Comic Book Pricing Guide

Comic book pricing guide: an overview on grading comics, including description of grades, and factors that influence the price of comics

Comic book collecting is serious stuff. Comics are more than "story books with pictures for kids": it is an entire industry. Rare comic books, in mint condition, can garner close to thousands of dollars from buyers.

But how much is a comic book worth? Most people will tell you that a comic book is worth how much you value it.

However, pricing a comic book for sale in the market is a little more tricky. How much a comic book can go for in the market is largely dependent on the condition, age and scarcity of the book. This guide is a short overview of the factors that influence the pricing of comic books.

Tools of the Trade

The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is an industry standard in comic book prices. A new edition comes out every year with updated prices for almost every comic book in the market. It also offers useful current information on current collecting trends. In addition, Overstreet has introduced a method in grading comics on a numerical range as well as a method in gauging a comic book's paper whiteness. This guide will be frequently referring to the terms used by the Overstreet Price Guide. Another current price guide, while not as exhaustive as Overstreet, is the monthly Wizard magazine.

Most dealers will usually pay 50% of the prices in Wizard or Overstreet, although in a one-to-one sale this can go up to 80%. The price also depends largely on the demand of the comic book. It is not uncommon for books in high demand to go for 100% to 120% of comic book guide prices.

Grades of Comics

MINT: Describes near perfection in the comic. This includes complete flatness, bright colors, glossy covers, sharply cut corners, no rust on staples and supple, white paper. There are some schools of thought that say that because of its perfect nature, a comic in mint condition is impossible to find.

NEAR-MINT: The same schools of thought that believe Mint comic books are impossible to find hold that the highest quality of comics one can find in the market are Near-Mint. NM comics have only minor imperfections, that are very subtle and just less "eye-appealing" than Mint comic books.

VERY-FINE: VF comic books have exceptional eye-appeal and allow for off-white paper and barely noticeable (less than ΒΌ inch) stress line on the spine.

FINE: Allows for minor wear but no serious defects; it should be still flat and clean but perhaps less bright in cover color than VF comics.

VERY GOOD: Described as an "average-used comic book", a VG comic looks like it's been read more than a few times but still has eye appeal. Characteristic of VG comics is discoloration, brown (but not brittle) paper, one loose staple (cover must be still intact) and minor tears in the inside.

GOOD: This is the lowest grade acceptable by collectors; cover gloss is low or nonexistent, paper is brown but not brittle, is creased and has minor tears but in all cases completely intact and readable.

FAIR: Comics in this category still have a cover and all pages, is completely readable but has missing sections like the centerfold and cut sections. Low paper quality and a slight brittleness is usual. Corners are slightly rounded, and the spine is up to 2/3 damaged.

POOR: Comics of this grade are so brittle that they tend to fall apart upon touch. This grade of comics have prevalent tears and stains, heavy discoloration on the cover and inside. There may be pages missing in such comics.

Other factors: Age and Physical Marks

Ages of comics

Comic books are usually of one of four "ages", according to Overstreet:

The Platinum Age runs from comic books dating from 1897 to 1932. Due to the rarity of comics from this age, dealers in these comics are highly specialized. The Golden Age goes from 1933 to 1956 and considered "most desirable". The Silver Age denotes the period from 1956 to the mid 1960s.

After that comes to modern age, which is post-1970s comics and are characteristically of high grade. Most collectors and collections will stem from the late Sliver Age to Modern Age period.

Tell-tale Signs

The following factors will influence the grade of comics:

Apparent flaws: At-once seen defects in the comic book like tears, folds, marks and spots degrade the value of the comic

Spine: The amount of stress marks on the spine, as well as the amount of rust on the staples.

Gloss and color: The amount of gloss left on the cover, as well as the brightness of the color inks in the comics

Paper quality: The whiteness and suppleness of the paper. In some cases, the freshness or brittleness of paper can be smelled.

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