Contemporary Collections: Preprints from the AICCM National Conference 17th g 19th October 2007 Brisbane pp. 130-142
In October 2006 the State Library of Victoria (SLV) presented an exhibition of Australian comics, Heroes and Villains. The exhibition included comic books dating from the 1940s to present day, as well as some original art works and objects, numbering 294 items in total. The treatment and exhibition of comic book collections raised some interesting issues for SLV’s conservators and exhibition managers. While many of the comics to be displayed were in pristine condition, many others suffered from distortion, rusted staples, torn pages, damaged spines and extensive staining and foxing. The comic book industry has very definite ideas about what treatments are appropriate in order for a comic to retain its commercial value, including many that conservators would consider fairly routine, uncontroversial and even value-raising.
While SLV wanted to maintain the commercial value of its collections, practical considerations made some treatment inevitable. The comics needed to be displayed safely, without incurring further damage, and made stable for future use by library patrons. This paper will discuss the results of research undertaken to determine appropriate approaches to the conservation of comic book collections.