New Grading Company: Comic Book Certification Service

cgcslabA few weeks ago, I attended a local comic convention here in Vancouver and I heard about the new company Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS). This company was started by Steve Borock, the former president of CGC so he definitely has some clout in the industry. According to the website Bleedingcool.com, they’ve also started taking submissions at comic book conventions.  CBCS looks like an ambitious company as it is set to challenge the undisputed king of comic book grading services, CGC.

It looks the current market is ripe for a new challenger like CBCS. I’ve talked to collectors about “slabbing” comics and it seems there is a lot of discontent out there, directed primarily towards CGC. The complaints towards CGC include poor service, long waits to get your comics graded, poorly graded comics, and of course CGC’s prices have steadily increased over the years. Collectors grumble and many feel forced to use CGC because it is the dominant player and it seems like the “only game in town”. Sure, you can go with PGX or Vault Grading services, but no one else comes close to the prestige and recognition of a CGC-graded comic, and CGC-graded comic books sell for better prices than other grading services.

 

Here is a quick comparison of the current CBCS, PGX, and CGC prices:

  • CBCS charges $15 to grade a modern comic book with 15 business day turn-around and $29 per book for a comic valued up to $400 (any year).
  • PGX charges $13 to grade a modern comic book with 20 business days turn-around and $20 for a book published pre 1978 with 20 business days turn-around.
  • CGC charges $18 to grade a modern comic book (maximum value of $200) with 20 business days turn-around and $60 for a book with a maximum value of $1000 with 15 business days turn-around.

Each company does different tiers and levels so it’s difficult to make exact price comparisons. PGX has a simplier pricing scheme.  CGC and CBCS charge slightly more for modern books and also for pre 1978 books.

It’ll be interesting to see if CBCS can grow to become a big player in this field. To accomplish this, it will have to take a lot of market share away from CGC. I have never submitted any of my comics for slabbing. I have bought a few books that have been already slabbed. But I am getting to the point that I want to submit some of my Silver Age Marvels for grading, but I still can’t decide on which one to use. I might wait another year to see how CBCS develops. CBCS is now operating but their website is still in beta testing and not yet finished. Do you plan on using CBCS?  Which grading company do you normally use?

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Peter Chin
Articles: 19

48 Comments

  1. I’ve got lots of complaints towards CGC myself and I support healthy competition, but I stopped buying PGX books simply because they fetch less for the equivalent grade, even if the book itself seemed to be fairly graded.

    CGC fans tend to be extremely loyal (blindly so I would add) and they’ve caught PGX being unethical several times. Now, I’m not gullible enough to think such practices do not exist at CGC or any of the auction houses. If guys like Doug Schmell was disgraced as a lawyer, why would his comic practice be any different? But CGC has become more than a grading service. They’ve build a community. They’ve got the history, the clout and the infrastructure. All of which is going to be difficult to replicate or topple.

    Still, using greed from Bell and Rogers as a prime example of what could happen to a market without competition, I’m all for CBCS and hope they can make some serious in roads. Unless you enjoy paying the highest cell phone prices in the world with a government seemingly unable to do anything about it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdFLPn30dvQ

  2. I visit the CGC boards quite a bit – CBCS would be well advised to set up the same sort of board system – they could differentiate themselves pretty quickly by allowing ALL slabbed books to be sold on their boards (even CGC).

  3. We’ve just had a new grading service start here in Australia. It is called Halo Certification. The main reason our market was needing an Australian based service was the way that CGC was treating us like the poor cousin. I have submitted books and it took almost 7 months to get them back. They said it was because of a backlog of orders and yet they could speed it up for a little more money. That type of service should not exist…should be first come…first serve. I know that they push all aside for their big clients (Heritage, Comiclink, Metropolis,etc…), but 7 months for a modern book….a bit much. This new grading system in Australia is great. I drop off a book…get it back in days. The holder is a lot nicer, too. The sleeve inside is actual mylar. It is new so it will be interesting to see how it holds up. Happy with it so far…and no 7+ months to wait for books from CGC. A little more expensive, but no excessive Fedex charges.

  4. Good point about CGC’s infrastructure, Charlie. Their CGC census and collector community is hard to replicate, and these are some reasons that serious collectors use CGC.

  5. Thanks for sharing Mike. Waiting seven months for CGC to send back the grading is definitely unacceptable. I looked at Halo Certification and the prices are pretty expensive, but their product seems decent and at least you don’t have to wait.

  6. Those Halo shells look soft… much like the ones from Vault. Are they?

    We Canadians have to wait 6-7 months as well and there’s not ocean between our two countries. CGC basically wants us to fork up for express service…

  7. Yes the Halo are more expensive, but with what is saved on post it works out cheaper for Australians. Having seen all the cases the Halo are definitely the best. The books really stand out in the case. Apparently the 7 months wasn’t too bad…some people from Australia have taken longer.

  8. I refuse to pay up for express service just so I can get a decent level of service. On the topic of distances, I’ve seriously considered using PGX because PGX is based in Oregon and I’m in Vancouver, so shipping my comics would not take long and shipping would be pretty cheap. And since nobody really uses PGX, I could probably get my comics PGX-slabbed without waiting too long. But then again, there isn’t much of a premium for PGX-graded comics, so I guess I’m still stuck with having to use CGC. Ah, decisions, decisions.

  9. Generally speaking, PGX books sell for one notch below that of CGC, eg; PGX 5.0 would sell as CGC 4.0. In some cases the difference may not matter much and you benefit from cheaper prices. I’ve got a pile of books to send over to CGC as well. Probably wont see them again till the year 2015.

  10. I’ve never used any of the grading companies before, so I am interested to know what, um, unethical things graders might do with your comics. I mean, in theory…or practice if you know of any.

  11. There are stories of graders switching books. Slip in a 2nd print and they keep the 1st print. A senior grader at PGX was caught buying a nice looking CGC 8.5 (fans took photos of the purchase at a con), then re-slabbing it for himself as a 9.6 and listed it on eBay soon after. From personal experience, I know guys who have begged CGC for a higher grade. So if you’re friends with the people that work there, it suggest they’re willing to scratch your back. CGC was faced with a law suit a couple times and instead of standing firm, they quickly changed the grade in order to avoid litigation. And of course we’ve all heard stories of CGC resubs jumping from 8.0 to 9.4… or vice versa. A pretty huge gap that it makes you wonder what the hecks going on.

    All these stories are online, some times with photos and videos. You just have to dig deep. They even have Doug Schmells law certificate and the official document that details how and why he was disbarred. Not sure how the heck they got those.

    Some of this is understandable or expected. Backroom deals are made at all companies, even at the highest level of Church and government. I’ve often said that CGC lacks governance or a set of “checks and balances” to offset the many conflicts of interest. Canada Post has a system so that people don’t walk off with a sheet of stamps and the Royal Mint has it for obvious reasons. CGC may not be at that level but those grades that they hand out have cash value so I think they could be tighter about the process. However, I’m not sure that the market will ever be big enough for a systemic change to occur… I mean, heck, it’s only comics. Don’t get me started on those greasy people at Comic Connect… They’re constantly trying to sell me swamp land.

  12. That’s awful! I guess it’s like having a diamond graded: don’t let it out of your sight. But then again, it’s only comics…

  13. Visit
    http://www.thecomicbookforum.com/
    You can discuss any and all of the third party grading companies, buy, sell and display third party graded books as well. The site is not associated with any grading company and is totally uncensored in that respect.

    Tim

  14. I have used both CGC and PGX. I will try CBCS now that I have seen some of their slabbed books for sale. PGX is head and shoulders above CGC. CGC dumped their credibility when they began GUARANTEEING 9.8 books to young, uninformed hoarders regardless of what quality book comes off a particular press run–CGC is OBLIGATED to slab 9.8s to subscribers. I have also seen numerous Silver Age 9.4s in CGC slabs that I wouldn’t grade above an 8.0 or 8.5. CGC also slabs taped books in universal slabs as opposed to calling them what they are: RESTORED. PGX has a higher standard of grading and charges a fair price without forcing one to join a club or get a permission slip from a pre-screener as CGC does. I am all for competition as another QUALITY service adds to the choices. I’ve only seen a few of the CBCS slabs so far but I know I’ll be seeing more. If they are as good as PGX then we SHOULD soon see CGC fall to number 3. But it will take a while as CGC is living off a reputation which has been sold out and in my opinion tainted to the point that I would not give them ANY business.

  15. CGC is terrible! Bad Customer Service and their community board is very Nazi like in that will not allow any “other” graded company and industry discussion. Head Nazi Doosh Architect has poorly moderated the boards and CGC wonders why they are slowly losing market position to CBCS!

  16. I’ve used Vault Grading and have to say they are much better than CGC and PGX. I know you didnt talk about Vault Grading here on this post – however here are some finer points that i’ve experienced with them:

    – the top panels and cases are the best i’ve ever seen and i’ve been collecting for over 20 years and have over 100 CGC book.
    – the turnaround time for Vault Grading is one week – i’ve submitted over 30 books so far and all have been returned in one week or less
    – I’ve been able to sell my Vault Graded books for the same or more money than my CGC books.
    – Online graders’ notes are free and they sell PDF copies of your comic so you can enjoy the story after you encapsulate your book – this is great for me because some key books I want to continue to read after they are encapsulated and with CGC you cannot do that

    CGC ruined the market for themselves – terrible customer service, awful, cheap plastic cases and ridiculous pricing schemes. They are dead to me and Vault and just recently CBCS has gotten my business and will continue to.

  17. Hello – i just read this and it is absolutely true. The message boards on CGC are Nazi moderated and they will either make up information about competitive grading companies – CBCS and Vault – or they will delete any posts that are negative to CGC or positive about the competition. It is pretty pathetic and i think the only people who actually believe anything on the CGC forums are the CGC employees/moderators who post there. It is not a place to get reliable information.

  18. The Vault Shells are not soft. Dont know what you are talking about. in fact they are made form polycarbonate – the same material used for bullet proof glass.

  19. The Halo shells are not soft. I have seen and held them. They look a lot nicer than the CGC and the inner sleeve is mylar. I have also seen a demonstration where a Halo was dropped onto a hard floor and did not crack. I think that you would get a better turn around from Halo even though they are in Australia, but with shipping you would find it more expensive.

  20. I would love to see a Halo case. The Vault cases are amazing. CBCS look very much like CGCs and I completely agree with you CGC try to suck every dollar out of you – they are thieves and the CGC site are a filthy pack of unwashed shills. All the info there on Halo, Vault,and CBCS is either invented or manipulated.

  21. Thank you for sharing Cecil. I will have to take a closer look at Vault. Based on your experiences, Vault seems like a pretty good grading company.

  22. here are some issues i was at supercan uk last year as a dealler and a american dealer no names mentioned he said the slabbed books have 10 years and they will be wrecked because cgc use lowgrade pvc inserts they are mylay. they are cheap plastic that you would use to pu your bus passes in in years to near i think they will have a problem

  23. If you google “Halo certification comics” then check images…you’ll send lots of them. Urban Fiction website has a bunch of them, too.

  24. Can you actually point me to the right site of this Halo certification thingy? I can’t seem to find, or rather…I am not sure which is the real one. I found several, but they seem to be agents.

    Can someone help? Thanks.

  25. sigh…I just don’t believe there are such ppl who just come and ruin such a beautiful and interesting hobby…hope someone could come up with something fairer to keep this hobby going…

  26. I always have this question in mind but I have no idea who could give an honest answer to it.
    I keep hearing about some incidents which happened to the PGX partners (or ex partners), which incidentally caused the slip in their rep sometime back. What actually happened?
    I heard about their dishonest grading procedure, I also hear they are pretty friendly. I’m not taking sides. It’s just a genuine question, which I hope someone could hep shine the light with some real information.
    Many thanks.

  27. This smells like the “Passed the winning lottery card at the bar and a loser was returned” or the “Vacation photos with the toothbrush” story and many other urban myths. I can guarantee you that it was invented by someone that does not like PGX. What’s to stop someone from starting to spread that story and substitute CGC as the slabber’s company. Oh, yeah, there are also the stories of (Insert local party store of your choice) where all the mid-eastern immigrants were celebrating on 9/11. The list is endless, but you just added a whopper!

  28. You OBVIOUSLY have a bone to pick with PGX. Your inferences are far fetched as your accusations.

  29. speaking of accusation, maybe you could relook at my question. but I can understand why you thought I am picking, after you link my previous comment to this question of mine.
    My point is, I really like to know what happened. I am not from your time zone. So clearly I am not as updated as you are. As a collector yourself, don’t you like to hear about market news? If you think you have your side of the story, I’d like to hear them to. If you cannot comment properly or unwilling to share, perhaps you could leave that to someone else.
    I can understand how some people would treat something they greatly support like a religion (for example, a football club), and if I had stepped on your tail unknowingly, I do apologise.
    I don’t have to show you the amount of PGX slabs I have in my collection to let you understand why I am concern. You see where I am coming from?
    sigh.

  30. “I keep hearing about some incidents which happened to the PGX partners (or ex partners), which incidentally caused the slip in their rep sometime back. What actually happened?
    I heard about their dishonest grading procedure, I also hear they are pretty friendly. I’m not taking sides. It’s just a genuine question, which I hope someone could hep shine the light with some real information.”

    This is from your post that you conveniently left out of this post, which commented on.

    This is NOT NEWS. This is hearsay. It is unfounded and smacks of urban legends–or more appropriately–urban myths. You keep hearing?

    Move along folks. Nothing to see (Or hear) here.

  31. Just about to submit my first and actually very substantial pile of books to cgc for grading. Have an excellent representation of silver and Bronze Age key issues to have graded. Would be interested in submitting duplicate issues to both companies to see how they operate. Would be interesting to see how they each gradE, Say Two NM98 that are identical.

  32. CGC is bad enough to make you tear your hair out. BUT.Heritage Auctions will not sell any other grading companies books. A HUGE ace in the hole for the unbearably arrogant CGC!

  33. You OBVIOUSLY are a fanboy of PGX. Your quick response to accuse him of having a bone to pick proves it. His post was a question not a statement

  34. His “Question” was the spreading of urban myths. Read the thread. He accused a PGX grader of swapping books. He claimed that “There were pictures of the grader buying a slapped book at a convention”. Who in the world goes to a convention to take pictures of someone buying a slabbed book? Smells to high heaven. If it were true, show us a photo! Quote the photographer! Read a little deeper and understand what this individual is trying to do.

  35. Good luck to CBCS. Competition is needed in the grading industry to make it more honest and open to the public… and to throw a good dose of cold water on CGC hysteria. I think the high-end market needs the same dousing.

  36. hi guys let me intoduce myself I am a 61yr old carpenter from Calgary AB Canada some yrs ago my parents passed away and I collected my belongings from the estate among them were several boxes of comic [100s of silver age in top condition as they were stored in cardboard boxes and bagged ] I have been adding to my collection ever since and researching them for yrs and have noticed that unless they are graded buy cgc you don,t get maximin value for them I have several keys [eg bat 181 all star western 10 &11 xmen 1 etc ] but have been leery of sending them off to be graded [ not to mention the cost ] I don,t like ebay and you guys are scarring me off sending books to be graded [as I might not see them again ] I need advice on how to profit from these valuable books without ” pro grading ” thanks Ian

  37. Some of the comic selling sites are pretty good, but they do charge a bit of commission. Comiclink and Heritage are probably the 2 biggest. Go to their websites and see if this would suit you. Other than that eBay or maybe selling at a convention. It’s hard to say because not everything works for everybody. You might need to weigh up the pros and cons of having a book graded. If your X-Men #1 is high grade…you would definitely want to get it graded for a sale. Any major solver keys in high grade would get a better return if graded.

  38. CGC is the WORST place you can submit them to. Their fees are outrageous and they have thrown any and all integrity out the window by GUARANTEEING 9.8 graded books. If you want a fair and BETTER grading company, submit them to PGX in Eugene Oregon: pgxcomics.com.

  39. I am in a similar situation as Ian. I have inherited about 400 golden age comics from my grandmother. She loved reading and trading them so the majority are not in high end condition but some of them are rare enough they would still demand hundreds if not thousands. One book in particular (Suspense Comics #3) there are only about 20 known original copies and I believe mine is better than a 5, perhaps up to 7 or 8. It may be worth as much as $50,000 depending on the grade.I have been considering getting it graded through CGC but certainly not after reading this thread. I couldn’t imagine sending a 50K book away for grading to be graded unfairly, not being able to trust the graders and sealed in cheap plastic that would ruin it in 10 years. Another dilemma I face is that I live in Canada and CGC ships the comics through FedEx and they only offer insurance coverage up to $50 dollars. I deal with UPS through my work and we get stuff stolen all the time. I know FedEx reputation is much better but I don’t think anyone would be comfortable shipping such a comic under such circumstances. Seems the only remaining option would be to spend the time and $ on a flight and take them in person and I didn’t really want to do that. After reading all this info that is certainly out of the question. I never had a clue about these other graders (PGX, Vault and CBCS) but I will certainly be looking into them.
    Again many thanks for everyone’s contributions here.

  40. Hi. I understand your problem. Who to trust. The ew company in Australia is owned and run by Grant Adey. Look in the back of the Overstreet he is listed as an adviser. Been in the industry for tears. He has perfected the encapsulation process. Better stronger case and archival mylar used as inner sleeve. Google “Halo certification ” and check it out for yourself. He recently graded a high grade Showcase 4…so ge does big books.

  41. Please anyone. I have some valuable silver age comics and ten copies of Inhumans #1 1975 in VF+ to NM+ condition that I would like to get graded. I have never sent a comic to get slabbed. However, I have purchased slabbed CGC, PGX, and CBCS from eBay. It seems everyone has a positive and a negative opinion about these three companies. So what company should I take them to? Someone please give me some bipartisan advice. Thank you

  42. Hi,

    It is a matter of personal opinion. If you live in Australia I would suggest Halo. Not one of the better known companies, but very good and they use mylar as the inner sleeve. If you live in the US it is still accepted that CGC is the way to go, but CBCS is gaining popularity and confidence in the comic collecting community. Both of these companies have good reputations. One thing almost everyone can agree on, though is do not use PGX.

  43. No I think the Halo cases are crappie I got 3 comics done all 3 cases have split down the sides had one repair and still came back split not happy

  44. So whats the deal with CGC anyway? I mean you can research reviews for them going back years and they’re all the same. Horrible customer service, incredibly long turnaround times and very expensive. If the entire free world is aware of this why can’t CGC get their act together? They have to know they’re despised in the industry by the very people that enable their existence, why would they not do something to change? I’m just perplexed that a company can operate like that. I work and supply product to the public and our company strives to be the very best and to supply a great product. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Just my two cents.

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