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What is comic book 'restoration'?

Comic Book Alterations

Mark Zaid (Owner of Esquire Comics) gives expert video advice on: How does restoration affect a comic book's price?; Should I use tape to repair my comic books?; What is comic book 'color touching'? and more...

What is comic book 'restoration'?

Comic book restoration means some method has been used or applied to the comic book, to try and restore it back to its original state. Comic book restoration is used to increase the grade, enhance the visual appetite or asthetics of the comic book. In that sense, the definition of restoration is just as it is universally accepted in other types of communities for hobbyists. It's the attempt or method used to restore the comic book back to it's original shape or form.

How does restoration affect a comic book's price?

Restoration can affect a comic book's price significantly. It will all depend, of course, on the status of the restoration, on the extent of it, if it's professional versus amatuer, if it's slight, moderate or extensive. Slight being perhaps just some dots of color touched to fill in some area that faded, or extensive which can involve having actual pieces of the comic book replaced. This could significantly affect the price of the comic book, and it could drive the price down to as little as ten to twenty-five percent of what it would otherwise be. It will also depend of course on the comic book itself. A comic book like superma in restored condition will still garner a very significant price. Not as much as it would not restored though, and it will also depend on how rare the comic book is. But as a general rule, restored comic books will not come anywhere close to the value that they would be unrestored. That's not to say that there should be a stigma attached, restored comic books are perfectly fine to collect, theyre perfectly fine to invest in, but the investment opportunity is less. But from a collecting standpoint, if you want to collect very rare and expensive comic books, restored comic books might be the way to go because the price will be so much lower.

Is 'gluing' considered restoration?

Gluing is typically considered restoration and is something that is certainly not advocated. For certain types of comic books like Golden Age comic books, you can have a slight amount of glue on a comic book that is not considered restoration, though typically it should still be disclosed that the presence of the glue is there. But this is not a restoration method that is typically suggested in order to use, to repair a comic book.

What is comic book 'conservation'?

There is a debate within the comic book community now of the discussion between comic book conservation and comic book restoration. Conservation means in a sense what it also means for books and other types of artifacts: that you are trying to conserve the state of quality of the book. So, for example, with a comic book that may have staples starting to rust, you want to try to do something to conserve the state of that book so the staples do not continue to rust and then erode the contents of the paper. Conversely, restoration is where you are trying to restore the comic book from one grade to a higher grade in it's original form. At the moment, there is not a consensus from a value standpoint if there is a difference between conservation and restoration. But it is a topic that is being discussed with greater intensity to try to distinguish between the two categories.

What is comic book 'repairing'?

Comic book repairing is just essentially another name for comic book restoration. It could be taking special archival tape, it could be replacing bits and pieces of the comic book, replacing staples and such, but usually repairing would apply more if the comic book has been damaged in some form and you were trying to repair it or restore it back to its original form.

Should I use tape to repair my comic books?

One should never use tape to repair a comic book. Now, there are - in archival paper categories, instances where tape is actually commonly used. In the comic book community however, it is not used. It is not looked upon favourably. The tape will obviously damage the comic book, and you'd think that there would be a sort of nuance of saying, "Well, I've torn it. I want to put a piece of tape on it." But if you do that, you will actually lower the value of the comic book more so than just the presence of the tear itself.

What is comic book 'pressing'?

Comic book pressing refers to, in essence exactly what is says, it's the pressing of wrinkles out of a comic book. Now this may be naturally, through certain storage of a comic book, but typically when one talks about pressing in the comic book community, we're talking about an intentional act in order to enhance the grade aesthetic-value wise or dollar-value wise of a particular comic book. It could involve heat, it could involve moisture at times, and it could involve pressure in trying to change the cover frame work or paper quality in some sense of pressing out those wrinkles.

Is comic book pressing considered a restoration process?

The question of whether comic book pressing constitutes to restoration is one that is controversial within the comic book community right now. As far as I'm concerned, pressing is restoration. It's the most minimalist form of restoration, but any universally accepted definition of restoration, which is to try and restore a comic book from one grade to its original state, must include pressing, because what pressing is, is pressing out wrinkles or defects that have detracted from the grade. But some people view it as non-restorative because they say it doesn't add anything to the comic book. You're not doing anything to change the nature of the book. If you want to uphold a true form of definition with respect to how books are considered archival papers, then it would fall within restoration. But the question then comes: should it, as restoration, have any diminished value? And because of being a minimalist form of restoration, it may have little or no change in the value of a comic book. The key though, is disclosure. The community is on a move towards disclosure of any known treatment or method to enhance the value or quality grade of a comic book.

What is a 'trimmed cover'?

A trim cover is generally not looked upon as a means of restoration. It's actually looked on as a means of destruction. Those in the comic book community will trim the side of a comic book to try and make it appear to be more pristine than it was. Obviously cutting off, literally cutting off part of the comic book, is something that is not favoured and will significantly damage the value of your comic book if it is discovered.

What is comic book 'color touching'?

Comic book colour touching is a form of restoration where you would, as an amateur (as a kid, most of the time), take a felt marker or a pen and colour-in parts of the comic book. As a professional standpoint it could be that the comic book has faded over time and the professional restoration expert will use colour touching to restore it back to its original form. Colour touch is usually viewed upon as a minimalist form in the slight range, but it will impact the value of a comic book.

What is comic book 'de-acidification'?

Comic book de-acidification is another method of comic book restoration, to try and remove defects that might have attached to the comic book and clean the cover of the comic book, restoring the vibrant colours. It is a method by which actually comic books are soaked in certain formulas and it is considered a form of restoration.

Do I need to disclose comic book alterations before a sale?

From an ethical standpoint, certainly in my perspective, and it's coming as one who is an attorney as well, disclosure of anything done to a comic book that would significantly impact the value or create a decision where you, if you were the buyer you would want to have the ability to render an informed decision, should be disclosed. All forms of restoration should always be disclosed. Then you get into the grey areas, such as pressing. There are organizations, such as the Network of Disclosure which I helped found, which advocates that all types of treatment should be disclosed. The meaning, or the reason for it, is to allow the buyers to render an informed decision. If that decision is to purchase, for example, a pressed comic book or a colour-touched comic book that's fine. If you want to pay full price that's fine, and if you want to pay half price it's still fine. But the issue is from an ethical standpoint to disclose treatments so that the buyer doesn't have remorse when they find out a day, a week, or a year later that something happened to that comic book that they weren't aware of at the time.