9.8; The Modern Standard…Plus Contest Winner Announced!

Sorry for my three week hiatus, but I’ve come back with another Diesel City Dreams to announce a winner and give some insight on the modern day 9.8 certified grade. The random winner of the Spawn #1 is Dandelion. I’ll email you directly and send the book your way my friend.

Image result for spawn 1 comic

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a guy who likes getting books slabbed. If for no other reason than just nicely displaying great books, I’m a fan of slabs. I’ve got my own membership to CGC and I’ve sent close to 100 books to CGC this year. As a guy who doesn’t cash in on his personal collection as much as I should, I have some extremely low grade comic books as well as a wide assortment of 9.8s.

What I feel most new speculators and investors are struggling with is understanding the distinction between graded books from the modern age vs. any other age of comics. Collectors, not speculators, not re-sellers, but COLLECTORS for the most part want 9.8 grades for modern day comics (sans big keys that they’d like in any grade), because we understand what a modern comic book is. These books are overprinted, on much higher quality paper, and are rarely read in comparison to days gone by. As the game goes on with less collectors and readers, and the dealers and re-sellers are buying in bulk to make a buck, supply and demand askew.

The big kicker is now more than ever you don’t have to read the comic book to find out what happens. Thanks to social media platforms and websites much like the fine site I write for, information is more easily accessible than ever before. You can be a fair-weather fan, see something on social media, and rush to the store and scoop as many copies of a first appearance as possible. Some casual readers don’t have the luxury or means to be able to compete.

If one person does that at your store, several people are doing it everywhere else. Then these copies are either shipped to a grading company or delivered personally, most of which come back in the 9.6-9.8 range. The market then gets completely over-saturated with graded copies, and when there are so many graded copies, and in high grade, people want the best. I’m sure most of you have seen the big differences in sales between modern day 9.6s and 9.8s. This is because collectors understand the game, and EXPECT a book that just came out last week to be a 9.8. Thus, most people not being interested in a grade lower.

Comic books are handled far differently today than they were in the 80’s, the 70’s, and certainly the 50’s and 60’s. A lot of collectors buy for cover. Some collectors buy for completion. Others for appreciation. And the dying breed; readers. What’s keeping the market ablaze are the eBay re-sellers. They typically have no interest in the subject matter and treat it like a business. That’s not hating by any stretch, as who am I to tell someone how to make some quick scratch.

What I’m trying to state in this long diatribe is that if you’re a new collector, comic books today are different from even 2005. If you want to get a Batgirl #23 graded or another current key book, make sure it’s a 9.8. Otherwise you’re simply killing the value of your own book, and raw copies often fetch similar prices to 9.4s and 9.6s. As everyone continues to get books slabbed right off of the newsstand, the difficulty to find a high grade copy is erased.

Thanks for coming back to the City that is Diesel. Sorry for the short write-up, as I'll definitely be giving you all some great material come December! Also anticipate a sick free giveaway over the Christmas season, so keep your eyes OPEN!



  • Conan the Librarian

    You make a good point Diesel! Unless its 9.8 for a book that just came out, it doesn’t feel worth buying a graded copy at all. Just stick to raw. Which makes it s a bit risky unless you know you’ve got a 9.8 to send in.

    Now, a bit of a digression… sorry in advance 🙂

    One thing though that really makes me wonder is to what extent readers are a dying breed. In my opinion, its far from clear cut. Obviously sales of printed issues are down relative to historical numbers. But we don’t really know how many people are reading digitally.

    Then there is the latent / dormant readership, who are off put by price, or whose interest in a character now extends to the continuously expanding canon / back catalogue as the expense of focussing on the monthly issues as they are released.

    I don’t know who can even afford to buy comics the way we all used to, given the price per issue, and the fact that it’s hard to feel invested when they get rebooted so often. So, it feels like it makes much more sense to wait on the trades most of the time, or to just focus on one or two books a month that you are sure are worth it, like Immortal Hulk currently or Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye from a few years back or whatever.

    It also feels hard to get rid of an issue even if you didn’t like it if it cost you four or five bucks. So, we all end up with piles and piles of comics, which is unsustainable. I have to cut back on buying comics now because it just takes up too much space. Whereas, if they cost what they used to, just read’em, and if you don’t want to keep them, chuck’em in the bin or whatever. Hence people are much much more selective with what they buy now.

    As mentioned above, we as readers have an ever expanding back catalogue to pick stories to read from. Whereas a Batman reader in the 1970s would not have been as likely to go back and read stories from previous decades, and would mostly just be buying the regular issues as they come out, any new Batman reader today is also faced with the choice of reading the current stuff or buying stories in TPBs stretching back decades (basically an expanding canon of classic stories that is really from the mid 1980s onward, with some exceptions like Strange Apparitions and the Neal Adams Ra’s Al Ghul stuff). They are likely to start there before buying the current monthly issues.

    Even a long term reader might prefer to do this – go back to the classics or the underrated gems, and hold of and wait to see if the new stuff is worth your time at a later date.

    Interestingly, some Batman TPBs are worth quite a bit of money. I don’t know how this figures into the whole current climate of mad speculation, ridiculous price jumps, pumping and dumping, variants etc, other than there is still a lot of reader driven demand for these stories.

    Add in the millions of viewers of youtube channels like Comics Explained (often with views far in excess of the print run of the stories themselves), and our understanding of how many readers there are, or even of what readership means anymore becomes really complicated.

    Anyway, apologies for the tangent. Anybody who read this, thanks for your time ahah 🙂

    • A. J. Diesel

      Thank you for the awesome feedback!! A lot of great points made. My feeling is the constant cancelation of titles show that people are still only reading the usual suspect titles. Marvel tries to pitch garbage, but once you read the title, you can see that no legitimate effort was put into establishing the title as a successful long term story. Flavor of the week pop schlop if you ask me!!!

      Thanks for reading my friend!!!

    • Ben C

      I look at the run collector the same way, those folks are just not out there right now, or not in the volume they used to be.

      Today’s comic market is so different than just a few years ago its shocking.

      Great read AJ!

      • Conan the Librarian

        I agree. The state of Marvel at the moment is pretty dire. Although, off the top of my head I can’t think of too many titles that were cancelled that were worth reading. Most of the decent Image titles seem to be able to go on as long as they need. The Marvel titles that get cancelled due to low readership are mostly, as you say, garbage.

        Some of the usual suspect titles, like Batman, will always have readers. But even that seems to be putting alot of people’s patience to the limit these days.

        You’re right Ben. I wonder whether we can consider TPB collectors as a sort of run collector now though? So, maybe instead of all the issues of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, you have people who really do want to collect all six volumes of the 2009 hardcover editions. Or the first printings of the Saga trades, of Copra or whatever it might be. Not many new runs feel worth collecting. But another thing here is that, do you really want to start collecting a run of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing if you start off thinking that the key issues like 21 and 37 are outta reach? Or start collecting Saga if you can only get your hands on issues 10 and upwards for what you consider reasonable? Same goes for something like Immortal Hulk.

        The problem then is that you might never be able to complete your run unless you are in from the very start. And, as AJ points out, do you really want to be in from the start if the run turns into garbage after a handful of issues?

        There are a bunch of runs I’d collect were it not for this problem. Sandman for example. I only have a few of the mini-runs within the larger series, as I’ve never felt like I could pull the trigger on issue 1, and now it’s out of sight after the netflix announcement sadly.

        It’s a sad state of affairs :-/

        • Conan the Librarian

          Actually another good example of this (in my experience), was Walter Simonson’s Thor. I began piecing it together a few years back, but then the prices on 337 began to take off before I had grabbed a decent copy, and then I more or less gave up as I felt I couldn’t justify spending that money. So my collecting of that run just came to an end due to the MCU speculation. I think this applies to possibly the majority of classic runs, old and new.

    • Avatar

      Excellent points! As a “Hobby” Collector… although I do sink a fair bit of cash into the hobby. But by no means do what others can afford and buy 9.8’s at a few K. My limit for one is somewhere around 200-300 USD if I really, really, really want a book. They are just for PC, I don’t speculate with those, I just keep them. I got a few of those toploader wallet things for non-slabbed covers that I really love… got a Double Signed Star Wars 42 the other day… I suspect it would only come out at 6.5 if I’m lucky.

      For the rest of buying single issues, it is indeed a problem, too many Variants, and they are far too pricey to keep ontop of all of them. And they just take up so much space, I’ve got like 25 long-boxes full of comics that I can no longer fit any more in and my girlfriend will kill me if any more turn up ;). So I’ve fully moved to just buying 1st Issues (maybe 2-3 copies if I think it’s gonna be amazing) and then wait for the Hardbacks/Omnibusses for Shelf Porn (They cost a fraction of the price, you get really big art, they are just sturdier and take up far less space). There may be the odd other cover I’ll buy if it’s amazing or a real key issue. But for me single issues are not financially nor in terms of space a sustainable future. I suspect that goes for a lot of people. That’s why single issues are just a bit dead to me.

  • Avatar

    For the PC if Imiss out on a modern key I 9.6 is just fine. If the price starts getting wau up there and I really want the book a

  • Avatar

    When I buy Silver and Bronze Age keys, I tend to buy slabbed ones even if they are just mid-grade copies. I like it because I get some reassurance that the grade is accurate. I have paid a lot for some overgraded comics on ebay with pictures that conveniently did not show the major flaws. I like that I can buy the grader notes on the slabs and get a more honest description. Most of the time, I don’t think I’m paying much of a premium for slabbed 5.0 SA books or slabbed 6.0-7.5 BA books and I think they still look great.

  • Avatar

    I’ll preface this buy saying that almost all of my books are modern. I buy some comics each month just for the cover. In particular I like Artgerm so when I see he’s doing a cover and I like it I’ll buy it. If I really like it I’ll buy multiples. His non ratio variants don’t sell for much currently but I could see that changing some day down the road. We’ll see. I don’t often buy graded books. When I do they are always 9.8. Each of the last four years I’ve submitted books to CGC when I go to Baltimore. Most of those are signature series. For me it’s 9.8 or bust. When 9.6s go for half of 9.8s and you factor in all the cost of obtaining sigs and the grading it really isn’t worth it for less than 9.8.

    It’s been a learning process for sure. The first year I went I got a ton of store variants (50-60 I think) for Batman 1 signed by King and Finch and got them graded. I unloaded almost all of them except for 4 copies of the regular cover in 9.8 and the Michael Turner color/sketch set in 9.8. I think I actually lost money on the deal.

    This year I think I only submitted a dozen books. A couple sketches from Hughes and some of his key Catwoman & Wonder Woman covers signed; a Secret Wars 8 signed and a couple of Jim Lee books signed.

    Btw, for those of you that don’t know, CGC has changed how they handle signature series subs at cons. It used to just be you’d get the books witnessed and dropped them off. Before you left the con for the weekend you closed out your account. Now, after they witness a sig they put your book in a sealed bag and give it back to you. It is then up to you whether you want to cash out or haul the book around with you. Personally I hate this change. I don’t want to cash out after each witnessing because I’m going to pay shipping multiple times. I also don’t want to have to haul my books around with me. I really hope they go back to the old way.

    I wish that CBCS would be seen as an equal to CGC. They seem to be much easier to work with. My best friend already got his books back. I don’t even know if mine have made it to CGC yet. Jim Lee uses a facilitator for all of his public signings (unknown to me and not advertised). They were supposed to deliver the books to CGC this week finally. I emailed them this morning to see if they in fact did. They said they could deliver my other books to CGC as well so I let them rather than pay shipping twice. I should have just taken the non-Lee books to CGC directly. This whole thing makes me nervous. Not happy with this whole thing.

    Aside from the books that I just buy for covers I do read most of my books. Batman and Thanos are the characters I enjoy reading the most so most of my collection revolves around them. I am digging the new Ghost Rider and Dr. Doom books so far.

    Sorry this is so long. Anyway, my advice to anyone would be this. 1. Don’t buy books that you don’t get to hold in your hands and inspect. All it takes is one little imperfection and you’re below a 9.8 and probably just made a bad investment. Even if the seller does send you a 9.8 quality book you still have to worry about something happening during shipping. 2. Don’t pay more than cover price. If you’re spending $20-$30 on store variants or whatever and hoping to make money you probably won’t. There are exceptions to this one but in general I think that’s good advice. 3. Slabbed sketches are a solid investment. 4. If you enjoy reading stories collect omnibuses. It’s a great way to read and they often have nice extra material. They are nice to get signed and get sketches in too. 5. If you’re going to a private signing make sure you know what the arrangement is as far as grading. If you’re stuck using a facilitator you’ll be paying extra money on top of CGC/CBCS fees and you’ll be waiting longer to get your books back.

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