Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Steve Does Comics Guide to grading comics

As you may have noticed, in my usual desperate quest to get more visitors, I've added a comics grading guide to the site. Sadly, I've just realised visitors aren't able to add comments to static pages, so, if you find yourself affected by any issues raised by that article, here's where you can post your thoughts on the matter.

I now return you to the main post of the day; Aggressive Amphibians: Terror Among the Lilly Pads.


cerebus660 said...

Only in the ker-azy world of komics would you find a "good" rating which actually means "totally shagged" :-)

Steve said...

I've always assumed that comics gradings were first defined by comic dealers and they were somewhat reluctant to describe things they were selling as "Crap" and "Festering". Buying comics would be so much simpler if they did.

Unknown said...

Hi Steve,

I am new to comic collecting. I have always loved reading comics but I never really considered it a "hobby" or collection. I recently started trying to start a collection. I purchased a star wars #1 today and am very confused about if I made a good decision purchasing it.

Here are all the details:

To fill you in a little bit I spend $10 on it at a flea market. Was it a bad buy/loss? I am not collecting for a profit I just want to know that it wasnt a rip off. I didn't realize that it was a reprint when I bought it. I just thought a old star wars comic was cool

Steve W. said...

Hi, Stu.

To be honest, I couldn't claim to be able to give a definitive answer as to what it's worth. It's a good twenty years since I last looked at a price guide and the prices in them rarely reflect any kind of reality anyway.

A look on eBay suggests there isn't a huge demand for that particular printing, so you could probably have got it for a fair bit less. Still, at least you didn't spend a fortune on it and, from what I remember, it's a nicely drawn comic.

I wish I could be the bearer of better news but I think it's happened to us all. I remember once paying around $7 for an issue of Thor that it turned out I could have got for around $2.

Then again, I once managed to get $40 worth of Batman comics for $4. Sometimes you win with these things and sometimes you lose.

Michael Greenspan said...


I found this thread via Google.

I have a bunch of oldish (mid-70s - early-80s) comics I'm planning to sell on eBay, and I'm worried I'll grade them wrong. What I'd like is to send a typical book to an experienced collector, such as you, who would then tell me his opinion of that comic's condition.

Any chance you'd be willing? The comic would be yours to keep, but really it would be a favor to me whom you've never met.

Thanks, and hope you don't mind my asking.

Cheers from the States,

Steve W. said...

Hi, Michael. It's nice to hear from you.

I know from personal experience that grading comics for sale can be one of the most confusing experiences in life - mostly because it's extremely subjective.

Fortunately, you really don't need to worry about it. My experience of eBay is that, except for comics of some value, precise grading really doesn't matter at all. Most comics from the mid-1970s and the 1980s don't sell for large sums and are therefore most likely to be bought by people who want them purely to read, rather than as an investment.

So, here's what I'd recommend. Take a look at each comic. If it's as good as new or almost as good as new, describe it as high grade. If it's in a bit of a mess, label it low grade, and, if it's somewhere between the two, label it mid grade. Then give a quick summary of each comic's strengths and failings, so the buyer can make up his or her own mind about what condition it is or isn't in. If you can supply good scans of the covers, that'll be of massive use to buyers in judging whether it's in a condition they're happy with.

That's really all you have to do. Trust me, it'll be more than good enough.

Also, if a comic has flaws, don't be scared to say so in the ads. There are just as many people who want flawed comics as there are ones who want perfect comics. If someone's buying a comic to read, the condition often doesn't matter to them that much. Not being perfect can even be a selling point, as people feel more comfortable reading a comic that's not completely pristine.

Anonymous said...


It appears you have an error on your comics grading post, where you have:

In a complete state and to be avoided unless you're desperate."

Should say incomplete- right? Thought I'd mention this. Thanks.


Steve W. said...

Adam, you're right. I was using the phrase, "Complete state," in its UK slang meaning of, "A total mess," but it could be misconstrued as meaning, "In a condition that is complete."

I shall change the wording forthwith to avoid confusing people. Thanks for the heads-up.