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365 Reasons to Love Comics #342

I’ll probably get some weird looks after today’s column. (Archive.)

(Kirby is coming… Kirby is coming…!)


342. The smell

comic shop.jpg

(Image blatantly stolen from Chapel Hill Comics‘ website ’cause I needed a generic comic shop-y image. Go buy your comic wares at Chapel Hill. Jeff Parker‘s gonna be there this week! Bam. Free publicity.)

Anyway, yeah, that’s right. I love the sweet, delicious scent of comic books, and, in fact, I’d been thinking about dedicating one of these columns to such from the very beginning. Let me explain my personal olfactory history with the comics industry.

When I was a younger lad, I had something of an anxiety problem. I could be excited for something or perhaps dreading something, but the reaction would be the same– massive nervousness that set off my gag reflex. I’ve vomited in some amazing places, let me tell you. Anyway, I only ever found one cure for this anxiety: the smell of a comic shop.

That amazing aroma of ink and paper is a total panacea. Really, if you were a book-sniffer, you’d get it. Doesn’t anybody else take a whiff of a new book? I do. Does that make me weird? Other people do it, right? Right?

I miss the smell of the old comics, though. The new ones, what with their slick pages and fancy printing, have become too artificial for me. I miss the scent of the old-timey paper, friends. But, let’s see. Out of a random sampling of comics I have nearby… Justice League Unlimited’s got the cheaper paper and therefore has a nicer musk. All Star Superman always has an interesting scent. I blame the G-Mozz pheromones. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus smells like a glue-filled woodshed. Mmm.

Don’t let your comics get too acidic. Your nostrils shan’t forgive you. I’ve won a few books in auction lately that’ve probably been sitting in bags for ages and ages. Let your comics run naked and free! Let them breathe!

Yeah. Yeah, this got weird.

What’s the best comic you’ve sniffed lately?



I couldn’t agree more. Although even more than the comics, I love the smell of trading cards. The smell of a freshly opened pack of Overpower cards is something that will always make me happy.

Yes, someone finally understands me! I LOVE the smell of comic stores, and just comics in general, especially the old newsprint ones.

I recently had to consolidate all my comic longboxes into the guest bedroom closet, and every time I open that door up to get something out, I get that wonderful comic book store smell. I secretly enjoy it every time…

I was recently reading Alan Moore’s 1963 for the first time and I saw in one issue a blurb boasting about the cheap paper used to print it, including the authentic comic book smell. I went ahead and sniffed the comic and it was true! The scent brought back fond memories of my pre-adolescence and biking to the comic book store to spend my allowance.

I’m with you 100% on this one, as well. Even as a kid I loved the smell of the older, newsprint, comics.

Totally agree with you, Bill. It’s all Proustian, baby. Robert Duvall may love the smell of napalm in the morning, but I love the smell of a Silver Age comic or the smell of the LCS on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s the smell of excitement and possibility.

If you don’t love the smell, you don’t love comics. It’s as simple as that.

They do smell good. Simonson comics smell better than Meltzer. Coincidence? I think not.

If I was going to associate comics with a smell, it wouldn’t be the smell of comics.

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Is it just me or you got from #340 (Fred Van Lente) to #342?

I used to work in a comic shop. What sheer joy it would have been to smell the comics. Oh, if we could have smelled comics I’d probably still be there, nostrils flared ear to ear.

Alas, there was that wall of pit musk to account for.

I do love the smell of that old newsprint. Alan Moore mentioned it, in a 1963 lettercol, I believe, and ever since I’ve been acutely tuned into that particular sweet vapor that comes from old comics.

The printing materials and methods of newer books produce Barbie-like perfume, which isn’t quite as appealing.

As much as I love the smell of comics, I much prefer that new toy smell… When you rip open the packaging of your newest action figure and get that heady, plasticy smell. Takes me back to opening my TMNT figures as a young lad…

“What’s the best comic you’ve sniffed lately?”

Strange Tales #162. On Saturday. :D


December 10, 2007 at 6:59 am


I have ALWAYS had a deep love for the smell of old comics.
It’s one of the reasons that I love them so much.
The same goes for old books.

The scent INSTANTLY sends the “warm-fuzzies” throughout my mind and makes me happy.

With the sole exception of the “phantom” scent that comes from seeing any of the first few issues of the Marvel “Star Trek” comic.

Sadly, as much as I love Trek (and the comics themselves), as a lad I had the misfortune of reading a bunch of issues while chewing some banana-flavored bazooka bubble-gum.

The gum was GODAWFUL and to this day I will “smell” that same scent every time I see a Marvel Star Trek comic. Then, the smell leads to a phantom “taste” and I gag.
I’m actually getting the scent right now just THINKING about it.

The inverse goes for some old issues of Marvel Triple Action.
As a kid, I had a paper route and would stop off to buy a comic at a deli that was on the route and one time I bought a couple of M.T.A issues and some Gatorade gum.
Now, I get that tangy taste/smell combo every time I see those issues.


But, you’re 1000% correct.
Old comic smell is the BEST!


Yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely right…there is nothing like the great smell of a comic book. Nothing can compare with opening that bagged book or picking it up out of a box and giving a hefty sniff of that joyous aroma that takes me back to far better days.


[…] Comics Should Be Good! » 365 Reasons to Love Comics #342 this one is dedicated to the smell of comic stores (tags: ComicBooks retail smell nostalgia) […]

Just a warning, that new toy smell from soft plastic and vinyl is apparently a potent little carcinogen, so go easy, Disco.

And yes, the smell of silver age is a lovely thing, especially DC. Was their paper different from Marvel’s? But how about MOLDY COMIC smell? Is that bad or what? I bought a little stack of comics really cheap from a guy whose closet had flooded, and still own a few of them. Opening up one of those babies now is a bit like drinking sour milk.

When DC first started their “New format” with that issue of Swamp Thing where he got raped by a strange alien, those comics smelled great!

let’s do all the senses:

touch – darwyn cooke’s will eisner’s the spirit. stroke it, baby, stroke it!

smell…that’s covered. you can’t hear a comic or taste one can you? this didn’t work out so well…

[…] Remember when Bill Reed did that Reason to Love Comics about how comics smell?  That was a pretty popular post, in case you missed it.  Well, this comic smells good.  I was trying to think of what it smelled like, and I came up with that Deathlok mini-series that Dwayne McDuffie wrote and Jackson Guice and Denys Cowan drew.  Marvel put out those books for a while, with the heavier stock covers and better paper.  Anyway, that’s what this book smells like. […]

I love the smell of old comic books SOOOO MUCH, that I did a search on GOOGLE for it! Thats how I ended up here. I typed in “Old Comic Book Smell” and BAM! Here I am. The smell of old comics to me is like an instant flash-back to a by-gone day of childhood bliss. A secret hiding place that only I knew as a child. A safe place, a wonderous and magical place that I am instantly transported to as soon as I whiff those nostalgic comic pages! How fantastic comics are! I hope my kids get to experience this some day!

[…] little packets of wonder! Wander into a comic shop and you see millions of ‘em. The feel, the smell… the smell of a comic shop cures all ailments. There’s nothing better than reading a […]

Great post! and no you are not the only one who sniffs books :P

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