What Are the Defects Allowed in a 9.8 Grade Comic Book?
Now that you’ve bagged a shiny new copy of your favorite issue, it’s time to get it graded. Sure, you may be shooting for a perfect score. But it’s worth noting that CGC doesn't just hand out Gem Mint grades willy-nilly. In fact, only a handful of comics in history have received a 10.0.
Consequently, a 9.8 is considered the gold standard in comic books grading. A 9.8 graded comic book will have minimal signs of wear and tear, falling just short of flawless. A few criteria include:
- Flat cover with no surface damage
- Sharp, square-cut corners
- Tight and flat spine
- Original staples, centered and rust-free
- White, supple paper
- Minor, negligible defects
That said, CGC’s definition of ‘negligible defects’ may be slightly different from what you would expect. So, to set things straight, let’s look at a few acceptable imperfections in 9.8-graded comic books.
Probably every collector’s worst nightmare, a bindery tear is a small, horizontal rip in the comic book’s spine. Bindery tears are pretty much inevitable, especially for comics with several pages. But luckily, they are seen as a manufacturing fault, and not necessarily a result of gross mishandling.
The question is, how big of a bindery defect is allowed in a 9.8 graded comic book? Well, by all accounts, you can get away with tiny tears that don’t degrade the overall quality of the copy. As long as you have to hunt for the tears, you should be golden.
Spine ticks are another type of bindery defect where the pages bend along the spine, causing a color break. It is a close cousin of the tear.
If your comic doesn’t have any major problems (like rips and missing pages), the number and severity of the spine stresses should tell you what grade you can get. But a 9.8 graded comic book won’t have more than 2-3 minor spine ticks.
Have you ever seen a Silver Age comic book cover that’s a little misaligned? Chances are it’s a miswrap. By definition, miswraps happen when the cover goes beyond the normal spine line. This results in part of the front cover shifting to the back, and vice versa.
Surprisingly, miswraps are an allowable defect in a 9.8-grade comic, provided they’re extremely insignificant and do not distort the copy. Be sure to pay careful attention to comic covers while shopping from a physical or online graded comic book store.
Minimal Color Rubs and Color Breaks
Color rubs are a sinister sight. They refer to abrasions that remove a comic’s gloss or color, leaving tiny white patches.
As you can imagine, severe color rubs can harm your comic book grade. Worse still, they’re hard to quantify. Some color rubs may form a thin line across the comic. Others can appear as a thick patch on a particular spot. But for all intents and purposes, a slight color rub is allowed around both staples on 9.8 graded comic books.
Picture this: you’re at a convention, favorite comic book in tow. Suddenly, you spot the artist walking in. Of course, you want their autograph. But should you get it on the comic?
Not unless you have an authorized CGC Signature Facilitator to witness the signing, especially if the book is in Near Mint condition. CGC does not take kindly to unauthorized writing on the cover, and ink stains can drop your comic several points. You’d probably lose out on a high grade on your graded comic book collection.
However, not all marks are bad. If your comic has small, barely-there arrival dates stamped or penciled unobtrusively, you can still score a 9.8. To be safe, ensure the rest of the comic is in good condition.
Small Bends in the Corners
Accidental creases happen all the time. Maybe the comic bumped against a hard object during shipment. Maybe you accidentally folded a page while flipping through the comic. The possibilities are endless!
Unless you get the comic slabbed as soon as you purchase it, you can’t avoid folds and bends indefinitely. And CGC knows this too. As a result, they allow very small bends in the corners of high-grade comics. But the bend should not break color, or that’s another point off the table.
In this regard, you must also learn about impact crunches: indentations that run from the front to the back of a book’s edges. Based on their harshness, impact crunches can lower your grade significantly. The easiest way to prevent this is by packing the book securely before sending it to the CGC. This will ensure it does not move around and hit the box's walls.
The Bottom Line
It’s tough to tell what grade your copy will receive at first glance. But this list should give you a gist of what defects are allowed in a 9.8-grade copy. Friendly disclaimer: the copy cannot contain all the imperfections mentioned above. It can have one, two, or possibly three at best, provided all of them are minor.
Need 9.8 graded comic books to expand your collection? Take a look at Wicked Monkey’s online inventory. We have high-grade copies of some of the most beloved comic series of all time. For more information, contact us or check out our online store today!