How to Grade Your Comic Books: A Step-by-Step Guide

Nerdacity Feb 23, 2024
155 People Read
CGC Graded Comics
Table of Contents
  1. Why Should You Grade Your Comic Books?
  2. How to Identify Comic Books Worth Grading?
  3. How to Prepare Your Comic Book for Grading
  4. Choosing a Comic Book Grading Company in the UK
    1. CGC (Certified Guaranty Company)
    2. CBCS (Comic Book Certification Service)
  5. Submitting Your Comic for Grading
  6. Understanding the Comic Book Grading Scale
  7. Receiving and Selling Your Graded Comic Book
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Articles

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases... Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

Whether you're a seasoned collector or a newbie getting into the world of graphic narratives, understanding comic book grading is an important part of the hobby. Much like card grading Pokémon cards or Funko POP! figures, the process of comic book grading can significantly influence the value and appeal of your comics... but remember, a graded comic can no longer be read.

This step-by-step guide will cover all elements of the comic book grading process, from recognising gradable comics to choosing the best grading company, turning them into true collectible investments.

Want more information on comics in general before reading on? Read our Comic Book FAQ first.

Graded Eminem Punisher Comic

Why Should You Grade Your Comic Books?

Added Value: A professionally graded comic can enhance its market value notably providing its graded condition is worthy.

Authentication: Whilst fake comics are not commonplace for all but the rarest of issues, grading authenticates a comic, proving it's not a counterfeit. This validation offers peace of mind to current owners and potential buyers alike.

Ease of Sale: A comic with a grade to prove its condition is generally more marketable (especially for online or remote purchases), appealing to seasoned collectors who want to mitigate the risk of an exaggerated condition.

Protection: Once graded, comics are securely encapsulated in a tamper-evident, clear, hard plastic case, safeguarding them from external damages.

How to Identify Comic Books Worth Grading?

Rarity: Older, limited-edition, rare variant cover, or first-run comics are typically better candidates for grading when it comes to value enhancement.

Comic Book Condition: The comic's physical condition is paramount. Any creases, bends, rips, ink marks, page discolorations, or other blemishes can significantly impact the grade given. It's essential to meticulously inspect your comics under suitable lighting to gauge their grade potential.

Investment Potential: Comics that have a rising trend in value, include a character's first appearance, or are a rare part of a popular series can gain additional value when graded.

Sentimental Value: Grading doesn't have be solely about monetary value gain. It can also be about preserving a cherished or nostalgic comic that brings its owner joy.

Research, Research, Research: Prior to deciding which comics to grade, familiarise yourself with current market trends. Platforms like eBay's Sold/Completed listing can provide comparative insights into graded/ungraded prices, year-on-year price increases/decreases and popularity with buyers. Online price guides such as ComicsPriceGuide.com and communities such as r/comicbookcollecting can also help you gauge the value of a specific comic in a specific condition.

How to Prepare Your Comic Book for Grading

Cleaning: Using gloves, gently wipe off any surface dust or dirt with a soft cloth. Refrain from using water or chemicals, as they will most likely permanently damage a comic.

Protection: Ensure your comics are kept in protective sleeves with backing boards (also know as 'bagged and boarded'). This should apply to all of your comics, regardless to their rarity or current value.

Choosing a Comic Book Grading Company in the UK

CGC (Certified Guaranty Company)

The best known and most highly regarded service in comic grading industry. CGC is known for its strict grading guidelines and premium valuation, and whilst US based, have submission centres worldwide which take care of round-trip shipping and insurance (this excludes the initial shipping to your local submission centre).

Prices start at £30 for modern comics (1975-present) valued under £300, rising to £42 for vintage comics (pre-1975) of the same value. High-value comics up to £750 cost £90, whereas comics worth more than this incur a charge of 4.8% of the comic 'Fair Market Share' (minimum fee of £150). Also factor in a £13 fee per invoice, as well as a 45 day turnaround time. For full pricing details visit CGC UK.

CGC does also have reputable authorised UK dealers such as A Place in Space, which can take the hassle out of completing the CGC's UK process and calculating the fees and market-values.

CBCS (Comic Book Certification Service)

Another leading grading service, CBCS also offers signature verification, enhancing the value of autographed comics. Unfortunately CBCS does not appear to have any UK affiliate business partners at present, so users will have to ship their comics to the US themselves.

Prices start at a much cheaper $12 (£10) for raw modern comics worth under $250 (£204), rising to $22 (£18) for comics from 2001-present under a value of $1000 (£816), both with a 30 day turnaround... but remember to factor in the extra shipping costs and wait times required. For full pricing details visit CBCS.

Submitting Your Comic for Grading

Online Form: Most companies provide an online form for submission details (series, issue #, edition, etc.), grading level options, and return shipping details.

Shipping and Packaging: Pack your comics securely using rigid front and rear backing, bubble wrap and a sturdy box, ensuring minimal movement during transit. Using 'fragile' stickers and insuring your shipment is also highly recommended.

Understanding the Comic Book Grading Scale

Like most other gradable collectibles, comics are typically graded on a scale ranging from 10.0 (Mint) to 0.5 (Poor). The grade reflects the comic's overall condition, considering factors like manufacturing defects, handling damage, page colouring, ink quality, binding and cover condition.

Familiarise yourself with grading terminology to better understand the grading process. For a full run-down of the conditions required for each grade with CGC (the best known service) visit CGCcomic.com.

Receiving and Selling Your Graded Comic Book

Review: Once you receive your graded comic book, carefully examine the grade and any additional notes or comments. Don't forget to admire your newly graded comic!

Selling or Displaying: Platforms like eBay, comic-specific forums, or conventions are excellent avenues to showcase or if you wish, sell, your graded comics. If displaying, ensure the comic is kept far away from direct sunlight and sources of moisture.

Comic Book Collection

Final Thoughts

Comic book grading can elevate the worth and appeal of your collection, at the expense of its readability. With this guide, you are now equipped with the know-how to step into the world of comic book grading confidently. If grading as an investment, never forget to conduct your own thorough research to ensure the potential increase in value outweighs the cost of grading. For those grading with no intention of ever selling... Here's to preserving and cherishing our beloved comic books for many years to come!

Related Articles

Table of Contents
  1. Why Should You Grade Your Comic Books?
  2. How to Identify Comic Books Worth Grading?
  3. How to Prepare Your Comic Book for Grading
  4. Choosing a Comic Book Grading Company in the UK
    1. CGC (Certified Guaranty Company)
    2. CBCS (Comic Book Certification Service)
  5. Submitting Your Comic for Grading
  6. Understanding the Comic Book Grading Scale
  7. Receiving and Selling Your Graded Comic Book
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. Related Articles

Disclosure:  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases... Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.