CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

by Joseph Overaitis

040522B-1024x536 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!I saved the best for last in my interview with CGC President Matt Nelson.  Comic Books to invest in for the future.  Books that you should be careful buying raw. Why you should pay attention to the CGC census. The CGC grading scales. We’ve got all that and some possible future product plans for CGC.   This interview is full of gold nuggets of wisdom and will make you a better comic book investor and collector. There is so much information that I do not want to waste any more time…

I. Mistakes People Make Submitting to CGC

There was one major question I wanted to ask Matt Nelson. I knew I would get one answer; that was a given.  The other answer surprised me, but then I realized I, too, had encountered this in buying.  While I did not mind, I never thought about how it could impact a retailer. SHIP_KIT_email-2-120200205171003325-300x202 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

“I would probably say that correct evaluation of the books is number one. …But also packing and shipping. There’s such a thing as underpacking for the books to get damaged, but there’s also a such thing as over-packing… They may come bombproof (and that) actually slows down the process of opening the packages. We have shipping kits that we sell, and those are perfect for shipping.”

II.  Best Methods of Shipping

There are so many methods to choose from; I had to ask.

“…If you’re shipping a lot of books… typically UPS  I think works better for shipping. Whereas, with a very high-end book, you may want to go like the FedEx route, which is quicker (and) more secure. Obviously, it’s going to cost more money, but that’s worth investing.”

III.  Risk of Loss

Many people do not understand risk of loss. If an item of value is damaged, you want to know who will ultimately be responsible for that damage.  I always recommend you have insurance on your books, but many do not purchase separate insurance policies.  Matt mentioned that you should have your books covered.  Thus, this question is very important.  Matt gave us some insight on this topic as it related to CGC. 81183a749d004f7fe484d38c34ed67be-e1649683134774-231x300 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

“So, obviously, until the package arrives here – that risk is on the the the carrier so FedEx, (USPS), UPS. For that reason, you should always be fully insured for the contents.  Once the package gets here, assuming it arrives here safely, responsibility is on us. While the books are here with us on our premises, it’s our responsibility.”

The proper evaluation is important if an item is damaged.  If you find out who is responsible for the risk, the next step is to find out what will be covered.  This is very important and Matt again elaborated on why in his response.

“More often we get people who are undervaluing that their book simply because they’re trying to get books through at a cheaper rate …Obviously the problem with that (is) that if you overvalue books you’re paying a higher fee (and if) you’re undervaluing your books, if something happens to them we’re only going to pay out the amount that the value that’s listed on the form. So if you send us a $1,000 book and put it for 50 bucks on the form and something happens, you’re only going to get 50 bucks.”

A low declared value will also impact what is paid out if the items are damaged by the mail carrier.  The post office may investigate if you declare for shipping that the items are worth $50 and yet you fill out on the forms the items are worth $50,000.00 or vice versa.

IV.  Buyer’s Beware

I asked Matt Nelson about what books you may want to avoid buying not-graded.  He focused on high-end books because most higher-end books have already been graded.  His advice was insightful because there may be a reason the book was not graded to increase the raw value. 2019.02.04-Comics-Things-to-Avoid-During-Restoration-Adhesive-tape-stained-page-from-a-Kuifje-first-edition-1946-300x201 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

“Now, if you go to a convention, and you’re buying from dealers, then you have to realize that you’re buying from somebody who you have to assume most of the time knows more about it than you do, and so you have to ask yourself; ‘why is this book not already graded?’ because a lot of dealers obviously use us.

Normally there’s a good reason… I mean maybe there’s a flaw in the book, or maybe it’s restored, or maybe it’s missing a page or something. And these are all things that the dealer should disclose…”

Matt went on to explain how you can find great raw books still out there and the motivation behind retailers who may not have had them graded.

“On occasion …they’re their dealers who just choose not to use CGC or only use them for their top top books. There are a lot of situations, particularly with modern books, where you’ll go into a dealer’s booth and go through his boxes and you’ll find all kinds of gems in there that he just doesn’t want to mess with he doesn’t feel like paying the fees for – you can find a lot of great stuff in their boxes… The one thing to watch out for is when you start getting into really pricey books, and I’m talking like $1000, but certainly like $5000 or $10,000.” 91-mDfgf50L-225x300 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

This should make it so the higher the price of the non-graded book, the higher inspection the buyer should place on the book. Yes, you can find a copy of Incredible Hulk #181 ungraded for $8,000.00, but you should review it to make sure the book is complete and unrestored to the best of your ability. Either that or buy from a dealer you know and maybe pay more for that trust factor.

V. Recommendation to First Time Submitters

This question was asked to assist first-time graders but it should apply to all people who send in their books to be graded.  The revelation Matt Nelson gave about his personal experiences drove this message home.

“…We all make mistakes submitting when we first start…When I first started, I got some clunkers here and there. I would start off with a smaller batch, a test batch, so to speak, maybe even have a more valuable book so you know your risk is lower (and) you’re not submitting something that’s on the cusp of not being worth a submission fee and just see how the grades come back. You know, test yourself and then, as you feel more comfortable with the submission process and the grading, then you can start to work your way back to the other books in your collection that have less value and there’s more risk if you off on the grade. You can also use the screen/pre-screen services. “

VI.  Census

I asked Matt Nelson about if I should look to grade books based on low CGC census numbers.  I always study these numbers when comparing sales on the GoCollect site.  These numbers are one of the most important numbers that GoCollect provides. He mentioned a Heritage Auction and a run of Amazing Spider-Man issues. Screenshot-2022-04-11-093823-228x300 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

“…You can see the proof of the power of the census was there in that… the issues that had low population reports and high-grade copies were fetching huge multiples. I mean, five to ten times more than the surrounding issues that had a normal population of 9.8 across the board in that title. This only continues as time goes on.

As we get more and more of this stuff graded, the census is going to become more and more accurate as to what actually exists out there; that’s going to be a huge driver down the road. So two things to look out for,  yeah it’s basically like the future of the interest of comics in general based on movies and such, but also the population. Those are probably the two biggest factors beyond grading when it comes to what you’re getting today for future investment.

One of the biggest things I have learned in my years of studying the comic book market is that people tend to only focus on extrinsic factors, such as movies and the FMV of a book.  Hardly anyone ever studies the census numbers.  Books that are in demand may be ultimately harmed by high census numbers, while books that have low census numbers may be exploited UNTIL the full picture of the population becomes apparent.

VII. Grading Scales

I asked Matt Nelson if he would ever release more in-depth notes on the grading scales so people know what defects impact the comic book grades. This would take some of the mystery out of the grading process for the consumer. cgc-insider-readers-crease-spider-man-300x169 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

“So internally, we have extensive grading standards…There’s over 100 defects that we have mapped out in our grading guide that’s available to the graders. For every single defect, there’s a description, there are pictures, and there are degrees that are defective next to the blog. So, for instance, an easy one is creases.

We have our standard for creases. If it’s a 1/16 inch crease, its maximum ‘this grade’; a 1/8 inch crease, or 1/4, or one half, one inch, or two-inch, or five, and so on and so forth. So, we have all the degrees of the defect in the subsequent grade or maximum grade they can receive with a defect mapped out for all the defects. Also restoration, page quality, all these other things, qualifiers. So our plan, in the future, hopefully the near future, we plan on actually publishing a version of our standards for the public which will help exactly the situation we’re talking about.”

I believe a release of the grading scale would install CGC as the new Overstreet in the comic book lexicon when it comes to grading.  Most third party graders keep that information close to the vest, but fortune favors the bold.  I hope one day some company will release an in depth grading guide.  Their consumers would buy those books more than a variant first issue.

VIII.  Future Product Reveal?

I took the question one step further when it came to CGC educating the public on grading. I asked Matt Nelson about the possibility of future grading seminars for comic book fans being held. comic1-300x160 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

“Things have gotten so crazy over the past couple of years and obviously we need to get on top of our turnaround times right now, but once we clear through this, obviously there’s gonna be a need for graders in the future and the need to educate the public. It would be ideal to set up something besides the published standard – Go a step further than that and actually hold grading seminars, that’s certainly something we’d love to do in the future.”

This was a possible game-breaking revelation to this journalist.  I could only imagine all the people who would be willing to pay to attend a seminar on how to grade like CGC.  You would not be a CGC grader, but it would assist you in what to look for when buying a book.  Again, no two graders would ever see a book the same way, but it would provide general education on what to look for when buying raw books.

Interviewer’s Comments

I want to thank Matt Nelson and the staff of CGC.  They all provided access that allowed us to peek behind the curtain.  This knowledge has taken some of the mystery out of grading.  The knowledge obtained will make the grading experiment that I set out to conduct a better one because of the insight provided.  I was amazed, though, at that possible game-changer of CGC seminars.

I believe that CGC releasing notes on their grading process could cement them as the kings of grading.  Years ago,  Overstreet grading was used by most hard-core hobbyists.  If CGC does release its grading guides, it will make them an iconic brand.  How many of the readers ask for a Kleenex or a Thermos instead of a tissue or insulated cup container?  Releasing the grading standards will achieve that brand identity. news-000009-2-300x169 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

Seminars teaching these standards would also provide a new source of revenue for the company.  I know I would pay to attend. I believe the industry would adopt their grading scales because of the universal usage it would have in the hobby; consumers would start to identify them even more for their comic book grading brand.

Furthermore, the release of this information would not impact the grading division.  Attorneys interpret facts of a case using the same law books and established case law, but we still see things differently.  That is the reason cases go to court to have an arbitrator render a final, unbiased decision. CGC grading would still be the judge of the grade of the comic book for buyers and sellers.  Nothing would change.  People would still send in books to have them graded.

You may think the book is a 9.8 and the buyer might see an 8.5 because price is involved, but a CGC grader could still see it as a 9.4 or 9.2. This happens in the courts all the time.  The benefit, though, would be that you would save money on buying raw books because you have knowledge of where the books should fall. Sellers would also benefit because raw books tend to not sell as much when compared to graded books.

Conclusionimages-4-300x166 CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!

I hope CGC one day makes their grading scales available in print and taught at comic book conventions.  The knowledge would be worth the price of admission. I wonder what our readers think.  Please let us know in the comment section.  The industry is listening, so let your voices be heard if you want a comic book grading guide, CGC courses, and other facts brought out in this interview.

If CGC sees a demand for a published grading guide or classes, they may look to meet that demand, but you have to let your voices be heard.  The readers asked for more in-depth coverage of the industry in our comment section and this article series is the result so let us know what you think. Your words have power, so let’s hear from you!

PS
The comic book grading experiment will continue in upcoming articles!!!

Huge thanks to Matt Nelson for sitting down with us! Want more content like this? Let us know in the comments!

000052721D-1-Footer CGC President Matt Nelson: Hot Comics, Grading, & Possible NEW CGC Items!*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice from GoCollect.
*This blog is not sponsored nor requested by CGC.

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22 comments

steven centonzo April 12, 2022 - 8:43 am

If you don’t decrease turn around time, you will be killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 9:27 am

Steven

They will have to increase production times. That is a problem with multiple industries. I hope people that read the article stop though overpacking their books. I never realized that could increase delays until I saw how long a person took to unpack their books they bought from a vendor. They were happy so protected but the facebook video took forever to open LOL.

PS Steven would you want them to release their grading scale notes in book format or classes. I would love to have that book in my hands like I used to keep the overstreet price guide and comic grading books.

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steve April 12, 2022 - 12:38 pm

I have a GS X-men 1, an FF 6, an FF 12 and an FF48 in process for what will be, based upon updated estimates, 44 weeks. As a comic book collector for life, its the same as not knowing when your children will return home. I cannot be the only person with this problem. Should it make me more or less willing to send out more books?

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 2:58 pm

Steve

I think you should keep sending even if delays. You said you are a collector so price fluctuation is probably not a concern. Speculators may have to factor that in in the event that they are trying to make a profit. I am going to tackle handing in books with my grading experiment. We will see how that goes shortly

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Joshua Wyatt April 12, 2022 - 11:32 am

Agreed, it would be very beneficial to have more clear examples of how each of those ~50 defects can decrease grades depending on magnitude etc. I have been collecting for 24 years but would still pay to go to a seminar (depending on the price…or a Youtube video at least haha) as there are probably many defects we tend to overlook or are unsure of its numerical effect on grade. Great article!

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 11:36 am

Joshua

Welcome to the boards and thanx for your post. I would also love to attend that seminar and would pay for it. They could have it at comic cons throughout the country. I would also pay for their book on grading. When I heard Matt talk about it I thought it would attract the newbies to the vets and fill a need that currently is unmet. I am glad that a vet of the hobby like you saw it like me..

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Tony Niedospial April 12, 2022 - 1:37 pm

A question I have is how books that are barely at the local comic store being graded and sold so quickly? All I have read is that lead times for graded books are many months and you can pay for an expedited service, but how much can you make on a $50 sale of a new book with shipping, the expedited fee and so on? Anyone have an explanation? Just curious.

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 2:35 pm

Tony

welcome to the boards and I hope you keep posting. Variants and other “hot” books are hyped to point that they will be in demand the very moment they hit the shelf. Speculators are betting demand will extend beyond their costs. Sometimes they win but other times they lose. Its a gamble and you hope you are on the good side, but image you are waiting for the book to come back from graders and back issue plummets.. LOL that is why it is a risk.. Hope that answers your question.

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Tony Niedospial April 12, 2022 - 2:53 pm

I guess what I don’t quite get is how these new books get graded so fast. The standard fee is $80 for 36 days and $130 for 22 days. Add in the cost of the book and shipping charges and these newer books have to sell for over $100+ to be worth it. I don’t see many books that are a month old selling for over the cost of the grading and shipping costs. It just seems like someone has an advantage to be the first on the block with these newer books to sell at $50 – $70 and make money, or am I missing something?

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 2:59 pm

Not missing anything. Sometimes though it pays to be first

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Daniel April 12, 2022 - 5:56 pm

For a business to state that turn around times are 150-180 day is beyond comprehension. The fact that they also raised the price for submissions recently and the turnaround times have not gotten any better is ridiculous. With that said ” In house private signings” are happening at least twice a week on some instances and from what i gather those books take priority when it comes to pressing/grading. Further delaying the process for regular submission, talk about a CASH cow for a premium price paid….

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 6:45 pm

Daniel

Welcome to the boards. The only thing I can see is if there is a market for those signings people will do them. IF there is a market people will fill them. I hope that maybe if CGC reads these posts they will try to rectify the problem. IF not who knows…Customer service is important. CGC is the leader of the industry, but many companies like Sears, Myspace, and others once said that as well.

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Mike April 12, 2022 - 7:02 pm

I’m a former show dealer and now an exclusively online dealer (thanks COVID). A word on Matt’s perception about dealer’s using CGC. I sell CGC books when I buy or trade for them from collectors, but I’ve only submitted to CGC once myself. I like turning books around and I enjoy selling a wide range of books. While there is profit to be made through submission, a lot of dealers like working with raw books because our customers like albumins raw books. Case it point: I bought and sold a cover less FF#1 a few months ago. The entire timeframe was 2 months from purchase to resell. If I had gotten it graded, I might have cleared $500 more, but I would have added 4+ months to the process. I got to move an awesome book and make a customer very happy, all without CGC. One final note: while there are shady dealers out there, most dealers of the shadiness comes from casual collectors who try to sell some books. Professional dealers rarely engage in shenanigans—even with raw books worth more than 1K—because they are, on the whole, as trustworthy and experienced as CGC.

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Joseph Overaitis April 12, 2022 - 8:15 pm

Mike

Welcome to the boards. I have always said that third party graders are like umpires calling balls and strikes. you can have a dad on each team call them but there strike zone may be a little bigger. I have always believed an 8.0 is an 8.0 no matter who graded it. The problem comes in trust. Mediators and judges sometimes need to be brought in when the two parties do not see things the same.

Finally Mike I would like to think that dealers are honorable and not untrustworthy, but then my other job comes into play. As an attorney I have heard of disreputable dealers. I have witnessed dealers making bad deals for estates or undervaluing books based upon condition and it is always funny when they tell me I only know the law…lol not comic books LOL. When they do find out their answers change and they start to regrade those books a little bit more honestly. I like to think all attorneys are like me in that they are honest and do not over charge their clients, but ahhhh just like comic book dealers there are some bad ones. CGC has a place in the hobby and this grading experiment series of articles is meant to take the mystery out of the process.

I do have a question for you though. Would you love to have a copy of their grading scales guide as well as attend a seminar on the topic. I would love it only because it would present me some insight whereas the only real guide universally thought of is the Overstreet guide on grading.

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Ken Davis April 12, 2022 - 8:18 pm

I have been told if your comic book isn’t worth at least $500 FMV grading it is most likely a waste of your time and money to send it in.

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Joseph Overaitis April 13, 2022 - 7:49 am

Ken

I do not think that is so. 1st slabbing is putting your book in a time capsule so unless you expose it to sunlight or water you are good there. Next if the book shoots up in price you had it graded at a cheaper cost sometimes. Next if the book is a speculative pick and it pops you have it already graded and do not have to pay for expedited fees to bring it to market. There are many reasons that people grade books including just looking good on your wall. You have to ask yourself why you are grading it and then look at the price. Look at ebay and see all the books that are on there at less than $500. There has to be a reason those books were graded LOL. Great post though because that is something I heard too and it always made me scratch my head and ask why LOL

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Justin April 12, 2022 - 11:10 pm

More transparency with the grading would be nice. Like when does a crease on a cover become more then one defect? If a cover has seven spine ticks is that seven defects, or is it clumped together as one defect? Or, why did a book get a 9.6 vs. a 9.8? That being said I would pay for a class that taught grading. Also, the turnaround times need some improvement still. I know CGC has heard this alot in the past year or so, but what plans are in place to improve those turnarounds? Financial backing from a larger corporation, and the hiring of more employees doesn’t seem to have solved the issue. Thank you.

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Joseph Overaitis April 13, 2022 - 7:45 am

Justin

Welcome to the boards. I agree with you that transparency would be a major factor for me attending classes or even buying a book from the CGC. It would also help with brand identity in that the grading scale would belong to them because of it being known industry wide. I still think CGC is experiencing a problem with hiring because you can see ads posted for employment. I think CGC being the industry leader for grading comes with a problem in that you have to hire good people. If you hire anyone the grading will suffer and thus the reputation too as well. I think instead of a corporate infusion of cash the better solution would be a new grading facility some where else. Finding people in one geographic area might be a problem but if you could get a grader at another facility in the Midwest or East the candidates could open up. Sometimes you cant go to a job so the job has to come to you. Great post though so keep them coming. Many fans think like you so your post is valuable to the community by discussing issues that we all face.

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Bryan April 13, 2022 - 11:36 am

While I have very much enjoyed reading your articles in this series, I wholeheartedly disagree with the FedEx shipping recommendation, especially as a more secure option. I’ve had more packages “lost”, delivered damaged, or even worse: Delivered Empty (clearly opened and taped back up) from FedEx than all other shippers combined. Save yourself the grief: Do Not Use FedEx.

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Joseph Overaitis April 13, 2022 - 12:40 pm

Bryan

I really enjoy posts by readers like you. Your comments are important because it gives us an insight into things that we may not know. Your experiences with FedEx shares your experiences with the rest of us and gives us more information to further consider. Personal experiences help us all and now I will have to inspect my FedEx packages a lot closer LOL.

I am curious, was the problem going out to the party you mailed it to or with incoming? I had a problem with the USPS and found out one time the carrier was stealing stuff and selling on eBay. I also had good experience with one UPS store with outgoing mail but I went to another and it was delayed and also damaged. Tried them again and same problem. I wish CGC could take the books at the comic con and then ship them back to their operations center. Cut out the middleman for pick ups at least.

Keep on posting. OUR SITE IS BETTER BECAUSE OF READERS LIKE YOU SHARING YOUR WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE!!!

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Bryan April 16, 2022 - 4:21 pm

Sry for the late reply… My problem has generally been with incoming deliveries. The last straw was the package that came empty… it had clearly been opened, rooted through and simply taped back up with a different type of tape. They even had the nerve to take a picture and say it was delivered.

Curious: Do you know if CGC uses FedEx to ship packages back? Do we have the option to choose UPS? I no longer deal with any companies that ship only with FedEx. I simply no longer trust their drivers to deliver a pencil.

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Joseph Overaitis April 17, 2022 - 8:54 am

I do not know if they offer different shippers but had the same problem with the USPS. Worker was selling items on their eBay store. Had to submit claim and the company that shipped items had to request investigation. I guess that is why so many people video their boxes being opened. It seems as a perfect way to document your shipment as evidence.

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