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The Current Enemy of Comic Book Collecting
May 20, 2020, 11:34 pm

One of the biggest problems facing the average comic collector and indeed the comic industry as a whole happens to be the Certified Guaranty Company.  Stay with me, you'll see what I mean.  CGC was founded 20 years ago and has since become the all powerful industry standard for "impartial" comic grading.  Now, in 2000/2001 this was a novel idea.  Have your highly collectible, rare silver age books graded according to who-knows-what standards and have them stay that way forever?  People were more than willing to sign up. Now, as an idea and a means to preserve a copy of, say Amazing Fantasy 15, I'm all for it.  The problem arises when 9.8 copies of Amazing Spider-man #368 or Senseational She-Hulk #43 are floating around.  Let's use one of those as an example shall we.  Spider-Man.  The current going rate for a 9.8 is around fifty bucks.  Now there's nothing particularly special about this issue.  It's not a key of any kind, it's not a first appearance of anybody and most importantly, it isn't rare.  So why does a book that should cost, at maximum, five dollars somehow go for fifty bucks when put in a cheap plastic case with a big blue number at the top?  The asnwer is that the very idea of a high grade book, no matter what it is, has fabricated an unrealistic fair market value.  What this has done is two fold.  One, it has affected and raised the price of raw books making it more difficult for actual fans and collectors to complete a run or pick up a back issue simply because they like it.  Two, it has incentevized the already out of control speculator market to slab more and more books exacerbating the cost and availability issues.  I'd also like to address CGC's standards.  Last year at a con I saw a 9.6 copy of The Spirit #22 from 1950. 1950!  A 9.6!  How exactly can you hold a piece of printed material from seventy years ago to the same standard as a book that came out six months ago?  I appreciate that paper and ink qualities were different back then and that maybe it's a 9.6 compared to other books at the time but that's a bit of a slippery slope if you ask me.  At what point do these numbers start to become arbitrary?  But you can't argue, right?  I mean they are a self regulted, privately owned for profit with absolutely no third party oversight.  You can trust CGC, right?

Discussion

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  • Taren
    I completely agree.
    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • backalleycomics

    Thanks.  Speculators are in our midst.  Good news is, I feel like the current climate they've created isn't sustainable.  Every bubble bursts.

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • ObsessedNerd
    I've never really considered this. I don't disagree but at the same time I'm not sure if enemy of collecting is overstating it or not. I always considered the grading and "slabbing" of comics books a bit of a silly subset of collecting. As someone who would rather enjoy the books in my collection I've never understood it and I pretty much dismiss it. That said one experience I had did make me feel it was a negative part of collecting. I was in a queue at a Con a few years ago to meet Mark Teixeira. The guy in front of me had a copy of Buckaroo Banzai which was apparently some of his very early work. A rep for CGC was walking the queue offering to witness any signatures. No one was interested so he was giving this guy the hard sell about how no one had a signed issue in the database and if he got it witnessed and sent away to be graded he'd have the only one in the UK or some stuff like that. The guy was tempted but he just wanted to get a memento of meeting Mark but the rep kept trying for about 30 minutes.
    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • backalleycomics

    I suppose 'enemy' is a bit hyperbolic.  But it did get you to read it ;)  It is a problem though.  And it's very definitely effecting what people pay for back issues and variants.  I've seen those guys at cons too.  They have this veneer of walking the walk and talking the talk, but they're very clearly catering to the speculator crowd or trying to make normal collectors think of their books as more of an investment as opposed to entertainment.  Which, at the end of the day, is what they are.  

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • ObsessedNerd

    True. Now that I think about it I often  see on Ebay some random not at all rare or especially sought after CGC graded comic listed for around £30 or so. Obviously someone has taken something worth a few £ and had it slabbed in the expectation it will immediately be more valuable. Then they're struggling to sell it at less than it probably cost including postage to get it graded.

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • backalleycomics

    Exactly.  That's what I mean by fabricated value.  Bare minimum, it'll cost you twenty bucks to slab a book.  The rates go up based on fair market value.  Books valued at at least $3,000 cost $100 and beyond that, and this is the sneaky bit, three to five percent of fair market value.  Now where does this FMV number come from?  Why, CGC of course!  It's a racket.

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • ComicsGatekeeper

    CGC has been an enemy to readers and true collectors for a while now.

    And did you see that video of how one of their employees pawed through an issue of Superman #1 a few months ago?

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • backalleycomics

    I have not.  Link?

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • ComicsGatekeeper

    https://www.facebook.com/CGCcomics/videos/1507878259377754/

    look at how hes bending the pages(especially at around the 0:32 mark) and how he is adding more damage to the crease on the bottom right side of the cover by the way hes handling the book. He should also have gloves on, which is something they said they do when handling some of these older gems. This looks like some random dude flipping through our books in their basement, not a professional grading company.

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • backalleycomics

    ::face palm::  How is the owner of that book letting him do that?!  Another example of those "standards" I was talking about.  As you say, we're told they wear gloves for the variant you picked up last week but this joker's barehanded with a Superman #1.  Awesome, CGC. 

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • PKcomic411
    Just decided NOT to slab 3 DKR'S because of the responses on here.
    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • backalleycomics

    Good man.  Don't feed the beast.

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago
  • Ferraz

    Consumers drive the market!!!  Dont buy if you dont want it slabbed. Consumers have choice. Dont blame CGC. 

    Reply  ·  2 weeks ago