How We Grade Comics

I will be the first to admit that I am not a professional grader. Grading is very subjective and the last thing I want to do is mislead you, the customer, and have you get a book that you aren’t satisfied with. When grading, I try to err on the side of caution and grade both simply and conservatively. The pictures below are the five comics I use as a standard for each of the five grades I’ve chosen to assign. When assessing a new comic for the site, I compare the comic to this spectrum to see where it falls.

The five grades on my scale were inspired by the CBCS but are little more generalized:

  • VF/NM (Very Fine to Near Mint): I assign this grade to anything that I believe is above this grade on the standard grading scale (9.0+). These comics are in phenomenal condition. Unfortunately, it is pretty rare to find a newsstand comic from the 80’s in this condition and as a result, these comics tend to be harder to find. Most of the comics in this grade on the site were passed down to me by my father who purchased them himself off newsstands in the 80’s and kept them in storage until now. This grade represents roughly 25% of comics on the site.
Aside from 2-3 minor bends on the spine and a slight miswrap, this comic has barely been touched.
  • VF (Very Fine): 8.0-9.0 – I try to keep most of the comics on this site in this grade so as to offer you, the customer, a quality comic. These comics are in great shape and may have been read a couple of times. A good portion of the ones on this site are, once again, part of the collection that my father handed down to me from the 80’s. About 35% of the comics on the site are in the VF grade.
This comic has a little bit more wear on the spine and starting to show some wear on the corners and edges. If there are more than 1-2 but less than 3-4 visible flaws, I assign it to the VF category.
  • FN (Fine): 6.0-8.0 – A lot of the books that I come across in comic book shops these days fall in this range as newsstand copies tended to be more abused (read, improperly stored, etc) than direct edition copies. Remember, they were bought mostly by casual readers off newsstands in grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. and not at comic book stores, so the stores themselves may have been abusing them. About 25% of the books on this site fall in the FN range.
This comic is starting to show more wear, with rounded corners and spine stresses. It has an off-white to potentially cream colour in areas where white is present. In other cases, an otherwise VF book with a major issue (spine roll for example) will be given the FN grade. But overall, still very nice looking and collectible.
  • VG (Very Good): 4.0-6.0 – These copies are well read and will be showing signs of it but they are complete. I usually don’t acquire these books unless the price is right, so they are not as common on the site. Right now, about 10% of the books on the site are in the VG grade.
This comic is showing significant spine wear and creased/blunted corners.
  • GD (Good): 2.0-4.0 – These copies will be readable but will have major signs of wear including possibly pieces missing from the cover or non-essential pages. All of the books on this site in the GD range will not be Canadian Price Variants from the Copper Age, but more so Silver or Bronze Age books that are older and may have some collectible value. The one below, for example, was part of my father’s collection and is probably the closest I will ever come to owning the first appearance of The Punisher! Roughly 5% of the books on this site fall in the GD range.
This comic has seen better days! But it’s also probably the closest I’ll ever get to owning the first appearance of The Punisher.
  • FR (Fair): 0.5-2.0 – I usually don’t purchase/sell comics in this range on the site unless they have some kind of extreme collector value that makes them worthwhile even in this extremely substandard condition. The only comic on the site with this grade has been the one below, which I inherited from my father and, as you can see, is just holding it together!