Why I don’t like “Slabbing” Part 1

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So I just watched a video that dealt with an issue of a comic that was raffled off, a person winning it, and why the person that had won it, could not read the comic.

The reason that this fella could not read the comic is because it had been “Slabbed”.

For those that are not in the know on what the term Slabbed means, I will clue you in.

Slabbing as we in the comics world call it, is the process of having a comic book appraised, and then hermetically sealed in a poly bag, and then placed in a plastic hermetically sealed enclosure that at the end somewhat resembles a plastic slab.

There is only one group that does this kind of process, and they are called the CGC, AKA  Certified Guaranty Company AKA Comics Guaranty LLC (website here http://www.cgccomics.com/ )

Here is a sample of the website explaining the services they offer.

Professional comic book grading eliminates concerns about grade misrepresentations by providing a professional assessment of condition and quality.

Every comic book certified by CGC is graded by the hobby’s most experienced and trusted team, according to well-established grading standards. Furthermore, every CGC-certified comic book undergoes a thorough restoration check by leading professionals during the certification process. When restoration is detected, it is fully noted on the certification label.

Once certified by CGC, a comic book is encapsulated in a state-of-the art, tamper-evident holder, providing superior protection and stability for long-term preservation.

CGC employees are prohibited from commercially buying or selling comic books, eliminating any potential conflicts of interest. CGC was the first impartial, third-party certification service.

Over one hundred thousand comic books are submitted to CGC each year. Books are carefully handled and tracked through the grading process, and always fully insured while on our premises. You can explore comic book grading by tracing through the grading process.”

OK, so here is the skinny. CGC has been around for a wee bit (nearly 20 years now) and during this time thousands if not millions of comics have been sent to their offices, and have been inspected, restored in some cases, and then given special treatment (acid free inserts between the front and back covers) and finally end up getting sealed/slabbed.

Now, with that part being said, here is what it does for the collector…

It gives a certified value and grading to the comic that has been graded, and can sometimes increase the value of the comic by several hundred percent.

While this is fantastic for the comic collector… it has a downside, and I will get to that shortly.

Several comics that have been “Slabbed” have been extremely notable, and as such, the grading process also catalogues the verified version of the comic exists. For example:

Action Comics #1 (First Appearance of Superman) without the CGC grading would possibly sell for $130,000… With the Grading process however, the value of the book has topped the $1,000,000 mark with a high grade.

Most recently however, a copy of The Walking Dead #1, was graded and certified with a value of $10,000.

The cost per comic to have it graded can be anywhere from $25 to up to $300.00 per book. What this means is that there is a sliding scale of cost when it comes to getting a comic slabbed. Furthermore, that $25 charge is per book, on a 15 book minimum submission. Which puts that whole cost at $375 dollars for possibly 15 comics to get graded and shipped back to you slabbed.

Now, while one would think that the price would be a downside, keep this in mind, you need to understand that the values of the comics are increased when it comes to getting it graded.

To me the downside would have been more along the lines of the comic being totally sealed.

Sure it’s for the protection of the comic, but at the same time, you can’t read it, or flip through it… without taking the grading, and throwing it out the window.

This would suck if you get a comic that you wish to add to your collection, and now cant read through it in it’s original printing… which has it’s own air of awesome to it.

And that my friends is one of the two downsides of getting your comics graded.

The other downside in my opinion, is based off of a sentiment that my Granddad had when it came to my collecting comics… and that was the philosophy that comics are not worth anything when there isn’t a buyer for them.

I really want to take a moment and point out that for me, comics have at various times bailed me out of trouble when it came to money issues. I have used my collection as currency at various times in my life. Using sales of it to not only purchase a car, but to pay bills, and even pay rent during different times.

With that said, it was a hell of a lot of work, and the high dollar comics that I have been able to collect were not part of those deals… But at the same time, I can also say that I have spent money on Magic: The Gathering, and again, have spent those collections as currency at times in my life.

I was able to do so, because I could find collectors/players that were willing to purchase those items.

Got a buyer, and they gave me cash.

Plain and simple.

Now, with that being said… I have to go so far as to say that had I tried to sell some of the higher priced comics, I would not have been able to sell them off. As I have found out, amongst the majority of the collectors in general… there is such a thing as a comic that is too expensive to even sell.

The CGC, while making is possible to certify the value of a comic, to makes it even harder to sell off the comics if you found yourself in a position where you needed to.

All in all, I really have only one concern when it comes to this whole grading thing.

I fear that the practice of grading and slabbing, will lead to people having a further misconception of the value of the comics that are sitting in their closet.

I will continue this rant in another post tomorrow.

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