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What Is It About A Graded Comic Book?

Comic Booked Guest Writer 02/18/2011 Features

What is it about a graded comic book?

Ten Years ago I was unable to collect comic books. Those same ten years CGC came onto the scene willing to tell you what condition your book is in, for a price. Six years ago I started to collect comic books again and when I found out about this process I wondered who in their right mind would ever give their comic book over to a company to grade and slab it away never to be read again. It was akin to Han Solo being frozen in carbonite. Then in 2007 I stood at a dealers table and was transfixed by a shiny pristine comic book entrusted inside a piece of plastic. I was still in awe why anyone would ever do such a thing. I became even more surprised when I parted with my $25 for the book, and I didn’t even read it yet.

I picked up two graded comic books that year, brought them home and realized I really had no place to put them. Was I afraid that my raw pieces of paper stapled at the center would get upset at the highly graded comics, one being a 9.8 and the other a 9.0. Would my well read back issues be afraid they weren’t good enough to read anymore? Would my collecting habits change from collecting four color art to trinkets of plastic? I mean after all they were already competing against my shot glass collection. I decided that the best place would be on the book shelf next to my Star Wars books and away from my collection, if only because I didn’t have the proper boxes at the time.

ASM #129 9.4 SS

ASM #129 9.4 SS, I Have One Just Like It

In 2008, not only did I purchase more, I gave some over to this mysterious company I previously wanted nothing to do with.  I submitted a few well read books in the hopes of a high grade, but what was wrong with me?  Did I not care to read them anymore? Did I feel that Mylar bags and boards were just not good enough, and where was I going to put them? Then, as there always is a then, at a local comic shin dig during a mild April in 2009 I found a copy of New Mutants #1 sitting on a shelf just out of my reach. It was graded a 9.8 with “white” pages.  I NEEDED to have it and bargained, begged, and pleaded with the dealer to allow this book to be mine. I didn’t need to do any of that he said he would take cash and with a few other purchases he would lower the book from 60 to 45 dollars.

That was preposterous. $45.00 for a book that only guided for six in a near mint condition, and I would have to purchase something else as well. I felt like I went into a store and was told I had to buy something if I wanted to use the bathroom.  Politely, l said I would think about it and walked away. There was no way I would ever spend that kind of money on a book that I couldn’t read. I walked around trying to find books I needed to fill the holes in my collection but something drew me back over.  Some gravitational anomaly pulled me closer and closer to that shiny plastic covered book. I skimmed the other books, bought three more for about $5 a piece and now had the mentality that I bought one book at $60 and getting three for free, three that I could read.

From there it was all over. I was a member of the CGC registry (I joined when I bought my first three) but now I utilized it. It has been almost two years since I purchased the New Mutants book which has since been upgraded to a 9.9.  Currently I reign in second place on the CGC Registry for the New Mutants set, and have somewhere over 115 journals written, yet I still cannot completely tell you what it is about a graded comic book that appeals to me. Sure, the book is safe in its carbonite prison. Sure the book is beautifully preserved. Sure they are labeled and registered, but I can’t read them. I guess then it is a good thing I bought the book to read in the first place. Of course 188 encapsulated books later I realized who in their right mind wouldn’t send their books into get graded.

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While the writer of this article may not be a part of our official writing staff, we hold them in the highest regard and felt that they should be published here for your reading pleasure! If you are interested in writing an article (or a series of articles) for Comic Booked as a Guest Writer, please contact us. [email protected]

  1. Skott of Fables 02/18/2011 at 8:25 am

    I've thought about sending some of my books to get graded but I can't send them in the mail to a place I've never been for who knows how long. Even if I had kids they wouldn't be as important to me as my comics.

    I can understand 'grading' on older books, it helps preserve them…it's the newer books I don't get. Collectors being what they are, it seems like newer books would be easier to find in 'higher grade' conditions than older ones. I probably would send more of my comics from the 1980's and older than I would my stuff from the 90's..

    The one exception would be my first Evil Ernie comic signed by Brian Pulido and Steven Hughes.

    I can understand when you say you simply don't understand why you dig this concept so much. People have tried to get me to send in some of my books but while I love going to my LCS and looking at their graded comics (first time I've ever held Fantastic Four #1 in my hands) I just don't see putting my comics in something that prevents me from reading them.

    Having said that, it's great to have someone on board here who is part of that world! It'll be nice to have someone who can answer any questions I or others might have when it comes to grading comics. Thanks for the article, it's a fun read!

  2. Robb Orr 02/18/2011 at 1:05 pm

    Interesting article Mr. Lee. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Jason Edwards 02/18/2011 at 2:36 pm

    To me, sealing them up like that is the same thing as buying a super cool sportscar, and keeping it in the garage forever for fear of something happening to it that could depreciate its value.

    As far as using them for an investment, in my experience, most dealers will only give you 1/4 of the value price, anyways. Even if you had X-Men #1, you wouldn't get full vlaue for it, unless you meet a comics nut who happens to be extraordinarily rich.

    I say, read 'em, and if you get tired of them, donate them to a children's hospital or something like that, or give them to your kids!

  4. CGC Lee 02/19/2011 at 12:30 am

    I will be honest with you, when I first got these I only purchased a few, but then the worst thing happened to me. I liked them. I am trying to recall and if I am not mistaken out of every single one I have slabbed away there is only one that I did not read and that Is my Daredevil #1. I placed the bid thinking I would never ever win….. I was wrong.

    First and foremost I love this hobby because I enjoy the story. I do believe 100% that the cover draws you in, captures you, tantalizes you, and forces you to part with your cash. BUT, the story, oh god the story is a different entity in itself, because that makes you buy the next one and the next one after that.

    I remember when issue #51 of the New Mutants came out and if I bought a book on cover art alone, this book would have remained on the shelf. Month after month I followed them and now I am collecting them all over again, trying to get every single issue in a 9.8 or better. It is not easy, but man is it fun.

    Thank you for your comments.

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