25th Oct2018

eBuying Comics: Week 5

by Ian Wells


As this is my fifth post milestone I thought it would be a good time to do a glossary of words and phrases that I have already used and will be using more going forward when talking about buying and selling comics. The list of words and phrases will cover a variety of topics ranging from general industry words, to words focused on a comics condition. The idea behind the list is to assist when reading my future posts like I said but also to provide people who buy comics on eBay like myself with the knowledge to understand how sellers are describing their listings and to better describe their own listings.

First off from this day forth you may if you choose to stop referring to yourself as a comic collector or ‘comic nerd’ we all are Pannapictagraphists. Isn’ that a fantastic word? So fantastic and underused it was recognised by spell checker. You know I think I may change all my social media profiles where it says comic collector to Pannapictagraphist.


  • Golden Age: Comics published between 1939-1945.
  • Atom Age: Comics published between 1946-1956.
  • Silver Age: Comics published between 1957-1970.
  • Bronze Age: Comics published between 1971-1984.
  • Copper Age: Comics published between 1985-1992.
  • Modern Age: Comics published from 1992 to now. (Surely at some point we will need a new age)?
  • Pre-Code: Comics published before the Comics Code Authority (CCA) began governing comics content.
  • Post-Code: Comics published after CCA began governing comics content.
  • Pre-Hero DC/Marvel: A term used to describe comics published before a certain issue. In DC’s case it is Action Comics #1. For Marvel it is varies from title to title. Mainly affecting their anthology series. Example Tales of Suspense #1-38 (pre Iron Man) is considered pre-hero. The term is regarded however as being in accurate as both publishers told super hero stories before these issues.

Industry Terms:

  • Backing Board: A piece of cardboard used to protect a comic in storage. Boards a acid free and available to protect covers from all ages.
  • Bagged And Boarded: A single issue that comes in a protective bag with a backer board to prevent bending.
  • Comic Bag: A protective sleeve for a comic, like boards they come in sizes for all ages. Polyethylene is the most common material for these bags. A Mylar bag is a more sturdy alternative.
  • Certified Grading: A comic that as undergone a series of procedures to determine a certain grade.
  • Certified Guaranty Company (CGC): The market leader in comic grading.
  • Comics Code Authority (CCA): A committee created to develop a set of guidelines outlining suitable content for comics in 1955. Today most publisher use an in house set of guidelines and reader rating system.
  • Complete Run: All issues if a given title.
  • Direct Edition: A comic that after printing went straight to a specialty store. For Marvel comics this are identifiable by having a Spider-Man picture where the barcode should be.
  • Floppies: A slang term for single issues. Personally I hadn’t heard this one myself till a few months back!
  • Hardcover: A hard bound book collecting a specific amount of single issues (Floppies), usually one story arc of 3-6 issues.
  • Key Issue: An issue of a comic that has historically/artistically important feature making it desirable to collectors. For example Incredible Hulk #181 the first full appearance of Wolverine.
  • Newsstand Edition: A comic sent to newsstands, grocery stores, ect for general sale. Identifiable by a barcode on the front cover.
  • Pressing: A series of procedures used both by professionals and amateurs to eliminate wrinkles, bends and dimples in a comic to improve its appearance. Pressing can be seen as controversial as it is seen as a way to cheat grading processes. Others argue a ‘pressed’ comic is easy to spot and will therefore get the correct grade.
  • Rare: A comic with 10-20 copies estimated to exist.
  • Set: Another term for Complete Run or a specific grouping of comics for sale.
  • Slab: The slang term for the plastic enclosure a certified graded comic is placed in.
  • Slabbing: The slang term for the process of encasing a graded comic in a plastic enclosure.
  • Trade Paperback (TPB): A soft bound book collecting a specific amount of single issues (Floppies), usually one story arc of 3-6 issues.
  • Variant Cover: A different cover used on the same issue of a comic.
  • Very Rare: A comic with 1-10 copies estimated to exist.


  • Brittleness: A severe condition of paper deterioration. Chips and flakes easily.
  • Browning: The aging/darkening of paper caused by increasing oxidations.
  • Crease: A fold in a page/cover usually resulting in ink removal.
  • Defect: Any flaw that detracts from the overall appearance of a comic.
  • Dust Shadow: Usually a result of comics stored in stacks. One comic when protruding from the stack will attract dust and give a darker appearance to the cover.
  • Eye Appeal: A term used to describe the overall appearance of a comic in relation to condition.
  • Foxing: The term for orange/brown marks caused by mould. Can apply to covers and interior pages.
  • Marvel Chipping: A binding defect resulting in chips and tears at top, bottom and right edges of the cover. Dubbed Marvel Chipping as it is often found on Marvel comics of the 50’s/60’s.
  • Manufacturing/Printing Defect: A defect caused in the printing process. Applies to flaws like wrinkling, miscut pages, misfolded spine, misbound pages/cover.
  • Reading Crease: A book length crease located on the front cover by the staples. Caused by bending the cover over the spine.
  • Rolled Spine (Spine Roll): A condition where the left edge of a comic curves towards the front of back. Caused by folding back pages when reading.
  • Stress Lines: Tiny to large bends along the spine caused by mishandling of a comic. May or may not result in ink removal.
  • Sun Shadow: The result of a comic having prolonged exposure to light. Regarded as a series defect.


If like me your first exposure to price guides and grades was in the back of Wizard magazine you will have gone through your comic collecting years using terms like Near Mint, VFG and the like, which is referred to as the basic grading scale. Nowadays a number based system is more widely used known as the ten point grading scale. I first became aware of the number system via CGC. Below is the CGC grading tiers along side the equivalents and descriptions you may be more familiar with. Below is the run down of the Ten Scale System. In bold are the words most commonly associated with the basic scale and there definitions.

Ten Scale Grading Scale:

  • 0.5 – Poor – Numerous major defects meaning the comic has no collector value. Comics of this grade suffer from extreme brittleness, missing pages and up to 1/3 or more of the cover missing. Stains and possible moulding as well as defacing from external forces like pen
  • 1.0 – Fair – A comic considered to be well worn and tattered. A comic at this grade will suffer from heavy creasing and pages folded. The spine and cover may be split and staples missing. Overall condition affects how readable cover/pages are.
  • 1.5 – Fair/Good
  • 1.8 – Good Minus
  • 2.0 – Good – A comic that is readable but still carriers multiple defects. Interior pages are not in good condition. Brown/yellow pages. Comic is complete but with major creases and spine roll.
  • 2.5 – Good Plus
  • 3.0 – Good/Very Good
  • 3.5 – Very Good Minus
  • 4.0 – Very Good –  A term for a well read but still desirable comic. All the same defects apply for this grade as a Good grade. Which makes you wonder why are there 5 grades to cover it?
  • 4.5 – Very Good Plus
  • 5.0 – Very Good/Fine
  • 5.5 – Fine Minus
  • 6.0 – Fine – A well read comic but still highly desirable. A comic at this grade will have stress around the staples and creasing from continuous opening and closing. Pages are off white to yellow in appearance but should have no brittleness. Small tears and folds are accepted at this grade.
  • 6.5 – Fine Plus
  • 7.0 – Fine/Very Fine
  • 7.5 – Very Fine Minus
  • 8.0 – Very Fine – A comic which has been read a few times but handled with care. Interior pages are white to off white. Creamy at worst. Very few stress marks on the spine and small fold/crease in the cover are allowed. No major defects to the cover.
  • 8.5 – Very Fine Plus
  • 9.0 – Very Fine/ Near Mint
  • 9.2 – Near Mint Minus
  • 9.4 – Near Mint – Vibrant and clean, white to off white pages. Absolutely no brittleness, pages must be supple. Stress lines on the spine must be no bigger than 1/4 inch. The cover most still be glossy with no major defects.
  • 9.6 – Near Mint Plus
  • 9.8 – Near Mint/Mint
  • 9.9 – Mint
  • 10.0 – Gem Mint


I began this column talking up my sales prowess as I off loaded a New Mutants #98 for over £100. In the four previous weeks I have yet to sell a single item! So as this is the fifth blog milestone I have decided I am going to relist the majority of items previously listed but reduce the price by half. The postage will also be reduced too. Going forward all items unsold between every fifth post will be relisted at a reduced price.

For Sale

  • Marvel Comics Avengers Arena Vol. 1 TPB – Starting Price £2.50 + £2.50 P+P
  • Marvel Comics Civil War TPB Millar/McNiven – Starting Price £2.50 + £2.50 P+P
  • The Ultimates Vol. 1 TPB Hickman/Ribic Marvel Comics – Starting Price £2.50 + £2.50 P+P
  • Comic Set Ultimate Avengers Vol. 1 #1-6 Marvel Comics – Starting Price £0.99 + £2.00 P+P
  • Comic Set Avengers vs New Ultimates (Death of Spider-Man) #1-6 Marvel Comics – Starting Price £0.99 + £2.00 P+P


Make your pictures count! Nine times out of ten a buyer knows the issue they are looking for, they know what it looks like, like the back of their hand. But don’t take this for granted make your picture stand out. Obviously comics are a visual medium so the hard work is really done for you. If you are selling a comic in a good condition you don’t have to be too clever with your picture. You don’t need to worry about providing scale in pictures as comics have been the same size forever! If you think you have an item out of the normal dimensions put it in the description. I always photograph my comics out of their comic bag to reduce glare. I photograph them flat looking down on them near a window so I’m not using a flash. Again reducing on glare from the glossy cover.  A nice plain background is always best. White is the go to option, I used my office chair which is blue and I’ve found it makes comic covers pop. For darker covers I use white or even the light wood shade of my desk does the job.

If you have a comic not in great condition it is best to have extra photos to show this. If you have given your opinion on the grade and made some mention of the defects in the description it is better to back them up with pictures. This way you are not tripping over using to many terms and making the description to wordy which may make the grade seem worse than it is. If you trying to explain the defect in great detail and its location. Just photograph it. If there are more than one defects I think it is best to photograph the worst, like a fold in the cover or a tear on an interior page. Obviously if there are small marks and tears on every page no one would expect you to provide photographic evidence of them all. However I recommend taking back up pictures. These can be used then if a potential buyer gets in contact regarding further details on a comics condition.

When I sold my New Mutants #98 I mentioned the small marks and tears inside which I now know are from the manufacturing process. I was contacted then buy a potential buyer who asked if he could see them. I did three photos showing what I thought of as the worst of these marks/tears. After receiving them he was happy with the condition as I described it and price I had it listed at.


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