Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Submitting Comic Books to CGC

CGC Expert Greg Buls is again our guest columnist and today's topic is on submitting comic books to CGC CGC. Greg Buls has been a dealer-collector for more than 20 years. He found the pedigree Circle 8 collection in 1991. Greg operates S&V Collectibles on eBay - some really nice stuff you gotta check out!


I thought it would be helpful to share some submission tips for those people who are interested in submitting comic books to CGC.

1. Bag the books by invoice with the invoice. Using magazine bags or even shopping bags, keep each lot together. If an invoice has more than one bag worth of books on it, write the corresponding invoice number on the bags that don't contain an invoice.

2. Make the books accessible - there's no reason to tie a bundle of books up completely with tape. If they are nestled snugly in bubble wrap, they should be fine even without tape, bubble wrap won't shift in transit. If you use peanuts, it's best to ship a box within a box, but if that's not possible just make sure the books are bagged in clumps and well settled, push the peanuts down all around, you'd be surprised how they will settle in shipping if you just float them in and close the box. Likewise, make the books accessible. CGC recommends sending books in mylars, but you can also just bag and board them. I don't think the graders' mindset is affected by whether the book is in a new bag and board or a mylar. If you do bag and board them, don't tape the individual bags closed, we never tape our bags, and I'm sure graders appreciate not having to mess around with the tape. The bags will remain sealed by virtue of being well wrapped in a larger bag.

3. Spine, spine, spine. I've seen time and again how CGC is likely to be somewhat forgiving with regard to the corners of the spine, but if you want to get 9.6-9.8s, the spine should be flawless or nearly flawless.

4. Clean your books. The best eraser is a soft white art gum eraser. I've tried them all, the softer the better, and you want white, not amber or any other color. These erasers are about 1"x2"x1/2". I like to cut the eraser in half so that I have two approximately 1"x1" squares, then in half again diagonally, so that from one eraser I get four triangular erasers. These are smaller and easier to hold and use, and are better for more delicate work because of the size, and more exacting in their application because of the sharp corners. Before you start working on a book, check the paper quality. If the cover feels somewhat stiff, or is tanning, consider skipping it, covers can be torn fairly easily if they are not supple.

Now what you're looking for is dirt, which generally shows up as greyish in color. And unless you have an expert touch, you only want dirt in white areas. It's just too easy to take color off with an eraser to ever make it worthwhile to try and clean a dirty area over color. Always go from the inside out, never from the corners in, or from the edges in. You'll find that the eraser will pick up some of the dirt, but the bulk of it will come from the eraser remnants which accumulate as you work. You don't want to brush those off until the end, they make the work much easier.
I've seen plenty of books that are high grade and are nonetheless dirty. But it can make a difference at the margins, when a grader is on the fence. And cleaner books always have more eye appeal, so at the least you're probably making the book a little easier to sell and making the eventual owner (even if that's you!) happier with the book.

5. Many defects which don't break through the paper and leave a white crease can be corrected by gentle manipulation. This is something that requires practice, be sure to practice on inexpensive books. It's a good idea to wear surgical gloves whenever you intend to do anything other than lightly hold a book, and to always wear gloves when handling expensive books.

Subtle manipulation can correct a number of problems. First, you can square off the corners more fully if they are blunted by holding the book with one hand, and with the other hand holding a piece of paper towel or toilet paper, enfold the spine between your thumb and forefinger so that you are very lightly pinching the spine, and draw the paper along the spine, from about two inches from the corner past the end of the spine. That may not sound clear, so what you are trying to accomplish is to lightly reverse the appearance of the blunting. Blunting means that the paper has been to one degree or another crushed at the corner, so you're brushing the paper the other way. Second, finger bends and corner bends that don't break color can often be mitigated or removed completely be lightly bending the paper back the other way.

Finally, a good art store will have a folding or creasing tool made of bone. If a cover has some some dents or finger bends (crescent shaped bends which are caused by gripping the cover too tightly when opening the book) you can mitigate or remove them by rubbing the bone tool over the affected area, rubbing on the inside of the cover, smoothing out the paper where there is a problem. Sometimes this can literally stretch the paper a bit, so that you have what looks like the beginnings of a bubble. With books like this it's not a bad idea to flatten them out a bit under heavy weight. When using the bone tool, be sure that the surface under the book is not hard like wood or glass, or soft like cardboard. The ideal is a backing board type paper, which offers a slight give.

6. Don't pre-screen your first submission or two. CGC allows you to tell them to send back, uncertified, any books from a particular invoice that don't meet a pre-determined grade level. By not pre-screening, you will have a better idea of how close you are to the mark. CGC charges $3 for pre-screen rejects, and that adds up if your grading is off or sloppy. If you get lower grades than you anticipated, or more pre-screen rejects, call CGC for the grading notes on any book where you think they dropped the ball, or you can't see why it's graded as it is. CGC keeps detailed grading notes on every book, even pre-screen rejects.

7. Regarding book values, err on the side of caution. For instance, if you have a nice Ghost Rider #1, you probably don't want to submit it on the express tier ($1000-$4000 value) because the book has to be a 9.6 to top $1000. If you send it in standard ($250-$1000) and it grades a 9.6, CGC may move it into the express category, or may not. The reverse is not true - if you send in an 8.5 Ghost Rider #1 that should have been on the economy tier and you send it express, they'll be glad to provide the express service.

8. Be willing to be humbled. CGC is strict and fair.


Thanks again Greg! Again remember to check out Greg's offerings on eBay - great stuff every week.