Slabs and Why They are Relevant in Comics Collecting

I've been collecting comics for twenty years now. I love the hobby and would go to the local comics store regularly picking up weekly/monthly issues from my pull list. As I progressed further in the hobby, I started to make more friends that started collecting “key” comic issues.
What we mean by the term “key” is that the issue is significantly important in that it might contain an event that can shock a storyline prompting collectors to collect those comics. Events such as Secret Wars, Civil War, The Infinity Gauntlet, Death of Superman and more recently the death of Wolverine are some examples. These are key events and collectors will scramble to get the best copies, variants and also aim for the best possible “condition” of the book available.

Key comic books also means that it is the first time a hero/villain/character has appeared in the publisher's books. Normally these books will be highly sought after especially if that character turns out to debut in his own series. Some really notable first appearances include Superman, Spider-Man and Batman. Collectors generally will go after these books and will also pay top dollar for a high grade issue which brings us to the problem in the hobby. How do we decide how good a “condition” the book is when we want to sell it to a fellow collector? Everyone will disagree on the grading on a book. Grading of a comic book comes in these terms. The grades come in a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest possible condition of the book available. This scale is taken from the Overstreet Guide to comic book grading.

Slabbed ComicsAs you can see from this grading guide, there are many grades afforded to the condition of the books that we love and when we want to trade/sell these books to another comic book fan, it is important that we can come to an agreement on what our books are actually worth because let's face it, if you were to grade your own books, no matter how impartial you are and as fair as you try to be, you would still give a favourable grade to your own books and we would most often end up having disputes due to the buyer insisting your book is a lower grade. A 4.0 graded book can be seen as a 3.5 by a prospective buyer. This is where grading companies come in and solve this problem. They will grade your book for a fee and then put that valued book into an encapsulated, state-of-the art, tamper-evident holder, providing superior protection and stability for long term preservation. These third party grading companies will grade your book so that there will not be disputes between a buyer and seller as to the grade of the book. Another key reason for going to them would also be because old golden age/silver age books has a chance to be restored by a professional restorer of comic books, you would have no idea a book has been restored.
A lot of fellow collectors I speak to agree on this one thing. We would hate to know that our treasured book has been modified and restored while thinking that book is an original. Comic book grading companies would ensure that books that have been restored have a different coloured label to make sure that collectors know that book has been restored. As a key comic collector that spends thousands every month on comics, this is especially important to me because I would not want to spend top dollar and end up having disputes with my regular sellers resulting in poor relationships with my dealers most of which are in the United States.

slabbed comicsThe holders these comics are placed in look great and also makes for great displaying purposes from a glass cabinet to showcase your collection. You also would not be worried your friends would touch your comic and damage it because it is already in a plastic holder which is definitely harder and better protected than just the standard poly bag and backing board method of storing your comics. Unfortunately, once a book is encapsulated, you can no longer read it which is why I normally buy a readable comic book in a poorer condition to be able to continue reading it. This way, you would not have to miss out on reading the book that you encapsulated. You can also opt to purchase a digital version of the story online from the comic book publisher. These are now widely available for a small fee. Comic books first and foremost are still meant to be read so for unimportant is-sues (those that do not contain first appearances), I do not purchase or send these books for grading as I enjoy reading my books. I hope this article helps people understand why there is a need for slabbing and grading comic books and I hope it clarifies a lot of misunderstanding about slabbing and also comic book grading (which is why I provided a grading scale guide in this article).

There are currently a few com-panies doing comic book grading. The three most notable companies would be CGC (Certified Guaranty Company), PGX and CBCS (Comic book certification service).

To conclude, slabbing provides a piece of mind to a trader and fellow collector that he is getting his prized book at the grade he wants and it eliminates the need to have disputes which can turn ugly sometimes. Happy collecting!