Storing comic books: ditching a short box for a showier display

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BCW short comic book storage box
BCW short comic book storage box
I have to believe that out there somewhere are some offbeat homes with comic book collections that are well-displayed. I would love to see some pictures of what people have done with them, besides shoving them in long or short boxes or stacking them on bookshelves.

I’ve longed to find a way to honor this part of my husband (because throwing them away or selling them on ebay behind his back would end our marriage). – Liz

Here are some of our ideas…

IKEA Spontan magazine racks holders
IKEA Spontan magazine racks holders
3 pocket wall file starter set, letter, clear
3 pocket wall file starter set, letter, clear
IKEA Expedit shelves and bookcases.
IKEA Expedit shelves and bookcases.
Spinning magazine racks.
Spinning magazine racks.
Alexandria Codex storage drawer: “A dragon punch to the balls of the white cardboard box”
Comic cubes.
Comic cubes.
Acrylic magazine holder by U.S. Acrylic
Acrylic magazine holder by U.S. Acrylic
Modern-style magazine racks.
Modern-style magazine racks.
Decorative ledges.
Decorative ledges.
Make a wall of comics with Safco plastic literature displays
Make a wall of comics with Safco plastic literature displays

Offbeat Homies: What are your best ideas for storing comic books in a way which adds interest to a room? If you’ve got photos, share a link in the comments!

Comments on Storing comic books: ditching a short box for a showier display

    • Hi Brit, thanks for the suggestion! I’m the original asker of this question. Framing is a neat idea. I can see highlighting certain colors in comics with great cover art with the mat, and choosing the right kind of glass to protect it from the sun.

      Unfortunately, even if we hung up 50 around the house, it wouldn’t make a dent (and I’m NOT hanging 50 comic books around the house – there are other things!). He would also be sad if he couldn’t take them out and read them anymore. In the end, we’d still have piles of boxes lined up in our disaster room.

      You’ve got me thinking about hanging up magazine racks though… Hmmm…

      • Heya,

        I’m a framer – and just wanted to add my 2 cents – you should be able to ask a framer to make frames so that the comic is completely removable – why not just do a black/white mat and black/otherwise neutral frame and rotate what comics you display whenever you can be bothered?
        MAke sure if you do this they use UV glass (expensive) and make sure the framers are well aware the comics should in no way be taped/attached. 🙂

  1. I would love an answer to this as well! At the moment all of my boyfriends graphic novels and comics are stacked on the floor beside the bookcase after we ran out of room on the shelves. I’d love some creative ways to store/display them!

    • Our graphic novels & comics are also waiting for a home, and are currently stacked on the floor in our office/guest-room-to-be/general crap depository,

  2. Right now all of ours are in boxes because we are moving in a few weeks, but what we plan on doing is putting them in a file cabinet. They wont necessarily be displayed, but they will be organized and easy to access. Plus, you can find some cool looking file cabinets, or paint one to be totally unique.

    • Yuo could always decorate the file cabinet with decoupaged printouts (or extra copies) from comics.

      A file cabinet painted black with decopauged black and what comics on the doors would be cool…

      • Mine are in these boxes, actually, just got them a few weeks ago. Used to just have piles on our Ikea Expedit shelves. These boxes are not a great fit for those shelves. I mean, they fit, but it looks awkward. They should stack up nice in my mancave though when I finally get that organized.

        I don’t have an enormous collection, however, probably around 100 books total. I try to buy hardcovers or trade paperback (TPB) collections whenever possible, which look great on normal bookshelves. Avid collectors might be surprised how inexpensively you can find some collections on Amazon. I’ve been ordering gorgeous, hardcover, oversized, full-bleed printed collections of Invincible (collecting around 12 issues each) for ~$20.

        Depends on how attached the collector is to their books, but one solution might be to see which books are actually valuable or sentimental and worth hanging on to, and which ones you can Ebay and replace with TPB’s if you have a huge collection.

        • He has been making the transition to trades with some titles, and those are much easier to store and look much nicer on bookshelves (although still really heavy), but its such a personal choice, you know? I can’t in good conscience drive him to a trade-only collection for the sake of storage, when he might have a reason for loving his single-issues. Know what I mean?

  3. I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but my boyfriend has about 20 longboxes of comics. Basically a metric fuckton. I was not a fan of the giant stack of longboxes in the corner method that he had used for years before moving in with me, so we bought 3 Ikea Expedit shelves that are 2 cubes by 4 cubes and he stores them in there, 2 issues deep. It keeps them accessible and, while I don’t have any photos right now, trust me that it looks pretty neat too. The nice thing about the Expedits is that you can set them on their long sides so that you have this low long surface to put other stuff. We have one like this in our bedroom, full of comics, but the top I have covered with family photos, my hair crap, jewelry, etc. It’s multi-functional.

    We also plan on making some insert tabs to mark the titles of all the comics and he has also organized them by publisher because he’s a total dork. 🙂

    • Thanks! The “metric fuckton” piled into the corner method is exactly what I’m attempting to deal with. Not only is it ugly, it makes me feel bad for him because he can’t get to what’s on the bottom, since he got the cheapest possible boxes the first time around. His are arranged by publisher too. 😀 I like the idea of turning a shelf on its long-side.

      • Another option that I picked up from another comic collector that we considered but didn’t go with was getting a bunch of legal size filing cabinets, so they’re a little bit wider than standard filing cabinets. With the extra width, you can file the comic in 2 rows per drawer. I had my eye on some old school metal filing cabinets, and had found some sweet looking ones on craigslist, but the problem was transporting them to our apartment. They can be really heavy and were too wide to fit in our car. My plan, though was to paint them fun colors.

        It didn’t work out for us, but I still think it’s a neat idea and you can keep them organized really easily that way.

        • The filing cabinet idea is very appealing. Easy store for him, easy on the eyes for me (with the caveat that they be the right look). There’s room to grow. Hmmmm….

          • Just a thought, but maybe get a few of those little table stands for paintings (cannot for the life of me think of the actual name for those) also to put on top of the filing cabinet to display two or three of the ones with the coolest looking covers, or the best colors, or his favorites, or whatever. That way, it’s not like you’re locking them all away in some big drawer.

  4. I’ve weeded out most of my single issue collection for graphic novels, anthologies, and trade paperbacks, which I have displayed on an ikea expedit 4×4 black brown shelf, with a couple of open squares for trinkets and whatnot. I’m down to such a small amount of single issues that they fit in one square of an expedit.

  5. I don’t own any comic books, nor does my husband or my brothers, but what about a shelf/cabinet that has doors on the front. Depending on how large the collection is and how crafty you are you could attach glass/photo frames to the doors to display a few favorites then have the inside full of the carefully organized comics. To really make it a showstopper add a light fixture to the top back of the cabinet along with a mirror to make it look really epic when it gets opened. For a simpler approach you can decoupage scrapbook paper to the inside of a cabinet. I lean towards cabinets just because they’d be a little more protected in there. Good luck!

    • we totally sketched out a design for exactly this on the weekend.
      OMG a custom cupboard with a display cabinet in the middle for our figurines, guuuh. I want it so bad!

  6. We have some framed, and some in clear plastic cases that open (think CD jewel cases, but bigger) I got them at AC Moore on clearance for about 50 cents each. I used 3M tape to secure them to the wall, so that if we reeeally need to read a particular comic we can just open the case. Hubs likes that they’re protected and I like that they’re not stacked everywhere.
    He has hundreds, so only a few are showcased- the rest are on bookshelves from Target in our home office because I couldn’t handle looking at the dirty boxes in the corner anymore. I will try to remember to post pictures when I get home tonight.

  7. I’m anxious to see what others have to say! We’re struggling with our collection too – right now most of our comics are in the plain white cardboard magazine files from IKEA, but they take up a lot of room, and it’s hard to sift through them to find what you’re looking for (but easy to arrange on a bookshelf and to organize into different titles). I like how they have them on The Big Bang Theory – nice baskets that are just wide enough to allow them to stand so they’re easy to flip through. But, then you’d have a bunch of baskets to put somewhere. Comics take up so much room!

  8. My problem with magazine shelving is it isn’t a great use of space, though maybe one shelf like that in a bookcase could work?

    We just keep our graphic novels/trade paperbacks in their own small bookcase (2 shelf), and we have the Invader ZIM House Box, a few vinyl figures, and a magazine file of individual comics on top of that. We will probably transfer them to a larger 3-shelf book case this year, as we’re outgrowing the small.

    Anyway, not super creative, but it works. Magazine files and file boxes on a book case can look attractive and organized, at least. Most comic book types have at least a few toys or objects that will add thematic visual interest to the storage area, even if he can’t bear to frame actual comics.

    But you might consider scanning some of his favorites covers–or even a favorite page of a favorite story–and framing nice prints of those scans.

    • We totally have the Invader Zim house box too. 😀 And we do have one shelf with the magazine rack. I like that look a lot. When we first set it up, he was a bit angry about a new system, so he put the goriest of the Walking Dead issues up to be shocking. I think he’d like framed prints. Thanks for the idea!

    • This is a nice idea too! I might look for some with more of a homey feel – they might not showcase the comics as well, but it would strike a better balance between his hobby and my sense of style.

    • That is EXACTLY what I was going to suggest. You can actually see at least some of the comics (unlike with a filing cabinet or boxes) but they are also organized AND off the floor. I’m a big fan of wall mounted storage. It really maximizes the usable space in a room.

  9. Forgive the astonishingly poor description to follow:

    What about one of those spinning rack things like some libraries have? Its a pole down the middle and then theres circles of wallets round the circumference. Kinda like the spinning shop display units but with wallets for magazines/comics. Not sure what its called or where you’d get one from but it’d look cool.

    Or make your own pole thing! Coat rack for the base and pole bit, put polo shaped MDF circles up the pole (secured with brackets underneath or tensioned with brackets above) and maybe put little dividers in the polos to section it. I’m thinking a coat rack with giant trivial pursuit cheeses up it.

    Can you tell that creative writing was never my strong point?

    • I can see what you’re describing, but I don’t quite follow your instructions for the DIY way to accomplish it. In any case, it’d be a fun way to display a few popular titles (like the ones he thinks the roommates and I should read) near a seating area.

    • I’ve found that those spinny things take way too much space. We have a tiny apartment and a huge comic/video game/DVD collection, so we snagged a couple spinning displays from a thrift shop. They were nice and all….if you have tons of space. Otherwise they just look crowded and kind of tacky (our apartment is sooo not cool enough to pull it off in a cool way).

  10. I’m thinking something like this:

    but with the shelves going all the way round the pole, and on a freestanding pole

    for the DIY option, get a coat rack and then make polo shaped shelves like this:

    ok so i know its a plate but imagine the centre is where the pole is and the edges of the individual containers are little dividers to break up the mags/comics. You get get maybe three or four on a pole, dependant on comic height

  11. I did a quick Google search on magazine storage, and these look like good options for a bookshelf, maybe mixed with a “showier” display:–106963 (I really like the first idea shown)

    If he’s like most comic book collectors I’ve known, he wants to keep them in as good a condition as possible. These might make that possible while being a bit more “showy” than a stack on a shelf, or a dusty box in the closet.

  12. I’m a huge fan of storage cubes, and am in the process of making some to run up and across our study walls to store my books, games, figurines, CDs and DVDs, and home decor magazine collection. I currently have a magazine bookcase for the latter, built to store them flat, to a depth of 20 deep per section, but it’s run out of space and the top’s become a storage house for crap.

    Really keen on the filing cabinet idea, too! That might be an option for my mags, if not my books …

    • Wow!! I do have a big wall currently covered in collectible hockey figures that could be used for this purpose… I like how light the effect is too – overfilled bookshelves make me feel a tad claustrophobic. I sort of had hoped someone out there would respond with a full-blown comic book nook. I know that would be expensive to change a room into, but the more I dream about it, the more I think how awesome it would be. I love this so much, thank you!

  13. My man has some magazine racks like this ( that he got when his favorite comic shop closed and we have them hanging in our disaster room full of comics. The rest are bagged and boarded and stored at his Dad’s house for the time being. Thank you so much for posting this question because we’re kind of struggling with finding a better way to store our comics as well.

  14. Like Ashlie, I keep mine in the plain white cardboard magazine files from IKEA – stored on a Billy bookshelf. It makes them *very* easy to get to – I can pull down the box containing a particular title in under 30 seconds. (I file alphabetically because I can never remember the publisher, but obviously you can arrange them however you want.)

    – The comics are a bit shorter than the magazine files. If you trim off about the top two inches of the magazine file, then you can get an exactly-integer number of shelves of comics into the 72″ Billy. (I think it’s 6, but I’m not home to check.)

    – The white magazine boxes can be decorated to provide more than a blank white spine. (I like the white, so I left ’em.)

    – If you are not collecting comics for posterity (don’t care as much about condition), then you can get 8 modern comics into one Silver-Age comics bag (and I think 12 into a Golden-Age bag) with no board needed. It makes a nice little package that’s perfectly sized for story arcs, and it stands up on its own, and you don’t have to open a different bag for each issue when you want to read them, and you can fit ever so many more comics onto the shelves!

    I can update with photos / capacity counts when I get home in a few days, if anyone wants.

  15. I hope no one has already posted this, and it’s a pretty pricey idea, but
    These are basically wooden file cabinets.

    I wonder if you could DIY a small dresser into one of these? If you found one with pretty tall but slim drawers (just wide enough for the comics) I bet it could work out.It would look better than a bunch of boxes everywhere and not as cold as a filing cabinet.

  16. These are all such great ideas! I don’t have a home yet, but I know this will be an issue as soon as we move out of our dorms. My fiance mostly has trade paperbacks and hardcovers, but he has so many of them (and I have so many books!) that finding something to do with them will be hard!
    The only thing is going to be finding something as nice as these suggestions that we can use for an apartment – since we will probably still move several times before settling down.

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