Comic Grading Guide
We have put together a basic idea of comic grades. A lot of comic sellers offer comics in all sorts of differing conditions and we believe it is a vitally important factor, especially when buying secondhand comics, that you know what you're getting.
On many occasions people have approached us, offering comics that are in their opinion, in excellent condition. only to disappoint them with the news that it is, in fact way short of the mark.
With this in mind, when considering purchasing older comics please use this guide to assist in your decision on whether to buy or not. There's nothing worst than receiving a comic that is not in as good a condition as anticipated.
There are varying grades based around the main ones listed below. Usually suffixed with a + or -. This tends to mean the grade is nearer the grade below for a minus or above for a +.
It is increasingly unlikely, especially with the new paper used by a lot of companies to see a Mint or Near Mint comic these days. With that in mind we use VF/NM to describe our new comics and a VF/NM or VF for back-issues. These grades, as described below will probably be the grades that most of your current comics are in, so don't be put off by a comic described as VF, chances are you will be happy with your purchase.
MINT | NEAR MINT | VERY FINE | FINE | VERY GOOD | GOOD | FAIR | POOR
How to Grade:
To grade a comic correctly, you need to inspect the inside pages, then the outside (If allowable). Any damage to interior pages is often overlooked during grading so that a book graded "Fine" may actually not be. The most common interior problems are missing pages, clipped coupons, tears, loose centre pages and natural page tanning.
The cover of a comic is what takes the most abuse. So, find ALL the marks, wear and abrasions, tears, creases, knocked corners and spine splits. To be absolutely sure try putting the comic against another (from the same age) and make sure they are the same size. Trimming comics is a clever ploy used by some to make a comic appear in better condition than it is. A comic with ragged or chipped edges can be trimmed by a couple of millimeters with a ruler and scalpel (don't do this).
MINT+: 10 (GEM MINT NO DEFECTS)
MINT- : 9.8
The Holy Grail of comics. Perfect. No arguments. If it has any defects, it’s not mint. It's very rare especially in older issues, and very expensive. If you think that you have a book in this condition, look at it again. Some defects are easily overlooked.
Only the most subtle bindery or printing defects are allowed.
- The cover must be flat with no surface wear whatsoever.
- The cover inks must be bright with super high reflectivity and no fading.
- Corners are cut square and sharp (This one is usually the creep that does the book in from mint to very fine).
- Staples are generally centered, clean with no rust at all.
- The cover must be centered and the interior pages firmly attached.
- Look at the interior paper, is it supple and fresh (Ah, that good ol' comic smell).
- And lastly, the spine must be tight and flat.
NEAR MINT+ : 9.6
NEAR MINT : 9.4
NEAR MINT- : 9.2
NEAR MINT / VERY FINE : 9.0
This is mint with some minor defect.
- A slight stress line by the staples.
- The staples themselves are generally centered clean with no rust.
- Maybe some of the color has chipped or flaked off the cover.
- And again, the cover is flat with no surface wear; inks are bright with high reflectivity and very little fading. And those tricky corners are cut square and sharp with ever so slight blunting permitted.
- You can tell that this comic has been stored properly and looks as new as the day it was printed.
- All stress marks should be almost invisible and bindery tears must be LESS than 1/16 inch.
- Only the most subtle binding and/or printing defects allowed.
- Cover is well centered and firmly secured to interior pages.
- Paper is supple and like new.
- Spine is tight and flat.
NEAR MINT / VERY FINE : 9.0
VERY FINE+ : 8.5
VERY FINE : 8.0
VERY FINE- : 7.5
This condition is still acceptable to most collectors.
- The book is an excellent copy with great eye appeal.
- It is vibrant and clean with supple pages.
- The spine may have a couple (that word means at the most 2) of very very small stress lines at the most 1/4 inch the surface color around the line must not be noticeably broken.
- The spine is almost completely flat.
- The cover is relatively flat with almost no surface wear and the cover inks are generally bright with medium to high reflectivity (You will not be able to use this to tan with).
- The staples may show some discoloration, but it’s not too noticeable on a first time glance.
- The inside pages and covers usually will be off-white to white, but can be creamy or slightly yellowish.
FINE+ : 6.5
FINE : 6
FINE- : 5.5
FINE/VERY GOOD : 5
A fine comic book appears to have been read a few times and has been handled with some care. This one allows for a few defects.
- A small fold or crease in the cover
- A small piece is missing
- A very slight stress marks on spine.
- The cover has some slight surface wear but still has its original gloss and there is nothing major wrong with it.
FINE/VERY GOOD : 5
VERY GOOD+ : 4.5
VERY GOOD : 4
VERY GOOD : 3.5
VERY GOOD/GOOD : 3
Here's where it starts to get tricky.
- This comic is definitely a well-read copy, but could still be a very desirable copy.
- This could have one major defect like a larger piece out of the cover (1/4 inch to 1/8 inch) OR a one-inch plus tear.
- It has stress lines around the staples and creases from the opening and closing of the cover.
- The whiteness of the page has been replaced by a yellowish color.
- This could have a reading or center crease or a rolled spine, but is not damaged enough to reduce eye appeal.
- Some discoloration, fading in colors and even minor soiling is allowed (Yuck!).
- The cover and/or inside pages could have minor tears and/or folds
- Centerfold could be loose or detached.
- One or both staples might be loose, but cover cannot be completely detached.
- Pages and inside covers could be brown but NOT brittle.
- You might find small amount of tape used to fixed some tears (never ever do this though).
VERY GOOD/GOOD : 3
GOOD+ : 2.5
GOOD : 2
GOOD- : 1.8
GOOD/FAIR : 1.5
Most collectors consider this the lowest collectible grade
- An extension of VG, just with more defects. And this really is a misnomer; a "good" comic book is not really a good comic book.
- It has all pages and covers but with major creases or a rolled spine.
- There is almost low cover gloss or most times none at all.
- The inside paper quality is not good and yellow and small pieces of them may be missing.
- If there is a piece missing from the cover, it should be no larger than a 1/2" to 1/4".
- Books in this grade are almost always creased, scuffed, abraded and soiled, but completely readable.
- This grade can have a lot of accumulation of defects but still has its basic overall comic book look.
GOOD/FAIR : 1.5
FAIR : 1
This book has seen much much better days.
- This copy in this grade has all pages and most of the covers.
- The centerfold could be missing.
- A book in this condition is worn, messy, ragged and so unattractive.
- The creases and folds are prevalent
- Most of the time the paper quality is very low
- The spine and/or cover may be split up to 2/3s the entire length.
- All the staples may be missing.
- Corners are found to be kind of rounded.
- If upon opening this here book and you notice that coupons were cut from any cover and/or the inside pages, this book will most definitely be in this grade.
- Parts of the front cover may be missing (Up to 1/12th of it though).
- Some soiling, staining, tears, markings or chunks missing will interfere with reading, but you could get the gist of it.
- Brittleness on the edges but never in the center area of the inside pages.
POOR : .5
This is pretty self-explanatory.
- It has several major defects to the point that there is no longer any collector value.
- It will have large tears tape pieces or even a whole page missing.
- Copies in this grade typically will have pages and/or around 1/3 or more of the front cover missing.
- They may have severe strains (physical and mental), mildew or heavy cover abrasion to the point where cover inks are GONE.
- Any defacing with paints, varnishes, glues, oil, indelible markers or dyes is a sure sign of poor condition (and comic book upbringing).
If you see any of these, rips, tears, folding and creasing, look for another book.
The inside pages have medium to extremely severe brittleness.
It is a pretty beat up piece of newsprint. But even Action Comics #1 in this condition is worth something, so go figure.