Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Problem With Grading Comics

If you collect, sell or read comic books, you've heard of the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).  It is the name when it comes to grading comics.  A comic book is submitted to it, examined by trained professionals, placed in a special holder and then the collector and buyer can use this generally accepted grade in order to ascertain a value.

Comics graded by the CGC often sell for more than those that are not graded.  That works out well for sellers, and buyers tend to agree that the everyone can understand and accept the grade.  If you want to read the issue, you have to break open the holder, which negates the grade. 

The pros and cons of grading have been discussed since the company became known, and while there was initially a lot of speculation and backlash, the company has earned its respect.  Heck, even I accepted it, though I have never bought a graded comic or submitted one for grading.  Reading issue #1675 of the Comics Buyer's Guide, however, made me start to wonder about the company again.

In the "CBG Trendwatcher" section there is a piece by Steve Mortenson of Colossus Comics.  In his piece he writes about people buying CGC graded comics at conventions with the hopes of resubmitting a book to the company for "a possible higher grade."  Wouldn't that mean the initial grade was faulty, and doesn't that negate the trust and respect the company has earned?  Even if you would agree that the company can make a mistake and that would be the nature of the beast, doesn't it also say the general comics public doesn't trust the company as much?  After all, if the company were totally trusted, the grade wouldn't change.  So essentially all these people are submitting comics and buying comics at higher prices from a company where the grade isn't all that trusted.

That seems to be foolish.

Knowing that collectors, speculators and dealers are doing this forces me to take this into consideration for any price I would pay for a graded comic, and it means I won't be paying full price for one.  Not even close.  I haven't bought a graded one yet, but I haven't ruled it out for the future, but I do know if I do, the dealer is not going to get his asking price unless it's already well below what I would be willing to pay. 

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