Comic Restoration Service
We’re proud to offer a revolutionary process in comic book restoration called leaf casting, which has dramatically improved the appearance of comics we restore. Leaf casting is used by most historical conservationist labs across the world; incorporating this process into comic book restoration now brings us in line with other fields of historical ephemera. Kenny Sanderson is an independent consultant who has refined our leaf casting process, which now produces results that are unparalleled in our hobby.
Gone is the traditional method of piece replacement, adding each piece by hand. Leaf casting accomplishes this in one step, creating a seamless fill that matches thickness and flexibility. Our color touch methods have also evolved, which in hand with leaf casting has produced better grades and higher value then before.
This means the field of candidacy has now broadened. But the most important question still remains, should you restore your comic book, or leave it in its current state?
The answer involves personal preference and expense. The questions below will help guide you to that answer. If you think your comic book would benefit from restoration, you should submit the comic under our Screening service for an evaluation and an exact determination of restoration fees.
When should I not restore my comic book?
As a rule of thumb, you should not consider restoring any comic better than VG condition, nor any comic younger than 1963. Comic collectors typically prefer unrestored comics in grades above VG.
Sometimes a comic is in too low a grade to benefit from restoration, or it exhibits particular defects that hinder restoration. Extremely brittle paper cannot be restored. Slightly brittle pages can be conserved, but we must evaluate any brittle books beforehand to determine their feasibility. Comics missing pages or front and back covers cannot be restored unless a donor is provided with the comic.
Certain kinds of defects are very difficult to repair, including excessive tape and certain kinds of stains, cover fading, excessive glue repairs, multiple long creases, heavy spine wear, or a considerable amount of missing paper. Color touching and missing artwork is the most time consuming aspect of comic restoration, so the more creasing, wear and missing paper a copy exhibits, the more difficult the restoration.
What are the three steps in restoration?
The first step is what we call conservation, which involves cleaning and/or minor repairs. This is the least time consuming and most crucial of the three steps.
The second step is piece fill using leaf casting. After the cover (and interior if necessary) have been cleaned and prepped, the wrap is leafcasted, which involves filling all missing areas of paper with fibers suspended in a liquid medium. The fill is nearly seamless, and the thickness and flexibility of the original paper is closely matched.
The third and final step is color touch, in which aesthetic repairs are applied to the book to achieve the maximum apparent grade. We use acrylics to blend filled areas and recreate missing art by hand, the most time consuming of the three steps. The result is a comic book that looks natural and as perfect as possible. This final step is considered “full” restoration.
It’s important to point out that these steps are not mutually exclusive. In order to leafcast a book, it must first be cleaned and prepped (conservation). For full restoration, all three steps must be taken.
Step #1: Conservation
Conservation work involves removing unnecessary material from a comic (dirt, stains, tape), cleaning, and then minor repair if necessary (tear seals, support, staple replacement). Conservation work typically runs between $75 and $300. The type of comics that are recommended for conservation work are attractive copies that suffer from one major defect, such as a cleanly split spine, detached centerfold or cover, or large stain.
Because cleaning a comic book skirts the line between “restored” and “unrestored” it is important to distinguish the types of cleaning available. There are three types: dry, solvent and water. Dry removes dirt and soiling, while solvent helps remove tape, some stains and yellowing. Water cleaning rids covers of tanning, wrinkling and most stains.
A good conservation candidate would be a Marvel Mystery #3 that appears VF but is actually a GD- due to a cleanly split spine. Because a simple spine seal and pressing would drastically increase the eye appeal of the book, this would be an excellent candidate for conservation.
Step #2: Leaf casting
Leaf casting essentially fills in all missing paper to a cover or interior page. It’s the step in between conservation (cleaning/prepping) and full restoration (color touch) and often produces dramatic results, particularly in covers missing a lot of paper. The average cost of conservation/leaf casting is $200-$500.
If you opt to just clean and leafcast your comic book, you will always have the option to submit it for color touch at a later date.
Step #3: Color Touch
Color touch is the final step after conservation and leaf casting, and is considered to be a “full” restoration job. The goal is to achieve the highest possible apparent grade for your comic. Total cost for a full restoration job can run anywhere from $400 to over $3,000 depending on the extent of damage that must be repaired.
How is the fee determined?
Exact restoration fees will be provided once CCS performs an in person screening of the comic. We will recommend on of the following options: 1) do nothing to the comic, 2) perform only conservation work, 3) perform conservation and leaf casting, 4) perform full restoration work, 5) only press the comic to preserve its unrestored state. The screening fee for this evaluation is 1% of the comic’s fair market value.
How long does it take to restore my comic book?
Our turnaround time varies, depending on what restoration work needs to be performed. Conservation typically takes 2–3 months. Leaf casting will usually take 3–4 months. Full restoration can run anywhere from 4–9 months, depending on the volume of submissions and how much restoration your comic book needs.
What are CGC’s grading standards for restored comics?
Restored comics graded by CGC are identified with a purple label, rather than the blue label given for unrestored comic books. CGC’s grading standards for restored comics consists of three components; an apparent grade, the extent of restoration, and the quality of restoration materials used.
The apparent grade follows the same standard as for unrestored comics, ranging from 0.5 to 10.0 (most in the 1.0 to 9.0 range), but is printed on a purple label rather than blue.
Extent of restoration has three classifications: Slight, Moderate, and Extensive. Slightly restored comics include cover and interior cleaning, tear seals, support, and very minor color touch. Moderately restored comics include all of that plus minor piece fill and more color touch. Extensive comics include any kind of piece fill, including major grafts of up to 1/3 of a cover or page, and any amount of color touch.
Quality of restoration is ranked as Professional (P) or Amateur (A). Professional restoration encompasses the traditional materials used by a professional comic restorer such as rice paper, wheat paste, methyl cellulose, and acrylic or water based paint. Amateur restoration denotes the use of markers and pens (color touch that results in bleedthrough) and hard glues (basically anything not water soluble). Trimming is considered amateur.
An example of a restored CGC grade for a moderately restored Batman #1 with professional work would be “Batman #1, CGC app. 6.5 Moderate (P).”
Staple cleaning or replacement, replaced wraps, and fully married covers will receive a “Qualified” grade, which is represented by a green label.
I’m ready to submit my comic book.
If you have already e-mailed us scans of your comic and we think it could be a good restoration candidate, it’s time to submit your comic to us. Generating a profile and creating a work order for your submission is very easy, but if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
You must be a CGC Collectors Society member or CGC Authorized Member Dealer to submit comics to CCS.
Once we contact you with our evaluation, you can determine if you would like us to proceed.