Whether you're collecting the adventures of your favorite comic characters in trade paperback form or looking for stand-alone works of visual storytelling -- or both -- a graphic novel collection can take up a lot of space. Proper storage can help you make the most of the available space, keep your books in the best possible condition and even add to the visual appeal of a room.
Before you decide how to store your collection, you'll need to consider how you want to organize it. For instance, you might sort by character, with all your Atomic Robo books in one place and all your Phonogram books in another. Alternatively, try sorting by creator, with Jack Kirby's epic "Fourth World" books shelved next to his groundbreaking run on "Fantastic Four" or volumes of Gail Simone's "Birds of Prey" next to collections of her tenure on "Wonder Woman." You can also simply sort by genre, especially if you have collections of anthology titles like 1950s horror comics or classic British war books.
The Humble Bookshelf
One of the reasons you can find graphic novels in regular bookstores as well as comic shops is that they're easy to display on a normal bookshelf. Use a bookcase with adjustable shelves, since many fixed-height shelves won't be tall enough to accommodate graphic novels. Place extra-tall volumes on their own separate shelf. If you're storing digest-sized volumes -- the typical format for manga -- you should be able to use a shelf designed for paperback novels.
If you don't have enough shelf space or need to put your collection in storage for a longer period, you can use cardboard storage boxes. Ordinary storage boxes will work, but comic boxes will fit graphic novels better, with minimal extra space. You'll be better off using the shorter size of comic storage box -- a "longbox" full of hardback graphic novels can be very heavy. Make sure that each box is clearly labeled so that you won't have to root through them all to find the book you want.
Like any books, graphic novels should not be exposed to a damp environment. If you can, keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent color fading on the spines or covers. Some comics fans keep their graphic novels in polyethylene storage bags. If you want to do this, you'll need larger-sized bags such as magazine bags. Because most people don't bag their trade paperbacks or graphic novels, appropriately-sized bags are a little harder to find than normal comic bags. In general, graphic novels lack the collectibility of "singles."
Having Fun with Storage
Even a collection of shortboxes on metal shelves doesn't have to be a boring part of a room. Liven up the appearance of shortboxes by printing out a cover image and attaching it to the outward-facing side as a label. Not only is this a good way to identify a box's contents, it also stops a row of comic boxes from being a boring wall of white cardboard. If you're storing graphic novels on a bookshelf, try filling empty space with action figures or other memorabilia. You can tie the item on display to the theme of that section of shelf. For instance, display a figure of Icon or Static next to your collection of Dwayne McDuffie graphic novels.
Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.