Comics Guaranty LLC

Infobox Company
name = Comics Guaranty LLC

type = Private
foundation = Parsippany, New Jersey (January 4, 2000)
founder =
location = Sarasota, Florida
area_served = Worldwide
key_people = Mark Haspel, President and Primary Grader [ [ Steven Borock to Leave CGC; Mark Haspel Named President and Primary Grader] ]
UnknownSenior Grader
Paul Litch, Senior Grader
Chris Friesen, Restoration Expert
industry = Collectibles
services = Comic book grading
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
assets =
equity =
owner =
num_employees =
parent = Certified Collectibles Group
divisions =
slogan =
homepage = []
footnotes =

Comics Guaranty LLC, also known as CGC, is a Sarasota, Florida comic book grading service. CGC is an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group of companies. It is the first independent and impartial third party grading service for comic books. The company was launched in early 2000 and has since gone on to become an important yet controversial part of the comic book collecting community. The company has been described as "extremely important" to the comic book collection market by Robert Overstreet, author of the "Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide". [cite news | first = Eric | last = Herman | title = Comic Value | url = | publisher = Chicago Sun-Times |date=2004-08-17 | accessdate = 2007-12-01] CGC's current President, Mark Haspel (as of 07/2008), is also the company's primary grader. [cite web |url= |title=About CGC - Meet the Graders |accessdate=2008-07-02 |]


Comic books and comic-related magazines can be submitted to CGC for grading and encapsulation either through an authorized dealer or directly by the owner through CGC's Internet partners (at a 10% discount). They may also be submitted to the company by paying an annual membership fee. The company also sends representatives to several comic book conventions. [cite web |url= | |title=FAQ, Question 2: How do I submit comic books to CGC for certification? |accessdate=2008-07-02] Upon receipt, the comics are inspected by five experts [cite web |url= |title=This Weekend, Comics Guaranty, LLC, Shows L.A. Comic Book Fans How It Keeps the Collectible Comics Hobby Honest |accessdate=2008-01-15 |work=Business Wire |date=2005-03-15] in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment.cite news | first = Conor| last = Dougherty | title = Bang! Pow! Cash! | url = | publisher = Wall Street Journal |date=2005-09-23 | accessdate = 2007-12-14] The graders look for damage and signs of alteration. The comic books are then graded on a scale from 0.5 to 10. [cite web |url= | |title=Grading Process |accessdate=2008-07-02] In addition to the numeric grade, CGC also uses color-coded labels to categorize comics: [cite web |url= | |title=Label Description |accessdate=2008-07-02]

After grading, the comics are placed in an inner well - a sealed sleeve of Barex, a highly gas-impermeable plastic polymer. [ [ INEOS Barex] - Barex manufacturer's website] Then, the comics are sonically sealed in a hard plastic, tamper-evident holder. This process is often referred in slang as "slabbing". A label is affixed at the top indicating the title, date, grade, page quality, and any notes, such as notable creators. Books which would be damaged by encapsulation are returned without this process. Examples of this include books with cover overhang (i.e., the cover protrudes beyond the interior book), some European variants, and Museum Editions of modern comics. In such cases, the grading fees are refunded and the book is returned ungraded. Although ashcans are graded, CGC will not grade certain black-and-white books (e.g., "Eerie" # 1) as these books may easily be counterfeited.


For highly-valued comics, a higher grade can result in a price difference of thousands of dollars. Similarly, a comic book marked by CGC with the purple "Restored" label (known by collectors as the "purple label of death") can suffer a significant price reduction. As a result, CGC's actions are highly scrutinized by collectors. There has been controversy regarding CGC's policies on conservation, restoration, and trimming, as well as concerns about its impartiality.


Not all experts agree with CGC's grades. The comic book store chain Mile High Comics offers their customers a refund if a comic book which they evaluated as "Near Mint" is given a lower grade by CGC. [cite web |url= |title=Chuck Rozanski's Grading Standards | |accessdate=2008-01-18] For its part, Comics Guaranty LLC has been tight-lipped about its grading standards. In 2001, when the "Comics Buyer's Guide" changed its "Price Index" column to add Overstreet's grading definitions to CGC's grades, CGC requested that this change be reversed, stating that Overstreet's definitions were not necessarily the same as its own. When asked by the "Comics Buyer's Guide" to clarify its definitions, CGC declined. However, in July 2003, CGC announced that it had decided to fully adopt Overstreet's grading standards. [ [ Scoop E-Newsletter July 13, 2003] from Diamond International Galleries, an affiliate of Diamond Comic Distributors Inc.] In October of that year, CGC President Steve Eichenbaum stated that although the company had adopted the Overstreet standards, CGC's standards remained unchanged. Eichenbaum cited the 2002 publication of the 2nd edition of "The Official Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide" – with input from CGC's graders – as the reason for the July announcement, stating that "there is now little difference between Overstreet and CGC." [] ] In reporting on the subject, "Comics Buyer's Guide" reporter Nathan Melby asked, "Who adopted whose standards?" According to Mile High Comics owner Chuck Rozanski, prior to the publication of the new grading guide, Overstreet was negotiating a "middle ground" between the standards established in their 1992 guide and the stricter CGC standards. Rozanski questioned the wisdom of changing Overstreet's standards – which could greatly lower the value of several collections – in order to achieve a "political solution" with CGC. [cite web |url= | |title=Finding a "Middle Ground" Between Overstreet and CGC |accessdate=2008-01-18] In September 2003, CGC changed the labels it puts on graded comics, removing most descriptive terms used by Overstreet ("near mint", "fair", etc.), instead using just CGC's own numeric grading scale. [cite web |url= |title=New CGC Labels Are Here! |accessdate=2007-12-31 |publisher=Comics Guaranty, LLC] On CGC's message board, the company's then-President Steve Borock explained that this change was made so that the numeric grade would be larger and easier to see. He added that the descriptive terms which were removed are becoming obsolete. [cite web |url= |title=Re: Something interesting about the new label style… |accessdate=2008-05-28 |last=Borock |first=Steve |date=2002-05-30 | |publisher=Collectors Society |quote=The quick answer and bottom line here is that the grade needed to be bigger so people could see it from far away. It was a pain, at conventions, to see the grade on the label on a sellers wall from in front of their table. Also, Nomenclature was removed, not only to make the grade bigger but it was fast becoming absolete [sic] to many buyers of certified comics. ] Overstreet now uses both the numeric point grade and the alpha descriptive grade in their annual price guide and their official grading guide. [cite web |url= |title=Gemstone Publishing - The Official Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide |accessdate=2007-12-31 |publisher=Gemstone Publishing] After the discovery of a micro-trimmed issue of "Fantastic Four" #3 which CGC did not detect, other undetected restorations were found and CGC posted an official announcement, banning the restorer, Jason Ewert, from doing business with CGC. [ [] ] CGC also announced on their message board that they would recheck any and all Ewert books for free. [ [] ]


There is disagreement among comic book collectors on the definition of restoration. Some collectors feel that any work done to improve the quality of a book should be defined as restoration. CGC defines it as "treatment that returns the comic book to a known or assumed state through the addition of non-original material for aesthetic enhancement". [ [] - Glossary: R] CGC does not consider the following to be restoration and comics with these conditions may receive their blue Universal label: tape removal, dry cleaning (i.e., erasing pencil writing or surface grime with an eraser or other object), tucking loose wraps back under a staple, [cite web |url= |title=Re: FF #6 9.6 Blue Label Restored |accessdate=2008-05-28 |last=Borock |first=Steve |date=2006-08-09 |format= | |publisher=Collectors Society |quote=Wasn't restored. Had SL send it to CGC, Friesen and I both checked it for resto, none was found as he just tucked the paper under the staple (as he originaly said). ] disassembly and reassembly of a comic, [] - Steve Borock explains CGC's policies on disassembly and reassembly] certain staple replacement, and pressing. [] - Steve Borock discusses pressing]

Pressing, that is, using heat and pressure to smooth out wrinkles, is one the most controversial topics in comic book collecting. Some collectors feel that such changes should be called restoration. CGC's president, Steve Borock, has expressed a different view. Interviewed for the Iron Slab website column Borock said, "Who cares? Really, when you get down to it, dealers and smart hobbyists have been doing it for years and years." He added, "The biggest complainers are the guys who don't want the collectors to have a level playing field. Taking a bend or fold that does not break color out of a comic book is not a bad thing. It is not like you are adding glue and/or color touch, using something artificial, to bring paper closer back to "look" like it's original state. You "are" bringing it back closer to its original state. I and many of the top collectors and dealers have never seen a problem with this." [ Iron Slab interview with Steve Borock] ] In an interview with the "Wall Street Journal", Borock offered the analogy, "When you're buying a used car, do you say to the guy, 'Hey, did you wash this?' " Critics say that this policy encourages sellers to press comics without disclosing it to buyers.

Also, if it meets CGC's approval, disassembly and reassembly of a comic may not be counted as restoration. In one case, a book which had previously received a low CGC grade (4.0) was given a much higher rating by CGC when re-submited (9.0). After receiving several messages about the issue, Borock responded on the CGC's message board. [ [] - Steve Borock comments on the regrading of "Boy Comics" #17]


Various concerns have been raised regarding CGC's impartiality and independence from other companies. In October 2005,Fact|date=February 2008 CGC's parent company, the Certified Collectibles Group, announced the launch of a new separate company called Paper Conservation Service (PCS) with CGC's main restoration expert Chris Friesen as its President. The company's stated purpose was to "perform conservation to prolong the life of a comic book". PCS defined conservation to include deacidification, structural repair, reinforcement, pressing, and dry cleaning. The announcement also differentiated between conservation and restoration, saying that the company would not perform services which it defined as restoration. PCS also planned to offer consulting services regarding comic book conservation. [ [] ] However, the Certified Collectibles Group announced PCS's dissolution in April 2006, two months after the company's planned incorporation. Steven Eichenbaum, CEO of the Certified Collectibles Group cited the perceived conflict of interest between CGC and PCS as the reason for the decision. [ [ Scoop E-newsletter April 8, 2006] ] One concern was that comics with restoration could be "unrestored" to the point where they would receive the blue Universal label and could then be sold as if the comic had never been restored. Steve Borock confirmed this possibility in an interview and also on CGC's chat board. Another issue is that Jim Halperin, co-chairman of collectibles auctioneer Heritage Auction, owns stock in CGC. This has led to accusations of Heritage Auction giving preferential treatment to auction items graded by CGC. Although the stock ownership has been confirmed by both Halperin and Steve Borock, they deny any favoritism. [ [] Jim Halperin responds to Forbes Magazine and other critics]


External links

* [ CGC's official site]

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