How To Grade the Condition of Your Comic Books

an example of a CGC-graded comic book
Chuck and Joanna Graham/Flickr

The term grade is used to describe what condition a comic book is in. You can think of the grade of a comic book like a grade on a report card. A high grade, like an A or Mint, is good, while a low grade, like an F or Poor, is bad. Is the cover bent or torn? Is there writing on it, are there tears or discoloration? All of these things and more need to be taken into consideration when one is trying grading a comic.

Types of Grading

At the moment, there are two different types of grading that you will find. You can grade the comic book yourself, or you can have another party grade it for you, like the CGC company.

Comics Guaranty Company (CGC)

CGC (Comics Guaranty Company) is a business that will grade your comic book for you, for a price. You can ship it to them or take it to a convention where they will be at and they will tell you what grade it is considered to be. Then, they will put in a protective sleeve and seal it. This offers prospective buyers and collectors an outside opinion as to what condition a comic book is truly in.

The Benefits of CGC

There has been a recent rise in the value of CGC graded comic books. Buyers now have a very good idea as to what the condition of a comic book is. Again, grading comics can be very subjective and have a company like CGC give their opinion can make comic books go for much more than their cover price, especially those with high grades.

Not Every Comic Book Should Be Graded By CGC

CGC charges a cost for every comic book graded, and not every comic book is going to be worth it, not even after it is graded. There is also the extra cost of getting comics graded. One comic book out of your collection isn’t a big deal, but when you have thousands of comics, like me, the cost in justifying getting every single comic book graded by CGC doesn’t make sense.

Grading Your Own Comic Books

If you decide to grade your own comic books take a good look at it. Then decide from the following list of grading terms what you think best represents its condition:

Go to the page with the description of that term and ask yourself, “Is my comic better or worse than this?” Go up the list if it’s better, down if it isn’t. Find the description that best matches your comic.

Know the Grade

Grading a comic book is a very subjective thing. That means what is Mint to one person might not be Mint to another. When buying a graded comic, be sure that it meets your understanding of the grading term.

When selling a comic, be sure to take your time and seriously look at what it should be. If you don’t, you face some heavy backlashes in the form of negative feedback from online auction users, broken trust, and maybe even having civil action taken against you.

In any event, when you know the grade of a comic, you are protected as both a buyer and a seller. It will go a long way for future auctions as a seller and will help you as a buyer to make the best decision about a purchase and whether it is a wise one. It's also a lot of fun to see your comic collection rise in value.

Once you have a graded comic book, what can you do with it? There is an amazing amount of things you can do with a graded comic book. Buy, sell, manage, protect, and much, much more