An avid comic collector and fan for nearly 20 years, Vic started collecting comics around eight years old. Comic investing since the 2000s.
When it comes to getting comics graded, there are those who are for it and those who are staunchly against it. This hub isn't about whether or not "true collectors" get their comics graded by CGC or CBCS or not. This hub is about whether it is worth it or not and what getting your comics CGC or CBCS graded can do for your comics. However, whether a comic is "worth" also relies on several factors as well. Don't worry. We'll cover some of these reasons. Let's get to it!
Enter CGC or CBCS Graded Comics
This is my personal opinion here: Just because you get your comics graded doesn't mean you're any less of a collector or that you're going into the dark waters of comic investing or speculation. I don't subscribe to that elitist way of thinking, and as we get deeper into this, you'll discover why. I do have comics that are both raw and slabbed in my personal collection.
However, getting something appraised - which is what a third party grading company does - actually leans more towards giving a damn about value. Let's just be upfront and honest about that now. Sure, I like that CGC basically puts a comic in an archival slab and inserts micro chamber paper in the book to help it from deteriorating. That's definitely an added bonus for me. Still, though, you can do that yourself without shipping them off to get graded, and doing that yourself is a whole lot cheaper. Get my point?
There are also a lot of folks who don't even care for encasing them in what I like to now call "comic condoms". They want to enjoy the feel and that comic book smell. Some still like flipping though them. That's fine, and I get it. I do enjoy the feel of a raw comic in my hand as well, but not always the case. I'll get to the reason why as we get further into this as well.
Obviously, when you CGC grade them bad boys, you can't touch nor smell the actual comic anymore. However, that nice little grade can help to bump the value of your book slightly or quite a bit, but the next section will deal with one personal reason why I'll prefer to get a comic graded by CGC or CBCS.
Less Direct Handling!
I know how to handle comics. However, the less a comic is handled, the less chances of damage will happen to it. Let's be honest about that. Sure, I know some will immediately think that one just has to learn how to handle comics correctly, and they're 100% correct. You should learn how to handle comics as carefully as possible, but it's also 100% true that accidents do happen from time to time. No matter how experienced of a collector you are, there are times when you accidentally damage a comic or drop a comic. You're human after all and not perfect.
I have some older comics that are more valuable and on the more fragile side that I just don't like handling whatsoever. I'll admit I'm pretty clumsy. Plastic bags and back boards do offer protection, but it is pretty limited. As shown in the pics above, just taking comics in or out of boxes can place finger bends on a comic, especially if a comic box is jam-packed which I don't recommend.
This may just be me, but I do feel quite more secure in handling slabs than comics bagged and boarded. I still need to be careful as to not drop or scratch the slab for sure, but I'm definitely not concerned with putting finger bends or fingerprints on the actual comic book when they're third-party graded by CGC or CBCS. Yeah, there is still a possibility of damaging the comic within the holder if you drop it. However, you have a higher chance of putting nasty spine dents and creases dropping a comic only bagged and boarded.
Do not get me wrong here. I think comics are more safe encapsulated but they can very well still be damaged, especially in transit. If a carrier delivering a comic has to slam on the brakes and make an abrupt stop, comics in the slab can move and jam up against the inner well, causing really nasty crunches and indents to the side, top or bottom edges of the comics.
Most grading companies do put microchamber paper in the comics to help preserve them. Microchamber paper helps to absorb pollutants, neutralize acids, eliminate mold and mildew, and combat deterioration in general. As I mentioned prior, you can get microchamber paper separately on your own. They're not too expensive, but you won't be getting your comic appraised at the same time.
Nobody lives forever, and chances are when you go and leave your comics to your wife or kids or whoever, they'll know little to nothing about them. I've heard too many of these stories about kids inheriting a very valuable comic collection and just selling them for next to nothing. Most likely not anywhere even close to the real value of the comic collection. I've seen many senior ladies walk into a comic shop asking for advice about a comic collection their late husband just left them, and a lot of times, I've seen them get ripped off. It's a travesty really, but there are more and more female comic collectors entering the hobby so the younger generation might not run into this problem as much.
Grades are subjective. That's very true, but a comic that is third-party graded does have added value depending on the comic and its rarity in proportion to its demand. I'm not saying that the grades they sometimes give aren't questionable, nor am I saying they're perfect. I'm just saying that number they assign can either knock down its perceived value or give it a nice raise. It can also give one more confidence about what they're selling if they don't know much about comic grading or values. That slabbed grade can also give buyers better peace of mind when purchasing comics also. Over-grading comics does happen from time to time and even with professional comic dealers.
Before I forget to mention, you can give comics added protection by using top loaders as well or thicker mylite sleeves. Trust me, I like those too and use them as often as I can.
Let's Investigate Some of My CGC and CBCS Graded Comics!
This is the best way I know in order to do a deep dive on whether getting CGC or CBCS comics graded is worth it. How about we encompass whether graded comics are worth buying as well? Yeah, let's get a broader picture here!
I'll be comparing the sales of graded copies of comics to the their raw counterparts. I will try to compare the same grades, but some eBay listings may not be graded accurately. Keep that in mind. Also, if I cannot find raw sales listings for a particular grade to compare, I will try the next grade up.
Also, I will be including CBCS graded comics as well. For the most part, CBCS graded comics do sell for less than CGC graded comics. Not always the case depending how hot or in-demand a comic is, but it is well-known knowledge amongst veteran comic collectors and those who have been investing in comics for quite a while also.
I will also try to include a variety of Silver, Bronze, Copper and Modern Age comics as well. Just to get a broader view of various comics in different eras. Alright, first up is this Modern Age comic I recently bought raw and had graded in 2021.
$275.00 | Dec 2021
$233.50 | Dec 2021
$46.00 NM+ | Dec 2021
$203.68 | Aug 2021
$325.00 | Aug 2021
$55.00 NM+ | Aug 2021
$125.00 | Feb 2021
$481.00 | Mar 2021
$32.00 NM+ | Feb 2021
X-Men #4 9.8
When it comes to some high-grade Modern or newer books, it isn't always possible to find listings that advertise their comics as NM/M or Near Mint/Mint which is a 9.8 grade. The most you'll find are those sellers who use NM+ which is a 9.6 grade, so it isn't easy to do an accurate comparison between graded slabs and their raw counterparts at that high of a grade.
This X-Men #4 from the 2nd or the 1991 series is no exception to this. Although, I could only find sold listings for NM+ raw copies, you can see how much of a price disparity there are between high-grade raw copies and CGC and CBCS slabs. Once again, I used the highest sale from these particular months, and most are not the most recent sale of 9.8s grades. X-Men #4 and the first appearance of Omega Red is on a downswing currently. For me, that means time to buy.
When it comes to CBCS sales vs. CGC sales, data isn't always available too. CGC slabs do sell more frequently as you'll soon see. Sometimes, there is a notable price disparity. The chart above does not reflect that but if I compare most recent sales of CGC and CBCS, we may have a clearer look at that or not.
December 28, 2021: $189.05 | CGC 9.8
Dec 26, 2021: $140.50 | CBCS 9.8
Not a huge disparity but $49 is nothing to sneer at.
$1,400.00 | Dec 2021
$1,410.00 | Dec 2021
$2,500.00 | May
$1,749.99 VG+ | Jul 2021
Amazing Spider-Man #15 4.5 VG+
Here's a good example of a comic that is pretty scarce on the market or doesn't sell that often. A lot of spec is on Kraven the Hunter hitting the big screen, so this comic did blow up in the last couple years, and when it comes to some Silver Age in-demand comics, a huge disparity between CGC and CBCS sometimes don't exist. Amazing Spider-Man #15 is one of these comics as you can see.
I wanna explain something here. I do try to keep the sales comparisons in the same month. However, when dealing with more expensive comics, they don't always have sales within the same months or even years. Like the raw sale inputted in the table, I will try to get a sale in a month close to the CGC or CBCS sales month. Sometimes if there are no similar sales of a particular grade, I will use the sale of a comic which grade is closest.
$229 | Dec 2021
$199.99 | Dec 2021
$240.00 | Aug 2021
$232.50 | Aug 2021
$310.00 | Mar 2021
$171.50 | Mar 2021
Amazing Spider-Man #299 9.4 NM
I am surprised there were zero sales of CBCS 9.4 Amazing Spider-Man #299s on eBay this year of 2021, but it is what it is. This is a good example of how some grades of certain key issue comics from certain eras don't have large disparities when it comes to their graded comic sales or raw comic sales. In this case, raw ASM #299s at 9.4 NMs don't sell for much less than their graded counterparts.
An overabundance of this comic at that grade in the market might be the reason why. Even the difference between a newsstand or direct market edition might have an impact on how many are available out there. My copy is a Direct Market Edition by the way. Amazing Spider-Man #299 is definitely a sought-out comic as it does have the 1st cameo of Venom. Some say it's good enough for a full appearance. That's a whole other debate though.
However, it is a Copper Age Spider-Man book, so there is no doubt there's quite a bit of copies at high grade for this issue. It's not exactly a hard find. However, if I can get a graded copy at the same price as a raw copy for this comic, I'd choose the graded copy. Even if I can get a raw copy a few bucks cheaper, I may choose the graded CGC or CBCS copy. It depends on how much of a price difference there is in terms of getting the book graded. For instance, if a NM raw copy cost $199.99 and I could get a CGC 9.4 for $229.99, I may very well pick the graded copy. Even getting the comic graded at CBCS for the Modern Tier at $16 (Membership price) a pop plus shipping there and shipping back would be close to or more than the $30 difference of a graded copy, so why not play it safe and get the graded one?
That's, of course, if you don't mind graded copies. Sure, that NM raw might be pressed and cleaned and get a bump in grade to a 9.6, but it also might not. That raw could very well be graded lower than the NM it was advertised as. Also, the grading companies are suppose to check and spot for restoration, so you have a lesser chance of buying a comic that has restoration as opposed to a comic already graded.
$2,300.00 6.5 | Nov 2021
$2,400.00 FN/VF | Sep 2021
$2,701.99 7.0 | Apr 2021
$2,999.99 6.5 | Jun 2021
$2,100.00 FN- | May 2021
$1,700.00 7.0 | Apr 2021
$2,999.99 6.5 | Apr 2021
$1,299.99 FN+ | Mar 2021
Marvel Spotlight #5 6.5 FN+
You all see what Norman Reedus posted on his IG recently? It's his face with the other half a burning skull, implying that he is Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider. Some reports have it that Norman Reedus has already signed on to play this version of Ghost Rider in the MCU, and this version debuted in this very comic of Marvel Spotlight #5.
I recently did a hub of the Most Valuable Marvel Bronze Age Comics, and surprisingly, this comic was the top comic at 9.8 grades. I'm serious. Check it out by clicking the link.
Anyway, when it comes to the most recent CGC and raw sales in November and September, those were the closest sales I could find. Also the raw comic was advertised as the next grade higher at an FN/VF or 7.0 grade, so keep that in mind when comparing the sales prices.
Still, I find it strange that the next sales of June and May were not that far off either. The raw grade is FN- or 5.5, two grades lower than a 6.5 FN+. One can assume that a raw FN+ sold during the same month of May would have been relatively close to the CGC 6.5 price sold in June. Maybe super close to both the prices of the CBCS 7.0 copies that sold in April.
The only sales that were pretty far off were the earlier 2021 sales in April and March. The March raw sale of a FN+ advertised copy was $1700 dollars less than the CGC 6.5 copy that sold for $2,999.99 in April. Pretty crazy.
$1,757.49 6.5 | Dec
1,799.99 6.5 | Dec
$785.00 VG/FN | Nov
$2,071.00 6.5 | Apr
$1,499.99 FN | Apr
$1,375.00 6.5 | Jan
$899.99 FN+ | Jan
Fantastic Four #52 6.5 FN+
This Fantastic Four #52 at this particular grade of 6.5 FN+ is another good example that sometimes CBCS and CGC copies don't sell that far off from each other. No doubt that the 1st appearance of Black Panther has definitely become an in-demand and sought-out Silver Age Marvel debut. I think that is well-deserved as Black Panther is the first Black superhero in American comics.
This comic at this mid grade also shows a pretty clear disparity between raw and graded copies. The VG/FN sale of a raw copy was the nearest grade I could find that sold near December. A VG/FN is a 5.0 an is two grades lower than a FN+. The raw copy advertised as a straight FN and sold in April is only a grade lower. It still showed a disparity but a FN+ may have sold quite a bit closer in price to the $2,071.00 CGC copy that also sold in April.
I bought this copy already slabbed for around $400 around six or seven years ago. I may have gotten a higher graded raw copy for cheaper at that time, but not too sure about that. It's possible as the comic was not highly in-demand at that time. However, it could have blew up while waiting for a good deal on a raw copy too. I'm glad I got this when I did.
$430.00 4.5 | Nov 2021
$800 4.5 | Nov 2021
$315.00 VG+ | Nov 2021
$630.00 4.5 | May 2021
$425.55 VG+ | Oct 2021
$400.00 4.5 | Mar 2021
$390.00 4.5 | Jan 2021
$392.50 VG/FN | Jan 2021
Flash #139 4.5 VG
I recently just got this comic and am so excited to finally have it in my personal collection. I did not get this comic graded. I bought it already graded at a VG+ or 4.5 CGC grade. This is Flash #139 and has the 1st appearance of Reverse-Flash or Professor Zoom. Zoom is Barry Allen's arch nemesis, so he is an important villain. I thought I might never own this comic and waited a few years for the right deal to come along. By the way, I did not get it at the price shown in the photo.
When it comes to raw and graded sales comparison, they are really close together. The VG/FN raw sale sold at a slightly higher price than the CGC 4.5 and just a few dollars lower than the CBCS 4.5 copy that sold in March. I know that VG/FN is a grade higher than a 4.5, but in this case, it would've been safe to have bought the graded copies. That VG/FN might be over-graded. It could have restoration that the seller is either aware of and neglected to disclose or unaware and didn't know to disclose. Either way, there's a chance the copy could be restored, and that is a chance you take when buying raw copies, especially online. Then again, the pendulum can swing the other way as well, and that VG/FN copy might not have restoration and can actually be under-graded.
It's pretty shocking that a CBCS 4.5 sold for that much less than a CGC 4.5 during November of 2021. Man, I wish I had snagged that copy. I think that Flash #139 CBCS 4.5 that sold in November was a steal. Just saying.
$380.00 VG/FN | Sep 2021
$299.00 VG+ | Mar 2021
$307.40 | Feb 2021
$99.00 VG+ | Jan 2021
Showcase #23 4.5 VG+
It's crazy that this comic is so undervalued and overlooked amongst most collectors, but it is. Yes, Showcase #22 is just the 2nd appearance of Hal Jordan Green Lantern, but this character was the 2nd character from the Silver Age to continue the revival of the superhero genre in American comic books.
Hal Jordon is the most well-known and popular character in the Green Lantern comics today. Even the Flash's 2nd appearance in Showcase #8 CGC 4.5 sold for $2,160.00 in September of 2020. Then, again Showcase #8 also has the debut of the major Flash villain Captain Cold. Unfortunately, the 2nd appearance of Hal Jordan Green Lantern in Showcase #23 doesn't have a debut of one of his popular villains or supporting characters. However, an $1,853 difference between the two?
Anyway, this comic at this grade doesn't trade enough on the secondary market to get a good assessment of the difference between raw values and graded values.
$819.99 8.5 | Nov 2021
$409 VF/NM | Nov 2021
$960.00 8.5 | Jun 2021
$605.00 VF+ | Sep 2021
$725.00 8.5 | Feb 2021
$194.95 VF+ | Feb 2021
X-Men #58 8.5 Vf+
Sometimes the added value is quite clear between graded comics and raw comics. This X-Men #58 at an 8.5 is just one of those comics. Unfortunately, I'm unsure of CBCS copies at this grade. Surprising that none sold at this grade the entire year on ole eBay.
With excitement swelling around Marvel's mighty mutants finally joining Disney and the MCU, it's no surprise that interest in this 1st appearance Silver Age X-Men comic has increased quite a bit. X-Men #58 is the 1st appearance of Alex Summers as Havok. I am surprised this comic has yet to hit or surpass the 1k mark yet.
VF/NM is a grade above a VF+ or 8.5, but it does seem that demand was a bit higher in September, and, perhaps, the summer months.
$1,249.99 9.6 | Sep
$520.00 NM+ | Sep
$980.00 9.6 | Jul
$1,249.99 9.6 | Jul
$1,926.00 NM+ | Jul
$905.00 9.6 | Feb
$436.69 NM+ | Feb
Amazing Spider-Man #238 9.6 NM+
I tried to be as careful as possible when gathering data for this comic. There are several variants to consider. First you have to distinguish between those copies with Tatooz and without. Then, make sure you don't get newsstand edition values, as they do sell higher than Direct Market for some key comics. So, to be clear, the data above are for Direct Market copies.
This comic definitely had a spout of heat when speculation about actor Jacob Batalon losing weight and getting jacked was because his character Ned Leeds was gonna get his Hobgoblin on in Spider-Man: No Way Home. It's a good example of how crazy things can get when you have an outlier such as the raw NM+ copy that sold for $1,926 and considerably more than both the CGG and CBCS copy that sold in the same month. It does happen from time to time.
Then again, both raw copies that sold in September and earlier this year in February sold considerably less than their graded counterparts. I had bought my copy raw for $200 even, but that was a couple years ago, at least 2015 or 2016. It was advertised as a straight-up NM copy, and I did have mine pressed and cleaned before sending it in to get graded.
So Is It Worth Getting Comics CGC or CBCS graded?
The purpose of looking at some of those comics above was to see how the answer to this question varies. It really depends on various factors. Getting comics graded is no longer cheap. CGC just upped some of their grading prices this year as shown below.
Modern Tier Grading (1975 - Present) Old Price: $20 | New Price: $22
Economy Tier Grading (Pre-1975) Old Price: $38 | New Price: $33
Standard Tier Grading Old Price: $65 | New Price: $75
Express Tier Grading Old Price: $100 | New Price: $120
WalkThrough Tier Grading Old Price: 3% of FMV | New Price: 3% of FMV
Also, CBCS raised their price on 2-Day Modern Service from $40 to $45. On that note, I recently did get a Bronze Membership at CBCS and it was the best investment I made all year. I got 2 free 2 Day Modern passes and 3 free Fast Passes plus discounts on all grading tiers. Regular cost of Modern is $18 but I save $2 on each comic with a membership. For more valuable Silver and Bronze Age comics, I'll have to go Quickstream which is $52 for members and $58 for non-members. Compare that to CGC's Standard at a whopping $75! I do get a 10% discount as a CGC Premium member though. That's $67.50 compared to $52 and still a $15.50 difference.
In my personal opinion, I think it's worth getting comics graded. Maybe and definitely not all of them. If you prefer to leave your comics un-graded or raw, then leave them raw. If you prefer to have that added security of getting them appraised just in case with slightly more physical protection, getting some of those more valuable comics in your collection may be a good option for you.
It's up to you, but remember. The comic collecting should be fun, so have fun.
Check Out More of My Comic Related Hubs
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- Fantastic Four #52: Black Panther's First Appearance
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- Carol Danvers Comic Book Journey to Captain Marvel!
A brief but descriptive look at Carol Danvers and her metamorphosis from ordinary comic character to female superhero to ultimately Captain Marvel. Many key comics are revealed as well as issues that explain certain events.
- Young Avengers Key Comics & Other Issues!
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If you're looking to know about the debuts of East Asian and South East Asian superheroes in American mainstream comics, this source will definitely help you out. From Sunfire to Shang-Chi to Wave, this list will even have some Asian superhero charac
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Vic