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How To Grade Your Comic Book Collection

Updated on April 16, 2014

Comic Books

Collecting comic books is great fun and highly profitable.
Collecting comic books is great fun and highly profitable.

Comic Books

As a child it was a pretty common site to see me curled up in front of a nice cool fan nose deep in a comic book. I was there when Bane broke the Batman. I screamed in horror as Magneto tore the adomantium from Wolverine's mutant body. I was present when Doomsday proved the Man of Steel could be killed. I don't get to engage in the wondrous world of comic books quite as much as I used to but all of those cherished moments and memories are still tucked away in a box protected by comic book bags and boards and occasionally the urge overtakes me and I get them out, dust them off and return to those worlds that kept me entertained as a kid.

Comic book collectors can relate to this behavior. While I collect simply to read the comics when the urge takes me over others collect for other reasons. I know individuals who collect comic books to relive childhood moments, some who collect for other reasons, and then of course those who collect for the resell value.

That's right kids, comic books can be very valuable. In this little article I am going to show you how you can identify the condition of your own comic book collection. Whether you intend to keep them forever and pass them down or simply keep them until the market value goes up, condition is important.

Look For Winners

Look for new series that may catch on and prove big. This was the start of the Knightfall series.
Look for new series that may catch on and prove big. This was the start of the Knightfall series.

Poor Condition Should Be Avoided

Avoid comic books like this one. Their condition is way to bad for collecting.
Avoid comic books like this one. Their condition is way to bad for collecting.

Areas of interest

We will look at several aspects of the comic book to make our judgement on which condition it falls into. The spine, cover, and inside pages will all be examined to make our final grade for each book we have. These areas are the basic make up of every comic book and are vital to it's even existence.

Spine- Perfectly straight. Staples should look brand new.
Cover-No folds, tears or creases. Color should be vibrant and look like it was newly printed. No fading or stains of any sort can be present. Comic should lay flat.
Inside Pages- No cuts or tears to any of the pages. Colors should look newly printed. No folds or creases present in any of the comic's pages.
Mint condition comics are the creme of a collector's horde. They are what the general buyer is looking for and are almost always worth more than any other grade of comic books.

Near Mint
Spine- Straight and staples should look relatively new. Very minor bending allowed.
Cover- The cover of a near mint comic is the same as a mint comic with one exception. The cover art may be slightly off center.
Inside Pages- No cuts or tears of any kind. Fading is allowed but only at a minimum. No marking or water stains can be present.
Near mint comic books are the bread and butter of the used comic book industry. Many collectors like the appearance of near mint comics simply because it shows the book was at least read a few times.

Very Fine
Spine- May have some slight wear. Some lines visible. Light bending is acceptable.
Cover- Corners may be slightly creased. Comic should still lay flat. Minor signs of wear are acceptable. Very slight color fade.
Inside Pages- Pages may show early signs of yellowing. No marking or stains acceptable. Very minor bends and creases are OK.
Very fine comics are not as valuable as there two bigger brothers but they still can fetch a pretty good penny.

Spine-Minor creases are OK. May be lightly bent. Staples may show some sign of discoloration.
Cover- Minor wear present. Some creasing is allowed but not in excess. Some color fading will be OK. Paper waviness is OK.
Inside Pages- Some browning of pages is OK. Minor tears on the edges are allowed. No ink marks can be present. Slight water stains are allowed.
Fine comics usually are the vintage comics someone has found and decided to protect just after the aging process has started to occurred.

Very Good
Spine- Staples have stated to show signs of rusting. May be some evidence of rolling. Visible lines present.
Cover- Will show signs of wear. Creases are acceptable. There will be some fading and discoloration present. Some small pieces of paper may be missing. May be a pricing sticker on the cover.
Inside Pages- Tears may be present. Many pages may be brown or yellow. Water staining is allowed. Very slight ink markings allowed.
Very good comics are usually the ones kept for reading purposes.

Spine- Some staples may be missing. May have creases and minor tears. Staples are rusted.
Cover- May be partially detached. Creased, faded and discolored pages are allowed. Minor tearing present. Water and ink stains are acceptable.
Inside Pages- May have ripped pages. Some may have scotch tape repairs. Brown and tanned pages are allowed. Heavy wear is present. Parts of the comic book may be missing.

Spine- May be split. Major wear present. Staples are rusted and may be missing.
Cover- Entire cover may be detached. Major tears and creases present. Parts of cover may even be missing.
Inside Pages- Some pages will be brittle. Most pages are browned with age. Frequent ink and water stains. Some pages will be torn. All pages still need to be there.

Spine- Spine bent and torn. Some or all of the staples are missing.
Cover- Cover will be detached. Severe ripping.
Inside Pages- Pages may be missing. There may be evidence of mold. Pages brittle and easily torn.

Where to find comics

Of course comic book stores are a given but one of the best places to seek out valuable comic books at a remarkable price is the flea market. Flea markets have always yielded some amazing finds for me. I have seen some very rare books go for a few bucks or less.

Yard sells can be a great place to find comics as well.


Comic books are many things to many people. Some see them as a lucrative pass time that may yield big earnings one day while others see them as fantastic works of art and literature coming together to form a perfect piece of history. Comic books still stand out to me as a great way to just get away from a really crappy day and go somewhere else.

How ever you choose to keep your comic collection, whether it be reading or selling at a later time always remember that what you have is meaningful to someone out there. I know I would never part with my comic books simply because the memories attached to them are so important to me. I encourage everyone to have fun with their collecting and enjoy it.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Shoot, who would have thhougt that it was that easy?

    • lorddraven2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Little 

      6 years ago from Wheelwright KY

      GL they really do. I can't tell you how many times I get out my old Batmans and read them over and over again.

    • GL blogger profile image

      GL blogger 

      6 years ago

      Very good read. I am also a comic book collector. I love reading comic books (Green Lanterns titles most of the time) and I love it even more if the artwork is great. I try to keep my comic books in good condition so that I can still appreciate them in years to come. I agree that comic books relive childhood moments.

    • lorddraven2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Little 

      6 years ago from Wheelwright KY

      Very great points my friend. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 

      6 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Good basic overview. One caveat would be, if you're going to sell your collection, always assume that the comic book shop will grade your comics one grade down from what you do, regardless of how familiar you are with the system and how scrupulously you went over your mags. That was my experience, every single time. At least it's not like selling other stuff where they look you in the eye, tell you they can't sell it, offer you pennies and then sell it for near-new prices. The comic dealers I've dealt with are very honest about what they'll take and why, but they always grade it one step down from what I do.


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