GRADING COMIC BOOKS

Despite all evidence to the contrary let’s say you actually believe that comic book collecting is a profitable, enjoyable and easy way to make money. God help you. Now let’s take this absurdly preposterous scenario even a step further and say you found someone JUST AS delusional as yourself to buy your boxes upon heavy boxes of smelly, worthless comic books and finally get them out of your parent’s basement once and for all.

Such a person might be found on Craigslist…in Bizzaro World!

Let me set the scene: You hear a car crash out on the interstate and, acting quickly, rush to the crash sight as fast as your little legs can carry you. You’re in luck, no one is dead and there’s still time! As the advancing ambulance works its way through the hustle and bustle you identify the person in the most need of help: a 35 year old man with a massive head wound, swaying back in forth in tremendous pain and considerable shock.

“Are you alright, sir?” You ask. “Do you know where you are? Do you require medical attention? Would you like to purchase a complete run of Marvel Comic’s Iron Man from 1987-1991?”

“What?” He weakly stammers, staring into nothing. “Yes. No? Where am I?”

BINGO.

You’ve got the fish on the hook, time to reel him in. Now, the most important part of selling off your comic book collection is getting the best price, and getting the best price is often based on the condition of the comic in question. The better the condition, the better the comic book’s “Grade” and the higher you can sell it at.

MAKING THE GRADE

If your book has never been opened, read, crushed, smushed, spilled on or looked at funny it is considered “Mint,” which is to say the same condition that it would have been the day it was minted from the comic book factory. Mint books are worth the most money, so a comic book graded “Mint” is clearly better than one with a lesser grade.

But let’s be logical for one second. NO BOOK is every truly “Mint.” Even a comic fresh from the printers has smudges, not to mention a book that was shipped to a store and put in a bag with other comics, dust mites, neutrinos etc. Just picking up the dang book in the first place negates “Mint” status.

Logic, happily, has no place in the realm of comic books. Grading a book “Mint” is an easy way to gouge the price. GO FOR IT! If you don’t say yours is “Mint,” somebody else will grade theirs “Mint” and you’re out of a sale! Besides, The buyer is going to want to keep it in mint condition themselves, so they’ll never open it to make sure its as pristine as you said it was.

It’s like Schrodinger’s Cat: A “Mint” copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 exists in a quantum state of BEING “Mint” or being a Sears catalog from 1967 with an amazing, high quality photocopy of Amazing Fantasy #15 for a cover UNTIL it’s opened, thus rendering it one or the other. As long as the person buying it never opens it to find out then you are in the clear, Paul Revere!

The next step down from “mint” bears the clever label “Near-Mint.” Every other comic book on Earth will be labeled “Near-Mint,” as no one really wants to label their books anything else lest they should lose a sale. If “Near Mint” was a country it would be the size of China, Russia, Alaska and the Moon combined. There is so much room in “Near-Mint” to wiggle around in that it makes the Tardis look like a match-box.

So you’ve got a copy of New Avengers #4 with a bite out of it? That’s “Near-Mint.” A very wrinkled copy of “Final Crisis #1” where you cut out some of the ads so that it was lighter in your backpack? “Near-Mint.” So you have a hand drawn copy of Teen Titans #21 that fell into your coffee, and you couldn’t remember what Speedy looked like so you drew Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead, but halfway through you realized you couldn’t really draw him either so you kinda’ turned him into Frankenstein with armbands and a bandana mask? You better believe that’s “Near-Mint.”

SECOND FIDDLE IS FIRST VIOLA

There are other grades in the system, but no one ever talks about them except real nickel-and-dimers. Some of these other grades are things like “Fine,” which means anything but, “Awful,” which isn’t as bad as it sounds, “Near-Awful” which is pretty bad, “Pretty Bad” which is, frankly, just awful and the final grade, the “F” of comic books called “An Unrecognizable Pile of Paper and Staples.”

Now you see why everybody is going to say their comics are “Near-Mint?”

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

With all these conflicting labels how do you know what grade your comic books is in?  You consult The Overstreet Price Guide, a guidebook that has been published since 1970! To tell the grade of your comic book you simply look up the book you want to sell in the Overstreet Price Guide and see what grade sells for the most amount of money. Is it “Mint?” Then THAT’S what grade you should say your book is!

In reality you should never expect anybody to pay that price. The handy rule of thumb is to then take the price listed in the Overstreet Guide and divide it by how desperate you are to sell your comics.

Another way for you to waste your money in an attempt to make money is the Comic Book Grading Company, or CGC. For a fee they’ll take your comic book, figure out the grade, write all that in a database and then seal your comic book up in weatherproof, age-proof plastic. Be the last human on Earth to own a perfectly graded CGC rated copy of Aquaman #94 when the Cyborg mutants of the future rise up to the surface to enslave us all and you win!

GIVE UP

Yes, comic book collecting is a fruitless, tiring exercise in staving off the natural process of entropy. It guarantees you’ll never have fun reading a comic book again, and is sure to render you a joyless, penny-pinching miser by the time most folks are kissing their grandkids.

Want to make money off of comic books? Invent a business surrounding the lie that someday they’ll have value and clean up on suckers! There’s one born every minute, and their money is as green as the next chumps, especially if it has the Hulk on it!

Bon Appetite!

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