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How to Grade Comic Books: Grading Scale & Examples

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  • September 11, 2023
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  • 10 min read

Book

A grading process partly determines the market value of comic books. This grading process details the exact condition and completeness of a comic. It allows the seller to get an idea of how much it is worth.

While there is a certain amount of subjectivity to this process, a reasonably accurate Grade comic can be assigned with the help of a scale.

Most collectors use the grading scale called the “slab” system. It is where comics are graded on their quality and rarity by an independent third-party professional.

The grades range from 1-10, with 10 being the highest grade for any comic book. Each grade has its own set of criteria that must be met for it to qualify as such.

The Book Writing Founders will help you understand this grading scale with examples in this guide.

Comic Book Grading:

Comic book grading is crucial in determining a comic’s value. This process evaluates a book’s condition, directly impacting its worth. However, grading is subjective due to various factors, each carrying a different weight in determining the overall grade. Some people can even be geniuses in creating amazing Book Marketing Strategy, which may lead you to believe that buying low-quality is a good choice, too. But that’s all subjective due to which grading system is necessary.

People might assign grades differently based on their perspectives, which doesn’t necessarily make one right and the other wrong.

To get an accurate assessment, it’s smart to consider and average multiple opinions. Learning about comic book grading empowers buyers, ensuring they get fair value.

How do you grade Comic books with a grading scale?

Now that you know the grade scale, let’s see how you can grade comics with the help of it in detail.

10.0 Gem Mint (GM):

It is a top-notch example of a book considered the best seen. It allows only the slightest bindery or printing defects. The cover is flat without surface wear, bright inks and sharp corners. The spine is tight, and staples must be original, centered, and clean. The paper is white, supple, and free from interior autographs.

9.9 Mint (MT):

It is near-perfect in every way, permitting only subtle bindery or printing defects. The cover remains flat without surface wear, featuring bright inks with minimal fading. Sharp corners, a tight spine, and clean staples are expected. Slight arrival dates are acceptable in hidden locations.

9.8 Near Mint/Mint (NM/MT):

Nearly perfect in every aspect, with minor imperfections preventing a higher grade. Similar to 9.9 Mint, allowing subtle defects. The cover, inks, corners, spine, and paper maintain high standards. Lightly penciled arrival dates are acceptable if unobtrusive. Only the slightest interior tears are allowed.

9.6 Near Mint+ (NM+)

The 9.6 Near Mint+ (NM+) grade in the comic book grading scale signifies a nearly perfect condition with a minor additional virtue elevating it from Near Mint. This grade allows only subtle bindery or printing defects.

The cover remains flat without surface wear, featuring bright inks with high reflectivity and minimal fading. While one corner might be almost imperceptibly blunted, it still maintains its square and sharp cut.

9.4 Near Mint (NM):

On the other hand, the 9.4 Near Mint (NM) grade indicates a nearly perfect condition with only minor imperfections preventing it from achieving a higher grade.

It allows subtle bindery or printing defects, with bindery tears limited to less than 1/16″ on Silver Age and later books.

However, Golden Age books may have bindery tears of up to 1/4″.

9.2 Near Mint- (NM-)

In the comic book grading scale, the 9.2 Near Mint- (NM-) grade represents a nearly perfect condition with only a minor additional defect or defects keeping it from Near Mint.

It allows a limited number of minor bindery or printing defects, maintaining a flat cover without surface wear. The inks showcase brightness with the slightest dimming of reflectivity, while corners are cut square and sharp, allowing a slight blunting.

9.0 Very Fine/Near Mint (VF/NM)

Moving on, the 9.0 Very Fine/Near Mint (VF/NM) grade denotes near perfection with outstanding eye appeal. It permits a limited number of bindery or printing defects. It displays a nearly flat cover with almost imperceptible wear.

Inks maintain brightness with slightly diminished reflectivity, allowing a slight 1/8″ bend without color break. Corners are cut square and sharp with minimal blunting but no creases.

8.5 Very Fine+ (VF+):

This grade meets the criteria for Very Fine but boasts an extra virtue or small collection of virtues that noticeably enhance the book’s appearance.

8.0 Very Fine (VF):

It is an excellent copy with impressive visual appeal. It allows a limited accumulation of minor bindery or printing defects.

The cover remains relatively flat with minimal surface wear, possibly showing slight wear at the corners. Inks are generally bright with moderate to high reflectivity. An unnoticeable 1/4″ crease is acceptable if the color is not broken.

7.5 Very Fine- (VF-):

This grade aligns with Very Fine but holds an extra defect or minor accumulation of defects that slightly diminish the book’s appearance.

7.0 Fine/Very Fine (FN/VF):

An above-average copy showcasing minor wear while maintaining a relatively flat, clean appearance with great visual appeal. It allows a small accumulation of minor bindery or printing defects.

The paper ranges from cream to tan, with a mostly secure centerfold allowing minor interior tears at the margin.

6.5 Fine+ (FN+):

This grade meets the criteria for Fine but comes with an extra virtue or small accumulation of virtues that noticeably enhance the book’s appearance.

6.0 Fine (FN):

An above-average copy that displays minor wear yet maintains a relatively flat and clean appearance without significant creasing or serious defects. It allows a minor accumulation of bindery or printing defects.

The paper is tan to brown, fairly supple, and not brittle. Minor interior tears at the margin may also be present, with the centerfold potentially being loose.

5.5 Fine- (FN-):

This grade aligns with Fine but contains an extra or minor accumulation of defects that slightly detract from the book’s appearance.

5.0 Very Good/Fine (VG/FN):

It is an above-average yet well-used comic book, allowing an accumulation of bindery or printing defects. It may display minor to moderate cover wear with creases, dimples, and reduced ink reflectivity.

Blunted corners, staining, discoloration, and foxing may be more prominent. Arrival dates, along with spine roll, spine split, minor staple tears, stress lines, rust migration, and loose centerfold, might be present.

The paper is tan to brown without brittleness, possibly accompanied by minor interior tears.

4.5 Very Good+ (VG):

This grade meets the criteria for Very Good but comes with an extra virtue or a small accumulation of virtues that noticeably enhance the book’s appearance.

4.0 Very Good (VG):

This comic Grade Represents an average used comic book with moderate to significant wear on the cover. The cover might be loose but not fully detached, displaying low reflectivity.

Moderate creases, dimples, and blunted corners can be observed. There might be minor to moderate interior tears, and the centerfold may be loose.

3.5 Very Good- (VG-):

Meeting the criteria for Very Good but featuring an additional defect or a small accumulation of defects that slightly detract from the book’s appearance.

3.0 Good/Very Good (GD/VG):

Representing a used comic book with substantial wear, it displays significant cover wear that might be loose or detached at one staple. The cover reflects very low light, showcasing book-length creases, dimples, and possibly rounded corners.

The centerfold may be loose or detached at one staple, with minor to moderate interior tears possible.
Certainly, here’s a simplified version of the comic book grading scale:

2.5 Good+ (GD+):

Meets the criteria for Good but has an extra virtue or a small accumulation of virtues that noticeably enhances the book’s appearance.

2.0 Good (GD):

This grade indicates substantial wear, often considered a “reading copy.” The cover displays significant, possibly detached, wear with low or no reflectivity. Book-length creases, dimples, rounded corners, soiling, staining, discoloration, and foxing might be noticeable.

Missing pieces to a 1/2″ triangle or a 1/4″ square are common. Tape and amateur repairs are frequent in older books. It could have spine rolls, up to a 2″ spine split, degraded staples, tears, stress lines, rust migration, and brown but not brittle paper.

The centerfold may be loose or detached, with moderate interior tears possible.

1.8 Good- (GD-):

Meets the criteria for Good but has an extra defect or a small accumulation of defects that slightly detract from the book’s appearance.

1.5 Fair/Good (FR/GD):

This grade comic indicates substantial to heavy wear. Books in this grade often exhibit creases, scuffs, and soiling and may not be visually appealing but are generally readable.

The cover shows considerable wear, possibly detached, with almost no reflectivity. It might have book-length creases, tears, rounded corners, soiling, staining, and missing parts on the back cover.

1.0 Fair (FR):

This grade comic exhibits heavy wear. Some collectors consider this the lowest collectible grade since books in worse condition are usually incomplete and/or brittle.

The cover might be detached with lost reflectivity in the inks. Creases, tears, folds, and rounded or absent corners are common. Soiling, staining, and possible missing parts on the front or back cover might occur.

There might be missing centerfolds and coupons.

0.5 Poor (PR):

Considerably degraded, having little or no collector value. Brittle to the point of disintegration, typically incomplete. The cover might show extreme fading, heavy stains, abrasions, extensive creasing, missing chunks, and rounded corners.

The paper could be severely brittle, emitting an intense acidic odor, with extensive interior tears and missing pages, including the centerfold, making readability difficult. There might be cut coupons.

Essential Elements and Detailed Insights

Grade Range Condition Description Key Points
10.0 Gem Mint (GM) Top-notch, almost perfect – Slightest bindery/printing defects
– White, supple paper
– No interior autographs
9.0 – 9.9 (Mint to Near Mint/Mint) Near-perfect with minor imperfections – Flat cover, sharp corners
– Bright inks, tight spine
– Minimal defects allowed
8.5 – 8.9 (Very Fine+) Excellent condition with enhanced appearance – Minimal surface wear
– Bright inks, slight wear at corners
– Slight bends without color break
7.0 – 8.0 (Fine to Very Fine) Above-average, minor wear – Mostly flat and clean
– Moderate to high ink reflectivity
– Minor bindery/printing defects
5.0 – 6.9 (Good/Fine to Fine) Well-used with visible wear – Tan to brown paper
– Noticeable wear and creases
– Acceptable minor interior tears
3.0 – 4.9 (Good to Very Good) Substantial wear, average condition – Significant cover wear
– Low reflectivity, moderate creases
– Possible loose centerfold
0.5 – 2.9 (Poor to Good) Heavy wear, degraded condition – Extreme fading, heavy stains
– Missing parts, brittle pages
– Limited collector value

Conclusion:

Now that you know how to grade comic books firsts and then sell them in the market, you can be confident that you’re getting the best value for your money.

Whether it’s a graded comic book or one that hasn’t been graded, knowing the condition will help you avoid buying damaged goods or paying too much for a damaged comic.

There are also copies or fakes in the market, which may look amazing and new, but they are not worth it due to poor book Formatting, Blueprints, and prints. So if you are a collector, be vary of it.

However, one thing is for sure: Book Publishing Services will publish your comic it will always publish it with a 10.0 Gem mint condition.

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