Wednesday, August 14, 2013

True or False: CGC has hurt the hobby of comic collecting


34 comments:

Colin Jones said...

There was an article in 'Scientific American' from a couple of years ago which said that we are crazy to put so much reliance in digital storage, there's no certainty any of it will last 20 years let alone a lifetime. At least physical comics will last. Looking at old comics online is great fun but a downloaded comic is not a real comic and a Kindle 'book' is not a real book !!!

Colin Jones said...

So it's TRUE !! By the way I've never heard the term CGC before, I assume it means Computer Generated Comics.

david_b said...

FALSE.. It really has no significant bearing on collecting whatsoever. If my FF ish 1 has been graded or not doesn't effect it's quality whether it's a Fine or Very Fine.

CGC's a regarded industry-standard and would some additional value if selling, but a ttrue collector would probably save some $$ and go for the un-certified issue.

He or she would know the difference without being told.

david_b said...

Sorry, meant to say 'would add some additional value'..

Humanbelly said...

*sigh*
Y'know, I have both those pictured issues, but they've been read so often that I'm sure neither would grade above a 5.0. BUUUUUT, their truest value is OF COURSE in the fact that I've enjoyed them so much over the years! Right? I'm likely an atypical old collector in that the experience of the comics (reading them) outweighs the simple pristine "having" of the comics in a hermetically sealed container.

Colin, although your reading of "CGC" may not have been the intended one, your separate point of debate is very, very valid. It goes hand-in-hand with the phenomenon of print news media being rapidly pastured by the electronic media. In fact, your issue may be more impactfully "True" than a "True" answer for the grading question.

And actually, I've never had a sense of the CGC grading system having a particular impact on the collecting hobby itself, although I could be mistaken. Does it artificially inflate book values? Or undermine the values of un-graded comics? It seemed to me to be a venue that was frequented by a very small segment of the upper echelons of the collecting world. But I could stand being better educated about it.

HB

Matt Celis said...

Really don't know as I only buy from bargain bins, garage sales, swap meets, and such places and won't pay more than $1-$2 for a comic book.

I imagine it adversely affects buyer-seller negotiations by asserting an artificial value for a certain comic book as the condition is subjective no matter what CGC says. But the Overprice Street Guide does the same.

Sadly, it also encourages one not to read one's comics for fear of decreasing their value. Thus the folks buying multiple copies, one to read and one to stick in a vault where they hope someday someone will want to buy it.

I just buy 'em to read.

Anonymous said...

Probably.

Edo Bosnar said...

My impression is that the answer is false, in that it seems to me that many comic readers/collectors ted to largely ignore these CGC ratings. Also, I've seen nothing but contempt expressed online for so-called 'slabbed' comics as pictured, and I share that contempt: like Matt, I always ever bought comics (and books and magazines for that matter) to read first and foremost. Any considerations of possible resale value down the road are very much a secondary concern. (Of course, I hardly ever buy actual floppy comics any more, and my original collection is long gone, so I really don't have a dog in this fight.)

As to Colin's point about digital comics, if the digital format is not permanent, that's unfortunate. First, I have a bunch of those DVD comic collections, and it is a very convenient way to get tons and tons of comics at relatively low cost (and they take up virtually no space, which is a really important consideration for me). Second, I just generally like the idea that all comics (and, for that matter, books, magazines, and other printed matter) are scanned and stored and safely preserved for posterity. That said, I still prefer to read physical books. I've (legally) downloaded tons of stuff from sites like the Gutenberg Project, but I really don't like reading anything longer than about 20-30 pages on screen. So I mainly use those kinds of things for reference.

Matt Celis said...

While I like that comics,especially old ones, are being preserved and made available digitally, I personally have no interest in them. I work at a computer all day and my eyes hurt after too long, so the last thing I want to do in my free time (what little I have with 2 small kids) is stare a computer screen again. Give me paper.

Anonymous said...

Probably false. CGC provides an objective, third-party standard, as opposed to a buyer and seller each trying to grade the item to his own advantage. The over-emphasis on collecting and investing has hurt the medium, since comics are now bought like stocks and bonds, rather than for entertainment. But CGC was an effect, not a cause, of that trend.

mr. oyola said...

In true, BAB form, this topic has split in two! We are our own What If?!! ;)

I, too, have little to no interest in digital comics. There are a few web comics I follow, but web comics are designed to be read on the web - print comics that are scanned or that are rejiggered for online viewing don't work for me and all you need to do is read a little of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics to know that the ease of going backwards and forwards is part of the engaged comic reader experience. Well, that or BE an engaged comics reader. . . :)

Which leads me to the actual topic: I don't want no damn slabbed comic! If I cannot read it it is worthless to me. Like Matt C. I get most of my comics from discount bins, garage sales, and cheaply on eBay (also Midtown Comics in NYC has a fantastic "delivered to the store" feature for their back issues online, which lets you save on shipping since I go there every few weeks anyway - the best part is that even the "VG" graded issues are in great shape and often less than $2).

I am not familiar enough to say that CGC has hurt collecting, but the kind of speculation it has emerged from and can encourage certainly has.

P.S. Blogger seems to be bugging out and not letting me comment for some reason - I keep getting error codes

mr. oyola said...

Well, that worked - I guess Open Id is not working anymore. . .

Wish I had figured that out yesterday - tried commenting twice with long thoughtful responses and failed!

Colin Jones said...

Oops, I apologise for my ignorance !! I 've got a friend who keeps saying digital comics will kill the printed version and I genuinely thought that was the subject of the discussion- next time I'll google an unknown term first !

Colin Jones said...

Thanks to everybody who's kindly tolerated my lack of knowledge on CGC, I have now googled it.

Humanbelly said...

Don't give it a second thought, Colin. You really did provide a very debate-worthy T/F topic all its own. And while I've no doubt that our (generally) aging crowd here will fall almost unanimously on the "Printed Comics" side of the fence, I know that I've seen the exact opposite opinion expressed elsewhere by much younger, more plugged-in fans/readers.


HB

Anonymous said...

I agree with Matt...I buy 'em to read, so I don't want them slabbed. Hell, most of my comics aren't even bagged and boarded.

Mike W.

Karen said...

A book that can't be read seems pointless to me. But for some people, they aren't books but investments. If people want to put their comics in little plastic caskets, that's their business. I do feel that the prices on those books are ridiculously elevated, and to some degree, that's affected the back issue market negatively. Most of the time now though, I'm buying books in the VG/F range anyway, so it's not a big deal to me. But I do find the whole thing repugnant.

david_b said...

I recall buying one CGC comic years ago; don't even remember which one because it was actually fairly priced and I just took it out the case and decided to protect my ungraded FINE copy of FF 13 in instead..

I will say that for nearly all Silver and Bronze issues that I really crave/purchase now, I'll save up another $20 and buy at VF condition; it's like 'Hey, if it's got an awesome cover, I like an ultra-nice representation in my collection, so sue me..'

'Course I only can afford a couple each month because my wife keeps me on a pretty stiff budget, which I don't mind at all.

Quite frankly, I end up getting a lot of great-looking Bronze Marvel comics FREE off eBay anyways, simply because the seller was too lazy to notice that the 'value stamp' was cut-out, so I typically end up with full reimbursements.

It all works out in the end, and ol' David_b ends up going back to the LCS for yet another short box.

William said...

I'm going to have to say a big fat TRUE on this one, and that comes from personal experience.

As I have mentioned on here before, I recently put my complete collection of Spider-Man comics up for sale with an online auction house that specializes in only selling old comics. Well, I was told that most of the older books in my collection (namely Amazing Fantasy #15, and Amazing Spider-Man #1-150) would definitely be sent out to be CGC graded. Well, to make a long story short, with the exception of the Amazing Spider-Man #1, they did not send any of those issues out to CGC, and instead they graded them in-house and then put my entire collection up for sale in an Ebay style auction starting at $1, with no reserve. And they didn't even tell me they were doing it!!! I found out by accident when I came across the auction on my own. I called the auction house and they were like "Oh my god, I thought we told you we were going to do that. Oh well, they've been up for 2 weeks and they've all sold so it's too late now" Needless to say, I was none too happy, but there was nothing I could do about it. (And trust me I looked into it).

Well, my non-CGC graded collection of basically every Spider-Man comic ever published only sold in total for about $18,000, of which I will receive about $14,000 after commissions have been paid. My ungraded Amazing Fantasy #15 only sold for $3,650. It did have some restoration, but I have to believe it would have sold for more than that if it had been sent to CGC as I was promised. There is no "Guarantee" I would have gotten much more than I did with the CGC grading, but at least I would have known that I got as much as I possibly could for my collection.

However, if CGC did not exist, it wouldn't have mattered one way or another. I feel that CGC has taken the hobby out of the hands of the people (the collectors) and put it in the hands of the "professional" graders. It's like now you have to go through them (and pay their fees) or you're not going to get what your books are worth otherwise.

That's just my feelings on the matter based on my recent traumatic experience selling my collection.

Tony said...

I see a certain point to grading, such as golden age books and silver age books to a certain level. But when it's $200 for a 9.8 copy of Action 523, it's ridiculous. (BTW, I don't know if that stat for Action 523 is correct). Why does a CGC Walking Dead command such a higher price than one I might have read once and bagged?Is a graded Hot Wheels #3 better than the one I just bought in the dollar bin at my LCS? Not in my mind...

Humanbelly said...

Man, William, I truly want to go and beat those crooked shysters up on your behalf. Gnrgh. "Trust No One", as X-Files used to exhort us. . .

Very sorry that you went through that.

HB

Ace Frehley Jr said...

I love the CGC Comics...actually Im getting Strange Tales 135 & Astonish 100 graded ASAP. But I do think getting brand new comics graded looking for 9.8 or higher is pretty lame.

redartz said...

A qualified false. Given the fragile nature of truly old comic books, a protective housing is not a bad thing. That is, for the preservation of rare comics for historical interest. As for investment purposes, I feel it to be just another flash-in-the-pan gimmick. There is no substitute for good story and good artwork.

Others are welcome to house their books in hopes of collectibility, but I prefer to read mine...more fun that way!

Doug said...

Hi, everyone --

Late to this. Our youngest returned today from a 2-week tour of Europe with his college soccer team. They landed in Rome and worked their way through Munich, Amsterdam, Liverpool, and Manchester. His souvenir to me was a vinyl copy of the Beatles' Revolver album, purchased at the gift shop of The Cavern. How cool is that??

Anyway, to the two topics at hand:

1. As to the CGC ruining comic book collecting, I'm probably not the right guy to weigh in, as I'd never buy one of those due to the inflated cost and the lack of being able to remove the book from its casing (both points made by many above). My comics purchasing has for many years been of the reprint variety in trade paperbacks and hardcovers. I believe the last back issues I purchased in comic form was several years ago. I bought about a dozen books from a shop in Chicago out of a low-priced Bronze Age box the dealer had -- and many of those have made their way onto the blog as reviews since. I do understand the feeling on the part of some collectors to have their high-end books "officially" graded, but truthfully I do not have any books for which I'd pay that fee. Maybe my copy of Avengers #57 would be worth it, but as my copies of Avengers #'s 1 and 4 range in the VG-VG+ area, I just wouldn't pay the extra money. I think we all need to understand that a book is a mechanical device, and that opening and closing is naturally going to put stress on it. However, as many have said, it's all part of the charm.

Now, getting a baseball card graded and encased in plastic whatchamacallit would be a great idea -- that the two sides could be still viewed makes that a totally different story.

2. Concerning digital comics, and I believe I am thanking William for this idea, I've saved the four Marvel dvd-roms that I own to an external hard drive. As the laptop that I've been issued from my school does not have a disk drive, this is a nice way to not have to tote the dvd-roms around. And, I've also used the Amazon Cloud to transfer around 425 Bronze Age stories to my Kindle Fire HD, which has been great. For books we're reviewing that I have in digital form (I have the Spidey, Avengers, FF, and Iron Man dvd-roms), I just prop the Kindle up right next to my laptop and it's a nice system. It also saves me on travel bulk to be able to have those books in the Kindle. So while I understand Matt's (and others) complaints about sitting at a screen all day and not wanting to then read comics in that format, for me I have really enjoyed it. And as Edo said, you cannot beat the bang for the buck -- when those were issued, each contained over 500 comics for an MSRP of about $50. I only wish I'd purchased the dvd-roms containing Cap, the Hulk, and the X-Men!

Lastly, to William -- man. I am so sorry for you. That really stinks!

Doug

Anonymous said...

Like Matt Celis, I prefer reading on good old fashioned paper instead of on a screen (although thanks to people like ol' Groove I'm slowly catching up on some digitized gems!). It seems that CGC is for people who view their comics as an investment,wanting to appraise their value, preserve their quality and in the future make some money from selling them.

I read comics purely for their entertainment value, and although I have some comics which could make me some profit if I sell them, I have absolutely no intention of doing that. I would prefer to hand them down to my nephews (maybe put them in my will) and instill the love of comics onto the next generation. That would be far more gratifying and in my opinion much better than simply selling them for profit.


- Mike 'William, you should toilet paper the homes of those bastards!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Matt Celis said...

I never knew you couldn't read CGC comics! I thought they were sorta fancy mylar bags. Geez...a book you cannot read is unto the sound of one hand clapping as a tree falling in the woods with no one around is to the weight of a pound of feathers vs. a pound of bricks...

Anonymous said...

At first glance, I mistook "CGC" for "CGI," and I thought that the topic was going to be whether modern special effects had made good super-hero and science fiction movies possible, thus making printed comic books obsolete. It wasn't until I saw the illustration, with the slabbed comics, that I caught on.

fantastic four fan forever said...

I had to sell all my comics to repair my care awhile ago. I thought about CGC'ing many of my books. However when I heard how much it cost it was an immediate turn off for me. A friend of mine claims to have had a book "switched" in favor of one of much lesser quality. I can't go to conventions where they grade them on the spot so I was forced to sell them as is. I would have loved to have graded them because I had of all the early Bryne/Clearmont X-Men and Hulk #181. There was no way that I could CGC anything because my car needed repair immediately.

J.V. said...

CGC has definitely hurt the hobby. I agree with Karen that professionally graded copies of back issues are ridiculously inflated in value. A 9.8 of anything recent is NOT worth a 500% markup. That kind of ridiculousness leads to other hobbyists marking up their "expert opinion NM+" copies on ebay or whatever trade site, effectively blocking out young collectors with little cash. Conversely, collectors who can't afford to submit their silver or bronze age books, may suffer a markdown value imposed by the sharks looking to ttake advantage of a possible deal. The benefits of CGC are for those few high market buyers whom need a professional reference point before dunking $1K on a silver age book.

All comics are meant to be read and enjoyed. Slabbing has more merit for coins where they can still be enjoyed in that form. It has no place in the comic world, imo.

Rip Jagger said...

"Slabbing" has largely completed the transformation of comic books from pop literature into pure objects of interest to the collector. It's not to read a comic that you have to have it, it's to simply have it.

Is that good for comics. No. Not really. But then again it does mean that more comics are seen as valuable and more comics survive for later generations of readers. That will be most interesting for future comics fans when they wonder about these curious items which actually exist in the world on paper and not merely as part of the electronic tapestry of the internets.

Rip Off

William said...

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the support. Selling my collection was truly one of the worst experiences of my life. (No lie). I only sold it because my wife and I were hoping to use the money to help us buy a house. I told the guy at the auction house that I couldn't even buy a used car for the amount they got me. However, he keeps insisting that they did a good job for me. Can you believe that? If they had done a "good job" for me, I would be happy, wouldn't I?

I only took my collection to them because I didn't really have the time to correctly sell it all myself, and I wanted to ensure that I got as much as I possibly could so I wouldn't later regret my decision. (HA!) In hindsight I could have just thrown them all up on Ebay and done as well or better, and I wouldn't have to pay as much in commission fees.

Oh well, you live and learn I suppose.

david_b said...

"However, he keeps insisting that they did a good job for me."

William, in the Army they say, 'Give 'em a sh** sandwich and tell 'em it's delicious.'

A truely memorable, and mind-bogglingly unfortunate story, sir.

As for the other discussion, like most 'investments', comics have become a 'commodity' for big-time collectors, hoping to make bucks in the future. I've added a couple 'key issues' to my collection if I could afford decent copies, like Avengers 16 last year; but as I've said in the past, my overall collection is comparatively meager to most folks here; I've only got six (6) small boxes, so perhaps a thousand or so to my name.

William said...

Thanks David. It's partly my own damn fault though. They had possession of my collection for over 7 months, and I should have kept a tighter reign on what was going on. I had a contract and all that, but the auction house is in another state, so I could only communicate with them via phone and e-mails, and I was constantly being assured that things were going well, and that they wouldn't do anything without first consulting me (yeah right). So, when this all went down, I was pretty beside myself with frustration. But in order to contest anything, I would have had to get an out of state lawyer, and spend months (or years) in arbitration, and end up spending more money than I lost in the first place.

So, let mine be a cautionary tale to anyone else looking to sell a large and valuable collection. Make sure you maintain control of your property until the deal is done. And get your books CGC graded yourself before you try to sell them.

J.V. said...

My sympathies William. If there is any small comfort to be had - it's the realization that CGC and other professional graders do NOT support the hobby per se. They merely provide a financial reference point (and marginal security) for speculators and those schmucks who are willing to plunk down hundreds of dollars to get their investments(not books) a chance at yielding more in return. It's unfortunate that true hobbyists get hurt in the process.

I'd suggest that anyone who finds merit in slabbing as preservation would be just as well served investing in mylar, boards, microchambers and a cool, dry basement (which they may already have).

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