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Grading Comics

  • james54 | Male | 64 years old | Texas

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Grading Comics

109 views • 14 days ago • (1) Comment

I have been collecting, buying and selling comics for over 50 years now and have had to grade comics on amny occasions, sometimes I have to do it quickly at a glance and provide an 'appears as' grade. But I prefer to take my time. Here is the process I use when I am determing the grade of a comic.

1) Make sure your hands are clean and dry or wear some sort of gloves (I use Nitrile gloves for older comics).

2) Remember that every comic and magazine started out as mint or near mint.


3) Pages: Open the comic and look at the pages,

3a) How many pages should there be and are they all there, if a poster was advertised on the cover is it still there?
3b) Are any coupons cut from the pages, if so do they affect the stories?
3c) Is there any writing on any of the pages?
3d) Is the centerpage attached?
3e) What color are the pages? (White, Off White, Tan, Brown)
3f) What condition are the pages in? (Supple, Dry, Brittle)

Once all of these items are checked, you can then determine the condition of the inside of the comic, (example: Complete, centerfold attached at both staples, white supple pages, no writing). This is important information to assess the final condition of a comic, the example shown would be what you would expect for a near mint to mint comic.

4) Cover: Look at the whole cover, front and back.

4a) How clean is it, look for dirt, dust, stains, paint, ink (as in writing, this includes signatures).
4b) Are there any creases on the cover, note the quantity and length of each.
4c) Is the cover complete?
4d) Is the cover torn, note quantity and length of each.
4e) Are the colors bright or faded?
4f) Is the spine rolled? There are two types of spine roll, one is obvious the other less so, if the rear cover edge when the comic is closed does not match up with the front cover the spine is rolled, it is possible for this to be on only one corner and is often misdiagnosed as a miswrap but is in fact a minor spine roll.
4g) Is the cover centered over all or is it slightly canted (miswrap)?
4h) Is the cover tightly attached to the comic. Note if the cover is loose or detached at one or both staples.

5) You are now ready to assign a grade to the comic, you can get a listing of defects and grades off the internet or use the overstreet grading guide, there is also a grades description in the overstreet annual price guide. Obviously the more defects you have the lower the grade. It is vitally important that everyone understand how to grade comics, even if they are not very good at it, in order to be able to spot overgrades when going to purchase a comic. This puts you in a position of offering a little less for a comic that you think might be overgraded. You don't want to argue with a seller about the condition, if they are not willing to negotiate, then you may want to walk away.

On a later post I will show how I use the above information to assign an actual grade to a comic.

  • 12 days ago by james54's avatar james54
  • Ok, I just read through this and discovered that I had left out something that was in my notes. The first thing you should do upon opening a comic that is made with newsprint is the smell it, take a deep whiff of the paper. You see paper especially newsprint will absorb odors. It also will react to the inks used in the printing process and start to acidify. In nearly every guide on grading I have ever seen or grade descriptions they all seem to agree that any hint of acid smell in a comic will decrease it to a fine copy at best. So take a whiff even if you don't find an acid smell you may discover hints of smoke, dog, or even urine (cat boxes people. keep 'em clean). Most of these smells can be neutralized, but I won't go in to that right now.
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