1: CBSI WRITER WARS ROUND 1: Covering the Spread : Brandon Susens



Hello CBSI and welcome to the first (hopefully of many) edition of Covering the Spread.  What is the Spread you ask? Well the Spread is the difference in price between the cost of a raw book, plus shipping/grading fees (I’ll also include pressing for those who want to add that to their calculations), and the price of the same book once it’s graded.  For this we will have to do a lot of estimation but I still think this is very valuable information for everyone to have, and I will do my best to elaborate on what I think that number means for each book we discuss.



If you are interested in doing this type of analysis on your own I will include how I’m calculating these numbers here otherwise feel free to skip down to the books!

For this article I am running two different sets of numbers,

1: If you don’t want to include pressing I am estimating that out of every ten “NM” books you buy two will be a 9.8, three will be 9.6, four will be a 9.4, and one will be a 9.2.

2: If you do want to include pressing I am estimating that out of every ten “NM” books you buy three will be a 9.8, five will be a 9.6, and two will be a 9.4.

Finally I will be estimating shipping cost for your 10 books at about $50 each way.

Obviously these are ESTIMATES, these numbers won’t help at all if you are just blindly buying every book advertised as “NM” without even looking at pictures to determine for yourself whether or not it’s a good investment, and if you are confident that you will never buy 9.2 or 9.4 book, or if you do your own pressing at home, feel free to adjust the estimates and run the numbers yourself!


The Books:

Enough with the boring mumbo jumbo let’s start looking at some books that I think are perfect targets for investment right now.

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard both Shaun and Trey discuss the big difference in value between 9.8s and raws for this issue so I knew it was one we needed to look into right away.  Unfortunately these numbers may be a little off because NM raws don’t come up for sale very often anymore but I was able to find a few sales to use as the basis for our numbers.


Without Pressing:

9.8 av price 9.6 av price 9.4 av price 9.2 av price
1711.49 701.51 490.64 425
2 copies 3 copies 4 copies 1 copy
3422.98 2104.53 1962.56 425 7915.07 total


Average Raw Price 506.6633
10 Copies 5066.33
Grading Fees (EST) 585
Shipping (EST) 100
Final Cost 5751.63


Without including pressing we would come out ahead about $2,163.43 by purchasing 10 raw copies and getting them graded, which leaves us with a spread of +$216.34.  Obviously there is a lot of meat on the bone here so anyone with the means should be buying NM raws whenever the see them for the time being. We could see a little bit of price correcting on these raws in the coming months once everyone realizes how big the spread is here but that still means these are a great investment for the time being.


With Pressing:


9.8 av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price
1711.49 701.51 490.64
3 Copies 5 copies 2 copies Total Value:
5134.47 3507.55 981.28 9623.30


Average Raw Price: 506.6633
Ten copies 5066.33
Grading Fees (EST) 585
Shipping (Est) 100
Pressing Fees (EST) 600
Final Costs 6351.63


With pressing included in our costs we’re coming out even farther ahead at $3271.67. Obviously from a financial standpoint the pressing was more than worthwhile costing us an extra $600 upfront but adding on an extra $1108.24 in expected value. So with pressing we have a spread of +$327.17.  I don’t think I have to tell anyone reading this that means you should be buying raws!

Alright Spider-man is my favorite character so I admit when I first started looking into this book, it was more personal bias than anything else, but I have always been a huge fan of Spidey’s black suit and cover swipes so this is like my Kryptonite.  That said with ASM 300 already exploding in price I thought this book might be due for some growth and wait till you see the numbers!


Without Pressing:

9.8 av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price 9.2 Av Price
603.76 227.04 151.39 108.44
2 copies 3 copies 4 copies 1 copy Total Value:
1207.52 681.12 605.56 108.44 2602.64


Average Raw Price 79.5428
10 Copies 795.43
Shipping (EST) 100
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Final Cost 1075.43


Alright I guess this issue will be a good test case to see how sharing this information will affect prices!  With an upfront investment of $1075.43 we expect to see returns of $1527.21. That would be a spread of +$152.72.  Now that’s not quite as high of a return as we were getting on BA12, but it’s also a much smaller investment up front, and ASM 252 raws are much more plentiful.  In my opinion after looking at these numbers raw copies of this book are due for a price correction to around $100. That may be my personal bias again and it could very well mean that graded books are due for a dip in price but I don’t think so.  At any rate this will be a book to watch in the coming months.


With Pressing:


9.8 Av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price
603.76 227.04 151.39
3 Copies 5 Copies 2 Copies Total Value:
1811.28 1135.20 302.78 3249.26


Average Raw Price 79.5428
10 Copies 795.43
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Shipping (EST) 100
Pressing (EST) 120
Final Costs 1195.43


I can already feel eBay being cleared out as we speak.  With pressing our total costs land at $1195.43 with profits of $2053.83.  Wall Street investors dream about those kind of returns. That leaves us with a spread of about $205.38 which is outstanding.   Again pressing was well worth it especially with the lower value of these books meaning it only costs $120 to add $526.62 in value.  Like I said before this book will definately be one to watch in the coming months.

DISCLOSURE: In the interest of transparency I do own one VF raw copy and a CGC 9.6 Mark Jewelers Variant, not that I think that has any bearing on what I am telling you about this book.


Avengers 257:

Next we turn to a book from Ben S’ recent top 10 article for the first appearance of Nebula.  I think he is 100% correct and this book deserves a lot more attention because Karen Gillan has been killing it as Nebula in the movies and I think she is a great character, but let’s take a look at what the numbers have to say.


Without pressing:


9.8 Av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price 9.0 Av Price
144.33 74.41 59.17 44.03
2 Copies 3 Copies 4 Copies 1 Copy Total Value
288.66 223.23 236.68 44.03 792.06


Average Raw Price 18.811
10 Copies 188.11
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Shipping Fees (EST) 100
Total Costs 468.11


Alright so first of all I want to make sure everyone notices, I did have to use a 9.0 sale as my basis for this analysis but I don’t think the price would have been very different for a 9.2.  However even with that in mind we are looking at profits of about $324.48 and a spread of +$32.45. I would consider this a wash, because by the time you have all your selling fees come out you won’t be making any money anyway.  So what does that mean? Well unlike the other two books we looked at today I am telling you DO NOT BUY RAWS! If you want to invest in this book buying up the graded copies is the way to do it, especially because if it does start to pick up steam the gap between raw and graded books will start to widen.


With pressing:


9.8 Av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price 9.0 Av Price
144.33 74.41 59.17 44.03
2 Copies 3 Copies 4 Copies 1 Copy Total Value
288.66 223.23 236.68 44.03 792.06


Average Raw Price 18.811
10 Copies 188.11
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Shipping Fees (EST) 100
Pressing Fees (EST) 120
Total Costs 588.11


Well pressing did not help in this scenario either.  We ended up with a small profit of $335.26 and a spread of +$33.53 which is about a dollar over where we just were.  Like I already said save yourself the time and money and just buy the copies that are already graded, at least that way there won’t be any surprises in your grades.


Before we close the article out I’d like to give a special thanks to Scott Robertson and the Comic Collateral App.  The app makes looking up sales for something like this extremely easy and saved me a lot of time.


But that all I have for you this time!  What did you think of this concept, am I totally nuts? Are there other books you would like to see me discuss if I can continue to write these in the future?  Let me know in the comments below!





  • Oh Man, I’m gonna get killed in this thing. That was way more in-depth and more informative than what I wrote especially on the pricing. It shows that I’m pretty new to this game (and my price figures are off).

    Nicely done, this is actually really helpful stuff to guys like me that only recently started taking an interest in high grade stuff.

  • Skot Whitman

    Nice write up, very informative for people looking to invest in these books. I really like how you used 3 examples, a best case, a middle of the road and a worst case to illustrate… well maybe it’s not a worst case, but you get the idea. Good job, the bar has been set for the contest, can’t wait to read the other entries.

  • This was great Brandon. Super informative and helpful. It is so nice to see the process with examples and the math! I’m sad about 257 as I’ve been stockpiling, but I’ll be on the look out even more for BA (as everyone else already is) thanks for the great article!

  • Matthew King

    Very informative BRANDON SUSENS and I love your prospective on raws to slab ratio’s. Great JOB !

  • Great article; replete with tons of useful information in a way that’s easy to understand. Great!

  • This is great, love looking at the statistics. Fantastic job!

  • Brian W

    Great article! It’s always nice to view and compare metrics.

  • Great article, this was really informative! i like how you provided multiple examples and an overall spread so you could use this example data to analyze the price point on any other book.

  • Loved the data in this article. After reading this it makes me want to call up my stock broaker and withdraw every red cent and reinvest in comics. Right now, most stock portfolio’s are not ness. going down but they are by no means going up eigther. They are more or less “crabbing sideways” which isn’t doing me any good. I don’t ness. like stocks or even there respective companies. But I do love comics, so…… im just say’n!

  • Great Article! Like the breakdown of the three books in different price brackets. There are still a great deal of spec people and comic people in general that still don’t dabble in getting books graded. Look forward to more.

  • I like this article the only thing I have issue is this assumption that if you don’t press your books bound to get a certain number of books that are below 9.8.
    That may be true if your ordering new books online. For people like myself who get new book almost exclusively at my LCS I can get a 9.8 candidate 100% of the time if a 9.8 candidate if there to be got so pressing becomes a non starter on new books because in most cases I can almost always find one that doesn’t need the press which in my opinion is actually better. The only way pressing every new book you get makes sense is if you press your self and even then it’s debatable whether a pressed book is preferable to one that is never been touched at all.

    But overall I love this article and actually do this often just didn’t have a name for it. Personally I prefer doing it with older books were I’m not going for a 9.8 or bust kinda deal.
    I prefer the type of situation we’re i got a book that looks at least a 7.0 and I know if it were it grade anywhere above a 5.0 I’d be making money. So if it comes back a 7.0 I’m doing good if it comes back an 8.0 or higher I’m doing great and if I missed something and it comes back a 6.0 than I’m still doing ok. Got more room to play and I’m not as stressed out waiting tosee if my submissions are 9.8s or misses. I find moderns can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster in that way but it’s also nice when some cool moderns come back 9.8 and go from valuable to crazy valuable overnight. That’s quite a rush which is part of what makes grading moderns so addictive.

    • Also as an idea overall I think this is just as cool an idea as my own. It’s interesting and can be repeated in many different ways focusing on different books and such. Good stuff.

  • I started to ramble and made it sound like my issue was with pressing above and it’s really not. It the overall scenario you described that leaves you with only 2 9.8s out of 10 books and leaves you with a 9.2 ?!?! Are you picturing a blind pre ordering kind of situation. But for one that doesn’t make sense with BA12 if your going for a 9.8, buy a 9.8 candidate or don’t. And with releases if you have to really pre-order 10 copies to get 2 9.8s than in almost any case it makes more sense to either Wednesday warrior or buy a sure thing 9.8 Thursday morning from a Wednesday warrior who can grade and ship well.

    Honestly if you take this forward I think it’s plenty interesting just talking about the spread between raw value of a book vs the graded value. When you bring in talk of multiple copies and pressing or not I think it becomes too specific to a certain type of situation and gives me a little information over load and I find myself having to do my own mathematics to simplify your tables down just so I can just see the spread of a single 9.8 copy of BA12.
    I think it would actually be a better more effective article if you simplified the info and made the situation less specific.

    • Honestly if there is a round two than I’d ignore the advice above…. I think it’s bad advice just bad, please ignore until after contest thanks lol. And sorry 😐

      Awesome idea again in all seriousness.

  • So the reason I was shooting for the grades presented were because
    A. I come at these from a place of someone who buys 90% of their comics online. I think it is a lot more difficult to pick out 9.8 candidates without holding them in your hands.
    B. There is still a market for graded books that are not 9.8. I know a lot of people have come around to the mindset that everything has to be 9.8 or bust but you don’t need to treat things that way if you’re coming at this from an investment perspective. In the case of Asm 252 even a graded 9.4 is worth significantly more than a raw NM copy.
    C. It takes a lot of practice and skill to be able to pick out 9.8 candidates, even in person and I wanted this article to be helpful for collectors of all skill levels and to show new people that even if you mess up and get a 9.2 it can still be very worthwhile to just go for it and get some books graded

  • Lebednik

    really good write up

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.