Cleaning and Pressing Transformers #1
I enjoyed making this first video for the channel. It's a quick look at the steps I take to dry clean a comic and prepare it for pressing.
Sadly, the audio didn't come through when I was recording the video. I was using an external mic and didn't have it attached correctly so all the audio is silent. I was disappointed at first but found a way to use text on the screen to get the key points across. This had the happy effect of letting me accelerate much of the video so it appears in more of a time-lapse mode.
As noted in the description for the video, cleaning and pressing comics comes with risks which must be assumed by the person doing the cleaning and/or pressing. I personally practiced on several low-value books before working on my more favorite comics. When practicing, I found it useful to do things incorrectly on purpose to find out how much it took for things to go wrong. I intentionally caused color rubs while running an eraser over a cover to see how much force and duration was required first to remove the gloss and second to see where the color started pulling up on the eraser. This improved my confidence that what I was doing was cleaning and helped me to recognize the colors of dirt and grime vs. damage.
Steps and products used in the video are listed below. Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate, atomiccomics.net earns from qualifying purchases.
I learned most of my techniques from reading the book Comic Book CPR.
I start by wiping down the book with a Swiffer duster to remove loose surface dirt
I then go over the cover with an Absorene Dirt Eraser. Absorene products were designed for document preservation and are generally kind to paper.
After this, I'll wipe down the cover with a lint-free cotton makeup pad.
Next I take a polymer click eraser and start cleaning in small circles. As described in Comic Book CPR, I use my hand and wrist to hold the eraser steady and apply firm pressure to the book. All the motion is driven from my forearm and elbow, not from the hand or wrist. This helps minimize likelihood of color rubs. I clean the eraser head frequently by rubbing it on the Absorene eraser to keep the cleaning surface white and minimize friction on the book's cover.
Then it's time to roll a small log of Absorene document cleaner over the book to pull remaining dirt from the fibers and crevices.
Once this process is repeated on the other cover, it's time to prep the book for pressing. First I place it in a humidity tank for an hour to relax the paper a bit so it will take the pressing better.
Next I build the comic book "sandwich" depending on what type of book it is and what inserts are present. At minimum I place a backer board in the centerfold to support the spine, and I place 65 lbs. paper just inside the front and back covers to help them take the pressing better. The full formulas for inserting layers in and around the book for pressing are found in Comic Book CPR.
Inside the press, I place a sheet of teflon on the bottom plate. On top of that I put a backer board and a piece of silicone-coated paper. Next comes the comic book sandwich topped by another silicone-coated paper, a backer board, and another teflon sheet
After adjusting the pressure to the height of the stack by turning the tension knob on the press, it's time to close it, turn it on, and let the press come up to temperature for the prescribed time in Comic Book CPR. In this case it was 165 degrees F for 15 minutes. Once the timer sounds, I turn off the press and leave it closed for 24 hours. This maximizes the outcome and minimizes the likelihood of reversion (a condition where bends, flaring, or other defects return after some time).
Thanks for reading, and happy collecting!