Dry Cleaning Comic Books with a Pencil Eraser

1974 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129. Heavy surface cleaning for over an hour with just a simple pencil eraser top and periodical cleaning of eraser head with absorene erasure pad. Moisture and humidity exposure for 15 minutes under steam. High heat dry press for 10 minutes. Left in cold press machine for 5 days.

1974 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129. Heavy surface cleaning for over an hour with just a simple pencil eraser top and periodical cleaning of eraser head with absorene erasure pad. Moisture and humidity exposure for 15 minutes under steam. High heat dry press for 10 minutes. Left in cold press machine for 5 days.  (CLICK TO ZOOM)

Greetings!  Today I want to talk to you about basic cleaning of a brand new modern age comic book, fresh from Diamond off the rack at your local comic book store.  These books get dirty!  Production flaws and rollers can cause dirt and debris to collect on your thin magazine glossy paperstock quality comic books, especially from Marvel.  This method can be used on older books, too!

So this is a pretty big secret, even if you don’t press comics.  You can clean most comic book covers in this manner, regardless if you are pressing the book or not!  You don’t need a press in order to perform this method.  

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 take a look at this 2018 Marvel Comics VENOM #1 Todd McFarlane 1:1000 Incentive Remastered B&W Variant.  This is a $500 book in 9.8 grade, but thanks to Marvel and Diamond, somebody thought, “Hey, let’s put a black border around the spine and front cover!” to destroy any chances of a 9.8 grade.  This one is likely a 9.4.  You can see all the dirt and roller debris on the white areas of the cover:

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

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

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

If you remember in my guide on “How to Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Heat Press“, I suggested using Number 2 pencils and an Absorense Eraser Pad. It’s always best to start non-invasively so start small with just a clean eraser from a Number 2 pencil.  I also use eraser tops as well.  You will need to clean your pencil eraser often as you lift the dirt and oils from your comic book.  Use the Absorense Eraser Pad.  to clean your pencil eraser like so:

If you remember in my guide on "How to Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Heat Press", I suggested using Number 2 pencils and an Absorense Eraser Pad. It's always best to start non-invasively so start small with just a clean eraser from a Number 2 pencil.  I also use eraser tops as well.  You will need to clean your pencil eraser often as you lift the dirt and oils from your comic book.  Use the Absorense Eraser Pad.  to clean your pencil eraser like so:

Using Number 2 pencils and an Absorene Eraser Pad. For dry cleaning it’s always best to start non-invasively so start small with just a clean eraser from a Number 2 pencil.  I also use eraser tops as well.  You will need to clean your pencil eraser often as you lift the dirt and oils from your comic book so use the Absorene Eraser Pad to clean the eraser top.

Press very lightly and use the pencil eraser in circular swirls on the white areas only of the comic book cover. I would not risk using the eraser over solid black inks or colors. You really don’t want to lose any of the cover’s glossiness or it can become quite evident. Remember, you are only trying to lightly clean off the surface of the book. Try not to make it obvious someone attempted to clean the cover.

Press very lightly and use the pencil eraser in circular swirls on the white areas only of the comic book cover.

Press very lightly and use the pencil eraser in circular swirls on the white areas only of the comic book cover.

Press very lightly and use the pencil eraser in circular swirls on the white areas only of the comic book cover.

Press very lightly and use the pencil eraser in circular swirls on the white areas only of the comic book cover.

Finally, you will try to use the Absorene Eraser Pad very lightly across the entire surface of the book to remove and lift off any traces of remaining rubber from your eraser top.    You are now ready to press the book.  Be careful as many modern Marvel books like this one have a digital code in the back that can imprint through the rear cover and surrounding pages.  I will discuss this very technique in my next post.

Finally, you will try to use the Absorene Eraser Pad very lightly across the entire surface of the book to remove and lift off any traces of remaining rubber from your eraser top.

Finally, you will try to use the Absorene Eraser Pad very lightly across the entire surface of the book to remove and lift off any traces of remaining rubber from your eraser top.  You are now ready to press the book.  Be careful as many modern Marvel books like this one have a digital code in the back that can imprint through the rear cover and surrounding pages.  I will discuss this very technique in my next post.

When all else fails, you can also use your latex gloves as well for cleaning.  Same prinicple, same concept, just lightly rub over the white or light areas of the book and use the Absorene Eraser Pad to clean your fingers.

When all else fails, you can also use your latex gloves as well for cleaning.  Same prinicple, same concept, just lightly rub over the white or light areas of the book and use the Absorene Eraser Pad to clean your fingers.

When all else fails, you can also use your latex gloves as well for cleaning.  Same prinicple, same concept, just lightly rub over the white or light areas of the book and use the Absorene Eraser Pad to clean your fingers.

Here is the same comic book, after an hour under a normal regular common household pencil eraser. No photoshop filters or edits were made to this image, either. This is in my opinion the best non-evasive way to clean a modern age comic book.

Here is the same comic book, after an hour under a normal regular common household pencil eraser. No photoshop filters or edits were made to this image, either. This is in my opinion the best non-evasive way to clean a modern age comic book.

Here is the same comic book, after an hour under a normal regular common household pencil eraser. No photoshop filters or edits were made to this image, either. This is in my opinion the best non-evasive way to clean a modern age comic book.

Here’s a side by side comparison of a full back cover photo before and after results from cleaning a very valuable book, in this case an Amazing Spider-man #129:

1974 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129. Heavy surface cleaning for over an hour with just a simple pencil eraser top and periodical cleaning of eraser head with absorene erasure pad. Moisture and humidity exposure for 15 minutes under steam. High heat dry press for 10 minutes. Left in cold press machine for 5 days.

1974 Marvel Comics AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129. Heavy surface cleaning for over an hour with just a simple pencil eraser top and periodical cleaning of eraser head with absorene erasure pad. Moisture and humidity exposure for 15 minutes under steam. High heat dry press for 10 minutes. Left in cold press machine for 5 days.  (CLICK TO ZOOM) 

Removing Deep Divots, Dents, and Writing Indentations

A dent or divot in the cover of a book can be frustrating.

A dent or divot in the cover of a book can be frustrating.  This can be pre-existing or if you have debris and dirt on the pressing plate (or cover of book) before pressing.

USING A BALL BEARING AND TACK IRON (ADVANCED)

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 deep writing indentations.  Or, you might have a divot or a tiny crater on your comic book cover, affectionately called “pebbling”.

Pencil writing can be erased but often leaves the indentations as a reminder.  Deep writing from a sheet of paper that was on top of a comic book long ago, a divot or dent in your cover can certainly ruin the eye appeal of your book.  Do not worry, you can try this trick out before making the final pressing.   Or, if you had some dirt or debris on the pressing plate and/or comic book then you can try this method to fix your mistake.

 

What you will need:

  1. Sealing Tack Iron
  2. Ball bearing, a single 1.5″ diameter silver chrome ball bearing
  3. Magazine Sized backer boards
  4. Silicone Release Paper (SRP)  ULINE has boxes of 1000 sheets cut to size for $85 shipped

 

How the process works and a few guidelines before you begin:

  1. Wipe your balls!  The ball bearings will have an oil coating on them to prevent rust and corrosion.
  2. This will not remove writing such as ballpoint pen or sharpie marker.
  3. You can attempt to erase pencil writing and use this method to remove it completely
  4. This process is time consuming and you must be very patient
  5. You will apply heat to the area, then roll the ball bearing around across it several times
  6. Repeat as necessary until removed completely
  7. Press as usual

 

One ball bearing, 1.5" inch diameter.

One ball bearing, 1.5″ inch diameter.

If you see a pre-existing divot or dent in your cover you can try this trick out before pressing.   Or, if you had some dirt or debris on the pressing plate and/or comic book then you can try this method to fix your mistake.  Find or purchase a one and a half inch (1.5″) or two inch (2″) steel ball bearing.  These ball bearings are coated in oil from the factory to prevent rusting or corrosion.  Be sure to wipe your balls clean with a Clorox wipe.  Yes, I said to be sure to wash your balls.  You do not want your balls exposed to bare cover, either.  Always use silicone release paper squares when doing this trick with the ball bearing:

A tacking iron helps localize the area being worked on. You can also try flattening out spine ticks this way as well.

A tacking iron helps localize the area being worked on. You can also try flattening out spine ticks this way as well.

A tacking iron speeds this process up instead of using the press machine.  You can use the press machine if you don’t have a tacking iron.  The tacking iron helps localize the area being focused on.  Start by placing SRP underneath the cover being worked on.  Make sure a clean smooth surface is underneath the comic book.  I use a golden age mylite2+fullback so I can move the book around with ease.

After placing SRP above and below cover, heat and flatten the spot with a tack iron for only a few seconds.

After placing SRP above and below cover, heat and flatten the spot with a tack iron for only a few seconds.

Place a small square cut sheet of SRP on top of the cover being worked on.  You can place a backer board underneath the cover as well if the initial process doesn’t work the first time.  Keep in mind this method doesn’t always work.  For example, if you can see the divot pass through onto the next 4 or 5 pages of the book, this method might not be successful for you.  If the divot or dent removed ink and caused a color breaking divot you can press it back out but the ink removed will still show the dent.

After placing SRP above and below cover, heat and flatten the spot with a tack iron for only a few seconds.

After placing SRP above and below cover, heat and flatten the spot with a tack iron for only a few seconds.

After you now have the SRP and backer board in place, begin heating up the tack iron to 140-150 degrees for moderns or 160-165 degrees for bronze and copper.  After just a few seconds the book should be warm to the touch.

 

Set the ball bearing down on the heated spot, and press down firmly with the palm of your hand, rolling the ball bearing around the spot in a circular motion.

Set the ball bearing down on the heated spot, and press down firmly with the palm of your hand, rolling the ball bearing around the spot in a circular motion.

 

 

Place your clean and washed ball bearing down on top of the SRP square sheet on cover and begin rolling the ball around the location of the divot.  Press firmly with the palm of your hand as you press down with pressure and roll the ball in circular motions.

 

You can pinch the ball bearing as well and roll it around firmly in a circular motion.

You can pinch the ball bearing as well and roll it around firmly in a circular motion.

 

You can also pinch the ball bearing with your thumb and 2 index fingers while pressing downward with firm pressure.  Alternatively, you can carefully open the cover and perform the process on the underside of the cover if you can see the bump from other side.  This method is risky because you can put stress on the spine and create spine ticks.  Only try the underside if you feel the ball bearing isn’t working well on the top side of the cover.

Set the ball bearing down on the heated spot, and press down firmly with the palm of your hand, rolling the ball bearing around the spot in a circular motion.

Set the ball bearing down on the heated spot, and press down firmly with the palm of your hand, rolling the ball bearing around the spot in a circular motion.

The divot is gone from the trade dress logo on cover. The cover will be wavy from the localized tack iron. You are now ready to press the book as you normally would.

The divot is gone from the trade dress logo on cover. The cover will be wavy from the localized tack iron. You are now ready to press the book as you normally would.

The divot is gone from the trade dress logo on cover. The cover will be wavy from the localized tack iron. You are now ready to press the book as you normally would.

The divot is gone from the trade dress logo on cover. The cover will be wavy from the localized tack iron. You are now ready to press the book as you normally would.

The divot is gone from the trade dress logo on cover. The cover will be wavy from the localized tack iron. You are now ready to press the book as you normally would.

The divot is gone from the trade dress logo on cover. The cover will be wavy from the localized tack iron. You are now ready to press the book as you normally would.

 

You can see the final results of this 1975 Marvel Comics GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 in this photo album.