Grading Comics - A Guide

Grading – My Standards

I have been grading comics for over 50 years and grade very strict. If I say a book is 9.2, Near Mint, it is at least that grade. I really don’t grade any higher. While I realize that grading is subjective, I believe I grade very fairly. In the case, you don’t agree, refer to my return policy.

Grading – A General Guideline

To grade a comic, you need to take in to consideration a number of factors before being able to assess the correct grade. One of the most important factors is first to count the interior pages. An incomplete book missing pages will have significantly less value then a complete counterpart. There are also a wide variety of possible other defects to the interior of a comic book. These can include missing pieces of pages, clipped coupons, tears, tape, glue, loose centerfold pages, insect damage, among other defects. Also, very important is the quality of the paper commonly referred to as “page quality”. The deterioration of the quality of the pages is due to aging and or incorrect storage. This can include pages color changing from its original color of white to cream colored pages or as severely degraded as tan pages with brittleness. The most desired are books with white pages. Most collectors will accept any page quality except for books with slightly brittle or brittle pages in a collectible comic.
When initially looking at a comic book the first thing one will notice is the cover of the book. The cover of a comic is what typically takes the most abuse. Any amount of wear to the cover of the book must be factored into the condition and grading of the comic. This can include abrasions, tears, creases, bent corners, spine splits, chips, tape, glue, as well as a multitude of other types of wear we will cover in the grades noted below. You will notice that tape is considered a defect and not restoration. This has been considered a hobby standard for a long time. Do not recommend using any non-archival tape on comics.

Key Factors

It’s important to remember that the condition of the comic is just one of several key factors when buying, selling, or trading comics, others are:

Rarity is one significant factor which can affect the value of a comic. How unusual or how easily replaced the comic might be. Collectors will be typically less inclined to part with a rare book easily. While rarity can significantly affect a book in a positive manner it is not the only factor in helping to assess value. If a rare book is not in demand within the comic collecting community no amount of this factor will help support the value of the book on its own.

Marketability is the demand for the book and also is their potential buyers interested in your comic? Comics with classic covers, first appearances, noted artists, and other types of strong interest from the collectors market will have more marketability then a common book that has no historical significance. The Internet has changed the marketability of books in the comic book market. Prior to the internet collectors had to purchase their comics either directly from comic dealers at conventions, retail stores, through private transactions, or through mail-order catalogs. In some instances comics that were once viewed as scarce or rare on a local level are now more readily available via the internet.
Today, online comic auctions and consignment sites allow comics to be offered and have a more significant presence with a larger pool of potential buyers. Note that the marketability of any comic book can change based on time, the popularity of the character or characters, collector demand, etc.

Restoration is the treatment that returns a comic book to a known or assumed state through the addition of non-original material for aesthetic enhancement.



GEM MINT : 10.0
MINT : 9.9

The best possible existing condition of a comic book. A near perfect book. It is very rare especially in older comic books pre-1990 to discover a comic in either Mint or Gem Mint condition. Books in this condition pre-1980 are virtually non-existent.

An extremely exceptional comic with only very minute printing or bindery defects. The books cover is flat and without surface wear. No autographs or writing is allowed on either the cover or interior pages. Cover inks are exceptionally bright with high gloss. The books corners are perfectly square and sharp. Interior pages must be white in color and supple to the touch.

NEAR MINT+ : 9.6

This is close to 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.
  • The cover is flat with no surface wear; inks are bright with high reflectivity and very little fading. 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 fairly well centered and firmly secured to interior pages.
  • Paper is supple and like new.
  • Spine is tight and flat.
  • Unobtrusive date stamps or arrival dates in pencil or ink are acceptable.
  • Many pedigree collection comics have a notation on the cover or the interior of the comic and are considered a bonus to collectors as they help prove the provenance of the comic..

NEAR MINT- : 9.2

This book is an excellent copy with great eye appeal.

  • It is vibrant and clean with supple pages.
  • 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.
  • The staples may show some discoloration, but it’s not too noticeable on first glance.
  • The inside pages and covers usually will be off-white to white, but can be creamy or slightly yellowish.


VERY FINE+ : 8.5
VERY FINE- : 7.5

Slightly better condition than VERY FINE +:8.5, but in lesser conditions than the grade above.

A VERY FINE comic book appears to have been read a few times and has been handled with some care.

This one allows for some more defects.

  • Some of the above defects along with a small fold or crease in the cover.
  • Very few stress marks on spine.
  • A few small chips on the cover
  • The cover has some slight surface wear but still has its original gloss and there is nothing major wrong with it. Overall an exceptional, still very collectible.


FINE+ : 6.5
FINE : 6.0
FINE- : 5.5

Slightly better condition than FINE +: 6.5, but in lesser condition than the grade above.

This comic is definitely a well-read copy, but can 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 pages has been changed to off-white to yellowish color.
  • This could have a reading or subscription crease or a rolled spine, but is not damaged enough to reduce eye appeal dramatically.
  • Some discoloration, fading in colors and even minor soiling is allowed.
  • The cover and/or inside pages could have minor tears and/or folds.
  • Cover can be loose from one staple, but cover cannot be completely detached from interior.
  • Pages and inside covers could be brown but not brittle
  • Depending on the grade of the copy certain amounts are available in this grade. i.e a book that looks 8.0 with a piece of tape on the interior cover is acceptable in this grade.


VERY GOOD+ : 4.5
VERY GOOD- : 3.5

This comic is definitely a well-read copy, but can still be a very desirable copy.

  • Book is complete, but with major creases and or a spine roll.
  • There is almost low cover gloss or at 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″.
  • The cover and/or inside pages could have minor tears and/or folds.
  • Books in this grade are almost always creased, scuffed, abraded and soiled, but completely readable. Tape on the comic is considered a defect in this grade.


GOOD+ : 2.5
GOOD : 2.0
GOOD- : 1.8

Good is really a misnomer, but represents a comic that is still readable with numerous defects.

  • All the defects of a VG comic plus more.
  • There is almost low cover gloss or at 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″.
  • The cover and/or inside pages could have minor tears and/or folds.
  • Book is complete, but with no missing pages and is still in a “collectible” grade
  • Books in this grade are almost always creased, scuffed, abraded and soiled, but completely readable.


FAIR : 1.0

This book has seen much better days and tends to be heavily worn and tattered

  • A copy of a comic in this grade has all pages and most of the covers.
  • A book in this condition is worn, ragged and unattractive.
  • Heavy creases and folds are prevalent.
  • Paper quality can be very low.
  • The spine and/or cover may be completely split.
  • Staples may be missing.
  • Corners are rounded.
  • Coupons cut from cover and or inside pages. Panels can be clipped out.
  • Parts of the front cover may be missing.
  • Paper quality can be very low.Soiling, staining, tears, markings or chunks missing will interfere with reading.Paper quality can be very low.
  • Brittleness maybe a factor.
  • Moderate to extensive amounts of tape is acceptable on the comic in this grade.


POOR : .5

This book has major defects to the point that there is almost no collector value.

  • 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, mildew or heavy cover abrasion to the point where cover inks are gone.
  • Heavy defacing with paints, varnishes, glues, oil, indelible markers or dyes, etc.


(Coverless/Covers/Pages or Single Wrap)

This designation is only used for the purpose of authentication. Numerous collectors and comic fans will purchase coverless comics to either read or to obtain a filler copy of a book for their collection. Coverless books will typically sell for a percentage of the good condition value. Rare and key comic books that are coverless in many cases may sell for a percentage of guide value depending on the specific comic title and issue number. Typically lower then the .5 value, but can fluctuate based on market value.

  • Book can been coverless or be an incomplete partial comic (i.e. wraps).
  • Copies in this designation typically will in most cases be beyond collectibility to the majority of the hobby.
  • Rare key comics and incomplete pages i.e. centerfolds are considered to be valuable for either restoration purposes or for inpiduals who just wish to own a piece of comic history.


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