The Headache of Colour Touch
You finally decide to take the plunge and purchase that key comic book you have been eyeing for months. You buy it and quickly contact your go-to comic book presser (The Comic Doctor, right?) to have the comic cleaned and pressed prior to having it graded. A while later, you receive a call from said presser with the bad news: Your comic book has color touch on it. A severe headache ensues.
Look, finding out one of your prized comic books has color touch on it isn’t the end of the world. In many cases, the color touch can be removed, and sometimes, without affecting the comic book’s current grade – at least not by too much!
Colour Touch Is Sneaky
Color touch is a sneaky little bugger that can sometimes evade even the best of eyes, in fact, I have cracked CGC universal blue label comics, worked on them and re-submitted them only to receive a color touched classification. This happened recently with a client’s Hulk 141. The comic was a 9.0 universal blue label. After cleaning and pressing the comic book, I re-submitted it and it came back with a 9.6 purple label indicating “small amount of colour touch on cover”. I didn’t detect it and nor did the original CGC graders.
It’s Been Around a Long Time
Color touch has been a part of comic collecting for decades. If a perfectly fine book had a little bit of color break along the spine or elsewhere, a marker went a long way in making the comic look that much better. Due to the ease of such a fix, it was common practice by amateur and pro restorers both. Since the advent of third-party grading companies, however, a spot light has now been shone on color touched books, with many a collectors and dealers reeling in disbelief when one or more of their comic books end up with a restored label due to color touch.
What to Do
What can be done? As mentioned above, color touched books can sometimes be “fixed”. Most pressers, comic book restorers and even the collector him/herself can remove the color touch. The job can be daunting if the color touch is extensive. If the color touch in minimal, it can usually be scraped, wiped or washed off quite easily. In these cases, I am happy to do it for clients as I work on the books (for a nominal fee). If the comic book has extensive color touch I usually refer clients to CCS (CGC’s in-house restoration shop) or other resto removal experts to do the job. CCS does have the right to refuse working on certain books which happens quite often. If the color touch is extensive, the comic book could be ripped apart in an attempt to “clean it up”. In such cases, CCS will also pass on the job.
The Best Mode of Defense Against Color Touch
- Buy graded comic books. While the odd color touched comic will sneak by a grader (as outlined above), I am confident that doesn’t happen very often.
- If you are buying raw books, look for spine ticks that should break color but don’t. Where white creases should appear, they instead are either darker or slightly lighter than the actual ink surrounding it.
- Open the cover and inspect the spine beside the splash page and the last page. If markers are used to correct color breaking spine ticks, the marker’s ink will often “bleed through” to the inside. This is very obvious.
- Lift the book and tilt it with light hitting it. On an angle, you should be able to detect missing gloss. Examine these areas a little closer for color touch.
- Use a black light. Black lights are not perfect but can sometimes help to detect color touch. Black lights are great at highlighting foreign substances on covers, like glue, paint, organic matter, etc. Best in a pitch dark room.
- Use a USB ready microscope and zoom in on suspected areas. These new microscopes are inexpensive and hook up quick to desktops and even cell phones.
- Buyer beware. I can tell you from experience that most dealers and even collectors do not spend much time examining their books for color touch, or any restoration…there is only so much time in the day, after all. If a comic has been worked on, it is pretty obvious. But those books with minor color touch are the ones that need more attention from potential buyers.
Keep collecting, and if you are unsure if one or more of your comics has been restored, feel free to pop by my shop and I would be happy to give you my opinion. And, if you need to have your comics cleaned, pressed and/ or graded, be sure to contact the Comic Doctor.