With grading comics at an all-time peak there seems to be a lot of misconceptions floating around about the top 2 grading companies, CGC and CBCS. How many times have you heard “CBCS grades tougher than CGC” or “CGC slabs are worth more than CBCS slabs”. I would like to shed some light on these topics.

First, I think that a lot of what you hear online is from people who hate one company and prefer the other. When someone hears a bad thing about the company they hate, they like to let everyone know about the problem. BOTH COMPANIES HAVE ISSUES. Both companies make mistakes, but it’s how you deal with the mistakes that people appreciate.

The notion that CBCS grades tougher than CGC is one topic that I hear often. I personally see a lot of CBCS and CGC slabs on a regular basis. I submit approx. 5,000 books per year for grading. BOTH companies will over-grade and under-grade books at the same ratio. I’ve seen CBCS 9.8 books that you would have a hard time believing should’ve been any higher than a 9.0-9.2. I’ve seen the same with CGC. I
feel this myth is being fueled by the CGC haters. Or in general by people who like to cheer for the little guy. For the most part I would have to say that both companies get the grading fairly accurate. Sometimes, we have to also consider that the owner of the book is looking at their
book through rose coloured glasses. I constantly hear “CGC is really that picky about that little spine tick? I thought it would’ve got a 9.8” Everyone would like to think their books are 9.8 or better but the fact of the matter is that a 9.8 demands a premium for a reason.

The other great debate regarding CGC and CBCS is that CGC slabs sell for more money. This one is easier to prove as we can gather and analyze the data. But just remember, data can be manipulated to prove whatever side of the argument the person is trying to support. If I wanted to prove that CBCS slabs sell for the same or more than a CGC slab, I could just find an example to prove my point. But here’s what I find when I looked at lots of sales from many different books in both CGC and CBCS slabs. I looked at Golden Age, Silver Age and Modern books and at times it was tough to compare because of the rarity of the book. In general, I found that CGC slabs are still commanding roughly a 20% premium over CBCS slabs. But this did vary depending on the books. Very common books like an Amazing Spider-Man 300 did get the 20% premium when they were in a CGC slab. Although there are a few cases where CBCS slabs got the same or even a bit higher.

When I looked at huge key books or as many of us call “Grail” books. I did find that because of the rarity of the book and the fact that you might only find a couple in the grade that you can afford, CBCS and CGC slabs are getting close to the same money. The differences I found was when the seller decided to auction the book instead of listing the book for the price they were willing to sell it for. A lot of the auction books did get less money than a Buy-it-Now book from both CGC and CBCS.

In conclusion, I believe it is a myth that CBCS grades tougher than CGC. With CGC having most of the market it is easier to find faults in the greater number of books overall. Grading, for the most part, is fairly accurate from both companies. They both will make you scratch your head at times. I think owners have to start looking at their books with a more objective mind.

Although CBCS has been improving over the past couple of years, the data shows that CGC books are still fetching a higher premium. The exception would be grail status books where I believe the rarity trumps all.

That’s it for now. I hope this blog gave you some insight and I realize you probably won’t agree with everything but I hope it makes you think and possibly look at these issues in a different light.

Jeff Rothney
Canada Comic Pressing


Commenting area

  1. kyle.roussel August 27, 2021 at 9:00 am · · Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    The order I have in with you now is my first-ever “clean-press-submit” to anybody, so I still consider myself totally impartial to all of this. The “problem” (if we want to call it that), is the same thing that has infested everything these days – tribalism. People will fall on the sword and die on the hill for their favourites, and trash anything else no matter what the facts say. I think one of the other naturally occurring things in this space is something we see in sports, where fans of a team/player *always* over-value that team/player….rose-colored glasses as you put it (my team’s prospects are all future hall of famers, dontcha know?). Prior to submitting my books, I heard countless people advise giving your books your own grade evaluation before you submit (i.e., learn how to grade, then apply that to your books). That is no doubt sound advice. The issue is that you can watch all the tutorials you like, but if you don’t get enough repetitions in, and don’t have a proper authority validating your findings *before* you submit for grading, you may very well be setting yourself up for disappointment. For my part, I looked at the books I sent in to you and while the books released after 2010 are probably in the 9.4+ range (and higher, I hope!), I have no real idea. I couldn’t see any defects, but I bet they’re there somewhere. I have nobody to really take the time to point out the flaws so that I can actually do the learning from my mistakes. So I took them to my LCS and he gave me his grade ranges for everything I submitted. Needless to say, he got my expectations higher than I think I wanted them to be.

    As for CGC slabs selling for more….that does appear to be the case, generally speaking, doesn’t it? Nobody really questions a CGC book, but you will see some hesitation on any other service, which I find kinda silly? Does CGC *really* have the best graders? Is there case and label any better than anyone else’s? I think CGC’s only real leg to stand on is that they were the first to explode, and have thus established themselves as THE authority. It really does pay to be first, but being first doesn’t equal being the best. Personally, I think they’re coasting on reputation, and the “little guys” are scrambling for attention. Not a day goes by where you don’t hear people screaming about CGC wait times, or complaining when their book’s grade isn’t what they thought it would be. But the thing is, the vast majority of people would more than likely go right back to CGC because of that 10-20% premium that CGC books sell for. I guess I can’t really blame people for that, but if you want that premium, you might have to wait 6 months to get your books back. That’s appears to be the way it is, right? While CGC is poised to expand and hopefully improve their services, who knows how long that will take. In the meantime, what if collectors spread around their books to other graders, and skip that 10-20% premium? That might sting when we’re talking $1,000 books, but if you’ve got a $500 book and it’s only worth $400-$450 with a CBCS label, is that really the end of the world? What about in 10+ years from now? Will the gap close? I hope it does.

    Maybe I’ll change my mind someday and become part of some tribe. I hope not. But today my stance is that if you emailed me tomorrow and said “hey man, I’m thinking of submitting your books to CBCS or EGS instead of waiting 6 months for CGC, do you mind?” I don’t think I would object if I knew I’d get my books back in 2021 The grades are what they are. The cases are all great. To me there’s not much differentiating all these graders except one has a reputation and the others are trying to build theirs. I don’t plan on selling my graded slabs for a loooong time (except maybe for one or two so I can keep doing this), so as long as they’re professionally graded and protected, I think I’d be happy.

    Anyway, I don’t know if any of this is an extension of your great blog post, or just a rambly stream of consciousness, but I thought the conversation deserved to be prolonged.

    Thanks, Jeff!

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