The 6 Best Comic Book Grading and Slabbing Companies
Have you ever tried to sell anything you believed was valuable? There are levels to making a personal transaction for your benefit. There is a process to convincing someone else, usually a stranger, to buy what you own. If you watch Antiques Roadshow or Pawn Stars, this is now the American dream, to trip over crap in the attic and find out it’s priceless. Have you ever tried to sell a comic book you believed was valuable? If the comic book wasn’t authenticated by comic book grading and slabbing companies, then all you did was prove that you don’t know know how to prove a comic book is valuable.
Before 2008, before the launch of the MCU’s first film Iron Man, there was a stigma attached to being a comic book fan. You were considered a geek. And you had to be a high-level geek, like Nic Cage, or have serious connections to sell a comic book for big money.
Nic Cage sold a copy of Action Comics #1, a rare 1938 comic book that features the first appearance of Superman, for $2.1 million in 2011.
That comic sold by Cage was authenticated and slabbed, encased in rigid plastic to protect it from the elements, and graded on a CGC scale from 0.0 to 10 to prove its value.
Don’t worry, I will thoroughly explain the previous paragraph in detail.
But the point is that years ago, one would only hear such stories on the news. But now, every time an executive from Disney or WB/Discovery announces the imminent release of a future comic book film, hardcore and casual comic book fans rush out to buy the comic books inspiring it.
This has changed the way the comic book investment market works, a market that has no concrete guidelines and tenets. What do I mean by that? A fan sold a copy of Booster Gold #1 from 1986 for $650 in January 2023 because James Gunn announced a TV show about the unknown character would be produced.
Nic Cage didn’t sell his comic book this way in 2011, the system didn’t exist. And the system we have now is still evolving.
But in 2011 and 2023, both instances involved comic book grading and slabbing companies. And you must know about these processes if you want to sell collectible comic books as investments.
Comic Book Grading and Slabbing Companies (There Are Levels to This)
If you try to sell a valuable comic book to a buyer, then that comic book can only be authenticated as valuable by legitimate comic book grading and slabbing companies.
I once tried to sell a comic book by pulling it out of a plastic sleeve and touching it with my bare hands and presenting it to a potential seller. (That guy looked at me like I had three heads. I was a teen then, and I now understand his reaction.)
When you sell something that is considered to be of value on a transaction market, a buyer is going to believe the authentication of the item for sale by a third-party expert, not you.
For example, if you sell a house, the potential buyer usually has their inspector inspect the house before the deal. When you try to sell a car, a potential buyer test drives the car and vets the repair history.
It’s the same with trying to sell comic books as an investment, a buyer is not going to take your word for it. The comic has to be authenticated as valuable by industry-vetted comic book grading and slabbing companies.
Comic Book Grading and Slabbing Companies (How They Work)
Comic book grading and slabbing companies have experts who verify comic books as valuable based on a series of factors. For a fee, you can send your comic book to be graded on a scale from 0.5 to 10, with 10 meaning the comic book is aesthetically perfect as well as valuable.
Rarity, pivotal storylines, signatures from creators, and other factors can make a comic book valuable.
After being graded, the company is slabbed and the grade is printed on a sticker affixed to the slab. A “slab, is a rigid plastic shell that encases the comic. The slab protects the comic from the elements and is meant to entomb the comic. Combined with the grading and authentication, the slab shouldn’t be opened, as it is proof of the grade and value of the comic before it was slabbed.
The grading and slabbing are when authenticating the value of the comic. And it is a guarantee that your potential buyer can believe.
Comic book and grading and slabbing companies all have varying authentication processes. And some of these companies are better known and trusted than others, although all offer legitimate grading and slabbing services.
You can mail in your comic book or bring them into a physical store for grading and slabbing.
You may want to call or email such companies before submitting your comic books for grading or slabbing and ask questions. And these services aren’t free – you could pay $22 to $100+ to have each comic book assessed, graded, authenticated, and slabbed. And that is on top of postal fees and any other incidental fees.
Additionally, many of these companies offer “raw grade,” certification services. That means you can get your comic book graded without slabbing. However, most buyers may be hesitant to pay big prices unslabbed comic books.
Many of these companies will also add the signature of the authenticator on a sticker on the slab for an added fee.
If you have a stash of comic books in your home, then you can check the value online and get a ballpark estimate of its market value. You need to find a nostalgic collector in your area who would be willing to buy your comics.
You don’t need to be a lifelong comic book fan and expert in comic books to flip some comic books, but it helps. You can at least get a ballpark estimate of the comics you own before trying to sell them.
Curb your enthusiasm. You probably won’t make a fortune. This is a great way to learn about comics, the collectibles investor market, and potentially make some money with a potential side hustle.
Certified Guaranty Company (CGC)
When comic books are graded and slabbed, most people will ask, “What is the CGC grade?” There is more than one way to grade comic books, but CGC is the industry standard. When I was a child, the “Overstreet Guide,” was the standard for checking the value of comic books. But now, CGC is the overwhelming preferred standard.
CGC was launched in 2000, is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, and is now the global verification standard. The CGC grade of comic books, 0.5 for the lowest grade and 10 for the highest is the standard championed by CGC and almost accepted by all.
Depending on whether the comic book was published before or after 1975 will determine how much you pay in processing fees. Such fees can range between $22 to $130+ depending on how valuable the comic book is. The more valuable the comic is determined to be, the more the processing increases accordingly.
You can also pay extra fees for fast-track processing.
Comic Book Grading and Certification Services (CBCS)
CBCS is one of the best comic book grading and slabbing companies in the industry. Most people who don’t utilize CGC will usually opt for CBCS.
The company was launched in Plano, Texas in 1998.CBCS charges anywhere from $22 to $200 for grading, slabbing, and certification services for comic books valued at up to $7,000.
However, such terms are not set in stone. Every client has different needs and authentication is dependent on many factors.
CBCS has certification experts you can consult, call, or email for free tips on how to identify valuable comics you may own.
In January 2022, a copy of Action Comics #1 with a CGC grade of 6.0 sold for $3.18 million through Heritage Auctions. Even though the comic has a low CGC grade, the 1938 comic book is one of the rarest comic books in the world. There are probably only a few copies of Action Comics #1 in existence in good to nearly perfect aesthetic condition.
It is a collectibles company that was launched in 1976 in Dallas, Texas.
Heritage Auctions is famous for coordinating million-dollar sales of rare comic books and memorabilia as well as grading, certification, and slabbing.
You can call or email Heritage Auctions for a free consultation on the value of your comics. Heritage Auctions believes that most comic books printed after 1980 possess little value.
Professional Grading Experts (PGX)
Professional Grading Experts or PGX is a third-party comic book grading, slabbing, and certification company based in Eugene, Oregon. The company was launched in 2002.
Depending on the era the comic book was published, (Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern age) the processing costs can range anywhere between $14 to $28. These processing costs apply only to comic books with a potential value of up to $4,000.
PGX will assess and pre-screen comic books for grading for free and only charge $5 per comic for any comic deemed not valuable enough for grading or slabbing.
Expert Grading Services (EGS)
Expert Grading Services, or EGS, is a newer company in the grading and slabbing service industry. It was only launched in 2018.
Depending on the era the comic was published in, and the swiftness of service you desire, you will pay anywhere between $25 to $100 for EGS’ grading and slabbing services.
(Here is an extra company for you to consider, because we appreciate you reading this blog! Please read and share!)
ComicConnect is a New York City-based comic book grading and collectibles auction house. While ComicConnect will grade your comic, they also can connect you to a third-party company to have your comic book slabbed.
You will anywhere between $5 to $100 for grading based on the value of the comic book. Comic books worth $10,000 command a $100 grading fee.
However, if you auction your comic book through ComicConnect then all grading fees are voided.
Ever wondered how you could make money investing in something you love? If so, then comic book investing might be for you! In this guide, A.A. Francis covers everything the casual investor needs to know to get started. Learn about what makes a comic book valuable, how to determine value on your own, and strategies for making a sale. Plus, find out why now is the best time to start investing in comic books.
Allen Francis is a full-time writer, prolific comic book investor and author of The Casual’s Guide: Why You Should Get Into Comic Book Investing. Allen holds a BA degree from Marymount Manhattan College. Before becoming a writer Allen was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including saving and investing in your own small business.