If you collect comic books, you may have heard about comic pressing. This is the act of taking a comic that has been folded or damaged in a way that makes the comic no longer flat, and flattening it. Pressing does not repair damage, such as broken coloration from folds or tears to the comic, but it does return it to being flat.
I buy a lot of comics from thrift stores, and some of these are less than flat. I’m trying to fill in my collection for issues that came out over the years that I was not buying comics, so my goal is to get a comic that is flat, not a perfect comic for selling.
Professionals use a press, often a t-shirt press used to transfer logos onto the t-shirt to accomplish this. Rather than spend over $100 for such a device, I pondered how to accomplish this without spending much money. I settled on using a cooking tray.
Items used for pressing:
1 comic book
1 cooking tray
1 baking/cookie tray
Step 1: Starting With the Cooking Tray
Starting with the cooking tray, ensure that it is flat and that there are no foreign substances on it, such as dust, crumbs, etc. Anything that is in contact with the comic can leave an impression on it.
Step 2: Place a Comic Book Board on the Tray
Place a comic book board on the tray to further help keep the surface flat and add a barrier between the tray and the comic.
Step 3: Place a Piece of Parchment Paper on Top of the Comic Board
Place a piece of parchment paper (not wax paper) on top of the comic board. This is to prevent to comic from sticking to the board. Ideally, you should use new parchment paper each time, but I’m a lazy cheapskate, so I reuse it a couple of times.
Step 4: Place Pieces of Parchment Paper Between the Cover and the Inside Pages
Place pieces of parchment paper between the cover and the inside pages, both front and back. Again, I’m lazy, so I use a piece of parchment paper that is folded over so that one piece will do this. Ensure that the parchment paper is as close to the inside edge as possible. After this, place the comic on top of the parchment paper that is on the cooking tray, ensuring that it is on top of the board. If it is not on top of the board, you will create a crease.
Step 5: Place Another Piece of Parchment Paper on Top of the Comic
Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the comic. This is to ensure that the comic does not stick to the surface of what you put on top of it.
Step 6: Place the Items You Will Be Using to Press Down on the Comic
Place the items you will be using to press down on the comic. Originally, I used just the book and the weights, but I was getting more pronounced wavy lines, so I added the baking/cookie tray. Using new parchment paper every time will also help with reducing the waves.
Step 7: Set the Temperature for the Cooking Tray to Somewhere Between 100° and 180° F
Set the temperature for the cooking tray to somewhere between 100° and 180° F. Exceeding these temperatures can cause damage to the comic. Initially, I was using higher temperatures, but I was often ending up with the entire comic stuck together. The paper stock also affects this, so you will want to experiment. I have been using lower temperature for longer periods lately.
Step 8: Let the Comic Sit for at Least an Hour
Let the comic sit for at least an hour. I have tried shorter and longer times. Shorter times don’t give as flat of a comic, but if it’s a small bend it may work to fix that. I tend to forget that I am doing this and have left comics pressing for over 8 hours at times. I haven’t seen much difference in the result from 1 hour to 8 hours. Other instructions I’ve seen have said to leave it overnight, so there may be a reason for longer times, but I haven’t encountered it making a difference.
After it has been pressing for a while, turn off the heat and let it cool down. Leave the weight on the comic, otherwise it will curl up, which is counter to the goal of having a flat comic. I wait at least 30 min (usually longer because I forget about it) for things to cool down.
Once the cooking tray has cooled down, remove the weight items and take the parchment paper from the comic. It will now be flatter than what you started with. As I mentioned, I’ve been getting small waves on my comics, which is at least partially due to reusing parchment paper. Since I’m only pressing these to make them flatter, this is a minor annoyance. I’ll do more research on how to eliminate this in the future, but for now it works for my purposes.
Step 9: Here Is the End Result for This Comic
Here is the end result for this comic.