books are not like the others. Hint: they’re the ones on the right.

The thing about binding, though, is you have to collect the comics before you can have them bound. Which means storing lots of comics, potentially for years while you wait for a run to be completed or for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5 to come out. So, back to the drawing board… (For those interested in binding, I plan to write an FAQ/DIY post soon to help talk you through the process, the costs, things to consider, etc.)

Longboxes were especially unsuited for the way I prep my binding projects. A lot of my older runs have gaps I’ve been actively working to fill, and the current comics have new issues coming out roughly monthly. And, rather than digging into the longboxes constantly, I ended up with large piles of unsorted comics on top of the boxes for weeks/months at a time. I needed a better system, one that let me access everything I was working with/accumulating.

Recent Acquisitions Shelf

My recent acquisitions shelf, with views of all three styles of magazine file. The clutter has been cleverly cropped out.

Then it hit me: old style magazine files would be almost perfect. I could keep each series separate, easily access everything when I needed to, and avoid the unsightliness of the longbox. So, on a trip to IKEA a few months ago, I picked up three styles of magazine files: the wooden Knuff (2/$9.99), the green cardstock Tjena (2/$4.99, also available in other colors), and the white cardboard Flyt (5/$1.99).

Of course, I couldn’t just leave the fancy Knuff magazine files the way they were; if they were going to be housing comics long-term, I might as well fancy them up a bit. So, using some skills acquired from another recent project, I decoupaged the four Knuffs with comic panels, each themed for a specific character/book. You can see two of them—Captain Marvel– and Hawkeye-themed—on the bottom right of my “recent acquisitions” shelf.

Here’s a better view of the Captain Marvel file, along with the comics inside it (the 1970s Ms. Marvel series, along with a few related titles):

Captain Marvel magazine file

Captain Marvel magazine file.

And here are the Tjena and Flyt with comics in them:

Unsorted comics magazine file

Unsorted comics in Tjena magazine file.

Silver Surfer magazine file

Silver Surfer comics in Flyt magazine file. These are great for for doodling and/or stickers, but I haven’t decorated this one.

Each file holds about thirty issues, though your mileage will vary depending on size of the comics, if you use bags and boards, how willing you are to mix series, etc.

Long story short, I really like the magazine files. They keep everything together and easily accessible, they look pretty classy on the shelf, and I can decorate them to look even better. I plan to pick up a bunch more on my next trip to IKEA and will hopefully soon be able to say goodbye forever to my two remaining longboxes.

Oh, and if you want to decoupage your own magazine file (or something else), here’s a handy tutorial that even uses the IKEA Knuff:

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