Will A New Market Evolve

We have so many books down at CGC at the moment, our shipments seem to be queueing up one behind the other with none coming back to us. We have seven monthly shipments down there now and have an eighth ready to go but we are still waiting for the six and seventh to be received into their system as being received, never mind scheduled for grading. Where are those last two boxes we sent down? I can imagine that they are buried deep below the flood of all the other stuff they’ve been receiving all summer. CGC is way behind.

If you are sending down books in the Economy or Pre-Screen Modern tier it may be 8 to 9 months before you get those books back.

Things didn’t used to be this bad, a few years ago a 4-month wait was a long wait, today a 4-month wait is when you know the owner!

So I got to thinking…

The marketplace is always a very vibrant and dynamic place that takes care of its own needs, things change and the marketplace adapts to those changes. So wait times for our graded comics have changed, we are looking at double the time, and this is a relatively new thing as it has crept up on us over the last 18 months.

What is the market doing about this? How is the market adjusting to these very long return times?

These longer wait times certainly deliver more uncertainty, think about a hot book today, you might dare to venture a guess as to how it will be doing in 3 to 4 months but how about in 8 to 9 months?

Are there new splinters of the market opening up to address these grading bottlenecks? Are graded books selling artificially higher because of the bottled-up supply? Are there more high-grade raw books being offered up at higher prices?

I’m going to run an experiment over the next month or two. Every week I will be offering 6 or so eBay auction listings for books that were slated to go down to CGC as 9.8 pre-screens. We’re finding some good Copper Age stuff in the warehouse in multiples, when we find books that can get, say, $200 at CGC 9.8 we’ll pull the best ones and have them sent down for 9.8 pre-screens. Sometimes we send 5 copies of an issue down, sometimes 15, depending on our luck. I’m going to pull one of these out and offer it up as just that – a book we wanted to send to CGC as a 9.8 pre-screen but we didn’t want to wait the 9 months for it to come back. We are not guaranteeing it as a 9.8 but overall our hit rate this year on 9.8 pre-screens has been close to 80%.

Normally if I were to put a nice, crisp, tight 9.2 copy of such a book up at auction I doubt it would get a $9.99 opening bid. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to a raw book that we think has a shot at 9.8.

The big restraint on prices has always been a lack of faith in the sellers grading, for our experiment we will offer up high-rez scans that speak for themselves and we’ll flout our credentials and see what happens.

Speaking of seeing what happens, last night plenty happened on our internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auctions. A Restored CGC 4.5 copy of Smash Comics #2 sold for a paltry $275.90. Great looking book from 1939, has a nasty bondage/torture cover and even has Bozo the Robot on the cover. I’m a sucker for those comics from the 1930s. Advantage Buyer.

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1600

14 Comments

  1. Hey Walt
    I was recently approached by a Canadian company (sorry, I had to promise not to share details at his juncture) to do some grading for them. They have already prepared their own patented plastic comic tombs and have also begun grading Pokemon cards and planning on expanding their card grading presence to other brands as well. While I have had extensive experience grading and pricing (most notably helping out at Now and Then after Harry Kremer passed, and when I managed the K-W Bookstore back in the ’80s) I was unable to sign on due to the constraints of caring for a wife with Alzheimer’s. I have always thought CGC should open a Canadian arm of their business, but that seems unlikely any time soon. I think a Canadian company could significantly reduce wait times and shipping costs. Though it may take a while for the collecting community to accept a Canadian player in the grading game, I think the time has come.

    Any thoughts out there?

    cheers, mel

  2. Perhaps its time for new companies to emerge and the lesser established ones to step up their game and say they can do what CGC can’t do! It seems CGC is becoming more of a disservice then a service at this point. If you need a haircut and the only barber in town was so slow or over burdened he couldn’t keep up… do you wait for your hair to be around your ankles or do you find someone new?

  3. Walter, nice to see a comic I can relate to in your columns of late. Good deal for that puppy. I scored a RAW Jumbo Comics #6 last night in the Heritage auction, one of the oversize issues that I assume CGC cannot slab due to their size. Apparent Vg/fn $1560. Eisner cover.

    Rare little puppies, replaces my Fair+ brittle copy.

    My buddy in sports and non-sports cards says the same problem is there, the grading company is way behind. But also, their grading fees have gone through the roof on cards, with single cards costing $60-$75 to grade and slab! Hope you guys don’t see the same pricing change go on with CGC and CBCS. I may have to think twice if I want to send anything to Heritage for auction, unless they have that “friends” wait time. Of course, the alternative is the express service that from what you told us recently, that’s pretty costly.

    8-9 months seems insane. And for you ecology minded folks, which we all need to be these days….think of that plastic i.e. oil being used. Auughh!

  4. A 9.8 would be so nice,
    But don’t let it give you greed,
    If someone complains about the price,
    Say “if it was CGC’ed”!

  5. Okay, I thought of a better second line.

    A 9.8 would be so nice,
    I think we’re all agreed,
    And if someone complains about the price,
    Say “if it was CGC’ed!”

    See… even I suck at poetry.

  6. I heard about those guys Mel, I noticed they didn’t contact me for grading… probably looking for people who know how.

    Gerald CGC is like that barber that can make your hair better so you can pick up more girls! You’ll wait as long as it takes if there are girls waiting…

    Bud, those oversized Jumbos are awesome, I actually had a #1 about 3 years ago and couldn’t give it away for Guide value, I finally included it in trade, its the awkward size of those early ones that cause issues for some collectors though I’m glad to see you are not one of them.

    Klaus,
    – hey, can I buy that book
    – sure, that will be $100 bucks
    – but it’s only worth $10, have a look!
    – not if it was CGC’d and got a 9.8 and got white pages and stayed hot for months and was talked up by those greedy #%&ucks!

  7. Alright Walt, way to go. That’s one heck of a fourth line but it definitely works. Got a good laugh out of me. (:

  8. Winner of Best Poem that encapsulates the comic market in 2021: Walter ‘ the word’ Durajlija (or as I call him Walt Derailleur).

    Walt, feel free to use me as a real life example: I see the trailer for Shang Chi, recognise Razor-Fist…get a beautiful copy of MOFU#29 over to Walter, aim of the game: get that bad boy ready and up on ICE so people can watch the movie and buy that book!

    …by the time CGC gets it back to us no one will even be thinking about Shang, everyone will be thinking Doc Strange!

    ah well, thems the breaks!

  9. Hey Walt
    Don’t sell yourself short. I bet with the number of comics you have handled over the years you are probably a dab hand at grading!

  10. Mel, he’s being humble; he’s great at it and whooooeeeee when he sells you a book that he believes at 9.2/9.4 that thing is gorgeous!!! Those vintage comics he sells on BigB are amazing, I loved sitting down and reading the first series of Spider-woman in such fantastic condition and also the range he had of early 200 numbered Romita Jr Amazing Spider-Man were just as impressive.

  11. Hey Spider
    I would trust Walt’s judgement over any of those CGC clowns any day. Have you seen the Youtube video of the CGC grader going through a copy of Superman #1? It is truly cringe-worthy, and no way to handle a two million dollar comic. Where do these guys get their training? How are they qualified more than your average well-informed comic book dealer? It seems most of them are recruited from the schoolyard. I advise collectors to invest in The Overstreet Guide to Grading Comics (there is a sixth edition just out in a sturdy, well-bound hardcover) and teach yourself as much as you can about the whole process. Learn about how paper is made and how to preserve it. If we all learn as much as we can about this stuff, I think eventually CGC will become superfluous. Ultimately you have to have trust in the dealers you are buying from or selling to. Find a good one or two of those and stick with them.

    cheers, mel

  12. I concur, Walt’s a tight grader. Myself and others have taken advantage of his generosity for years. I don’t think he can afford to be so generous anymore considering the market these days. I never thought Id be reminiscing so kindly about 2010 era. I could buy a VG or VG – FF1, Amazing Fantasy 15 or Spider-man 1 for about $4,000 then. Thanks for the memories Walter

  13. Yes, Mel, spot on comment. Where do “graders” get certified training – college, university or other? Do they get a trades ticket like a welder or a professional certificate like an optometrist? Are they being paid high dollars for their expertise or minimum wage? How much time do they take per issue to grade?

    If you’re submissions to CGC are 8 – 9 months behind so are everybody else’s. How can they even keep up? This book is hot today, send it in for grading, 9 months later maybe it’s not so hot. If you’re reliant on the “flipping” business model that might not work out for you. And all those expenses to have books (pressed?) graded and shipped back and forth!?

    I’ve been discussing with friends about setting up a grading company. We have a plastics forming company in town that can make slabs.
    For an extra fee our grading will go up to 11. : |

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