Yesterday Jay, our guy who runs ICE, texted me and told me the next time I’m in the warehouse to look for Daredevil #270. Apparently, it’s blown up thanks to it having the first appearance of Blackheart in it. This was doing to be my first test as to whether putting all those boxes into numerical sequence was a good idea or not. Great news! It works! It took me all of 2 minutes, moving a total of 4 boxes, to fish out 19 fresh looking copies. As I mentioned before, I plan to leave these boxes as is and venture into them when needed, such as on this DD #270 mission.
It’s never good to gloat so to remind myself I’m not that smart I took a couple of pictures of the “other” pile in the warehouse. Those 1,100 plus bins in sequential order are like an oasis of calm when compared to the 500 plus box corner of chaos that still has to be dealt with.
These boxes are going to be really tough to get through, its mostly stuff from the last 20 years and there are a lot of odds and sods, lots of single issues randomly thrown into long boxes. Perhaps a few little gems will come out of these, I figure we’ll need a gem or two every third of fourth box just to keep us motivated to push through them all.
With these boxes, I’m going to pick out SUV loads into stacks and try to sell them bulk to someone that has the time to give each book that second look. With this pile, the priority will be to have a good comb through as to not miss anything big and then to move the boxes out of the space any way we can, back to the store as $2 bins, some quality $5 bins for local cons (when they come back) and bulk sales to the brave souls willing to take them on.
I’d like to get this area of the warehouse down to a more manageable 200 plus boxes by the fall but we all know what happens to the best-made plans.
We had a bit of a discussion in the comments of last week’s post that touched on the topics of submitting to CGC, grading comics and cleaning and pressing comics. I think all three topics deserve their own attention. I’d like to start with the CGC submission process as it was the first one that came up in the comments. So we’ll just visit the submitting, we’ll leave the grading and the pressing and the cleaning. I think Chris Owen and I will be tackling either grading or pressing and cleaning on the Comic Culture podcast this Wednesday.
Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario is a CGC Drop Off Depot, in other words, we have an account and submit books for grading regularly. We try to send one load down every month, sometimes the grind and time flying by too fast get in the way but we are good for 10 shipments a year anyway.
I recommend you find a local shop that you trust and that is well organized and well versed in shipping down to CGC. This way the process is really easy for you, you want into the shop, fill out a form and I recommend taking close-up picks of the covers just in case another customer is sending down the same book in that batch.
You can go it alone and set up an account but volume becomes an issue, shipping there and especially shipping back is very expensive, especially to Canada. A returning box with 25 graded books in it costs $180 USD shipping. This works out to just over $7 per book while sending 2 books costs around $65 USD to get back or over $32 per book. High shipping costs can be justified on high-value books but not on books with more modest values. Your local comic shop can pool your books and send them when you can have the cheapest return shipping. Books are graded and shipped in tiers so it’s not just volume of books, you may have 14 books to send but only 2 might be in the Standard tier, these 2 books would have to be pooled with other Standard books from other customers until 20 or so could be shipped down at once. Sometimes your book may have to sit at the comic shop shipping shelves for several weeks until enough books are accumulated.
CGC prices their grading service based on submitted fair market value. The CGC pricing schedule including current turnaround times is available here. Notice how long you have to wait to get your stuff graded and that’s only after they “receive” your shipment into their system, your boxes could sit on their docks for three weeks before being “received” into their system. And they do watch the “fair market value”, though they aren’t sticklers, if you put a $500 value book into the $400 tier they will let it go as the values are subjective to current data which is always changing, just don’t try and sent a $3,500 Hulk #181 and try to sneak it into the $1,000 tier, they’ll call you on it and charge you the higher fee.
I have no affiliation to CGC nor do I get any preferential treatment so I can freely say that the service they provide the collecting hobby is the key to the whole thing. For the current level of commerce to be happening and for the incredible prices being reached by graded comic collectibles you need a third-party grader that the market accepts and trusts. Yes, there are examples where they miss the ball but weighed against the millions of books they’ve graded I’d say they are doing a fine job, actually, it doesn’t matter what I say, just have a look around at the results eBay, Heritage etc.
Back to submissions. Each comic shop will have a different procedure for customers submitting through them. Again, your books will be taken, a form will be filled out, and again we suggest some close-up pictures be taken as often two people may submit the same book on a shipment. You may be asked to pay all the fees upfront. Some shops, like ours, take payment when you come to get your books.
Shipping from Canada to CGC is problematic. We ship items that are going to have a service provided on them and normally we just ship them down at a lower declared value to avoid large value flags at the border. We can choose higher insurance options when shipping down things like Amazing Fantasy #15 etc. When the items come back the value declared at the border is the value of the services rendered on the books as the books were not purchased, they are just coming back after being encapsulated. A courier like Fed Ex acts as your broker.
I was a bit disjointed in my summary but I think I touched on the more important parts. Use a trusted shop that has a well-established routine of sending things to CGC, you don’t have to do any work but you do have to be comfortable with the shop you are using. All submission forms can be filled online so if you are not comfortable with your comic shop you can set up an account, enter your order, package your books and employ a courier like Fed Ex or UPS to get the books safely there and back.