CGC Comics - The Things You NEED to Know about Certifying Your Comics
What is CGC?
CGC (Comics Guaranty Company) opened it’s doors and graded it’s first comics in early 2000. A highly respected comic dealer, Steve Borock, was hired to be CGC’s first primary grader and unofficial ambassador for certified grading. Prior to CGC, the grading of comic books was left up to the individual dealers and collectors. There was never a consensus on what a grade would be and subsequently, many collectors were taken advantage of, sometimes by unscrupulous comic dealers, other times, the dealers knew less about grading than the collectors did! Nowadays, CGC is a great tool for both dealers and collectors alike. When thousands of dollars are involved, CGC is a great third party arbiter of grade and subsequently of value for comic book transactions. According to Gpanalysis.com, nearly 1 billion dollars worth of CGC graded comics have traded hands since 2002!
What is Restoration and what does CGC have to do with it?
Restoration is any alteration made to a comic book that attempts to improve the appearance of a comic. Examples of restoration include color touch, adding pieces to a comic, spine reinforcement, staple replacement, tear seals and many more. Prior to CGC’s existence, many dealers would not disclose restoration that had been done to a comic prior to it’s sale. When CGC started grading these comics, the collectors were VERY unhappy that their prized possessions had restoration that the dealer had sold them. Many dealers went out of business during those early days due to their customers catching onto their bad business practices.
How does CGC grade comic books?
CGC uses a standard 10 point grading scale to grade comic books. They don’t publicly release how they grade their comics, but since they have graded over 5 million comics, there are plenty of examples in different grades to look at their standards. Note, that from 0.5 to 9.0, the grades are in .5 point increments. Then from 9.2 on up to 10.0, they are in .2 or less increments. This is because the value of expensive comics above 9.0 is so dramatic, it was determined that breaking down the grade separation into smaller increments would allow collectors to see the difference between these grades and thus value them accordingly.
10.0 Gem Mint
9.8 Near Mint/Mint
9.6 Near Mint +
9.4 Near Mint
9.2 Near Mint -
9.0 Very Fine/Near Mint
8.5 Very Fine +
8.0 Very Fine
7.5 Very Fine -
7.0 Fine/Very Fine
6.5 Fine +
5.5 Fine -
5.0 Very Good/Fine
4.5 Very Good +
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Very Good -
3.0 Good/Very Good
2.5 Good +
1.8 Good -
How much does CGC grading cost?
CGC’s fees are calculated based on the fair market value of each individual comic. If you have questions, about what your comic might be worth, please view our comic price guide!
|Submission Tier||Max Value||Fee Per book||Turnaround Time|
|Walkthrough||Unlimited||3% of Fair Market Value ($150 Minimum, $5,000 = max)||Same Day|
|Modern (1975 – Current)||$200.00||$20.00||25 Days|
How do you submit your comics to CGC?
- Sign up for Collector’s Society (https://www.cgccomics.com/join/) - Right now, there are 3 separate tiers that you can choose from to sign up with CGC’s Collector’s Society to submit comics without having to attend a show or submit thru an authorized dealer. The cost ranges from $25 up to $299 per year.
- Submit the online form at cgccomics.com/orderform - Once you’ve signed up for the Collector’s Society, you’ll login at cgccomics.com and then go to https://www.cgccomics.com/orderform to fill out your order.
- Submit your comics - once you’ve filled out the online order form, it’s time to submit your comics. Please pack your comics carefully! We will soon have an informative video link here that will help you understand the best way to pack your comics for shipment to CGC.
- Wait depending on turnaround time of the tier you submit your comics under - The wait is the hardest part!! Make sure you take into account that business days are being counted, not weekends or holidays!
What do the different CGC Label colors mean?
Blue - When the label color is blue, that means that CGC has determined the comic has not been altered in any way from it’s original state. It is considered unrestored.
Green - When the label color is green, CGC has determined the comic has a hidden defect or an unverified signature that qualifies the grade that it would have been had the defect not been there. For instance, if a coupon has been cut out of the interior of the comic, but it otherwise would have been a FN 6.0, CGC would grade the comic a Green Label FN 6.0 and notate the missing coupon on the label itself.
Purple - When the label color is purple, it means that CGC has found the comic has had some sort of amateur or professional alteration done to the comic book. Collectors have nicknamed this label a PLOD which stands for a Purple Label of Death! Usually, PLODs sell for 10 - 30% of the price of their Blue Label counterparts.
Yellow - When the label color is yellow, it means that a representative of CGC has physically witnessed a signature by the signer. CGC has designated a yellow label to be a “Signature Series” comic. Thus when collectors refer to Signature Series in print, usually they will write SS for short.
Is CGC worth it?
Pros of CGC
CGC Protective case protects the comic from most damage - When you drop a CGC graded comic the case will usually take all of the damage leaving your comic intact. CGC will reholder your comic for a nominal fee of $15 or so. The same goes when you ship comics. If they are in a CGC holder, and the case gets damaged, the comic itself is usually unaffected, preserving it’s value.
Easy to value for selling and insurance purposes - If, like most of us, you keep your comics in your home, you’re protected by your home insurance. If you have a loss, due to fire, flood or theft, the process of getting reimbursed thru your insurance company will be challenging to say the least. But if your expensive comics have been graded by CGC, an insurance adjuster can easily verify the value and write you a check for the loss. As an added bonus, we all go through challenging times in life. If you need cash in a hurry due to loss of your job, or medical bills, your CGC comics can be an immediate cash lifeline in those situations.
CGC grading is more consistent than the other grading services out there - While this is a matter of opinion, CGC is considered the gold standard for grading because they’ve been doing it for 20 years now and their processes have been honed thru these years. They don’t always get the grade right, but certainly, the overwhelming majority of the comic grades they hand out are accurate. The other grading companies out there can get overwhelmed by volume and their grading suffers.
Cons of CGC
Can’t open the book to read it - Old time collectors that want to read and smell their comics, won’t be able to if their comics are all encased in plastic. There are workarounds however. You can buy a reading copy along with your certified copy if you can afford to do so. Also, digital comics are prevalent now. Just subscribe to the service that has your comic (comixology.com is one) and read to your heart’s desire.
Must be a paid member to submit comics (Minimum of $25 per year) - When you’re ready to submit your comics, you’ll have to submit comics at a show (free), thru an authorized comic dealer (free) or sign up for yearly plan so you can submit your own. The plans start at $25 a year, which is not a lot, but if you don’t have a lot of comics to submit, it could be more than you want to spend.
Turnaround time for less expensive books run up on 4 months - For expensive comic books over $1,000 in value, you’ll get your books back in a couple of weeks at most. For comics that are inexpensive ie less than $400, you’ll have to wait and wait and wait. It depends on the season and CGC’s current staffing, but you’ll find at certain times of the year, the turnaround times (TAT) can be as high as 4 months!
Grading can be inconsistent - Just because CGC is more consistent than other grading companies, doesn’t mean they will be consistent on your comics! At the end of the day, we are all human and comic book grading is a subjective art, as well as a science. In our experience, CGC is right on the money between 95 to 98% of the time.
Which one is better? CGC vs CBCS
If CGC deserves the gold medal in the arena of grading comic books, then CBCS deserves a silver medal. CBCS is a grading company founded by the original primary grader of CGC, Steve Borock in 2015. After 3 years of fitful growth, CBCS was bought out by Beckett Media in 2018. CBCS moved it’s operations from Florida to Texas because that’s where Beckett’s headquarters is. In the move, CBCS lost a significant number of it’s customer service employees and had a difficult time keeping their customer service up to par. CBCS’ fees are slightly less expensive than CGC and sometimes their turnaround times are quite a bit faster. For modern books (post 1974), you should submit your comics to CGC, not CBCS as CGC modern books hold their value in the marketplace much better. For vintage comics, the difference in price is much less and many time non-existent. Overall, CBCS has been a welcome option and brought some well-needed competition to CGC.
Which one is better? CGC vs PGX
So if CGC earns a gold medal and CBCS earns a silver, does that mean the other grading company, PGX, deserves the bronze? The short answer is that PGX should be disqualified from competition completely due to their business practices and negligence. They sometimes fail to spot restoration and trimming on comics and their grading is suspect. There are other accusations that have been made against PGX, which won’t be repeated here. Just do your research before submitting to this company. CGC and CBCS are both much better options for certification of your comic books.
Should you send your comics to CGC?
If you have comics that are flawless and were printed post 1974, then you might consider submitting your comics. The cost is $20 per comic plus shipping both ways. The cost ends up being about $25 for comics from this era. It’s a big risk for comics from this era for sure if you don’t get a CGC 9.6 or 9.8.
If you have comics pre 1975, search our price guide to see if your comic has any significant value. If it does, you might want to consider getting it certified by CGC. Generally speaking, your comic should be worth $200 or more to justify the costs of getting it certified. Certification costs start at $27 + shipping both ways and go up from there depending on the value you assign the comic. If you need some help with grading your comics before submitting, we will soon have a very informative grading video that will help you get a ballpark idea of what your comics might grade at CGC.