Grading and Pressing

This week Chris Owen and Walter Durajlija try and help you understand the discipline of assigning comic books grades. They also explore the world of pressing comic books, cleaning them and even unrestoring them.

The boys discuss how small grade increments can create scarcity in supply that often leads to really strong results in the marketplace.

Please add your comments below in the comments field.

P.S. We forgot to mention during the show that in next week’s show we’ll be reading Valentine’s Day poems as delivered by your favourite superheroes.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

Articles: 1688


  1. Hey Walt (and Chris) – thanks for the shout-out and the chance to contribute on these topics! A couple things to cover.

    First, it’s Eclipse Paper Conservation – LOL!

    Second, I expect it was the black bush talking, but when I press I don’t generally put any liguid on a book just humidify with steam (and only sometimes). I would hate for any inspired listeners to take their Amazing Fantasy 15 and get the garden hose but then again, I can fix it if they do.

    Tracey Heft
    and once again for good measure, Eclipse Paper Conservation

  2. Jeez, poor Trace had to jump in and undo all the misinformation that came out of my mouth. Apologies Trace and thanks for setting that straight. And once again, its Eclipse Paper Conservation

  3. That last story is brilliant!!!

    I was looking at a book signed by John Byrne and it has a wrinkle on the back…the seller claims it was actually damaged BY Monsieur Byrne…after hearing this story it sounds more plausible!

    I once held a wool jersey for Eddy Merckx (world’s greatest cyclist for the philistines out there) to sign, I tensioned it with my hands underneath, figuring the wool would make it difficult to sign, he snapped at me, brushing away my hands and with a snarl said ‘I know how to sign!’ (this is a very true statement). He then proceeded to do a scrawl into the balled up wool…looks nothing like his signature!!!

    Thanks for the laugh gentlemen!

  4. Great Merckx story Spider, what a legend though he was a bit before my time. I’ve been watching le Tour forever is seems, I remember rooting for my big boy Jan Ullrich to pip Lance at the line but that damn Yankee always got the better of him.

  5. Well, once again I had to listen twice as there was interesting information on grading. I completely agree on the comic handling. One of the reasons I am going to go over to, as Bud put it as the ‘dark side ‘, to encapsulate is that I don’t want to handle the comics I have owned all these years. I can always read the issue online and keep and old copy of JudoMaster around to get that old comic aroma in the air! On using the generic description when advertising. I prefer a general description of specific details. If I am buying a raw copy with only the cover scans to go by I want to know why … say this L. B. Cole covered comic is called a 1.8. Is it do to spine issues, detachment if cover or pages, coupon issues, or some kid put mustaches snd nipples on all the female characters? Which issue would determine if I wanted to buy the e issue in that condition. I agree… CGC is doing themselves a disservice NOT having a handwriting expert available to verify pre verification years! They do it with books… photo’s… guitars…. what is CGC thinking… could be more money to make! Great show… thanks!

  6. The first thing I was going to go after was that water comment, glad Tracey was listening.

    Back in the day I tried using an actual iron. Don’t try it.

    Also, Bud indicated in a prior comment that it cost $900 to press a $24k final price book. Maybe CGC’s associated pressing service is overpriced, but on the other hand I think third-party pressing could be a nerve-wracking experience – I would try any third party out with some not-so-valuable books to begin with.

    Walt, you talked about putting gloves on, but there was quite a bit about this in the discussion of that Superman #1 mishandling. A lot of folks indicating that gloves more negative than positive, clean and dry hands the way to go.

    The appreciation in the lower grades is fascinating to me. I don’t think this is just “utility of ownership”, because then it would always have been the case that 1.0s and 3.0s would have priced around the same level. I think it is a change in the marketplace, and at this point I feel like it might be the tail wagging the dog. I perceive people more aggressively pricing rags because of this better historical performance. I am not going to predict a halt, but there is a natural ceiling, which is the value of the higher-graded books. The only way the trend continues is if 1.0s catch up to 5.0s or 6.0s, which strikes me as extremely unlikely.

    Also, on the topic of unverified signatures getting a green qualified grade, my Giant-Size X-Men with Dave Cockrum’s signature of the first page (not witnessed by me, but it sure looks legit) got a blue universal label. I did a bit of looking at the CGC boards because I was confused about this blue vs. green issue. Now I think I am clear on it. First it seems like interior signatures are not an issue, and they get blue. The issue is with signed covers. IF the book would get a lower blue grade because of the disfiguring unwitnessed signature, CGC will give it a qualified grade that is AS IF it had been witnessed. So CGC could treat the unwitnessed signature like any ink scrawl and give the book a 7.5 blue, but instead it will give it a 9.4 green. On balance I think you are generally better off with 9.4 green, but it seems kind of unfair to treat what appears to be a real signature as a disfiguring scrawl.

  7. Chris Meli: 30 years ago, a local comic shop paid the airfare to bring Dave Cockrum to Halifax for a signing and meet and greet, after which they took him to a favourite local steak house at the time, Hogie’s. As the store’s best customer, I was invited to this get-together and the owner suggested I bring along some books for Dave to sign, with the shop group and myself as witnesses.

    I brought my 2 GS Xmen 1’s and my 2 Xmen 94’s and Dave signed them all on the front page, stating that he disliked signing covers unless asked to, as he thought it ruined the cover. After dinner, I commissioned Dave to do an original piece for me. Dave had mentioned the ongoing gag back then that Supergirl moonlighted as Ms. Marvel due to not enough work for her at DC. A fan of Supergirl, I asked if he could do them together.

    He drew the two heroines (Supergirl in her cheerleader outfit with the headband – it was that time – and Ms. Marvel in her nice black outfit with the sash) alighting together side-by-side, the only time, he said, that they’ve ever been pictured together. He signed it and put ‘To Tony’ on it and it still hangs, framed, on my den’s wall. He was a great artist and a really friendly guy.

    He also wrote a huge signature on the shop’s wall but, years later, after the shop closed out, the new owner of the space painted over it as he didn’t know who Dave was. Boy, that brought back memories.

  8. Great story Tony C. Thanks for sharing. What was the shop called ?

    Good points on the defects Gerald, some guys hate tape, others can’t stand water damage etc, its important to know the defects that lead to the grade.

    Meli’s Ironing Specialty Service (MISS), I think you just needed better marketing. I agree with your point on the low grades Chris but I still argue that the Utility of Ownership was a big part of the run up in prices but as you mention other factors come in too. That’s good info on the Green Labels, thanks for sharing.

  9. It was called Wilkie’s Wonderful World Of Comics on Robie Street. The store originally opened as Johnson’s Books in 1976 and sold to Wilkie in 1982, who sold the store in the early 2000’s and retired The shop still lives today as Monster Comic Lounge on Gottingen Street and has been in business for 45 straight years.

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