CGC is best known for their most recent service of Profesional Comic Book Grading. The new service has taken off faster than Ultimate Spider-Man and has been setting new records on the value comic books old and new. We're going to do a few things in this article. First off, we're going to walk you through the world of CGC and explain the whole comic grading process. What do they actually do when they grade your comic book and how does one go about getting a book graded in the first place. Second, we're going to analyze the true value and worth of CGC and their grading process; how good are they at analyzing books, and are they true graders or are they just thieves? Recent studies have been done that point to CGC Grading as a money stealing gimmick.
You've got a comic book, you see in this month's issue of Wizard magazine that your comic book would be worth five times the amount it is now if it was graded by CGC. Later on in this articles we'll discuss why the value of your book goes up when it's graded; but for now, lets talk a little bit about the whole CGC grading process.
How do you start out, you want your comic graded, what are the benefits to it, and what are the possible dangers that could come out of it. There are a few ways to get a comic book graded by CGC. The first is a walk-thru grading at a comic convention. Normally this would take place at a Wizard comic convention held somewhere on the east coast. While this way of getting a book graded probably isn't the most likely due to the fact that not everyone gets a chance to go to a convention, its definately the easiest way to go. At a convention, CGC will have a booth set up where you just walk up, fill out some paperwork, pay them their money and pick it up the next day and sometimes even later that day. The cost of getting a book graded this way is least expensive and varies on the convention you're at.
The most likely way that one would get their book graded would be through a CGC drop-off location. This might be a local comic shop or an online service. The drop-offs are the next least expensive after conventions because they all offer 10% off of the average grading fee.
The last way is to sign up with the Collector's Society and get a year long account with them. While they do charge $100 in annual fees, you get three free gradings which average out to about half of the annual fees. CGC has different ways of processing comics. Some involve flat fees, others involve increased flat fees that involve a quicker grading process. Lastly, they charge for grading on a value basis; that is, according to how much your book is worth. To check out the full list of grading processes and fees check them out at http://www.cgccomics.com.
Along with their hard to find drop stations and ways of getting a book to CGC, they also have extreme preference on every detail. One must fill out a decent amount of paperwork per book, and the way the request books to be shipped are very extreme. While their site does say that they only wish books to be sent this way to ensure no damage is done to them; they also have been known to give lower grades for books that are not shipped as requested. As seen in pictures included with this article, take note at their shipping instructions.
Since CGC has begun their comic book grading services, the value of comics has taken a tremendous jump. While Ultimate Spider-Man #1 in mint condition sells on eBay anywhere from $130 - $160, the same comic graded by CGC in one of their special cases can go for as high as $450 or even over $600 in some instances. This is great benefit to comic collectors across the globe. Why exactly are these comics worth so much more you ask, it's actually simple when you think about it. CGC graded comic books are judged by an impartial third party, this holds more ground when you sell or buy a comic because your not going on the seller or buyer's opinion. Your going on a "professional" and impartial judgement. The people at CGC don't care if you want to sell a comic for an extra hundred dollars, they judge as they see fit.
The next aspect and benefit of CGC grading is that the comics do not lose any value. On an average basis, a comic will not get any scratches, rips, smears or anything else while it's locked up in a sealed plastic envelope. This ensures that in the next five years, your comic will retain a steady rating.
On top of that, they also check books for their authenticity as far as first prints, and they look for books that have been tampered with and or fixed up a bit. They look very poorly on books that have gone through certain processes to bring them back into shape. Lastly, they check for the authenticity of signed books. Most anyone can fake a signing by J. Scott Campbell, but these "experts" are supposedly trained to seek out those fakes.
CGC offers a few different types of grading. They show their grading styles based on the colors of the CGC label in graded books. Green represents books that have small problems but are in great shape still. Blue are most average books. Another color represents authentic autographs in books etc.
A recent study done by a man included evidence of how falsified CGC's grading process is. A man sent in a book and it recieved a 9.6 grade. He sent the book back in, complaining about the grade and they bumped it up to a 9.8. Furthermore, the same man sent in the same book three different times and it received a different grade each time. While it's obvious that the same person can't grade all the books, how realistic is their grading process if they don't follow a set standard or pattern?
The last issue of doubt in CGC grading is how it degrades the sentimental and original intended use for books. While they are very fun to collect and sell, the original intent was for them to be read and looked at. In their CGC cases, while they do maintain a certain level of worth; what good is a comic that can't be read. Aren't we taking comics to a lower level when we make them out to be like just something of value and not something to be used? How far will we go till we realize comics will never be the same? Will our kids grow up reading comic books, or will they grow up with plastic encased comics where all they can see are the covers and advertisements on the back? I suppose only time will tell, but I just ask the comic book community to be cautious at how they treat their comics.
In the end, CGC has been godsent for comic collector's across the globe. While their fees are high, and they make it as difficult as they can to be able to submit comics for grading; they have still added more value than ever to books in every collection. They have set a new mark as far as collecting comics is concerned, and despite their faults...you can't help but look at all the good they've done.
We'd be more than happy to hear what you think about the CGC Grading Process at the Blazedent Message Boards. Do you have any personal experiences with them and are they positive or negative? Do you think that CGC degrades the original intent of the comic book, or does is added value enough of an incentive to keep them for good?
- Joseph Lookabaugh