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Comic Book Grading

Our grading standards are based on the standards laid out in the Overstreet Grading Guide with additional experience gained from our 40+ years in the comic industry. We closely monitor and calibrate our staff to maintain adherence to our established standards.

Grading is an inherently subjective process and there will always be small differences in opinion. Even professional grading services like CGC and CBCS acknowledge that the same book may not always receive the same grade if it is submitted for grading more than once.

Explanation of Grading Scales

Comics listed for sale on MyComicShop are assigned a grade from one of two grading scales: the BASIC GRADING SCALE with seven assignable grades: NM, VF, FN, VG, GD, FR, and PR; and the TEN-POINT GRADING SCALE with 23 possible grades ranging from 9.8 (highest) to 0.5 (lowest).

Some comics are "slabbed" by CGC or CBCS. These comic grading services will grade a comic and then seal the comic in a hard plastic case that displays the assigned grade. These grading services assign grades on the same ten-point grading scale used by MyComicShop. You can easily identify a slabbed comic because the grades will include the name of the grading service, such as "CGC 9.4" or "CBCS 9.4". A comic that has not been slabbed is sometimes referred to as a "raw" comic, which means a regular comic not encased in a plastic slab.

We use the basic grading scale for most of our comics priced up to about $15.00. We use the ten-point scale to grade most comics valued $15.00 or more and those published before 1980. Each grade on the basic grading scale encompasses multiple grades from the more precise ten point grading scale. For example, a comic that we have graded a NM on the basic grading scale, could be anywhere from a 9.2 NM- up to a 9.8 NM/M if it were to be graded on the ten point grading scale. Occasionally, you might get a borderline book that we've graded a NM that would be as low as a 9.0 VF/NM on the ten point scale, but that should be rare.

If the ten point scale is more precise than the basic grading scale, why do we not use the ten point scale for everything? It's a matter of labor and effort and training. It takes more effort, by a more experienced grader, to assign accurate ten point grades, than it does to assign the broader grades from the basic grading scale. This is why we use the basic grading scale for most items under $15 and the ten point grading scale for more expensive and older comics.

Uncirculated New Release Comics

Newly published comics often have minor imperfections that may push the grade below Near Mint, even when they're fresh out of the box from the distributor and have been carefully handled by our staff. Unless we have noted otherwise, comics offered as "new" will fall in the range from Near Mint to Fine, because this is the grade range that publishers consider undamaged and sellable.

In some cases when an issue's entire print run suffers from similar printing or production related defects that push the grades into the Very Fine to Fine range, we will alert potential buyers so they are aware that most copies offered as "New" are likely to fall in the VF to FN range.

As a retailer, we have to work with the comics that the publishers and distributors provide us. If a comic is actually significantly damaged, it can be reported to the distributor as a damaged copy for credit. Unfortunately, the publishers' standard for what they will accept as a damaged copy is a lot lower than the expectations of a grade-sensitive collector who wants Near Mint copies.

Some of the more frequent issues affecting new comics that may knock the grade below Near Mint include minor imperfections like spine ticks and excessive denting or dimpling. Some new comics, including those from Marvel, use a lightweight paper stock for the cover, the same paper stock used for the interior pages. This makes it a lot easier for the cover and spine to acquire minor defects in the course of being printed, bound, and distributed.

Basic Grading Scale

  • NM Near Mint (encompasses all grades on the ten point scale from 9.2 up to 9.8, with an occasional 9.0)
  • VF Very Fine (encompasses all grades on the ten point scale from 7.5 up to 9.0, with an occasional 7.0)
  • FN Fine (encompasses all grades on the ten point scale from 5.5 up to 7.0, with an occasional 5.0)
  • VG Very Good (encompasses all grades on the ten point scale from 3.5 up to 5.0, with an occasional 3.0)
  • GD Good (encompasses all grades on the ten point scale from 1.8 up to 3.0)
  • FR Fair (encompasses 1.0 and 1.5 on the ten point scale)
  • PR Poor (same as 0.5 on the ten point scale)

Ten-Point Grading Scale

  • 10.0 GM Gem Mint (slabbed comics only)
  • 9.9 M Mint (slabbed comics only)
  • 9.8 NM/M Near Mint/Mint
  • 9.6 NM+ Near Mint+
  • 9.4 NM Near Mint
  • 9.2 NM- Near Mint-
  • 9.0 VF/NM Very Fine/Near Mint
  • 8.5 VF+ Very Fine+
  • 8.0 VF Very Fine
  • 7.5 VF- Very Fine-
  • 7.0 FN/VF Fine/Very Fine
  • 6.5 FN+ Fine+
  • 6.0 FN Fine
  • 5.5 FN- Fine-
  • 5.0 VG/FN Very Good/Fine
  • 4.5 VG+ Very Good+
  • 4.0 VG Very Good
  • 3.5 VG- Very Good-
  • 3.0 GD/VG Good/Very Good
  • 2.5 GD+ Good+
  • 2.0 GD Good
  • 1.8 GD- Good-
  • 1.5 FR/GD Fair/Good
  • 1.0 FR Fair
  • 0.5 PR Poor

Grading and Returns

Very few comics are returned to us due to grading, but should you receive a comic that you believe is not properly graded, please contact us at service@mycomicshop.com or call us at (817) 860-7827 (Monday through Friday 9AM to 5PM Central Time) and report the problem. We will gladly work out a solution that meets your needs and concerns. Please note that unauthorized returns are returned at the sender's own expense.

Buyer responsibility and CGC, CBCS, and PGX comics: if buying comics graded and encased by CGC or CBCS, please closely inspect the large, high resolution cover images we have provided prior to purchase. By bidding on or purchasing a third-party graded comic you are acknowledging your acceptance of the grade assigned by the certification company. By purchasing a third-party graded comic you accept that MyComicShop is not responsible for the grade assigned by the grade certification company.

Grading Standards

When reviewing the possible defects a comic may have as shown below for the various grades, please keep in mind that while a single defect may not reduce a comic's grade, that defect if repeated and/or combined with other accumulated defects, may push the grade down by one or more grades.

Near Mint (NM) condition

Near Mint/Mint NM/M 9.8
Near Mint+ NM+ 9.6
Near Mint NM 9.4
Near Mint- NM- 9.2

A nearly perfect copy that looks brand new with only a few very minor defects. Acceptable minor defects on a NM copy include: a very small amount of spine stresses, very minor instances of denting (two or three at most), slight corner blunting, and minor (less than 1/8") bends without color breaks.

On the ten-point grading scale, a lower grade like 9.2 will allow these defects in a greater quantity and degree than a higher grade like 9.8, which sometimes may have no discernible defects at all. We do not assign the grades 9.9 and 10.0 to any unslabbed "raw" comics. You will only see these ultra-high grades on comics slabbed by one of the grading services. There is such a small degree of separation between the grades 9.8, 9.9, and 10.0 that even the most experienced comic graders may disagree on which of these three grades to assign to an apparently flawless comic, so the highest grade we will assign to a comic is 9.8.

In some cases it is possible for a comic shipped brand new from the publisher, or purchased new from a comic store's shelves, to already be in less than near mint condition due to the way the comic was produced, shipped, stored, or handled prior to purchase.

Very Fine (VF) condition

Very Fine/Near Mint VF/NM 9.0
Very Fine+ VF+ 8.5
Very Fine VF 8.0
Very Fine- VF- 7.5

A VF copy has minor defects, but is in overall excellent condition. Most well-kept modern comics (especially if they have been read) fall into this grade. Acceptable defects on a VF are minor and include: Minor corner wear, a light accumulation of spine stress that may include color-break, a light accumulation of dents, and bends or folds less than 1/4" (note that on a VF copy, some color-break is allowed in a bend/fold).

Fine (FN) condition

Fine/Very Fine FN/VF 7.0
Fine+ FN+ 6.5
Fine FN 6.0
Fine- FN- 5.5

A comic in FN condition is considered "above average" but still displays some wear. In general, the eye appeal is somewhat reduced due to either an accumulation of minor defects or one or two moderate defects. Acceptable defects on a FN copy include: Slight spine roll, a moderate accumulation of spine stresses that may break color, a spine split of less than 1/2", minor water spotting or residue (less than the size of a dime), an impacted corner, and moderate foxing.

Very Good (VG) condition

Very Good/Fine VG/FN 5.0
Very Good+ VG+ 4.5
Very Good VG 4.0
Very Good- VG- 3.5

A comic in VG condition shows some significant wear, but has not accumulated enough total defects to reduce eye appeal to the point that it is not a desirable copy. A VG copy may have an accumulation of minor defects or one or two major ones. Acceptable defects on a VG copy include: Spine roll, 1/2" to 1" spine splits or other tears, a cover or centerfold that is detached at one staple, discoloration due to oxidation, and a moderate accumulation of water damage or staining.

Good (GD) condition

Good/Very Good GD/VG 3.0
Good+ GD+ 2.5
Good GD 2.0
Good- GD- 1.8

A GD copy has major defects, but is still complete and readable. A GD copy will have a significant amount of damage, usually an accumulation of smaller defects punctuated with some major defects. Acceptable defects on a GD copy include: A vertical book-length crease, 1.5"-2" spine split, cover or centerfold completely detached, major tears, heavy discoloration/brittleness due to oxidation, heavy amounts of staining, residue, and water damage.

Fair (FR) condition

Fair/Good FR/GD 1.5
Fair FR 1.0

A FR copy will have low eye appeal and will display major damage. A comic book in FR condition may have non-story elements such as coupons, portions of ad pages, or Marvel Value Stamps cut or torn out of the book, but all story and art will be complete. If an entire ad page is missing that would drop the grade to Poor. Types of damage that place a comic in FR range include: A spine split of up to 2/3 the length of the book, a missing back cover provided the front cover is still attached, severe water damage or residue damage, mold, and paper deterioration due to oxidation.

Poor (PR) condition

Poor PR 0.5

Comic books in PR condition may be missing up to 4 pages (two spreads) of story or ad pages, or have a completely split spine, or display severe damage that affects the readability of the book.

A Quick Note On Digital Codes

Publishers may choose to include digital content codes in their comics. Except where noted, we cannot guarantee that comics we sell will contain valid, unused, unexpired digital codes, and we can take no responsibility if a publisher chooses not to allow you to redeem such a code. Additionally, reasonable efforts to redeem this content (in particular, carefully removing a sticker covering codes) are not considered to reduce the grade we would assign the book.

Glossary of Grading Terms

Bend
When part of a comic is curved, interrupting the flat, smooth cover surface. Bends WILL NOT show distinct lines (see also crease/fold).
Bindery Tear
A small horizontal rip in a comic's cover that can usually be seen on both the front and the back. These are always found along the spine and should be graded like spine stress if they are shorter than 1/4".
Chew
Damage caused by the gnawing of rodents or insects (usually). Results in multi-page paper loss with jagged edges. Very visually distinct.
Color Touch

Color touch is a form of restoration, usually applied to fill in color-breaking defects with a close approximation of the original printed color. Examining a comic under a black light can be helpful to spot potential color touched areas.

Not all ink, marker, or other color applied to a comic should be considered color touch. When the color is applied sloppily, in large areas, or with an intent just to "color" rather than attempting to "restore" the comic by concealing a defect, then we consider the application of color as a regular defect that will impact the grade of the comic, but does not deserve to be designated as restoration. The most common example of this is a child that has colored on part of a comic cover with colored pencils, inks, or markers.

Cockling
Bubbling on a cover's surface (typically a printing defect).
Crease
A fold that causes ink removal/color break, usually resulting in a white line (see bend/fold).
Denting
Indentations or dimpling (usually in the cover) that don't penetrate the paper or remove any gloss, but do interrupt the smooth, flat surface.
Double Cover
Technically a printing defect, double-cover books had an extra copy of the cover stapled on during manufacturing. This protective extra cover can be a boon, as these books are graded by the condition of the innermost cover.
Dust Shadow
When a comic has been stored in a stack at some point in its life, any portions of the cover that weren't covered up by the adjacent books have been exposed to environmental air, light, and settling dust particles, sometimes creating lines of discoloration along the edges.
Fingerprints
When finger oils left behind from everyday handling remain on a comic's surface, they can begin to eat away at the ink, literally creating color-breaking fingerprints on the cover that are sometimes distinct and sometimes smudged. Finger oils can usually be wiped away, but fingerprints are irreversible.
Flash
A method of examining a comic that uses its natural gloss and light (glare) to help you see imperfections in its surface, like denting.
Fold
Linear dents in paper that have distinct lines, but DO NOT break color (see also bend/crease).
Foxing
Bacterial or fungal growth in the paper of a comic (usually the cover) that presents in brownish discolored clusters or spots.
Gloss
The shiny surface finish of a comic.
Moisture/Water Damage
The damage left behind when a comic has been exposed to moisture (directly or environmentally). Water damage often presents with staining and/or a stiff or swollen feel to the paper. Look for lines of demarcation.
Paper Loss
When the surface of a comic has been compromised. This can be the result of heavy scuffing/abrasion, accidental tape pull, or the chemical reactions caused by some kinds of moisture damage.
Paper Quality
Paper quality refers to the coloration and structural integrity of a comic's cover and interior pages. We do give some leeway on pre-1980s comics, but when environmental conditions have caused the paper to oxidize and/or deteriorate significantly, the decrease in eye appeal and paper strength will bring a book's grade down. Generally, paper quality will not be a concern for most modern (post-1980) comics.
Printing Defect
A flaw caused in the printing process. Examples: paper wrinkling, mis-cut edges, mis-folded or mis-wrapped spine, untrimmed pages/corners, off-registered color, color artifacts, off-centered trimming, mis-folded or unbound pages, missing staples.
Reading Crease
A vertical cover crease near the staples that runs (generally) parallel to the spine, caused by bending the cover over the staples or just too far to the left. Squarebound books get these very easily.
Restoration
Any attempt (professional or amateur) to enhance the appearance of an aging or damaged comic book. Dry pressing/cleaning and the simple addition of tape repairs are not considered restoration, but the following techniques are: recoloring/color touch, adding missing paper, stain/ink/dirt/tape removal, whitening, chemical pressing, staple replacement, trimming, re- glossing, married pages, etc. Restored comics generally carry lower value than their unaltered counterparts.
Scuffing
A light paper abrasion that may or may not break color, but interrupts the surface gloss of the book. Its effect on grading is determined by severity.
Soiling
Substances or residue on the surface of a comic. Most commonly found in white spaces. Residue is a more severe form of soiling.
Spine Break
A spine stress that has devolved into a tear (usually through multiple wraps). Spine breaks greatly decrease the spine's structural integrity and are often found close to the staples.
Spine Roll
A condition where the left edge of a comic curves toward the front or back, caused by folding back each page as the comic was read. Also usually results in page fanning.
Spine Split
A clean, even separation at the spine fold, commonly above or below the staple, but can occur anywhere along the spine length.
Spine Stress
A small crimp/fold perpendicular to the spine, usually less than 1/4" long.
Staple Detached
When a wrap has come completely loose from a staple and is no longer bound to the comic in that area.
Staple Migration
When staple rust has moved onto the surrounding paper, causing staining.
Staple Popped
When one side of a cover has torn right next to the staple, but is still attached by the slip of paper beneath the staple. If not handled carefully, a popped staple can lead to a detached staple.
Staple Rust
Literally, rust on the staple.
Subscription Crease
A vertical cover-to-cover fold caused by the book being folded in half when sent through the mail directly from the publisher.
Wrap
A single sheet of paper folded to form four pages of a story. Most modern comics have eight wraps, plus the cover (but there are exceptions!).
Writing
Writing can be found on/in comics in many forms, and downgrades are based on severity. Common things you'll see:
  • Minor initial or date markings (do not affect grade except in the highest range)
  • Names written on covers or in margins
  • Interior puzzles filled out
  • Marker scribbles
  • Markings/coloring over interior art
  • Writing indentations, in which no ink or pencil has touched the comic, but it has been used as a writing surface, so you can see rough areas where the writing dented in.