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What is comic book grading?   Date: Friday 22 June, 2007
FAQ Summary:
Comic grading is simply rating a comic book based on its condition. Books that have no defects such as folds, tears, coupons out, water stains are more highly sought after by collectors than books that have these defects. A comic is graded by the following grades (in descending order): Mint, Near Mint, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor, and Coverless. Spawn #1 in Very Fine is considered better and more sought out than the same book in Good condition. Likewise, the price of a Very Fine copy is higher than a Good copy.

FAQ Content:

My grading is basically by Overstreet standards. These grades are listed in The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Please consult this valuable resource if you need more information on grading.

Layman's Terms: Non-Collectors typically use the term "good condition" which is pretty worn in comic book terms (see below) and "excellent". Excellent is NOT a comic book condition.

The following terms go from highest to lowest. Mint, Near Mint, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor, Coverless with appropriate grades in between.

Mint (mt) - I don't use this grade. Even though many of the books we sell in Near Mint would qualify for Mint by some people, we don't separate them in this way. Mint is a very difficult grade to define and collectors of these comics have their own personal standards that dictates what is or what isn't Mint. I feel all comic books have flaws.

Near Mint (nm) - This is the highest grade we use. Clean, sharp, and maybe a minor spine stress or other minor imperfections as tiny impact creases or a slight bindery tear. If too many of these slight flaws occur, the book is downgraded to vfnm, or lower. Cover is flat with no surface wear. zNo soiling, staining or other discoloration outside of slight foxing. Spine is tight and flat. No spine roll or split. No staple tears. Slight interior tears are allowed.

Very Fine/Near Mint (vfnm) - Still a great copy just a few minor flaws such as a few spine flakes to knock it out of near mint. Scott's Comics vfnm is many other dealer's near mint.

Very Fine (vf) - Still a great copy with outstanding eye appeal, but minimal surface wear is beginning to show. Stress lines on the spine are beginning to show. A light 1/2 inch crease is allowed on an otherwise nm copy. A comic book in this grade has been carefully handled. Cover is flat with minimal surface wear. No obvious staining, soiling, or other discoloration except for minor foxing. Spine is flat with no roll. Staples may show discoloration. Slight staple tears or minor stress lines may be showing. Very Fine is usually priced at about 70%-75% of near mint.

Fine/Very Fine (fnvf) - A copy between fine and very fine.

Fine (fn) - A copy in this condition is beginning to show minor wear such as spine stresses and possibly a minor fold or two, but still an above average copy. Slight spine splits are allowed in this grade. Dented corners from being dropped could occur in this grade. No major creasing or other major defects are allowed. Small minor writing on the back cover could be allowed. Fine is usually priced at about 40% of near mint.

Very Good/Fine (vgfn) - This is a very common grade on older books and is between very good and fine. Minor tape or possibly a loose staple (one staple that has been detached from the cover) can be found in this grade.

Very Good (vg) - This is the average used comic book. Moderate Wear is beginning to show. Creases, a rolled spine, small pieces out of the cover, folds, minor soiling, discoloration, store stamps, and minor chips can occur in this grade. Cover and interior pages can have minor tears and folds and a centerfold may be loose or detached. One staple may be loose from the cover. A minor tape repair may be present. The cover and interior pages can have some minor tears and folds. Too many of these defects will cause the book to be dropped to good. Very good is a very broad category. Very Good is usually priced at about 25% of near mint.

Good/Very Good (gdvg) - This grade is between good and very good and is starting to look worn.

Good (gd) - This grade has all the pages and covers. This is a "catch all" category for all sorts of defects. Books in this grade are flawed significantly in some way or the other. These books are primarily for reading. Can have tears, corner bends, spine stresses, a loose cover, writing, tape repairs, pieces out, water stains, or more. A coupon can be out of the book as long as long as it doesn't effect the story - those Marvel stamps from the early 1970s Marvels are perfect examples of a coupon out.. Water damage could be present in this category, but not the type of water damage were pages are stuck together. Good is usually priced at about 15% of near mint.

Fair/Good (frgd) - A copy between fair and good.

Fair (fair) - A copy in this grade has all story pages and most of the covers, but are soiled and unattractive. The centerfold could be missing as long as it doesn't effect the story. A coupon or a few panels could be missing that effects the story. However, basically readability is retained. Books in this grade are for reading purposes only and not for investments.

Poor (poor) - Degraded to the point of no collector value. The likely culpret on many of these books are incomplete stories. Large portions of the front cover could be missing. Severe flaws such as rips, tears, water stains, you name it. Basically the book is a rag.

Coverless (coverless) -  A comic without a cover, and possibly some interior ad pages but the story is complete. 

We realize grading is subjective, and that your very good could be different from my very good. We don't want to deal with collectors whose grading varies greatly with ours, but we realize that we can make mistakes. If you feel we have misgraded a book, please return it for a full refund or replacement. It is our desire to be fair to all customers..

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