The Riddle of Raw vs. Slabbed Comics

by Norman Robinson III

riddlerbat_4BuUn2C_9lCDqqE-300x169 The Riddle of Raw vs. Slabbed ComicsEvery fan loves raw comics; you can continue to enjoy the story long after it has hit the racks and passed into comic history. Unfortunately, slabbed and graded comics do not offer this tactile feeling and nostalgia. The only thing they offer is cover appeal and appreciation. With some comics that is enough, especially for artists like Clayton Crain who creates “fantabulous” artist covers, an entire story on just one page.

For most collectors, the need to slab and grade everything seems irrational, but is it? Perhaps the slabbed books have greater value. I think we can agree they are more limited in use than their raw comic brethren. A true fan would rather be able to read his or her books than just stare at the cover. Is there a difference between slabbed comics and raw comic books in pricing? Which is more profitable? This is the mystery of the “riddle of the raw comic” book vs. the slab that we must solve.

 

 

 

bats-171-201x300 The Riddle of Raw vs. Slabbed ComicsBatman #171

Since we are trying to figure out the “riddle of raw comics;” who better to solve a mystery case than “Batman?” Therefore, we will use an oldie, the first Silver Age appearance of The Riddler. Also, this is fitting in that the Riddler is the new villain about to be on display in the upcoming Robert (I glow in the dark) Pattinson-Batman movie. Given the fact Chris Nolan’s three epic saga Batman the Dark Knight series is untouchable at this point; buckle up your Bat-belts friends, the ride could get wild, and ugly. Also, don’t forget your infrared Bat-goggles, cause it is going to be dark.

Batman #171 was written by the team of Jack Schiff and Gardner Fox. Further, they were ably assisted by Carmin Infantino, Bernard Baily, and Sheldon Moldoff in April 1965. The iconic nature of this Batman comic and its coming villain appearance in the movie will make it a good source for the Silver Age question of “raw vs. slab?”

 

 

asm-300-196x300 The Riddle of Raw vs. Slabbed ComicsAmazing Spider-Man #300

The first full appearance of Venom, first issue inked by Todd McFarlane and anniversary issue was created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane in 1988. This makes Amazing Spider-Man #300 a bonified Modern Age comic book. Further, as I have only seen it in the top ten of popular books over the last several years, and in friends’ personal collections as part of their “retirement.” No kidding! I thought it would draw interest and be a good representative for the Modern Age and the question of “to slab or not to slab,…?”

 

 

 

These are YTD…

Top Silver Age (1956-1970)
Title Grade CGC (average of last three sales) Raw  Variance
Batman #171 8.5 $1,366 $448 ($918)
7.0 $1,132 $404 ($728)
6.0 $685 $227 ($458)
3.5 $370 $164 ($206)

 

Top Modern Age (1992-Present)
Title Grade CGC (average of last three sales) Raw Variance
Amazing Spider-Man #300 9.8 $2,716 $510 ($2206)
7.0 $281 $365 +$84
6.0 $286 $338 +$52
4.5 $205 $250 +45

*Note: Regarding the data above, I pulled from eBay sold listings and did the best I could to match grades. The GoCollect data is the last three grades sold averaged.

Conclusion:

Well, this little experiment paid off, it shows both the variance at the upper end and the premium paid for raw books which was kind of a shocker! Essentially the higher grades really hit the upper atmosphere of price with CGC slab and grade. The variance of pricing between slab vs. raw was as high as $918 for Batman #171 for CGC grade 8.5, a premium was paid for CGC comic.

 

eggy-bus-300x128 The Riddle of Raw vs. Slabbed ComicsFor the Modern Age, Amazing Spider-Man #300 had the same skewed results on the upper end at positive +$2206 variance in pricing for grade 9.8. However, and this is where the similarities end; the Silver Age book continued to show variance up and down the grading scale. But the Modern Age book showed a +29% premium paid for “raw copy books!” I know, not what I expected to find either.

 

 

eggy-and-team-300x139 The Riddle of Raw vs. Slabbed ComicsI believe the above anomaly was due to the potential value of a raw book to be CGC’d. That and this particular book is very popular. People buy it because they “have to have it!” The premium paid is regardless of grade except in the 9.8 range. This is good news for raw comic book speculators, sellers, investors, and collectors. Everyone should be able to appreciate this partially solved case, everyone wins raw and slab collectors alike.

“Like your American salad bar, a little something for everyone…” -Egg Shen (Big Trouble in Little China)

 

 

 

 

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4 comments

Steven Moore September 9, 2020 - 1:13 pm

Great column, by one quick minor correction. The first issue inked by Todd McFarlane is Hulk 340, which predates ASM 300 by three months. I’ve seen a few GoCollect articles say this about ASM 300, so I wanted to take a sec to set the record straight.

Reply
Dave Stevens September 9, 2020 - 5:49 pm

Since the word variance has a statistical meaning, I don’t know why you would confuse people and use it to mean arithmetic difference of different means.

Reply
Mark Levy September 10, 2020 - 12:39 pm

CGC confirms the grade so at highest grade that has tremendous value but at lower grade it has a lesser but opposite effect – confirms the low grade while a raw may have some potential to be higher in the eyes of the optimistic buyer

Reply
Dave wasser September 10, 2020 - 9:59 pm

I would say the difference is people feel the grade on a modern book like asm 300 benefits more from pressing. Especially at the low 9.0 /8.5 grades.

Reply

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