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Comic book 101

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Joined: 03 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 9:06 pm    Post subject: Comic book 101 Reply with quote

Pretty much a fundamental post explaining the basics for new collectors.
If you have any recommendations for what should go here, let us know.
These will be edited/updated with more information.

The different comic ages

Golden Age-
The Golden Age of Comic Books was/is generally thought of as lasting from the 1930s until the mid-1950s

The Silver Age of Comic Books lasted roughly from the late 1950s/early 1960s to the early 1970s

The Bronze Age of Comic Books is usually said to run from the early 1970s to the mid 1980s.

The Copper age of Comic Books generally refers to books from the mid 1980's on.

Grading from

To grade a comic correctly, You need to inspect the inside pages then the outside (If allowable). Any damage to interior pages are 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 center 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.


* MINT : 9.9
* MINT- : 9.8

The Holy Grail of comics. Perfect. No arguments. if it has any defects, its 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

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.


* 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 its 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.

The more of these you find the lower on the VF scale they go


* FINE+ : 6.5
* FINE : 6
* FINE- : 5.5

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.

* Maybe some of the above along with a small fold or crease in the cover
* A small piece is missing and has a few (more than 2 less than 5)
* 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.

Overall an exceptional, above-average copy and still highly collectible.


* VERY GOOD+ : 4.5
* VERY GOOD : 3.5

Here's were 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 have 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.
* 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).


* 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 kinda 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's important to remember that the condition is just one contributing factor. There are others:

Rarity is how unusual or how easily replaced the comic might be. You will be less inclined to part with a rare book easily, and rarity increases value.

Singularity is whether the seller has more than one copy. If it's your only copy of a particular comic, you might be less inclined to part with it easily.

Contribution addresses how the comic fits into a collection. For example, do you have a full run of the title, or is this a Donald Duck book in a sea of Avengers? A book that is part of a run of comics makes a bigger contribution to the whole collection.

Sentiment is that intangible quality that links you to your books, and comes from love of the art form. Sentiment is never an issue for comic speculators, only for collectors, or for people who have inherited comics from a loved one.

Marketability looks at the potential buyers available for your comics. The Internet has changed many of the rules that dictate your market. Online auctions, e-classifieds, and other potential sales sites mean that your comics have a much better chance of finding a buyer today than ever before.

There is also a 3rd party grading company, Certified Guaranty Company, or CGC for short.
You can submit your books to them and they will check them for defects, restoration, encapsulate them and assign the book a grade and return them to you.

Storage From
These special boxes are built to perfectly fit comics. Comic book boxes come in two basic sizes, called “long” and “short”. They are both the same depth and width, but come in different lengths. Short boxes are 15 inches in length and the long boxes are 25 inches in length. Short comic book boxes are great if you need to store them in a small closet like in an apartment, but longer boxes will cost less for the overall space, if you have the room to store them.

Without comic book boards, your comics will flex and the corners will bend. A good comic book board will prevent this, but keep in mind they should be switched out every 3-5 years. If you don’t, the acids in the comic board can change the colors of your comic, damaging them instead of protecting them.
The best type of boards are half backs and full backs. These are typically used with Mylar or Mylite bags. These boards are thicker and sturdier then normal comic boards, are acid free and meets strict U.S. Government standards for archival storage

There are generally three types of comic bags:

Mylar: a thicker sturdy material. The most common form has no flap, it is just open at the top. This is generally regarded as the best form of archive holder. The only downside is the cost. They are expensive for large quantities. You should use a backing board with mylar.

Mylite: a thinner form of mylar. This is the most cost effective container to be used with large collection affording the most protection for your comics. These generally have a flap and should be used with backing boards. I would recommend Mylite2 and fullbacks.

polypropelyne/polyethelyne: similar to mylite's. These are good for short term storage of comics. They will degrade the comic over a long period of time (5-10 years). Most comic book shops carry this type of bag/board.

Now that you have your favorite comics bagged, boarded and boxed, you will need to find a safe place to store them. The best place to store your comics is in a climate controlled room. Avoid wet basements, drafty garages, and blistering attics. These things will only cause harm to your comics, so avoid them.



Every state has local comic shops that you can frequent for supplies, new issues/back issues. Using Diamond Distributors Comic Shop Locator Service you can find a local store near you.

There are also Online Subscription Services available as well. These sites allow you to order from a Preview's catalog 2 months in advance at a discount price, typically 25-40% off. Some books may have a higher discount. and are two of the better known sites. A quick Google search of Online Comic Subscription Service will turn up pages of available providers.

There are many different ways to sell your comics.
Running an ad in your local newspaper is one way to move your whole collection quickly. You could advertise your collection for sale on various message boards, place an ad with Craigslist and place them on EBAY.
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market noob

Joined: 14 Dec 2007
Last Visit: 24 May 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well i think you have it all covered here dude.

Very well done indeed and very informative.


Lets all ignore all the crazy priced variants and try books by creators of quality who deserve our £$.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice job! Thumbs Up
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market noob

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did I miss this !! Thanks for bumping it up guys Thumbs Up

Well done....errr...SD Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Comic book 101 Reply with quote

Pretty much a fundamental post explaining the basics for new collectors.
If you have any recommendations for what should go here, let us know.
These will be edited/updated with more information.

I think these links to a couple of very cool galleries that Aaron Albert put together at I found them very informative. Also, though some might not agree with Aarons grading philosophy I think the time and effort it took putting these galleries together is worthy of inclusion into this sticky. Maybe each link would go well under each series of grade criteria? Check them out mods and others....









View my massive comic related links page here...
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: no mint/ ages? Reply with quote

so i am of the belief that mint does not truly exist. i feel its like a rainbow, from the printer to the shelf things happen that will drop the mint status. so just beware of anyone claiming mint.

also there are specific dates for the ages of comics. im not totaly sure of all but i would like to figure what u all think.
golden = 1938 (action 1) -
siver= 1956 (shocase 4;flash)-
bronze= 1970 (conan)-
now for my opinion.
copper/dark age=1985 (crisis, dc)-
modern= 1992 (founding of image/death of superman)

the death of superman may have been 93, but at that time comics took a new turn toward a mainer stream media with the news covering fictional events.

this is a discussion i have been thinking on a while and as a community we need to make the record.
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Man of Comic Investing Awesomeness

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to see a grading scale that was more loose and generic for the purpose of selling. There would be no differentiation between VF through Mint. You would have to gamble on whether you were getting the best copy in existence or a really nice copy straight as it would have come out of the distributors box. I think the current scale is stupid. You don't "mint" a comic. You "mint" a coin. "Good" would indicate high grade, not a low undesirable grade. My grading scale would require that you like comics enough that you don't frown when you see a VF.

I'm also tired of the age names assigned. They've become useless.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree ibis, and it is even more convincing next to an image of snagglepuss gesturing philosophically. the CGC has made the commodity trading aspect more refined, and i love the authentification of autographs, but it is weird to encase stuff in plastic and fuss over 0.25 of a grade.

i love anything over a 2.0 with a few exceptions. i remember as a kid 8.0 was what today would be called mint. anything 5.0 and up was randomly called mint by collectors. Non-collectors would occassionally call anything mint, and still do. I enjoy buying non-existant grades, e.g. I just got a Detective #413 from an Overstreet advisor graded as 7.75. It's accurate, but geez...

when i got back into collecting i was pleased to see bronze, copper, and even platinum, all this precious metal x-over jargon, mintiness etc...

i enjoy endless debates of a fun nature, and this is one. the metallurgic metaphor is limited e.g. before platinum is victorian, not iron age. if copper is modern, it makes it strange to actual modern-day "now" if it includes the past. Modern should refer to the last five years including the current year. That should be a law (U.N. enforced, see foreign comics thread).

definitive start points are the irrelavant issue...each area has arange of events, primarily comic books, which define the beginnings, peaks, and transitions. i think of Flash as more of an Atomic Age/Silver Age transitionary moment. you are correct however that most people pick showcase 4 as the transitionary comic, and its value will likely always reflect that. i think it is nontheless a somewhat arbitrary designation.

the most significant transitionary comic moment into the Silver Age is thus AF15. events include the 20% price hike to 12 cents and the 1,000,000 sales mark reached by Action #252, Scrooge #1, and Mad #1. SOTI and the code-laden McCarthy era defined the Atomic Age, and the silver emerged from there.

Bronze events include ASM 121, the shift from 15 to 20 cents (33% folks!!! i was only a freaking paperboy!) and underground comics.
odd, i think of Atomic Age as a blurry late 40's to late 50's, and similarly the silver as a blurry late 50's into the late 60's, but i imagine a clean cut from there into the bronze beginning in 1970. duh? why? works for me i guess, i just think of bronze as 1970's and really cannot easily accept 1980 as bronze.

so if copper is a bit later, e.g. 1982-ish....i am one metal short of an era. zircon anyone?

the crisis DC thing is definitely a defining event.

here's a way to refine it like you wish....imagine each year we held a celebration, an awesome internet party to commemorate the anniversary of each comic's age beginning. if the matter was limited to one date per era, and was conducted as a reasonably fair vote, i think your showcase 4 would figure into that party date, and if it happens, let me know, i've never had an internet party, much less a flash one.

and yeah superman takes the cake for golden.

i would not be shocked if TMNT #1 beat crisis. Marvel would split the vote with DC, e.g. Secret Wars and the black costume, Miler, etc..

whatever this current era gets called, surely that Walking Dead #1 is gonna define it. Zombie Era?

the parties should be spread out over the year, and if people could pick a few dates for each ear, there would be many.

picking a date is weird, becuz publication dates are different from the "effect" on society. the creation of the comic takes years often.

i have a tiny copper/modern collection of 1%. otherwise i split approx even gold-atomic-silver-bronze randomly smushed together with an extra pile of Goldenage at 3% that i hope raise to 5%.

there needs to be a postmodern era, just to confuse things.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i love to read silver age comics.
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