Advice from CGC President Matt Nelson: The Grading Process

by Joseph Overaitis

031122C-1024x536 Advice from CGC President Matt Nelson: The Grading ProcessI mentioned before that I was conducting a comic book grading experiment.  This involved submitting several raw books to CGC for grading to document the process from start to finish.  My first step was to interview CGC President Matt Nelson to understand all the variables to grading comic books.  If you have not read it yet, please read  COMIC BOOK GRADING EXPERIMENT: ADVICE FROM CGC PRESIDENT MATT NELSON (PART 1).   Our readers demanded more from that interview, so here are a few more pearls of wisdom from Matt Nelson.

I.  Matt Nelson on Shift in Customers

Matt opened up about the changing CGC customer base.  This is something most people should realize is also occurring in the comic book marketplace. 

“When CGC opened 20 years ago… 99% of our, well, maybe 90% of our submitters, were seasoned collectors and dealers who knew how to grade and they knew what they were getting into with CGC. Well, it’s changed over the last 20 years.  Now there’s been a shift, where a lot of new collectors are coming in that know the CGC product. They’ve never held them, they never held the book, and they certainly don’t know how to grade the book. So they depend on these grading standards.”hqdefault-3-1 Advice from CGC President Matt Nelson: The Grading Process

II.  Driving Force of Comics

“The market has shifted, not just for grading. The values of comics have skyrocketed (because of) all the movies and all the stuff going on culturally. That’s great because not only are there years and years ahead of us and great movies and television shows and products, but all the kids are watching these shows now.  They’ve been watching them for the past 20 years (and) those kids are going to be the future of the market in one, two, three, four decades.”

III.  The Importance of Children to the Future

“They’re going to be the ones growing up and coming back and buying this stuff. That interest level transcends grading and valuation today, because … a great book like a Spidey #1 or Batman, or whatever it is that your kids are excited about today, that’s going to really hold its value.  That is going to be a great investment for the future.”

IV.  Benefits of Auction Houses

I emphasized to Matt Nelson that I was going to submit these books on my own on behalf of several anonymous collectors I know.  I did ask Matt about when there were benefits to using a third-party dealer or auction house.  This was his reply…

“There is the rare instance where somebody finds a collection and they’re like, Oh, this is great, I want to sell this. I want to maximize my money. I know about CGC, let me send them off and then once I get them back, I’ll sell them. Obviously, they can’t pay the bill. A lot of times, people will go to auction houses or dealers to sell their stuff. There are certain auction houses that will actually take care of the fees upfront for the customer. So, let’s say if you can send your collection to an auction house, they will use their relationship with us. They’ll arrange for the books to be submitted to us (and) arrange for payment. All of that will be backed out of the commission that they charge the customer on the back end so the customer never has to cut a check.”

V. Pressing the Graded Books

In my experiment, I am dealing with only raw books.  I asked Matt Nelson if there was a way to tell if books were pressed that were already graded.  He mentioned that instead of going through the pre-screening raw books go through, a sister company of CGC had another service that hobbyists may want to consider. He explained it as such: images-24-300x151 Advice from CGC President Matt Nelson: The Grading Process

“…basically you send your books in already graded and we check them through the holder to see if pressing would benefit the book and there’s a shot of upgrade with pressing. So it’s kind of a screening before the pressing even takes place. The suggestions that we make are estimates, and typically if you send in, say, 10 books and we pick out five of them for press candidacy, (the) success rates are pretty good. Usually it’s like 50% or higher. Sometimes it’s as high as 75% or even close to 100%, just really depends on the candidacy of the books themselves.

We look for things like bends and folds and whatever was in the notes on the book when it was graded the first time.  So you do have an option, which is especially valuable on more expensive books because, obviously, the fees and risks are much higher. So in those cases, it’s very important to use the screening process at CGC.

I have heard of investors and collectors who crack the slabs open and take a gamble on having these books regraded.  This seems like a mistake when you can pay a small fee and have the people actually grading the books screen them to see if regrading is warranted. 

VI.  Matt Nelson on Raw versus Graded for Experiment

I asked Matt Nelson what books I should really target buying raw and have graded for this experiment to achieve success.  

“…when you’re talking about modern books, cheaper books, $100 to $500 range… I would go with option one (buying raw), which is, you know, trying to save some margin there.”

VII.  Examples of High Dollar Books that are Exception to Rule

Matt Nelson came up with a great example of a modern high-dollar book that he indicated might be an outlier to the guidance he suggested in the previous section. This is an example of a book you might be better to find raw than buy slabbed. 

“…There are even modern books today that are fetching thousands of dollars. So it’s not central to aging anymore. A Spidey 300 (Amazing Spider-Man #300), is a perfect example. Traditionally, that book was worth $500, $1000.  I think it crept up to $1200 or $1500 for a 9.8. Now, they’re fetching, I don’t know, $5,000 in 9.8.  So here’s a book, it’s brand new; it’s easy to find;  it’s out there and it’s conceivable that that book would be for sale at a show or on eBay raw and it could be a 9.8, right? That’s a $5,000 book.”

VIII.  More?

I have more that I can cover from my interview wth CGC President Matt Nelson.  Some additional topics he covered were:

  • Insight on the CGC grading standards;
  • Books to avoid buying raw;
  • Reasons some dealers may not want to grade books that are for sale;
  • Possible future CGC offerings if people express interest;
  • Issues of risk of loss most people do not consider when sending books to CGC;
  • Mistakes people make when sending books into CGC that could cause problems;
  • The importance of the census numbers most people miss;
  • And a few more topics.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be moving on with the experiment so that we can all gain a further understanding of the grading process.

Let us know in the comment section what you think of the experiment and our interview with CGC President Matt Nelson so far!

00080221C_Green-Footer Advice from CGC President Matt Nelson: The Grading Process*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect investment advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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Brandon March 15, 2022 - 9:58 am

In my opinion, CGC shouldn’t be in the business of cleaning and pressing. It seems like a conflict of interest for the company that grades the book to also be the one responsible for both evaluating the candidacy for and then the actual “improving” of its value. That’s a bit of a shady, gray area there. I’m also not buying that they know of some pressing technique using no heat (known only to them) that no other pressers in the business use. Paper reversion isn’t all that common and really isn’t a predictable factor.

Joseph Overaitis March 15, 2022 - 11:39 am


Welcome to the boards. The pressing process is before the grading process. I have talked also to independent pressers and There appeared to be no conflict as both did their work before the grading process. I have to say though that paper revision is a problem. I have seen books that have been pressed and that after a short time they revert back to a close version of what was there before pressing. Not all pressers are created equal just as not all body shops are created equal. Different techniques could come to play and that is true in all restorations. I have seen bad pressers and good…Paper memory though is an issue that you should be aware.

Dee March 15, 2022 - 2:31 pm

Ask him why they don’t offer UV resistant slabs?

steve March 15, 2022 - 10:41 am

I’m waiting in the 7th month for my books. Interview less, grade more

Joseph Overaitis March 15, 2022 - 12:25 pm


I understand everyones concerns with turn around times. I am going to be sending in my books soon for the experiment so I will report on the time it takes to grade books. No biases..Just honest journalism.

Ed Dee March 15, 2022 - 3:33 pm

Steve, I sent my comics in for modern express and got them back in 2 weeks. The others (pre-1975) I’m still waiting for.

Ken Davis March 15, 2022 - 11:20 am

Yes I would definitely appreciate seeing more of Nelson’s remarks in the bulleted Section 8 please!

Joseph Overaitis March 15, 2022 - 11:35 am

Ken Davis

Welcome to the boards. I have finished putting the final touches of the interview and waiting for it to go to press! Keep on posting !!!

Matt March 15, 2022 - 5:22 pm

I would really like to know the process for books damaged during the unpacking process (i.e. dropped). The comments on this very subject are steadily increasing across social media and I too have been a victim. Even books packaged securely in a box, then in another box come back with over 80% having graders notes of corner bends in the same spot on each book. Then there is no ownership to the damages once consumers, like me, reach out for answers.

Joseph Overaitis March 15, 2022 - 7:53 pm


Welcome to these boards. All I can say is read the final installment. It was eye opening. I will never pack things like I did before that interview. I also hope you keep on posting because what you just asked for was one of his pearls of wisdom I never knew could be a problem. i will also describe the packing method that one should use too in my experiment. It was again eye opening!

George March 15, 2022 - 11:44 pm

This sounds like it could be very important. Cant wait to hear about that and the rest of the interview

Joseph Overaitis March 16, 2022 - 10:26 am


I saved the best for last. Welcome to the boards and keep on posting. We learn so much from everyone’s posts.

Warren S March 15, 2022 - 8:28 pm

Great series of articles. Please keep up this series!!!

David Mcatee March 16, 2022 - 3:39 am

Cgc has artists do in house signings an I want to send a already graded blue lable 9.8 for sig I know they will crack it have it signed but why does it have to go threw the whole process again
Couldn’t they fast track it back into a yellow lable once the determined no damage was done
Definitely would pay extra for that…thanks for the article

Joseph Overaitis March 16, 2022 - 10:25 am


Welcome to the boards. I want you to keep posting because this was an interesting comment. I bet you that more feel like you do and maybe this will influence CGC. Sometimes the best ideas come from consumers, so this may be a viable option for CGC to consider.

Mike Paul March 16, 2022 - 7:11 am

Good read and a few comments.
CGC should have more locations now.
They have been around long enough.
NY area and beyond would be a goldmine for them and a walk-in service at different locations would deter shipping mishaps.
This of course would mean more staffing and operating costs but would be most lucrative long term.
I have seen strange things they do as well such as encasing books and bending corners of the cover.Not attractive.
Overgrading books is also prevalent.
Rips ,multiple spine ticks,fading and crooked encased books that are highly graded should not occur.
I would surmise that some of their staff should be retrained.Hiring qualified people in the business such as the author or myself for that matter, who have been in this for decades ,,would be a valuable asset.

Mike Paul

Joseph Overaitis March 16, 2022 - 10:24 am

Mike Paul

Welcome to the boards. I do wish that CGC would have more locations open. Maybe reading your post will put them on notice that they might consider opening another facility. Keep on posting here because this site is a wealth of information to others.

Jeffrey March 16, 2022 - 8:48 pm

Aaaahhh….I noticed comments mentioning Newton rings have been deleted……..why?

Joseph Overaitis March 16, 2022 - 10:21 pm


I never heard of newton rings nor have i had anyone mention them in the boards. Nothing deleted as I like to illicit as many comments as possible.

Jeffrey March 17, 2022 - 10:06 pm

Joseph! You’ve seriously never heard of Newton rings?? I haven’t been collecting for long but already have 2 CGC books out of 8 with them. It’s a big quality problem with CGC. Irregadless, my point was to ask CGC president about any fixes in the future for Newton rings.

Joseph Overaitis March 18, 2022 - 8:46 am


Newton rings was new to me. I am more familiar with paper issues and defects. I value your comments though because these boards educate people on the expertise of some. I do know that people from CGC are probably reading this column so we may get a comment on it. I wonder if Newton Rings are becoming more common now than before. I just purchased some non comic items that I have bought for years with no issues and now they have a bunch of defects. I wonder if this is now more prevalent now too.

Mel March 16, 2022 - 9:09 pm

Valuable information! Thanks for sharing.

Joseph Overaitis March 16, 2022 - 10:22 pm


Thank you and welcome to the boards. These boards are a great source of future topics so keep on posting and I will keep on writing.

nicholas Dalessandro March 17, 2022 - 6:36 am

also, there are 3 key reasons to slab, imo
condition, so key to set your copy apart from maybe thousands out there
preservation, I want my investment to last
and presentation, it is impossible to show off a comic book that has not been slabbed without risking degradation.


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