Comics Newsletter

Steps for Organizing Your Comic Book Collection

Amy Diegelman

Staff Writer

Amy Diegelman's fangirl tendencies date all the way back to sneaking into her brother's room to steal his comic books and have never wavered. Amy is a high-school drama nerd from Missouri, who somehow ended up with Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's Degree in Library Science. She is a Teen Librarian in Chicago, IL where she lives with her computer, video games, and a cat-shaped monster named CJ. Amy reviews books for School Library Journal, tweets at @amydieg, and once breathed the same air as LeVar Burton. Twitter: @amydieg

Every comic book buyer, from the casual beginner to the hardcore collector, has asked the same question a million times: How do you go about organizing your comic book collection? Comic books are a storage enigma. Floppies (single issues) are too thin and, well, floppy to stand on a shelf unless packed tightly, and then they’re heavy and impossible to browse without disrupting the whole system. Trades and compendiums are too tall for regular book spaces and so heavy and irregular that it feels like you need six different kinds of shelving just to start. On top of all that, they’re fragile! What’s a geek to do?!

Never fear! There are more options than you might think for organizing your comic book collection. Below you’ll find ideas separated into three levels based on cost and effort.

The Basics

Traditional Bookshelves

Though they will never really be good for single issue comic book storage, there are ways to adapt bookcases for trade paperbacks (those are those handy collections of 6-10 issues in one volume), graphic novels, and huge compendiums. When shopping for a bookshelf to store your comic book collection, there are two main things to look for: 

Adjustable shelves—Most modern bookshelves are built so that shelves can be moved to create whatever height you need. You’ll probably have a shelf and a little space left over, which makes a great display shelf for things like Funko Pops or action figures. 

Narrow build—Comic book collections are heavy, no matter their form. Wide shelves will start to bend in the middle and have more trouble supporting the weight over time.

File Folders

Some of a contributor collection.

Regular filing solutions from office supply or discount stores can be a great solution for single issues, especially if you are not into keeping your comics pristine inside their bags. I’ve seen all kinds of filing boxes and folders used for comics, but accordion folders seem to be one of the most popular. They come in all kinds of colors and sizes, and the smaller plastic ones are perfect for loaning a series to a friend. Check out this post on why one contributor gave up bags and boards altogether in favor of these simpler tools.

Magazine Files

Also called bank boxes, these are a personal favorite for storing your comic book collection. This is one of the most versatile options and probably the most attractive cheapish one. These are great for organization and keeping your floppies on shelves without them falling over all the time or getting all mixed up. Just be careful that you don’t go TOO cheap. I bought a pack once that was so cheap the bottoms all dropped out as soon as I filled them up. Look for ones that have a solid bottom and are not collapsible. There are a ton of options for organizing your comic book collection, from the super attractive IKEA collections to plain ones you can decorate yourself.

Level Up

Short and Long Boxes

These lovely little things are built specifically to store your comic book collection. Not only are they made to be exactly the right size for comic books, they are usually made with treated cardboard that is less susceptible to moisture and bugs.

If you’re anything like me, these will feel like a big step. “Am I really the kind of person who has special comic book boxes?” But really, they’re just boxes!

Long boxes are probably not the right choice unless you have a massive collection and space to spare. Short boxes, though, are convenient and affordable for organizing your comic book collection. The downside is that they can make it a hassle to get to your comics, especially if you’re going to stack them. (And don’t stack them too high! I recommend no more than three in a stack or it will slowly start smushing the bottom box.)

But if you have a big collection of back issues you don’t plan to want very often, are pressed for space, or are planning for a move, they are perfect. There are also a ton of fancy options out there (Boxes in Action has gorgeous and officially licensed designs) but you can also customize them easily yourself.

Cube Shelving

Photo courtesy of Amy Conway

These shelves, commonly from Ikea but available many places, are arranged in cubes that often come already tall enough for storing your comic book collection. Plus, the short shelf length is very sturdy so you don’t have to worry about them warping under the weight. Many versions, like the IKEA Kallax (pictured here), are deep enough to be either double sided or filled two rows deep—another great option if you have collections you don’t need to access regularly.

There are also lots of boxes/drawers you can get to fit inside these shelves. Fabric ones are cheap and look nice, though they can collect a lot of dirt and dust and be hard to clean. There are also some hard plastic options that are usually a little more expensive but easier to keep nice. I love this option because it’s so versatile and easy to add units to.


Custom Boxes

Custom box from Romany House on Etsy

There is no shortage of custom comic storage to be found online for organizing your comic book collection.

From hand-decorated magazine files to custom display cases, there are many luxury solutions for storing your comic book collection. Maybe you have a small collection of valuable issues you want to take special care of, or maybe you have some disposable income and a strict ascetic.

Etsy, of course, has a great many choices, but you’ll be amazed at how many you’ll find all over the internet. The Etsy shop Romany House  is a good place to start, with box options that run from $27 to $100, all of them lovely and cool. There are also some great display options, like this one that mounts to the wall but still holds multiple issues. Of course, if you have a handy friend or your own DIY skills, you can always make your own.

Custom Units

The Comics Tomb from the Comics Oasis

If you have the cash (or some impressive carpentry skills), custom storage for your comic book collection is the dream solution. That doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel and invent a new storage style (though you certainly can).

One of the easiest things is to go into a shop with shelving or storage you love and ask them about it. If they had them custom made the carpenter should be able to reproduce it without much trouble. The price tag will be more Tony Stark than Peter Parker, but there are some significant benefits.

First of all, it’s custom—you can store your comic book collection exactly the way you want to and it will all be done as tall, short, wide, deep as you want it. The second is that, as long as the work is done well, it will probably sturdier than almost anything you’ll buy ready made.

That means it will survive moves, heavy collections, and your drunk friend who thinks he’s the Hulk. The unit pictured here is a great example, though it’s not clear if they’re still available. If there’s a craftsman in your area, I highly recommend working with them directly so that you can sit down and go over the design carefully.

Now you have no excuse for storing your comic book collection in piles on the floor or stacks in the closet. Think you’ll try one of these? Organizing your comic book collection some other awesome way? Let me know in the comments!