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Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Is Considered A High Grade Comic?

Recently, I was asked a question about what is considered a high grade comic from a reader, and I feel that I did not give a good enough answer in my email response. So, I've decided to cover it in a post here, and hopefully explain it better.

When it comes to this question, there's a few opinions about the matter that differ. It is a tricky question to an extent.

If we are talking about that basic standard for what is a high grade comic book, then the most favored opinion among collectors is based off this guideline:

VF and up (8.0 to 10) = High grade.
FN (5.0 to 7.5) = Mid-grade.
VG and below (4.5 to .5) = Low grade.

 As mentioned before, this standard is often debatable. Some consider a 7.5, low Very Fine, in the realm of high grade, and some believe low grade begins with a solid VG. 

Another debate is that a high grade comic depends on the era of the comic. I am in the camp that does not agree with that, and I'll explain.

Let's say there's a golden age comic, and the highest grade recorded of that comic is only a 6.0 FN! Sure, that copy is the highest grade out there, but it is not a high grade comic by definition.

By definition, a high grade comic ranges from Very Fine to Near Mint. That's the hobby's definition and standard. 

Think of it this way. When you get a grade for a certain class in school, an A grade is an A grade and an F grade is an F. You get whatever grade you earned, and if the highest grade in the class was a C, it's still a C grade. 

But here's where it gets somewhat tricky. Just because a comic falls into the high grade realm, doesn't mean it's a good comic investment.

For example, if you have a high grade NM 9.4, Green Lantern Rebirth #1, that doesn't mean it's a good investment comic. For one, the demand of that comic isn't very high. Two, there are more CGC 9.8 copies floating around, which is typical of modern age comics, than there are NM 9.4 copies. Actually, the lowest recorded CGC grade is low VF or 7.5. That doesn't take into account all the high grade unslabbed copies for that issue as well.

Now let's look at the opposite spectrum with Green Lantern #1 from the silver age. There are no recorded CGC 9.8 copies, no CGC 9.6 copies, and only three CGC 9.4s. However, on the lower end, there are 62 CGC VG graded copies. 

Unlike the Green Lantern Rebirth #1 comic, if we were to take into account all the unslabbed comics of the silver age Green Lantern #1, there would be even more VGs, and the lower grade copies would dramatically outweigh any new high grade copies found for Green Lantern #1. The demand for a silver age Green Lantern #1 well exceeds the available high grade copies out there as well as all copies known in existence.

For most golden age, silver age, and bronze age comics, the higher the grade for a particular issue, the more rare those copies will be. However, there will be more bronze age high grade copies than silver or golden for most major and minor key issues. The more recent a comic era, the more over-all abundance of high grade copies there will be for a particular issue.

The more recent the era, the higher the grade is necessary in making a good comic investment choice. That, of course, also depends on how in-demand that issue is also and your budget!

I hope this helps clarify a few things. Be sure to read the next article that discusses comic grade spreads by era and rarity.

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