Hi, welcome to the webfluid guide to comic grading.
As i have been informed on numerous occasions comic grading is speculative and down to personal opinion. I beg to differ on this, after sending countless comics to CGC in the U.S.( the most trusted and respected graders of comics in the world) for a grade, you get to know what is good and what is bad when trying to make a judgement when selling an ungraded book.
Grading comics in the lower grades is considerably harder than grading books in the higher grades. So within this guide i would like to add my thoughts on what makes a Near Mint / Mint book different to a Gem which is the correct term for a book in the very best condition that can be obtained.
Just the title will give you an idea on what characteristics are needed to put your book in this catagory.
The book will have an unmarked, untouched , unread appearance. A book with these characteristics should remain untouched and gloves should really be used when handling a book that you think will reach this grade. As the smallest of scratches from rough/ dry skin could make the difference between a 9.9 -10.0. If you have ordered a comic book through the post and it has been packed between card the chances are this process on its own will knock it from a Mint to a Near mint.
A gem will still have the apearance that it has just come off the press:
The cover will have and unpressed glossy appearance, you can still see the guilotine burrs on the base of the spine. The cover still has a gape from where it has never been opened or stored under any pressure. There will be no ripple in the pages .
The cover will be straight with no creases, dings or Marvel chipping to the spine. No rusty staples Corner blunts or any sign of being stored in a damp envoironment.
A straight cover:
A minor ding:
A small mark like this can make all the difference and from experience if the book meets all the other criteria and has a blemish like this it will get a 9.4 if it has 2 marks it will knock it down to a 9.2.
Near Mint Grade 9.8-9.6-9.4
A near mint example of a comic book is the top of the tree for most comic collectors and is the most realistic grade that can be acheived by private collectors that have their books graded. Unless you can source the books first hand or you buy them in such quantity that they arrive to you undamaged.
Several times i have sent books away for grading in the belief that i have found a gem. Two months later they arrive and not been graded NM+ (9.8)they are NM(9.6). 9.4 being NM - minus
This used to puzzle me and can only be put down to what is inside the book and on the rear cover. Sellers often forget to look at the rear cover and within the book, as there can often be twisted pages, scratches bent staples and smudges. If you really want to see what grade your comic is handle it carefully (with Gloves ) and place it on a clean scanner out of the bag it may or may not be in and scan it into a photo editing program and zoom in on the book. You will be amazed at the dust, scratches and blemishes that the naked eye cannot see.
This image shows printing imperfections quite clearly. These marks can make all the difference between a 9.8 and a 9.6.
Another common flaw when you believe you have a Mint example of a book is MARVEL CHIPPING. This occurs within the printing process and is common on black cover comics and older comics from the silver age. Older comic books seem to have this due to age and the way they have been stored but moderns do suffer from this where the ink dries too quickley and becomes flakey. Here is a good example of this on a modern age book showing the black ink flaking on the crease of the comic
Minor corner blunts will cost you a high grade depending on the severity of the pressure applied to the corner One tiny knock such as this:
could cost as much as 1.0 point in the grading system. Combined with the apparent slight marvel chipping on this book on the edges would knock it down to a 7.5 just looking at this corner of the book . This book was sold to me as a MINT example............. It would be lucky to make VG+ (6.5) and i wouldnt even try and dress it up as anything else.
As you can see comic grading is a very complicated business and all i have tried to do here is descipher the difference between Mint and NM (grades 10.0-9.2) just 8 grades!!. I hope this gives you an insight into grading books and helps you decide if your books really are worth sending to the U.S for grading and also help you in the purchase of good comics.
Thanks for reading this :Webfluid.co.uk