To Slab or Not to Slab: Modern Collecting
Let’s start off with the lingo.
Slab: The hard plastic shell encasing a comic book; after a 3rd party entity examines the comic book. Upon completion of said examination, the residing entity* (see examples below) assigns a numerical value to the comic. Then to complete the process; will encase the comic in a SLAB with the given grade. (See attached photos for example.)
*Entities: CGC, CBCS, and PGX are the three in descending order known as the residing companies that hold precedence over the grading industry.
Raw: A raw comic is labeled simply as a comic not encased within a 3rd party's graded hard plastic. Most commonly stored within a plastic comic bag and card stock board to maintain rigidity.
Now! The real question.
To slab or not to slab? It really depends on personal preference.
Let’s look at the potential benefits from two vastly different angles.
1. The Collector: Especially for Golden - Silver, possibly even Bronze age comics. Collecting these older treasures and historical comics are highly sought after. Finding well preserved ones are hard to come by. And minimally tarnished keys/ personal grails are the butter to any fine collector's bread. So finding a first appearance from a golden age in above a 7.0 may not be the easiest. But if you find a raw copy and get it encased by a 3rd party grader. Well there you go! If it grades high, then even better. It'll well preserved and easily maintained. Collectors hunting for those older grails for a well balanced personal collection, do look for the higher graded slabs. Due to a trusted grade that encases the comic book, they know they are getting their money's worth. And a comic related piece of history. We can't forget about the rarity or amazing art that any collector would love to have for themselves. (I typically fall in this category myself.)
2. The Flipper: So although I use the term Flipper. I typically and literally mean someone that will view comic collecting as a stock. Think in stock market terms, the comic book industry fluctuates daily. With limited runs, decreasing copies left, and increasing values. The values of any books change nearly daily, going up in down in price such as your favorite stocks in the market. I'll use a fairly commonly known modern comic as an example. Venom comic with art with an iconic Infinity Gauntlet done by Clayton Crain was purchased by me at the beginning of 2020 for about $150 raw. Current going price sits around $350. Get that awesome cover signed and graded at a 9.8 (Most commonly sought after, as 9.9/10 is impossible)? It's current average sits around $1000!! Therefore, if anyone were to sell off that comic the would've made a very profitable investment. Much like buying Apple stock in the early 90's for pennies, well placed purchase(s) can make any person a good chunk of change. We also have to consider the likeliness increased wanting due to upcoming movies, tv shows, and retcons. Play the market well and it can be very profitable. Sell a highly graded and well sought after key? Well that's where the money is. (I also fall in to this category time to time.)
Now not to say one style of collector is better than the other. Both have roles they fall in. And many of us are both the Collector and the Flipper. And many don't believe in the encasing of comics. (I also, yet again can fall in to this category time to time.)
There are plenty of avid collectors that believe in collecting comics with the main purpose of being read. Hands down, 100% yes! There are amazing stories, art, action scenes and lessons in all of these comics arts. And of course, character developments we as readers wouldn't otherwise know unless we read it as it unfolds. There are ways around this yes. Youtube synopsis videos, and digital books online. Very good idea if you want to read Action Comics #1 but don't want to potentially damage your multi-million dollar comic!
So, to finally answer the question of "Should I get my new comic grade?","To slab or not to slab?" Well I'd consider what your end goal is and what any specific comic means to you.
Enjoy the experience and happy hunting!
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