Sunday, July 20, 2008

What to do with all of those Bart Sears comics

Let's face it, collecting comics can be a space consuming affair, especially if you're in any way a serious collector, because that means you're probably using bags and backing boards for each comic. My own comic collection probably peaked at about 1000 comics at one stage, back in the mid 1990's when there were just so many comics out there. There came a day, though, when I came to the conclusion that enough really was enough. So I culled, and then a few years later, I culled some more, then a few more times. Now I probably have about 200 comics, excluding my Bart Sears ones of course. And that is plenty for me, thank-you very muchly.

So I've got a comic box for all of my non-Bart Sears comics, and they're happy where they are. But what about my Bart Sears comics, which are obviously far more important to me. For a long time I had them stored in boxes that perfectly fit comics, the boxes previously containing ketchup squeezy things. Then they were upgraded to a custom made wooden comic box I knocked up in woodworking class in High School. Next they were stored in Michael Palin book set slipcases, that, again, were the perfect size for comics. And most recently, they've been housed in two small wooden chests, the perfect size once more.

But late last year, I undertook a monumental task that will take me over two years to complete- I have chosen to laminate every single Bart Sears comic page!


How many pages is that, you ask? Over 2000, that's how many.

And it get's worse. The anal retentive freak that I am demands that I don't just buy any old laminating sheets; nope, I need the good stuff- 250 microns of sturdiness.

So why am I doing this? Won't that cost a fortune? Isn't it a waste of time? Well, yes, it will be expensive, the laminating sheets I use cost about US$40 for a pack of 100. That's why it will take me over two years to do, I'm restricting myself to one pack a month.
The question of whether it is a waste of time? I don't think so. If you think it is, go and pull out a comic you own from the 1980's or earlier and have a proper look at the paper. Do you remember it being smoother, brighter, cleaner? What if you could encase that comic in a plastic seal that would ensure the pages neither fade nor wear, ever!

If I felt as if I would ever consider selling my Bart Sears collection, then yes, I probably would resist the urge to laminate the pages, but that is never going to happen, never ever never.

So the way I see it, I'm giving these comics that I cherish so much an extended shelf life with no side effects at all. I still have posters of various things that were laminated nearly 20 years ago, and there is no sign of decay or anything like that.
So while some of my Bart Sears comics could be little more than a pile of dust in 30 years, they could theoretically still be around in 300 years now thanks to my trusty laminating machine. That thought alone makes it feel more than worthwhile to me.

So I've been laminating my Bart Sears comic pages for a few months now, and I know I've made the right decision. I've just started laminating the Justice League Europe issues, and they look fantastic now. True, they take up much more room than they ever did before, but the trade-off is worth it. I put each page slap-bang in the centre of the A4 sized laminating sheet, put it through the machine, and leave it that way, I don't trim the excess laminate off, I just stack them on top of each other and put them in a A4 sized box.

Some comics are easier to do than others, namely Justice League Europe, in which every page is double sided, so no advertisements show up on the final product. Other comics aren't so accommodating, unfortunately. There have been several comics with a comic page on one side that has an ad on the back, with no opportunity to double up (doubling up meaning when you can take two pages that are consecutive but also have ads on the opposite sides that can be put ad to ad to form a single page). But these are rare enough. Each issue has an average of just over 13 sheets required to complete them, with the most sheets for one issue being Invasion! #3, which took all of 42 sheets to polish off.

I'm trying to laminate the comics in a chronological order, but there are some comics that I am sorely tempted to bump up the list, and I can't wait for the day when the whole lot is done. But I'll keep you all posted on how it is progressing.
So stay tuned.

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