CGC Celebrates Five Years of Graded Comics
Comic Book Grading Company Has Transformed the Hobby of Comic Collecting
January 4, 2005 marks the fifth anniversary of Comics Guaranty, LLC (CGC), which has redefined comic book collecting through its expert grading and restoration detection service. In just five years, CGC grading has become standard practice for anyone selling a high-value comic book, especially online. CGC has quickly grown from a team of a few comic book experts to a company of more than 30 employees who have graded more than half a million comics from collectors in 18 countries.
To celebrate its success, CGC is extending a number of special offers on their grading services through the months of January, February and March. For details and coupon codes, look for CGC’s ads in various comic publications and on their web site, www.cgccomics.com .
“We think it’s remarkable how grading has changed the comic book industry in the relatively short period of five years,” said CGC President Steve Borock. “In this time, we’ve created the impartial third-party grading system collectors need to buy and sell—without getting ripped off—in today’s market. We’ve helped solidify the standards of the 10-point comic grading scale. And most importantly, we’ve established trust among comic book collectors and dealers. I think CGC has provided just what our hobby needed at just the right time, and I love being a part of it.”
Five Years Ago
CGC first began as an idea among several entrepreneurs and comic fans who wanted to start a comic grading business. This group included Stephen Fischler, owner of Metropolis Comics; along with Mark Salzberg, John Maben and Dave Stump of The Certified Collectibles Group (CGC’s umbrella company). They came up with names of comic book professionals who they perceived were honest, extremely knowledgeable about comics, and able to lead a business. Steve Borock, formerly a comic dealer, was at the top of their list.
Borock recalls that he was initially skeptical about the job, out of fear of the CGC grading system being manipulated and turning out to be “a scam.” But his mind was changed, he said, when they showed him how the coin grading business ran. And when they told him he could run the business his way and have control over hiring, he knew he could make it an honest endeavor. To further prove the integrity of CGC, Borock and all future employees would not be allowed to commercially buy and sell comic books. Borock took this one step further, so that no one could question his intentions: he sold his entire comic collection and instead began to collect comic book art.
Mark Haspel was the first grader hired, then Paul Litch. Ed Cardona managed the place while Jennifer Levitt took care of customer service. These first CGC employees were initially based in New Jersey. From day one, CGC was continually busy, having quickly proved to top collectors that they knew their stuff—even when tested by collectors purposefully submitting the most difficult-to-detect restoration copies (CGC graders always caught it). The books they graded were each sealed in CGC’s patented state-of-the-art holder, which was tamper-evident to ensure the given grade could not be compromised. The business grew steadily, and thrived even as CGC moved its headquarters to Sarasota, Florida in 2002.
CGC now grades about 750 comic books a day and receives nearly 20,000 posts a month to its online forums. The practice of grading has moved from non-existent to widespread, as CGC’s presence becomes increasingly prevalent online, at comic shows and in comic publications. All the major comic price guides now list book values for common CGC grades. Numerous new comic businesses have sprung up to specialize in selling CGC graded books. CGC’s influence truly reaches industry-wide.
Looking toward the future, CGC plans to do more on-site grading at conventions, expand its services to areas like graded magazines, and continue to strive toward excellent customer service and the highest grading standards.
What Comic Collectors and Experts Are Saying About CGC
Comic book experts and top collectors agree that CGC grading has been a positive change for the hobby:
“Probably the most important event (in our hobby) to date was the arrival of comic book certification with CGC. The technical grade applied to each comic has become the standard used for buying and selling.”
-- Robert M Overstreet, in the 32nd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide
“CGC has taken the guessing game out of the comic business for me. I can’t imagine going back to the days of overgraded comics and undisclosed restoration. CGC has set a standard of grading in the hobby that has taken everyone’s grading to another level.”
-- Jeff Williams, Collector
“I’ve always been a big supporter of the CGC phenomenon. To me it represents a vote of confidence in the future collectible value of today’s comic books. Starting in 1938, no one tended to take comic books seriously and the watchword was always ‘comic books won’t even be here in five years.’ The fact that sensible people invest real money in the highest grade of comic books tells us that we’ve moved past that point. We now believe that comic books will be here, and will have value, fifty years from now, a hundred years from now.”
-- Dave Sim, Aardvark-Vanaheim president and Cerebus creator
“Now you can take any (comic) you own and turn it into money; before CGC, it was illiquid. (With CGC), collectors are no longer at the mercy of the type of dealer that would rip them off.”
-- Chuck Rozanski, Mile High Comics
“The level of grading consistency and integrity that CGC has brought to our hobby has reinforced my confidence in the fact that comic books are among the best investments anywhere—better than stocks, better than bonds, on par with real estate.”
-- Josh Nathanson, ComicLink, Overstreet Advisor
“I must say if it wasn’t for your advice and help, I wouldn’t have known about the alterations to the book. I can only imagine the horror and disappointment in finding out later. I really appreciate all your extra efforts… CGC provides an invaluable resource to collectors. I’m glad you guys are around to make a new era of collecting a better place.”
-- Rob Gonzalez, Collector
“CGC has created an unsurpassed consumer confidence in comics. It’s much easier to sell CGC graded books online and by mail order.”
-- Rob Hughes, Archangels, Overstreet Advisor
CGC By The Numbers
Here are some interesting CGC facts we’ve compiled for the occasion of CGC’s fifth anniversary:
5 – number of CGC experts that look at each comic to evaluate grade and check for restoration
58,408 – number of Amazing Spider-Man comics CGC has graded in five years (most submitted comic)*
501,543 – number of total comics graded since CGC opened its doors*
704 – number of those graded comics that received a 10.0 GEM MINT grade*
32 – number of CGC employees
20 – number of comic shows CGC will attend in 2005
6 – number of shows where CGC will do on-site grading in 2005
2 – number of times CGC had to evacuate last hurricane season
4 – average number of times a day our reception desk gets asked, “So how’s the weather in Florida?”
18 – number of countries from which CGC has accepted submissions
65 – number of pieces of framed original comic art from Steve Borock’s collection that hang in CGC’s offices
18,774 – average number of monthly posts to CGC online forums*
3,600 – number of songs in the CD changer in the CGC grading room
10 – minimum number of times Grateful Dead and Elvis Costello songs come up in a day (Borock stacks it in his favor)
* as of November 2004