I hate reading in print issues. I don’t care what that “says” about me as a comics fan. Print issues are hard to store, and I refuse to use longboxes. I like looking at my book and comics collections; hiding them away in a dusty box is hardly useful for me. There have been times when I’ve contemplating stopping buying print issues altogether, but as a person who works in the comics industry, I know that my support of issues means that the series I want continue. Comics is broken, but I have to work within its confines.
Therefore, I was intrigued when Charles posted about decoupaging magazine files as ways to store issues. They’re pretty, useful, and I can keep my issues out on the shelves, where they belong. I am not crafty in the least, but I figured it was worth a try. I sat down with three back issues of Ms Marvel, supplies ordered on Amazon.com, and the video from Charles’s post (also embedded at the bottom of this post) and got my decoupage on.
You will need:
- Issues of whatever comic you want to decoupage with—one issue is probably enough, but two to be safe.
- Mod Podge (I used glossy, but you can use matte if you so desire)
- Magazine files (I was worried these cardboard files wouldn’t be substantial enough, but by the time you get the comics and layers of glue on there, it’s pretty sturdy)
- Foam brushes (Smaller are better than larger for detail work)
- Plastic cup for glue
- A large piece of cardboard (or some other flat surface you don’t mind getting glue all over)
(1) Assemble all your supplies in a workspace; make sure the floor is covered and you’re wearing clothes you’re okay getting glue all over. Because, if you’re anything like me, the glue will get everywhere.
(2) Cut out the panels/characters/words/shapes you want from the comic. I was a little confused on how to do this effectively, so I just cut out different Kamala panels I liked. Some of them were the entire panel, others I cut around the character’s head so they were more precise. This turned out to be a good strategy, because you’ll need some filler. I left the covers mostly intact. (Tip: This may seem like a no-brainer, but check what’s on the back of a panel you’re cutting out before you start. There might be something even better!)
(3) Pour glue into the cup or whatever vessel you’re using. Grab the magazine file and your cut out pieces. Start with the largest pieces; figure out where you want them on the magazine file, coat the back in a thin layer of glue (using your cardboard as a backing), then place them on the file. Press down and smooth them out (they’ll have a tendency to bubble), then coat the top with another thin layer of glue (make sure you don’t use too much). If you’re not sure where to start, the covers are a good bet.
(4) Keep at it. The smaller cut outs will start coming in handy really fast
(5) Once the file is fully covered, set it aside, and let it dry completely.
(6) Once it’s all nice and dry, go back through and trim pieces down that are hanging over the edges. Take the Mod Podge and glue any remaining flyaways down. This is where having a small, detail foam brush really comes in handy. You may need to hold down the edges for a few seconds to make them bond. And yes, the glue will get all over your fingers. Become one with the glue.
(7) Do a topcoat of glue around the entire file, the thickest you’ve done yet. This is the last step, to seal everything down. Make sure you thin out any thick streaks of glue and that the top coat is even.
(8) Give it time to dry—I gave mine a full 24 hours, though it didn’t take that long. Once it’s dry, put your comics in it and admire it on your shelf!
I’m not crafty in the least, but I found this process incredibly easy and I’m really happy with the way this file turned out. It doesn’t solve ALL my storage problems (what about limited runs? For now, I’m just keeping them on my shelf in undecoupaged files) and it could start adding up, but for series I know I want to keep forever, like Ms Marvel, it’s a great solution.
(It’s also worth noting that if you do like longboxes and want to make them prettier, this technique will work on them, or really anything else you want to decoupage. You just might have to use different/more coats of glue, depending on what the item is.)