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Should You Grade Your Comic Books?

Updated on October 16, 2014
Superior Spider-Man rare variant by J. Scott Campbell
Superior Spider-Man rare variant by J. Scott Campbell | Source

Every comic book collector at one point or another has asked the question “should I grade my comic books?” The answer is not as simple as the grading companies would have you believe. Of course they would want you to grade all of your comic books, but in the end it is your personal decision. All that other collectors can do is give you an idea of what comic books you should be grading and which ones are really not worth sending and that is what you will find here.

What Makes A Comic Book Important?

If you are the average collector ten you probably have a combination of really good comic books and several that are not all that special. That’s normal, because most people want to follow stories, but not every part of the story has something that every collector will want. Now you have to ask yourself what it is that a book has that you cannot find in any other. Here are a few famous examples.

  • Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of Spider-Man)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (death of Supergirl)
  • Fantastic Four Annual #3 (Wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm)

Those are just some of the most famous events in comics, but there are plenty of them to choose from. Every character in comics has at one point had a first appearance. A lot of them then have a first solo run, or you can find events like weddings, deaths and events that may have changed the entire comic book universe in that particular company.

How Much Is A Comic Book Worth?

All those things listed above are great, but not every comic book which includes such an event will be worth a lot of money. The price of a comic book depends on its importance, availability and demand. Comic books from the 1940’s and 1950’s are much rarer than those produced in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Action Comics #1 sold for over three million dollars recently, but that comic book is not only the first appearance of Superman and the comic book that created the industry that we know today; it is also extremely rare. It is believed that there are 50 to 100 copies if action Comics that still exist today and that is why someone was willing to pay that much for it.

The price is also greatly influenced by which character is in the comic book. Hulk #181 is the first full appearance of Wolverine and that can be hundreds or even a couple of thousands if it is in great condition. On the other hand Arrowette made her first appearance on Impulse #28 and that issue can easily be purchased for under $10 in Near Mint condition. In that example Hulk #181 would be worth grading while Impulse #28 would not be.

The Wedding Of Deadpool (Deadpool 27)
The Wedding Of Deadpool (Deadpool 27) | Source

Why Grade Comic Books

Not everyone likes the idea of grading comic books, but grading can help you in different ways. The main reason to grade a comic book is to show potential buyers that your comic book is authentic, complete and in good shape. A collector would be more inclined to buy a comic book if they can see that an independent party (in this case the grading company) has checked that the comic book is in Near Mint condition as opposed to just taking the seller’s word for it.

Grading a comic book also means that you are encasing it. A comic book in a case will be more protected than one that is in a box. You still have to protect a graded comic book from things like water and UV rays, but the extra protection will make it easier for your collection to last longer in the original condition.

Graded comic books are also great to display. One thing to keep in mind is that the cases are most of the time fragile and can easily get scratched so you need to take care of them as well. The comic book will be protected inside the case to a certain degree but be careful with the case itself so it does not get scratched or broken. Some people grade some comic books not because of the value but because they like the art and want to display it and that is a perfectly valid reason.

Not All Good

Not everything about grading is good. Sure your comic book will get the right value, will be protected and look great on a display, but encasing your comic book also means that you cannot read it. If you were to open the case which is sealed from the moment the company encases it, then the grade given to the comic book is no longer valid. The reason it loses its validity is that when removed from the case it goes back to being a raw copy.

The good news is that you can purchase digital copies of comic books. Those are cheaper and in some cases like the newer comic books, the companies will give you a code so that you can read the digital version without having to pay for it. Not every company does this, but it is an added bonus.

The other issue with graded comic books is that they take a lot more space than graded copies. That is not an issue to most people, but if you do not have much space then that is one of the things that you have to take into consideration.

Not all comic books are worth grading so choose carefully
Not all comic books are worth grading so choose carefully | Source

In the end the answer to the original question of whether or not you should grade comic books is just “depends”. There are as you can see reasons to grade comic books and at the same time a couple of disadvantages. You have to know which comic books are worth the money that you will spend grading them and why you want to grade them. Some collectors are fine having just raw copies, while others prefer to give their collections that little bit extra to make it even better.

There are also different comic book grading companies and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Research them before you send your books to one of them.

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© 2014 Sarah

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    • Projectlazy profile image

      Projectlazy 2 years ago

      I love that Superior Spider-man 29. I wish I had got my hands on one of those at the time.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Really nice explanation of how and why to get your collections graded. These suggestions could apply to other kinds of collections too. Too bad that comics are not like coins. Getting them graded and slabbed definitely improves their value! Well, I wouldn't have a coin graded unless it was worth more that what getting it graded would cost I guess.