Comic Books- When to Slab?

Comic Books- When to Slab?

Anything worth having, is worth protecting. This simple statement can be applied across a variety of collectible niches, such as comic books. Like never before, comic books and superheroes are at the forefront of pop culture. This has led to new opportunities in the form of financial gains for collectors who are speculating on the next great “key” issue. Whether that key issue turns out to be a first appearance, death, wedding, or variant, the owner must make a decision regarding the protection of their new investment. This can be as simple as the tried and true “bag and board”, or you can take the extra step and get your key issue graded.


The decision to grade a comic book usually hinges on three things, protection, preservation, and profit, with the first two heavily impacting the last. When a comic book is graded, it is encapsulated in a hard plastic shell that protects it from most outside forces, including drops and small spills. Grading a key issue will also preserve the comics current condition, and ensuring maximum profitability. Preservation is a factor for key issues of all grades along the 10 point scale.  

As mentioned before, protection and preservation usually coincide with potential profit. When it comes to grading key issues, the important milestones in this medium can command anywhere from tens to thousands of dollars. Different grades will determine the overall monetary value. Obviously the higher the grade the higher the value, but the older the book the rarer it is to find in “high grade” (9.2 or above).  

Monetary- Comic Books

Sometimes that difference between a 9.4 and 9.6 can be as little as a fingerprint smudge on an interior page. while that sounds miniscule, it could result in dollars off the bottom line. The potential profit gained from investing in key issues along with grading before reselling can seem like a great way to make money.  Lacking proper care and research can turn this into a very expensive misfire.

Overall the decision to grade some of your comic books is not one to take lightly. It is an added investment, usually averaging around a $25 fee per book for grading. On the flipside, turnaround can sometimes be months. The potential profit is there, especially when discussing major first appearances or events. One of the best things about comic books is that these major issues did not start out that way.

Before the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the likes of Iron Man, Thor, and Dr. Strange were not household names, and their respective first appearances represented this fact in their value. Present day these are some of the most sought after key issues. It is rare to find one of these issues “raw” or ungraded. The comic book market is still going strong without a real end in sight. Go find the next hot key issues and send in your first books for grading!