HOW TO: Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Heat Press for Beginners by KaptainMyke

HOW TO: Press Comic Books with a T-Shirt Heat Press for Beginners by KaptainMyke  

Shopping List
You will need the following:

  1. A Digital controlled T-Shirt Press. I highly recommend the VEVOR Digital Controller heatpress machine. Model CP230B.
  2. Patience and Time.
  3. Box of 100 pairs of powder free latex gloves. Bookmark that reorder button page, too!
  4. Georgia-Pacific Super Premium Bright Paper, 8.5″ x 11″, 28 lb, 900 sheets .
  5. Conair Clothing steam humidifier gun.
  6. Dental tools, specifically a dental pick and scraper.
  7. Gum kneaded eraser.
  8. Orange box, basic Mr Clean Magic Erasers, no scent. You will have to use major caution with this item.
  9. Lots of used non glossy cardboard comic book backer boards.
  10. A 21″ box fan that uses 3 settings, Hi Med Lo.


One time Adjustment and Preparation Before Pressing
Before we begin,  always use gloves.  Always.  No fingerprints!   Heat is the number one ingredient for a successful press.   Before you start using the press.  Remove the top plastic knob off the rear adjustment screw.  Place 2 washers, one above the nut, and one below the nut.  You will most likely have to search the hardware store for the required washers with a large enough diameter.  Then place your plastic screw knob back on top of that.  This gives you adjustment and a spacer between the plate and the rubber pad.   You will use stacks of copy paper, usually 1/8” thick below your comic book as a spacer between the rubber pad and your book being pressed.  Use one sheet of copy paper on top as a spacer between your book and the very hot pressure plate above it.  Using this trick will also prevent the surface of the rubber pad below to imprint any patterns or surface imprints onto your books being pressed.


Practicing on 5 Basic Types
You will need to practice first on 5 basic types of comic books to learn the process slowly.  Practice on your own books first.  The 5 basic types of comics to practice on are:

1.  Golden Age Books – These books are brittle, require steam, and extra care when handling.
2.  Silver Age Books – These books can also be quite brittle, and have edgewear like crazy.  Watch staples
3.  Bronze Age Books – Many of these books have a different type of paper, semigloss and with inserts.
4.  Modern Age Books with Glossy Magazine Paper – These books can have pages stick together if too hot!  Under 160F
5.  Foil books (Convention exclusives) – These books are more intimidating if anything.  Watch your fingerprints!

There are more to practice on, but this is a great head start for the learning process.  Different books require different angles of approach.

Temperature Settings
Most books can be safely pressed at 175 degrees but not any higher.  I typically run at 170 degrees.  Brand new modern age books, foil books, glossy paper books, magazines, and books with inserts should be at a lower temperature, at 150 degrees but left in the press a lot longer to compensate for the lower temperature.

Glossy Cover Modern Age Books – 160 degrees for 25 minutes on each side
Dull Thin Cover Modern Age Books – 170 degrees for 10 minutes on each side
Foil Books  –  175 degrees for corners pinched, 5 minutes on each side before flipping once.  Then cool down press to 150 degrees for 25 minutes x 2 on each side before flipping TWICE then cool down.
Glossy Cover Bronze Age Books  –  160 degrees for 25 minutes on each side before flipping once.
Dull Thick Cover Bronze Age Books  –  165 degrees for 20 minutes on each side before flipping once.
Silver Age Books  –  165 degrees for 20-25 minutes on each side before flipping once.
Golden Age Books  –  165 degrees for 20 minutes on each side before flipping once.

Cool Down Settings
In order to maintain the pressing, and not have “muscle memory” of creases and spine bumps, you have to let the book be completely cold inside the press before removing it.  Heat is the number one ingredient for a successful press.  This is crucial to the pressing process.  Most books can be cooled down quicker than naturally.  If you just simply use a standard $20 box fan at the store,  this will cut your cooling down time to 1-2 hours instead of 4-5 hours.   You can also buy a second identical press and use that one as a “cooling press” as the other cools down.  Alternate for 2-step pressing to save time and maximize your time constraints.

Be sure you feel the top of the plate with your hands before removing any book from the press.  You are making sure the press plate is COLD.  Not even warm or room temperature.  Make sure the press plate is cold to the touch.  If you have a second press, place the book inside the press that has a completely cold press plate for faster cooling.

Cleaning Tips
Starting with latex rubber gloves, use a dental pick for lifting up folds and creases.  Do this first.  Then, try using a kneaded rubber gum eraser to lift stains.  Never rub the eraser, always blot or push downwards then lift upwards with straight up and down motions.  Never use the eraser sideways or against the paper grain.  Most of the time, 90% of the time, the super bright white copy paper will naturally lift up most stains or dirt and debris.  The heat exchange process and the lifting of dirt happens naturally during the pressing process.

A Warning on the Magic Eraser
If the kneaded eraser is ineffective without being invasive, you should next move on to a Mr. Clean magic eraser.  Always cut fresh 1” cubes with scissors.   If you try to keep re-using the same magic eraser, you will start rubbing dirt into all the crease lines of comics, which creates new dark crease lines and makes the visual appeal start to drop significantly, so be warned about the magic eraser!  Always use very very light circular swirls when trying to lift up staining.  The magic eraser is very forgiving on white or light covers.  However, use extreme caution using this technique on all black covers or very dark covers.  The magic eraser does lift ink!

Using Steam
All books will require a light steaming with a humidifier or clothes fabric steamer.  Use the steamer to only make the pages curl.  As soon as paper movement is seen, move to a different area or stop using steam.   When creating new centerfolds, fixing spine denting, and working with golden age books – you are required to use steam.  This is a very delicate process and should be used with moderation.   Always used distilled water.  Always empty the water chamber when not in use either, or you will get mold.   Mold and water are paper’s worst nightmare, so this is not an easy process to learn.  Time and patience will guide you.  Always better to use not enough steam with a slightly disappointing press with no damage to the book and do it again than to use TOO MUCH steam and ruin the book, right?!  As soon as the paper starts to curl, is when you stop steaming in that area.  Do not over steam the same area!  Also,  steam from a safe 1-2 foot distance so droplets of water don’t splash on the book.  This can create light circle spots when dry.   Also do not over steam staples or they will rust.

Spine Alignment
Spine alignments can be fun.  I mean that sincerely.  They can be real fun and rewarding to work with.  One trick I’ve seen now in the pressing world is to adjust that spine so all the spine creases and dents move to the back of the book for a better eye appeal when in a graded case.  This does not trick the graders nor are you trying to pull “a fast one” but you are making the book have a better curb appeal when considering reselling or displaying the book.

When aligning the spine, the first step is to flatten the entire book at the centerfold.  This can be very stressful on the outside spine, and the staples inside.  You can crush the staples right through the book if you are not careful!  You can also create new stress lines on the outside of the book.  Here is how to prevent all of this:

  1. Set the press to 170 degrees. This part of the process does not matter if golden age/silver/modern/foil.
  2. Get a 1/8” stack of backer boards, gloss free, or at least put the gloss away from the covers. Place them down the center of the rubber pad on press.
  3. Get the book in question. Find the staples.  Find the center.
  4. Flatten the book from the inside face down, staples down. Set the book carefully onto the stack of backer boards 90 degrees perpendicular to the pad.  You will have an overhang obviously.  That’s fine.  You’re going to rotate in 5 minutes anyway to do the overhang side.
  5. Stick one backer board on top of your spine. Carefully and slowly lower the press onto the comic and make sure the spine flattens out.
  6. Keep the book this way for 5 minutes.
  7. Now swivel everything around and press the overhang portion of the comic book spine. Press for 5 minutes.
  8. Now remove the book, keep the boards there. Maybe take the bottom backer board and put on top in case there was a staple indent.  Flip the book over on its opposite side, with the staples now facing up.
  9. Set the book carefully onto the stack of backer boards with the staples facing up – 90 degrees perpendicular to the pad. You will have an overhang obviously.  That’s fine.  You’re going to rotate in 5 minutes anyway to do the overhang side.
  10. Stick one backer board on top of your spine with the staples facing up. Carefully and slowly lower the press onto the comic and make sure the spine flattens out.
  11. Keep the book this way for 5 minutes.
  12. Now swivel everything around and press the overhang portion of the comic book spine. Press for 5 minutes.
  13. The book should now be completely flattened out.
  14. You are going to make your own new centerfold now. Remove all backer boards and anything left in the press.  Only should have a rubber pad and a metal plate above, nothing else.
  15. Using latex gloves, you are going to fold the book carefully in half. Stand the book up on its bottom edge when doing so.  Pinch the middle center with your index finger and thumb TIGHT so no movement happens between pages.
  16. Stick the pinched comic with your fingers in sideways, allowing 7/8 of the comic’s surface on top of the rubber pad. Bring the metal plate down onto the comic and press down .   You want your fingers so close to the plate that it will almost press your thumb down.  Do not let the book move or travel with the press.  You get only one shot at this!  The reason you are using 7/8 of the surface is to minimize travel of the book when the press goes down on the book.  If you barely place the comic in at just it’s spine, the entire book will travel and move on you as its being pressed!   This step will take you time and practice to get the hang of it.  Start small on simple dollar books!

A Word on Spine Adjustments
You can actually do the spine realignment on any book, even a brand new modern book!  I recommend this for blunted corners and deep spine indents.  This method is preferred instead of just shoving backer boards into your centerfolds and interior covers.  If you only use backer boards or stacks of paper, you risk imprinting edges of the paper or backer boards into your books.  Evidence of this is a simple vertical line that travels the length of the spine.


Final Word
160 degrees seems to be the sweet spot on most books to play it safe.  Always keep a timer with you and don’t forger to set your timer!  These steps are some of the things that can be done to successfully press a comic book, magazine, or poster with minimal to no damage to the item being pressed.  These tips will hopefully save you money, and guide you along the way as YOU learn and pick up new ideas and better ways to accomplish things.  I am not a professional presser, and I’m not a professional grader.  However, these are the methods I use when I press comic books.  All of this is a learning process.  I encourage you all to share your ideas among everyone so that we can all prevent damage to one another’s books.  Thank you!





Greetings! I’m here today to help prevent
your beloved comic books from getting damaged in the mail.
This will also help you to be a better ebay seller, too if
you are one of “those” people. These are strict
recommendations if you are submitting books to me directly.

This is the exact way I submit books to CBCS
or CGC or my convention facilitator.

I will provide links to everything I have purchased on ebay.
Always buy your shipping supplies on ebay.
It’s the cheapeast and quickest way to ship your books. Trust

You will need:

5lb. Weighmax Mail Scale
Clear Shipping Tape Rolls
Shipping Tape Gun
BCW Comic Book Backer Boards
BCW Silver Age Bags
1″ Blue Painter’s tape (skinny roll)
Fragile Shipping Tape
Sharpie Marker
Computer with a Printer for Printing a USPS Label

You will also need boxes and jiffy mailers. For comics you
can use 12x12x4 boxes which are cheaper via USPS because they
are under 12″. Graded books should be shipped the same
way but inside a 14x14x4 box instead.

GeminiII Comic Book Mailers
12x12x1 Boxes
14x14x4 Boxes
Styrofoam Peanuts

Now that you have your supplies and for super cheap on ebay…you’re
on your way to buying and selling comic books through the
mail. Let’s begin, shall we?

Today we are going to mail SPAWN #9 to myself. The first appearance
of Angela, Thor’s sister! Place your comic book carefully
inside a mylite2 with fullback (preferred) or use BCW silver
age bag and boards.

Fold up the Gemini II comic mailer along the perforated edges
for the comic book. You can safely ship up to 10 books this
way, alternating spines along the staple line. Be sure to
use a yard stick or ruler to pre-fold out your lines or you
will damage your spines.

Place the comic book(s) face down. You are going to place
strips of blue painters tape along the sides. Do not be a
“Jerry Smith” and put blue tape over the scotch
tape on top flap.

Place 1 strip of tape on each side as pictured below:

If you are super worried about sharp corners and razor sharp
sides (attempting to obtain a 9.8 or higher grade) you should
definitely tape the corners at a diagonal was well. See below:

Carefully fold over your flaps, checking slowly that there
is no bend to the comic book. See method below as pictured:

3 (Three) peices of tape when it’s all closed up carefully.
2 along the top and bottom flap edges and one for good measure
in the centerline. See pictured:

Back of Gemini II Mailer. You can see the top and bottom tape
flaps over side.

Print your name clearly in black sharpie. Write your email
address. Write your phone number too in case there is a problem.
Also you should write out the name of the comic book title(s)
and issue #. Write clearly and legibly. You are not a doctor.

Okay now set that aside somewhere. Somewhere safe from children,
coffee, mountain dew, or anything else might sprinkle on it.
We are going to build a box! Get ready. It’s hard.

Let’s make sure that box survives the USPS. Use 3-4 pieces
on the bottom outer flaps. Use tape to tape in inside bottom
flap too.

On the sides, I’ve seen boxes get blown out from stress or
other boxes on top. Use tape on that corner seam that’s merely
glued. Tape the inside too. Don’t be lazy. Go beyond what’s
necessary. After all, you just bought like 25 rolls of clear
packing tape, right? Okay then, tape away!

So now I’m going to show you the inside of the box to re-iterate
what I was stressing about the corner seam of these boxes.
Tape away with all that extra tape, brah.

Sprinkle some magical fairy dust otherwise known as styrofoam
peanuts in the bottom of the box, only enough to where you
can’t see the bottom. Shipping peanuts is fun to give, but
never to receive. So you have that going for you, right?

Place your books with the writing side up and place some remaining
packing peanuts on top of the comic. Only enough to which
you still have a half inch to an inch of space between the
top of the box and the top of the layer of peanuts. You do
not want to crush your books with the box flaps because you
overstuffed the box with peanuts!

Now you are ready to seal the box up. Place fragile stickers/tape
on the corners and bottom of the box. Print out your USPS
shipping label from the USPS website and affix it to the top
of the box.

Bottom of box:

You have now packaged a box of comics inside a box to be shipped
out. Congrats! See? Wasn’t that easy?

I hope this guide helps you as it has helped me over the years.
I have been selling on ebay since 2010 and I learned slowly
over time all of these tips. I’m here to share them all with
you on this page.

Thank you!