This seems to be an age-old question in our comic book community. Which is better to buy: raw comics or slabbed?
After reading the Blogger Dome blog covering this same topic, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and write a follow-up piece.
Now, raw comics are the entire essence of what owning a comic is about; simply being able to read and enjoy the story and art over time in your collection. For many years this was the only choice for collectors. They grazed on Overstreet Guide criteria, enjoyed absolute control over the grade on their books, and life was good.
The old saying, “All good things come to an end” was never more true than at the turn of the Millennium for comic book enthusiasts. That is when the devil of speculation crept into this comic book Garden of Eden. He hit Adam over the head and made off with Eve like Conan sacking Stygia. Paradise would never be the same again, and the battle was joined CGC slabbed books versus raw comics as collectibles.
CGC is Born…
It began as a tiny spec of standardization, a churning of greed and entrepreneurial spirit escaping the Numismatic world and exploding onto the comic book continuum with the creation of CGC Comics. CGC was created in Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ on January 4, 2000. To describe CGC I will simply quote their own words from Wiki:
“Certified Guaranty Company, also known as CGC, is a Sarasota, Florida comic book grading service. CGC is an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group of companies. It is the first independent and impartial third-party grading service for comic books.”
Two Forces Collide
Two sides to a seemingly unrelenting struggle between collectors and speculators with investors thrown right in the middle. Much like the American electorate, both extremes snap at each other and completely miss the whole point in a battle for dominance.
The point of CGC Comics and the strongest argument to be made for CGC, CBCS, PGX, and any other graders, is that they bring consistency and stability to the prices. Further, they allow many people to be comfortable investing and collecting comics that would otherwise never spend that kind of money. This creates an “all boats are rising” situation where everyone benefits from higher prices for existing comics.
Slabbed Books’ Contribution to the Market
The argument that raw is better than slabbed or graded books is like asking you to choose which arm you would rather lose, your right or your left? Raw comics are very prized by collectors. It is a touchy subject for some, as they love to enjoy their comics. To not be able to touch them seems sacrilegious.
On the speculation and investment side, to not have slabbed books would severely limit the amount of speculation and, quite honestly, the upper limits of price. The argument is truly moot because you need both groups to have the current market we have in comics. The market would not be as vibrant or have expanded as much as it has without CGC and all the other grading companies previously mentioned.
- Consistency of Grades-Slabbed comics provide a consistency in grading and price that did not exist prior to slabs being invented.
- Value- The price of slabbed comics is substantially higher for most books, creating more value for the owner.
- Protection- The CGC, PGX, and CBCS cases provide great protection for a book. You can drop it and it probably won’t hurt the comic.
- Expanded Market- Slabs broaden the market by 100,000’s buyers and sellers. This, in turn, allows the turnover of comics easily and prices to continue to rise as demand is protected as long as comics are seen as a safe bet.
- Display- Quite simply the books display as professional works of art, not just a comic book.
- Filthy- The sad truth about comics is they are filthy. They are pulled from dollar bins, wall books, and comics bins. That public access makes them filthy. Think of the 100s of people that grabbed that comic. Even though many are bagged and boarded, the chance for bacteria and just general unwashed hand filth is high. Remember, many of the older comics from the 80s and 90s have the old bags, not an inert material.
- Digital Comics- These new-fangled ephemera are digital and hence you can’t damage them. It is the way of the future. All the more reason to buy comics now as collectibles. Why read raw when you can have digital?
- Less Valuable- I have a chart below that compares two Modern Age and two Bronze Age raw comics vs. their slabs. The results speak for themselves, slabbed comics add value.
- Zero Protection- You drop it, you bought it. Many retailers have told me of cringing while a potential buyer mauls their comics while shopping. This is not an issue with CGC.
- The Preservation-CGC slabbed the book? They are protecting that book and guarantee the grade for up to 30 years. They also have a UV coating on the inside of the casing. Some slabs occasionally develop a Newton ring (the casing the comic is in gets static charged and creates iridescent, almost oily on the membrane, and can be visually unappealing).
|The New Mutants #98||9.6||$649||$228||+20%|
Well, Wolverine #1 in a slabbed format 9.8 grade goes for over nine times the amount of its raw counterpart. Financially, slabs win hands down. Personally, I love them both. Comics are meant to be fun; it is apples and oranges. But I think we can agree on slabs and the grading offered is value-added. Essentially, it is more than the sum of its parts and great for the comic market as a whole.
There are plenty of reasons to compare and contrast slabs versus raw comics. I think the best reason to compare is to understand the comic book market as a whole. It is fun to compare. Who is stronger, the Hulk or Superman? Who is a better fighter, Captain America or Batman? (Everyone knows Cap would slaughter him in a fight!) You get the idea, but honestly, life is more sophisticated than that. The thing I love about comics is it is large enough to include everyone on the planet in our comic book Eden. Still, they’re nuanced enough to be loads of fun for collectors, investors, and slab speculators.
There is SO much more to see! Take a peek at GoCollect’s YouTube channel today!