PO BOX 760

Kelso, WA. 98626

PHONE (714) 288-8993

FAX (714) 288-8992

WEB SITE: www.terryscomics.com

e-mail : INFO@TERRYSCOMICS.COM Go to grading Criteria



            I am writing this report in hopes of reflecting the Southern California perspective on grading to the overall scheme of the new grading guide. I believe that the standards of comic grading, not only have changed over the years, but they have changed more than once. Secondly I believe that there are slight differences in grading standards based on geographical region of collectors. My personal standards have been taught to me over the years by learning what a customer expects from a particular grade as well as what I expect and by looking at what other dealers offer at specific grades. I started buying collections and back issues in 1976, back then there were basically three grades, (good, fine and near mint/mint) which most dealers priced their inventory at. The price spread back then was usually $1.00 for Good $1.50 for Fine and $2.00 for Mint. The price spread was very low. Most collectors thought to buy the cheapest one so you can get more for your money. By the mid eighties the spread was more like $1.00 for good $3.00 for fine and $9.00 for mint. At this point it was becoming obvious to most collectors that the nicer copies were good investments. I also think that this split helped start the creation of grade specific collector groups. Before this you bought whatever condition you could find, because the price spreads were so small. As the 1990's started the new comic market was in high gear and this bought a lot of new collectors into the market. They were used to new comics (that are by definition high grade) and wanted their back issues to be as nice as possible. Supply was low and demand was high, the top prices began to jump ever higher.

            About this time (1992) the first Overstreet grading guide had been released using the now defunct 100 point system, this book was a great attempt to resolve some of the issues that were constantly coming up between the old timer with the older looser and less defined grading standards and the newbees that wanted nice books and were not willing to accept the status quo of the time. While the 100 point system was not wildly accepted by dealers or collectors it had introduced the OWL card for paper whiteness level. This card was a major step in tightening up grading standards. I still keep mine handy, even though it can use a few more color scales. As prices of high grades books continued to climb, the higher grade books standards were again made tighter by picky customers who were willing to spend big if they could find the finest examples of a particular issue. Another odd thing that happened around the mid to late 1990's was that high grade (VF/NM to Mint) and low grade (FA-VG-) books were the only one being collected.  It was rare to find any body wanting the middle grade books in those days. Then came the first real downward adjustment of prices in 27TH and 28th editions of the Overstreet Price guides. This was a healthy thing for the market and within two years silver age sales started to increase again.  For example Amazing Spiderman #1 was going for $275 in Good in 1990 and listed for $1200 by 1996, by 1998 the 28th OPG it was back down to $700. Today, four years later it still lists for only $800. In the late 1990's two major events happened in our hobby. The first was the adoption of the new 10-point grading system and the second was the introduction of third party grading. The ten point grading system was less confusing and was a better overlay of the old word-grade system then the previous 100-point system. The first and so far only grading service to enter our market was Comics Guarantee Company aka CGC. It took a while for most dealers to be willing to pay someone other than himself to grade their books, but after record sales of high-grade books were being realized, CGC caught on quickly. This was mostly fueled by internet sales where shaky first time collectors had no idea how to grade a book, but felt they could rely on a third party system for fairness.  The only real complaint that I know of from most collectors is that the CGC has never published their grading standards; I hope they, and the industry, as a whole will adopt this book.




My 2¢ about grading criteria.


  Mint: (MT) 10.0: An anomaly with nothing wrong, perfect cut, perfect paper,

Perfect color.

    Mint-: (MT-) 9.9: An anomaly with virtually nothing wrong, perfect cut, perfect paper,

Perfect color. For example off center staple placement.

 Near Mint/Mint: (NM/MT) 9.8: Perfect in every way except the smallest single bindery defect.


Near Mint +: (NM+) 9.6: Perfect in every way except two to three of the smallest bindery defect.


Near Mint: (NM) 9.4: a near perfect book that can have a few, very minor bindery defects, and no more than one none bindery defect, a hairline crease, or color blemish, a slight dimple.

            Paper can be white to off-white, highest grade that non-white paper is allowed.


Near Mint -: (NM-) 9.2: a very near perfect book that can have a very minor bindery defects, and minor wear/age defects, hairline crease's, very minor color blemish's, slight dimple's, highest grade that a professionally placed stamp or pen mark should be allowed. Paper can be off-white.


Very Fine/Near Mint: (VF/NM) 9.0: a book that looks perfect at first glance but on close examination it reveals no more than one small defect such a dirty back cover, or a slight edge dimple due to string used in delivery or several small cover dimples not noticeable unless examined at angle in bright light or slight rounding on no more than 1 corner or very light stress lines around the staples showing that the book was read or very slight stress lines (two or less) on spine.  It must have a perfectly straight spine and straight edges, no chipping is allowed. No dents are allowed on spine. A slight amount of bindery off cut is allowed.


Very Fine +: (VF +) 8.5: a book that looks near perfect at first glance but it has one noticeable but still slight defect and maybe a less noticeable defect such a dirty back cover, a slight edge dimple, small cover dimples, slight rounding on no more than 2 corner, very light stress lines around the staples and spine.  It must have a perfect spine and straight edges, no chipping is allowed. A slight amount of bindery off cut is allowed. Cover must be glossy unless done on a matte surface.


Very Fine: (VF) 8.0: a book that looks very nice but can have a few very minor defects, it can have any defects allowed for a higher grade book but can also include minor spine dings and dents, multiple slight edge dimple's, minor rounding on no more than 2 corner's, several very light stress lines around the staples and spine.  It must have a nearly perfect spine and edges, very minor chipping is allowed. Slight Bindery off cut is allowed. This is the highest grade that will allow cover creases that are minor and do not break the color. Edge inking is allowed in this book as long as it has not bleed to cover. Paper can begin to show edge tanning. This is the lowest of the high-grade group of books.


Very Fine-: (VF-) -7.5-: similar in appearance to VF but can have one defect that is more obvious than the others, including a light crease on the back cover. Edge inking is allowed can minor bleed over. Interior page can have minor bindery tears. Beginning of the middle grade group of books. Very minor dust shadow is allowed but only on back cover.


Fine/Very Fine: (FN/VF) -7.0-: a nice book in every way except for one obvious but minor problem or a multiple of minor defects that affect higher grades. Highest grade that can have a small but noticeable color fleck or paper can be slightly tan or very slight spine roll or light corner crease or light edge tear on cover or poorly placed date stamp. Edge inking can have some bleed over. Interior page can have multiple minor bindery tears. Very minor dust shadow is allowed on front cover.


Fine+: (FN+) -6.5-: a book that overall is Very Fine or better except it has one defect that is not allowed above Fine.


Fine: (FN) -6.0-: the standard of middle grade books, you should be able to hold a Fine at arms length and not see any defects at first glance. Longer creasing (up to 3") is allowed as long as it does not break the color for more than a quarter of the length or a small multi -line crease barely breaking the color is allowed in the upper or lower corner. A few small (less then 1/4") edge tears are allowed. Small nicely written name can be on cover if located in logo area. Spine is generally tight and edges are straight, comers can be slightly rounded. Interior page can have a few minor dog-eared pages or can have a small edge tear or two. Paper can be lightly tan. Can have a moderate sized dust shadow. Highest grade that allows archival tape over a small tear or small spine split. A light dust shadow can run from edge to edge of front cover or up to 1/3 of back cover.


Fine-: (FN-) -5.5-:  a slightly larger accumulation or heavier amount of defects than fine would cause the Fine- grade. Typically fits fine in every respect but will have one small crease that breaks the color or a little too tan to pass for fine. Creases can lightly break color.


Very Good/Fine: (VG/FN) -5.0-: this is a nice book that would be fine except for one small but obvious defect, typically one long crease that breaks the color or dog-eared pages throughout the book.  It can have one heavy dent that breaks the color or one longer edge tear up to 1/2".  It may have multiple edge dimples or pronounced spine roll.


Very Good+: (VG+) -4.5-: a book that overall is Fine or better except it has one defect that is not allowed above Very Good.


Very Good: (VG) -4.0-: the lowest of the middle grade book group. The highest possible grade that will allow any type of non-archival tape, but only in the smallest of quantities, and to a book that would grade Fine or better otherwise. Only the tiniest (1/8") of spine splitting is allowed at top or bottom but not both. Color can be slightly diminished but not faded.  This is the highest grade that would allow a top to bottom subscription crease that runs throughout entire book. Book can have a slight waviness due to being stored by moisture but cannot be water damaged. Centerfold can be loose at one staple. No pieces can be missing from a book in this grade. A book in this grade can have multiple edge creasing along the spine but must be otherwise Fine or better. A light water stain is allowed but it should not affect paper quality. A light amount of rusting on the staples is allowed.


Very Good-: (VG-) -3.5-: a book that would be Very Good except for a tiny (3/16") piece missing from a corner or a small sliver (1/8") from the edge or slightly worse spine splitting than Very Good allows.



Good/Very Good: (GVG) -3.0-: The standard for the low-grade collector. Book can have small (up to 3/4") spine splitting on top or bottom.  One but not both staples can be loose or centerfold can be loose. There can be a marking or writing in the artwork area of cover but it cannot deface the artwork.  A couple of small pieces of tape can be found on the book but they cannot have caused the paper to discolor. There can be several color breaking creases but the artwork should not be overly impacted by the. There can be heavy fading if the book is otherwise a fine or better.


Good+: (G+) -2.5-: a book that overall is Very Good or better except it has one defect that is not allowed above Good.


Good: (G) -2.0-: a copy in this condition is called good but leaves much to be desired. A good comic is usually an accumulation of many defects but is still complete and the cover is attached at least on one staple. Small pieces can be missing from the spine or the corners but no chunks. There can be tape on spine but it cannot be affecting paper below. There is usually a lot of creases or a noticeable water stain. There can be a small tape pull. There can be a lot of writing on cover but artwork should not be defaced. Pieced can be missing from interior edges as long as story is not affected. Paper can be browning.


Good-: (G+) -1.8-: this grade is has extreme cases of the good grade but not further. Example would be cover loose on both staples or tape is affecting paper but only slightly.


Fair/Good: (FA/G) -1.5-: cover is loose but not completely split. Or there is writing that defaces the artwork. Can have lots of tape but not heavy tape stains, there can be lots of tears but most of book is intact. A panel can be cut out if it does not affect stories. Can have writing inside but stories should be readable. A slight bit of localized brittle ness such as one corner is allowed. As long as the rest of the paper is stable.


Fair: (FA) -1.0-: overall readable but has major defects. A chunk can be missing from cover if cover is attached larger pieces can be missing from the back cover.  Cover is lose and has small pieces out, heavy tape with lots of stains or logo cut but art work intact or ad piece is out of a otherwise good or better book or center fold out of multistory book and it does not affect the main character or other significant story. Back cover can be missing if front cover is complete. Can have localized minor brittleness on edges as long as the rest of the book is ok.

Poor: (PR) -0.5-: a book with major defects, rendering part or all of the book unreadable, often large chunks are missing from interior pages or up to two thirds of the front cover. Can have heavy water damage or be brittle or have major color flecking. Book may be moldy or chewed by rats or bugs. Might have major staining from paint or food.


Incomplete: (Inc) -0.1-: missing cover or pages or both. Key books with nice paper and no cover can bring up to the good price if people are looking for parts. A book with multiple complete stories worth most while a good centerfold is second best. Missing cover and centerfold is worse and so on.




Defect codes:


Ard = arrival date

At = archival safe tape

Apo = ad page out

Bc = back cover

Brn = browning

Bug = bug chew

Brtl = brittle paper

Bv = Bound Volume

            Ce = Canadian edition

C/o - cut out

Chp =  edge chipping

Cfo = center fold missing

C/c = coupon cutout

Cgc = Comics Guarantee Company

Cfl = centerfold loose

Crs = creasing

Ct = color touch

Cnr = corner

Ds = dust shadow

Dbl = double

De = dog eared

Dmp = dimple

Flk = color flecking

Fc = front cover

Fox =  foxing

Gpn = graphic novel

Gvwy = Giveaway

Hc = hard cover book

Logo= logo cut off

Ls = loose staple

Lc = loose cover

Mjr = major repair

Mnr = minor repair

nn = no number

Ngl = no 3-d glasses

Noc = name on cover

1/2 = half a page

+1 = one or more than 1

Pb = paperback book

Nig = not in Gerber

Nc = no cover

Opg = Overstreet price guide

Pc = piece out of

Pg = page

Po = piece out

Pnl = panel

Prt= printing

Pnch = punch hole

Res = restoration

Sc = subscription crease

Si = Gerber scarcity index

Sos = split on the spine

Spl = staple pull

Spn = spine

Sr = spine roll

Ss = split spine

Stp = staples

Stns = staining

T = clear tape

Tr = tear

Tp = tape pull

Wd = water damage

Wp = white paper

Wrp = outer wrap

Wr = writing or scribble

Ws = water stain








Bindery = a defect caused during the process of printing and assembeling the book. 


Bound Volume = A comic that was removed from a multi comic binding, these often are trimmed, have some glue residue on the spine and often have punch holes from the binding. The pages are often white and suble and the colors are very bright. 


Color Flecking = small spots of color are missing from the art work. Possible cause is books stacked for a long time with no bag being pulled apart.


Dent = a sharp or ruff indentation on an edge or surface of a book. Usually breaks color. 


Dimple = a round indentation on the edge or surface.  


Dust Shadow = a darkening of ink color usually found on edge of book due to other books covering all but that part. 


Edge inking = colored ink usually found on the edge of 1970's books, used for distribution or return purposes.  


Hairline = less than 1/32" of a inch or the diameter of a pin wide and lass than 1/4" or half the staples width long.


Minor = about a 1/16" of a inch or the diameter of a pin wide and lass than 1/2" or the staples width long.  


Off-cut = when artwork is not prefectly aligned with the cover.


Slight = less than 1/16" of a inch or the diameter of a head of a pin.


Smallest =  less than 1/32" of a inch or a little more than the diameter of a pin.


Tape pull = loss of artwork orcolor because a piece of tape was inproperly rempoved from a book. 





PO BOX 760

Kelso, WA. 98626

PHONE (714) 288-8993

FAX (714) 288-8992

WEB SITE: www.terryscomics.com


 : Terry@terryscomics.com


My 2¢ about abbreviations.