Pressing Comic Books with Digital Codes or Inserts

All modern age Marvel Comics comic books will feature a digital code sticker for reading your comic book online.

All modern age Marvel Comics comic books will feature a digital code sticker for reading your comic book online.

If you have been studying my guide on “How to Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Heat Press“, I have mentioned there are some advanced aspects to pressing comic books on your own.  One advanced technique I would like to talk about today is the modern age books from Marvel Comics.  These comic books all have a Marvel Digital Code stamp insert.  You peel the sticker off and unlock the digital code online for your reading enjoyment and for any additional extra content the issue might offer to its reader.  Of course, if the sticker is peeled off one of these comic books you can immediately knock a grade or two off the overall condition with a dreaded “INCOMPLETE” on the label.  Obviously, most collectors (and you included reading this guide) leave the sticker intact and proceed to press the book and have it graded.

You might ask: “But why would I press a brand new book?”.  Brand new comics (variants, store exclusives, limited print runs, virgin covers, etc) worth over $100 should definitely be pressed to smooth out the production and printer bumps/waves. That can make all the difference in the world from a 9.6 to a 9.8 with no spine ticks or splits.

Never giving any thought, if you try to press one of these books, you are in for quite a surprise:  an ugly square shaped imprint glaring at you right in the face on the back cover and the last 4-5 pages as well.  Click to zoom any image in this article for a closer look. 

Look at the back cover of this pressed 2018 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797 Young Guns Variant by Aaron Kuder. Oops! See the square imprint to the left of the "G" on the Young Guns logo? Look closely at the square white bump.  (Click to zoom in for a closer look)

Look at the back cover of this pressed 2018 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797 Young Guns Variant by Aaron Kuder. Oops! See the square imprint to the left of the “G” on the Young Guns logo? Look closely at the square white bump. (Click to zoom in for a closer look)

Look at the back cover of this pressed 2018 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797 Young Guns Variant by Aaron Kuder. Oops! See the square imprint to the right of the Young Guns logo? Look closely at the square white bump.

Look at the back cover of this pressed 2018 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797 Young Guns Variant by Aaron Kuder. Oops! See the square imprint to the left of the “G” on the Young Guns logo? Look closely at the square white bump. (Click to zoom in for a closer look)

As an amateur presser, you must take extra steps to prevent this from happening.  I will write a future article on “How to fix Marvel Digital Code Imprints on Back Covers”.

 

These steps will ensure you don’t cause damage to the back cover, or subsequent pages either.  This technique should also be applied with care when considering any comic book that features a Tattooz insert (such as Amazing Spider-man #238), Image #0 Coupons, etc) or poster pullouts.  There are also comics that feature Mark Jeweler’s Inserts but those aren’t a problem at all.

Depending on the thickness of the book, you will use one of two types of fillers for this method to work.  You are going to use either comic book backer boards, or bright white copy paper.  Thick books with over 60 pages should use copy paper.  Thinner books that are less than 40 pages should use comic book backer boards.

2018 Marvel Comics VENOM #1 Todd McFarlane 1:1000 Incentive Remastered B&W Variant

2018 Marvel Comics VENOM #1 Todd McFarlane 1:1000 Incentive Remastered B&W Variant

Let’s begin with a thinner glossy magazine pages paperstock modern age book.  This is the same book I featured in my blog post entitled, “Dry Cleaning Modern Age Comic Books with a Pencil Eraser“.    The book in question is $500 raw 9.4 copy of 2018 Marvel Comics VENOM #1 Todd McFarlane 1:1000 Incentive Remastered B&W Variant, as seen in this photo:

 

First thing you want to do is clean the book with a common pencil eraser or Absorene Eraser Pad and dust it off with a can of compressed air or a lotion-free tissue.  This is a black spine book, so we must take extra care of the spine and not cause any additional (one spine tick!  Can you believe it?!) spine damage to the book.  There is also a minor spine split at the bottom as well.  You must take absolute care as to not cause the existing spine split to split even more.  That is why we are doing a very light press on this book in this article, just to take out the cover bumps from production.

we are doing a very light press on this book in this article, just to take out the cover bumps from production

We are doing a very light press on this book in this article, just to take out the cover bumps from production and to avoid any damage to spine or cause a bigger spine split at bottom.

Since this is a thinner book, I am choosing to use the comic book backer board method to prevent a digital code imprint transfer during the pressing process phase.  You can use any size of backer board, such as modern age, silver age, or even magazine size.  In the following example I have chosen to use modern age size backer boards for in between the pages.  This book unfortunately already has a tiny spine split at the bottom, as seen in this photo:

Tiny 1/16" spine split at bottom of a spine on a 1:1000 inventive variant valued at $500.

Tiny 1/16″ spine split at bottom of a spine on a 1:1000 inventive variant valued at $500.

Find the centerfold of your book.

Set the black spine down on a sheet of Silicone Release Paper.  Find the centerfold of your book.

Take great care of the spine of your book and set the book down on a sheet of Silicone Release Paper. Find the centerfold of your book.  Place a backer board at the centerfold.  Do not snuggle the magazine size comic book backer board underneath the staples or on top of the staples.  Just up against the staples.

Place a backer board at the centerfold, against the staples. Not above or below the staples. Against the staples.

Place a backer board at the centerfold, against the staples. Not above or below the staples. Against the staples.

Next you will carefully close the book. Flip the book over, back cover side up. Find your digital code page.

Next you will carefully close the book. Flip the book over, back cover side up. Find your digital code page.

Next you will carefully close the book. Flip the book over, back cover side up. Find your digital code page.

Place a magazine size comic book backer board at the page where your digital code sticker page is resided.

Next you will carefully close the book. Flip the book over, back cover side up. Find your digital code page.

Next you will carefully close the book. Flip the book over, back cover side up. Find your digital code page.

Flip to the back cover. Place a magazine size comic book backer board at the last page between where your back cover and last page reside.

Place a backer board at the last page and back cover.

Place a backer board at the last page and back cover.

Be sure to place a third and final magazine size comic book backer board (or copy paper if it’s a thicker book) between the digital code sticker page and the page before it. This makes a total of three backer boards inside this book.

Be sure to place a final and third comic book backer board between the digital code sticker page and the page before it. This makes a total of three backer boards inside this book.

Be sure to place a final and third comic book backer board between the digital code sticker page and the page before it. This makes a total of three backer boards inside this book.

Be sure prior to pressing the book you back off the pressure adjustment screw on your press and lighten the pressure for the book’s thickness. You are pressing lightly so you do not need to worry about a vertical line traveling along the spine from the inconsistent size of the magazine size comic book backer boards against the inside spine of book.

You are pressing lightly so you do not need to worry about a vertical line traveling along the spine from the inconsistent size of the backer boards against the inside spine of book.

You are pressing lightly so you do not need to worry about a vertical line traveling along the spine from the inconsistent size of the backer boards against the inside spine of book.

Place 2 magazine size comic book backer boards on your press mat. Set 1 sheet of Silicone Release Paper on those 2 magazine size comic book backer boards.

Place 2 magazine size backer boards on your press mat. Set 1 sheet of Silicone Release Paper on those 2 magazine size backer boards.

Place 2 magazine size backer boards on your press mat. Set 1 sheet of Silicone Release Paper on those 2 magazine size backer boards.

Set the book down on the press carefully with SRP Paper and Magazine sized comic book backer boards.

Set the book down on the press carefully with SRP Paper and Magazine sized comic book backer boards.

Set the book down carefully and apply light pressure with your fingers to bump the cardstock up against the staples and spine. Place another sheet of Silicone Release Paper down on the book. Set a final pair of two magazine size comic book backer boards down on press.

Set the book down carefully and apply light pressure with your fingers to bump the cardstock up against the staples and spine. Place another sheet of Silicone Release Paper down on the book. Set a final pair of two magazine sized comic book backer boards down on press.

Set the book down carefully and apply light pressure with your fingers to bump the cardstock up against the staples and spine. Place another sheet of Silicone Release Paper down on the book. Set a final pair of two magazine sized comic book backer boards down on press.

Turn the press on and set your temperature to 150 degrees. Set your time to 500 seconds. Turn the pressure adjustment screw down to compensate for the thicker book and to prevent spine split.

Turn the press on and set your temperature to 150 degrees. Set your time to 500 seconds. Turn the pressure adjustment screw down to compensate for the thicker book and to prevent spine split.

Turn the press on and set your temperature to 150 degrees. Set your time to 500 seconds. Turn the pressure adjustment screw down to compensate for the thicker book and to prevent spine split.

After 500 seconds is up, you will flip the book over front side up and repeat the pressing for another 500 seconds. When the 500 seconds is up, turn off the press machine and leave the book inside machine for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, the book has been carefully removed from press to admire our handiwork.

After 24 hours, the book has been carefully removed from press to admire our handiwork.

We then flip through the book and examine the back cover to make sure the digital code has not imprinted onto the back cover or subsequent pages.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

We flip through the book to examine each page to make sure the digital code sticker has not imprinted itself onto any pages or back cover of book.

There will be trial and error through experience and doing more of these books over time, trust me. If you still see bumps, try applying slightly more pressure and try again. Always better to do light pressure and not enough, than to overdo it and ruin a valuable book!

Press on

Make Your Own Humidity Chamber for Rolled Documents or Comics!

How To Flatten Folded Or Rolled PaDer Documents

Paper records such as maps, newspapers,  and documents that have been rolled or folded for long periods of time often may be safely flattened using carefully controlled humidification.

According to the National Park Service, “Paper records such as maps, newspapers, and documents that have been rolled or folded for long periods of time often may be safely flattened using carefully controlled humidification. ”  What does this mean?  That means not all books will benefit from this procedure.  Use this as a guide on determining whether a book or document will benefit from this procedure.  Do not do this procedure on a brand new modern age comic book.

THREE STEPS TO HUMIDIFICATION
“There are three basic steps to humidification: cleaning, humidifying, and weighting or flattening.   Each step requires somewhat specialized equipment that can be easily constructed from materials gathered from common sources, such as hardware and fabric stores.”

CLEANING FIRST
“It is important to remember that any dirt on the surface of the paper may become muddy during humidification and will set further into the paper fibers. This will make the paper difficult if not impossible to clean in the future. The surface of the paper should at least be swept with a soft, natural fiber brush before humidification. If the papers are heavily soiled, consult a paper conservator about surface cleaning before proceeding.”  Use tips on this guide using Absorene.

“Before proceeding with humidification, remove fasteners such as clips, staples, brads, and rubber bands. “

INSPECTION PROCESS
“Extreme care must be used when initially opening papers that have been folded or rolled. While some papers remain supple over time, others may grow increasingly fragile due to inherent  weaknesses, widely fluctuating temperature and relative humidity, or exposure to light and/or to chemicals in the atmosphere. As a result, paper remembers creases, folds, and curls. If records are not flattened carefully, they may crumble and their valuable information will be irretrievably lost.  Never attempt to open a rolled or folded piece of paper if you are uncertain of its physical condition,  particularly if the climate is extremely dry (less than 35% relative humidity).”

SOURCE: https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/13-02.pdf

STAPLES AND RUST
So with that in mind, you really should remove the steel staples from the comic book.  With that disclaimer stated, we are not going to remove the staples from the comic book.  We are attempting to make improvements, not restorations.   Since the duration time period will be only 30 minutes, I do not believe that is long enough for iron oxidation to set in on a staple that currently shows no signs of rust.  Scientifically, and depending on your climate conditions, it’s more realistic to assume light rust would begin to set in at the microscopic level within 2 days.  Steel can start to corrode (microscopically) immediately upon exposure to the elements.  Since we are leaving the comic book in for 1-2 hours, it’s probably not going to cause rust.  The heat press will absorb the humidity moisture and dampness of the book within minutes before rust can take proceed.

SHOPPING LIST
Head to Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores and I’ll show you how to make your own moisture chamber for restoring or flattening rolled documents, posters, and comic books!

by KaptainMyke

You will need:

  1. One 40 quart plastic storage tub
  2. Five 4″ pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers
  3. One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen
  4. One Weber deluxe grilling pan
  5. One gallon of distilled water
  6. Timer
  7. Eyeballs
  8. Comic book that needs humidity or moisture treatment for pressing.  Not all comics benefit from this chamber.  Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age benefit the most.  I would not place modern comics in this chamber.
  9. Experience through trial and error
  10. Something heavy to place on top of lid like a bag of charcoal or dog food.  I use another storage tub full of supplies as a weight for the lid.
  11. Silicone Release Paper
  12. Cooking pot for boiling distilled water on stove top
  13. Kitchen stove top for boiling water

See the following photos as an example to make your very own $50 hydration humidity chamber!

Dry Cleaning FIRST, then MOISTURE before PRESS
It is important to remember that any dirt on the surface of the paper may become muddy during humidification and will set further into the paper fibers. This will make the paper difficult if not impossible to clean in the future. The surface of the paper should at least be swept with a soft, natural fiber brush before humidification. If the papers are heavily soiled, consult a paper conservator about surface cleaning before proceeding.

Before proceeding with humidification, remove fasteners such as clips, staples, brads, and rubber bands. “

SOURCE: https://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/13-02.pdf

DRY CLEAN + STAIN REMOVAL OF DOCUMENT OR COMIC BOOK FIRST
Inspect the book or document first and lift any folded over creases and flaps.  Lightly dust off and wipe the surface clean lightly with a lotion free Kleenex or dust cloth.  Be sure to dry clean your book or document with Absorene and other materials mentioned in this guide.

BOIL 1 POT OF DISTILLED WATER ON STOVE TOP FOR STEAM
Make sure you have 1 half gallon of room temperature distilled water.  Pour this into your empty chamber storage container.  Allow a pot of distilled water to boil on stove top for 15-20 minutes.  Pour the steaming hot boiling water from pot into bottom of container filled with 1 half gallon of room temperature distilled water.  This is your steam.

TIME DURATION OF BOOKS INSIDE CHAMBER
15-30 minutes with steam is probably ideal for most books.  Keep it to a minimum and start slowly.  Too much moisture can and will ruin a book!  Older books that are brittle can be left inside the chamber for a longer duration, depending on the conditions of the climate in your region where you reside.

PRESS COMIC BOOK OR DOCUMENT INSIDE HIGH HEAT PRESS
Begin to press the book or document for the first time at 150 degrees for 5-7 minutes on front side up with two sheets of silicone release paper above and below the comic book.  After the initial 15 minutes, replace the 2 sheets of silicone release paper and flip the book over, rear cover side up.  Turn off the press.  Cool down the book for 1-2 hours.  Replace the sheets now with one sheet above and below the book and proceed to press as normal.  150 degrees on one side for 5 minutes, flip the book and repeat.  Turn off press with the heat off.  Leave book in press as heat exchange cools down.  Cool down book for 12-24 hours or more for final press.

PHOTO STEP-BY-STEP BUILDING OF YOUR HUMIDITY CHAMBER
This method is recommended over using a Conair clothes humidifier steam gun.  It’s safer, too!

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

Five 4" pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers

Five 4″ pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One roll of Fiberglass or nylon window screen

One Weber deluxe grilling pan

One Weber deluxe grilling pan. You can probably find any grille surface but be mindful of divets or ripples in your books. Less surface area is better. Do not use a wire grille!

Five 4" pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers

Place the five 4″ pvc plumbing pipe connectors to use as spacers in the bottom of the storage tub.

Weber deluxe grilling pan.

Set your Weber deluxe grilling pan on top of the pvc pipe spacers. This keeps your book away from water directly.

Fiberglass or nylon window screen

Set your Fiberglass or nylon window screen on top of the grille surface as a barrier from the metal rack and your comic book. This will allow your book to breathe better.

Fiberglass or nylon window screen

Place a second set of Fiberglass or nylon window screen above your book, so that there is 2 screens below and 2 screens above your book. This also helps push the book down gently without using extra weight.

One 40 quart plastic storage tub

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

Distilled water

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

Distilled water

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

distilled water

Pour 1 half gallon of distilled water into the bottom of the chamber.
Close the lid on the storage tub with your book inside.

You should see condensation or humidity start to take place inside the chamber.

You should see condensation or humidity start to take place inside the chamber.

Wait 1-2 hours.

Wait 15-30 minutes. Keep checking on the book to make sure nothing has moved or slid out of place.

Fogging up!

Wait 15-30 minutes. Keep checking on the book to make sure nothing has moved or slid out of place.

After 2 hours remove book.

After 15-30 minutes remove book. This book was left inside over night as an initial test. I would recommend 15 minutes to be safe.  Do not leave your books in overnight.  Period.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.  This book was left inside over night as an initial test. I would recommend 15-30 minutes to be safe.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel heavy and feel damp but not soaked.

Book should feel damp but not soaked.

This piece of paper was lifted after the first pressing of the damp book.

This piece of copy paper was lifted after the first pressing of the damp book.  It seemed to lift a lot of loose oil and staining but did not lift any ink or line art.  2 hours later it was completely dry and white again with no trace of designs from the comic book.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.

After 2 presses this book is completely dry and brighter and whiter than before.