WHAT IS COMIC BOOK PRESSING?
Comic book pressing is the process of flattening out a
comic book that has been wrinkled or damaged. Comics can
get bent during shipping or have creaselines from heavy
reading. Good news: Comic Books can be pressed using a
t-shirt heatpress machine, a book press, a stack of short
boxes, or anything heavy and flat. The idea is simple:
to smooth out the waves and bumps on the cover of a comic
book. This makes the overall grade and eye appeal of the
book increase considerably. Comic book pressing is not
restoration, more like comic book conservation. The difference
can sometimes mean thousands of dollars when discussing
high dollar key comic books. Do NOT press a comic
book with an iron.
DOES THIS BOOK NEED TO
The first question you should ask is: Does this book need
to be pressed? Signs the book would benefit from a press
or dry cleaning:
DANGERS OF BAD PRESSING
While reading this site, take special attention to this
section. This guide is here to prevent damage to your
books and other people's comic books as well. The guide
is also here to make sure you press books in a way that
do not show signs of pressing. If you have to press a
book again a second or third time, it's a better option
than to ruin a book forever. Multiple pressings are safe
if done correctly. Grading companies will actually make
you take a hit or more if there are evident signs of pressing.
I've been requested to list briefly what can be done to
avoid each concern. This is what to avoid at all costs:
- BURNING A BOOK Use less heat - keep
it under 160 F, less duration. Set a timer on your phone.
- FUZZY INKS Ballpoint pen and sharpie
ink will appear fuzzy or blurry. Use minimal moisture
if possible. Use a lower temperature for ballpoint pen
marks on cover.
- COVER IS FUZZY OR BLURRY Too much
moisture and humidity (over 14-18 hours). Less time
in the humidity chamber (Under 8-10 hours).
- FLARING Causes wavy pages and wavy
cover. Removing book too soon from press or too much
pressure (or both). Place a backer board at centerfold
to protect the rigidness and flatness of pages.
- STAPLES ARE CRUSHED OR SUCKED IN
Use less pressure with pressure adjustment knob. Do
not use 110 cardstock under covers. Place a backer board
at centerfold to protect staples.
- SPINE IS CRUSHED OR FLAT Use less
pressure with pressure adjustment knob. Place a backer
board at centerfold to protect staples and spine.
- WARPING AND WRINKLES ON COVER Re-using
SRP paper. Throw away SRP paper after 1 use. Temperature
is set way to high or there is a malfunction with thermostat
on unit. Place a backer board at centerfold to protect
the rigidness and flatness of pages.
- DIVOTS OR CRATERS ON COVER (pebbling)
Use SRP paper and magazine sized backer boards above
and below the book as a disposable sterile barrier from
dirt and dust debris. Wipe each book front to back with
a fragrance free, lotion free kleenex. If you use steel
plates be sure to sand and wipe the plates clean before
use. Using a can of compressed air helps as well. If
you blow with your mouth you can get saliva bubbles
- VERTICAL LINE traveling along spine
on covers or interior pages. Too much pressure, backer
board/cardstock/copypaper is not placed right up against
spine as close as possible. Cardstock paper used is
too thick. Try using 65 lb instead.
- UNDERHANG (cover can shrink but
rest of book measures out). Too much heat. Using too
thick of cardstock under front and back cover also can
cause cover to shrink.
- STAINING (water stains, moisture
stains) . Use distilled water only. No tap water or
bottled water. The minerals can and will stain your
- SPINE ROLLS Books are stacked improperly
over a long period of time or production error.
- SPINE SPLITS on an otherwise near
mint book. Production error, or using a backer board
under covers with too much pressure.
- STARCHED COMIC BOOK All pages stuck
together. Entire book is starched and stuck together.
Modern glossy page books require a much lower temperature
setting, such as 145 or 150 degrees. Try lifting each
page one at a time.
- ADVERTISING COVER Ads from inside
cover inks can be seen through the cover from page inks
underneath. Too much moisture followed by too much pressure
and heat. IE., "overdoing it".
- STAPLE PUSH Staple prong pin holes
or color rub on cover. Too much pressure when pressing,
or improper inspection should have notated the staple
prongs need to be pushed down using a plastic putty
knife or similar tool. Most common with glued squarebound
books such as Silver Surfer 4 or Giant Size X-Men 1.
- DIGITAL CODE SQUARES Marvel and
DC Digital Code Insert imprints of 1" square on
last 8 pages of book, including back cover. Improper
preparation for pressing a book with a digital code.
The pressure of the press imprints the digital code
into each page before and after the code. You must use
cardstock paper or copy paper to cushion each page before
and after. (Up to 4 pages before and after to back cover).
- SCRATCHES Back cover is scratched.
Make sure you slide a book with board inside a bag.
Do not slide a book inside a pre-assembled bag and board.
- RUST (Iron Oxide) or Mold on cover.
Rust can form on the steel plate of press when pressing
damp books from humidity chamber because moisture seeps
through SRP paper if not using a buffer such as a backer
board. You must also change out all paperstock and SRP
paper after 10 minutes and re-press as normal before
- WASHED OUT COLORS Faded colors on
cover. Too much humidity. Less time in the humidity
chamber. Using too much pressure with erasers can also
cause color rub faded colors on cover.
- COCKLING Wrinkles on cover. Using
too much steam from a clothes steamer. Re-using SRP
paper and cardstock or copy paper. Always use SRP paper
once and done. You will imprint wrinkles from used SRP
paper right into the next book you press.
- SPINE DENTS Spine ticks. If you
spot new spine dents that weren't there before pressing,
the book was incorrectly handled prior to pressing or
afterwards. Make sure when you flip a book to use 2
assembled bags and boards to create a rigid surface
for flipping and transporting a book.
- FINGERPRINTS If you spot new fingerprints
that weren't there before pressing, the book was incorrectly
handled prior to pressing or afterwards. Make sure when
you press a book you always wear cotton or latex gloves.
Use lotion free kleenex tissue and wipe in circles.
- COVER LIFTING CURL and/or wavy.
If your front or rear cover starts curling or looks
wavy after pressing, you may have let the book cool
down too fast or it was heated up too fast. Try leaving
the press off until you have the book inside press machine
and clamped down in the closed position. Then turn press
machine on and let it heat up slowly and cool down slowly.
Humidity may be needed to repair this book's paper fiber
memory. While rare, another reason could be an outer
corner crease fold with creaseline and a middle tear
along bottom or top edge. This can cause the cover to
curl as well.
- FUSION of some pages stuck together.
Book has been pressed at too hot of temperature. Modern
age glossy modern comic books with glossy interior pages
and cover cannot handle extreme heat temperatures. Try
pressing the book at 150 or 155. To repair this, be
sure to carefully unstick each page one at a time. Or,
you can try slightly bending the comic book vertically
down the middle. You should hear the pages unstick.
Otherwise, the pages have fused to one another and this
book may be ruined with color loss and ink rub when
- INSIDE COLOR RUB If your inside covers
appear to have missing inks or color rub, scrapes, or
light spots - the cover fused to a sheet of inkjet copy
paper or cardstock paper. Always use inkjet paper and
not laserjet copy paper. The laserjet paper will stick
and pull inks. Otherwise, the book was pressed too hot
and is permanently damaged. Press at 150 degrees or
155 degrees next time for glossy interior pages and
covers on modern age comic books. Modern age comics
cannot handle temperatures past 160-165 typically.
- CANVASING Fine tiny square gridlike
patterns across surface of book cover. This is caused
by using too much pressure and/or re-using teflon paper
sheets. I recommend disposable $0.02 cent sheets of
SRP paper from ULINE to eliminate canvasing, pebbling,
- TAPE PULL Exactly as it sounds. A
piece of tape lifted colors from book cover. Keep tape
away from bags and comics as you work. This is permanent
damage to comic book!
If your book has a spine roll to it, you should consider
spine realignment as well. Adjusting the spine of a comic
book can be risky. Other damage may occur from staple
movement, spine splits, loose pieces becoming detached,
or spine chipping if the book is brittle.
DIGITAL CODES AND INSERTS
New Marvel Comics modern age comic books have digital
code inserts in the last 4th page of every interior book.
Some books also have Tattooz inserts or other items, such
as Image #0 coupons and Mark Jeweler's Inserts. These
books require a different and careful approach so the
digital code does not press or imprint a 1" square
onto the back cover and adjoining interior pages.
WHAT DOES COMIC BOOK PRESSING
Color breaking creases on covers. Loose or missing staples.
Loose or missing pieces or pages. Staple indentations.
Moisture stains. Color or ink breaking spine ticks. Scratches.
Scratches on black covers. Books folded in half. Ballpoint
pen ink. Marker ink. Date stamps. Library stamps. Deep
indentions along front spine. Blunted corners. I am not
a miracle worker. Please consider these conditions prior
to submitting a book for pressing.
CONSIDERED RESTORATION BY GRADING COMPANIES?
No. Pressing is a non-invasive method of restoring the
original flatness of a book as if it were just printed.
Heat and steam are used sometimes to restore spine placement,
and helps move creases and fold flaps back to original
placement. No chemicals or inks or paints or any similar
methods are used on any books. Grading labels will not
state "restored" on the label once a book has
Dry pressing and dry cleaning your book does not use any
chemicals or moisture. Only pencil marks and crayon is
safely removed from dry cleaning. The heatpress machine
and the temperature does not lift sharpie marker or ballpoint
pen. Signed or witnessed signature series books are completely
safe from ink being lifted during pressing. Paint
markers used on signatures cannot be pressed or graded.
Cleaning and looking over the book during inspection can
take over a few hours. Cleaning alone can take 30 mintues
or several hours depending on what is being cleaned and
how cleaning should be approached. Once your book is actually
being pressed, it takes 5-7 min under high heat and an
additional 24 hours or more to cool down using a singular
heat/cold exchange method of pressing by allowing the
book to completely cool back down while still pressed.
The process itself can take 25-30 hours total per book.
Some books require pressing to be left over several days
and nights while still inside the comic book press. Spine
roll realignments can take an additional 2 hours or more,
depending on severity of spine condition.
damage risk and pre-screening
Pressing a book does have inherent risks. The spine can
split. Centerfolds can become loose from a top or bottom
staple (or both). Cleaning can rub off surface gloss or
ink. If a book is brittle there is risk of chipping and
pieces coming loose or removed completely. Spine splits
can become worse during a press. You must understand these
risks and make an informed decision before chosing to
have a book pressed. In most cases, the risk is minimal.
These risks are mostly associated with Golden Age and
Silver Age comic books. Pre-screening is important because
sometimes a book is best left in its present condition
if the benefits do not outweigh the risks due to value
or rarity of book. Send me photos of your books to firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any questions.
There is a dedicated collective and very active Facebook
Group with over 800 members called "KaptainMyke Comic
Book Pressing" for anyone to join and contribute
ideas open for discussion. Ask questions about this guide
or show off your own books! Anyone is welcome to join.
I firmly believe the spread of accurate free information
will help us all keep books preserved and conserved. You
may find the Facebook Group at this link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaptainmykecomicpressing
collectibles insurance coverage
Your books are fully protected and insured up to $100,000
under the Consignment Agreement subsection of Collectibles
Insurance Agency Services LLC which covers the following:
storage of books during services provided, limited transit
protection from storage to carrier services, and limited
carrier protection under USPS, FEDEX, and UPS shipping,
this protection covers you in the event of theft, loss,
or damage to your book while having cleaning and pressing
services performed on your books. This coverage does NOT
protect your books in the event of damage caused by the
actual pressing or cleaning services to your book. There
is always an inherit risk to pressing a book, due to popped
staples, unforeseen spine splits, brittle pages, or otherwise
unknown variables to the pre-existing condition of your
books. In the event your book is damaged due to pressing
or cleaning, your book will be 100% replaced according
to the listed raw grade given on invoice prior to services
performed. For verification of coverage on policy #UD0002842,
please contact: Collectibles Insurance Agency Services
LLC P.O. Box 1146 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 Phone: 336.550.4813
Fax: 410.876.9233 www.CollectInsure.com
The author is also an authorized and licensed CGC Dealer.
Have peace and mind the advice given on this website will
help you achieve the absolute highest grades possible
with CGC. CGC is the most trusted authority on third party
grading of comic books since 2000.
1953 E.C. Publications SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES #12
(Before and After)