How can I tell what condition a comic is in?

TCGplayer aims to increase customer satisfaction by defining standards that reduce ambiguity, and ensure customer expectations are met.

TCGplayer comic book conditioning standards are a point of reference for both Buyers and Sellers. TCGplayer has collected feedback from collectors, retailers, and the community, and we've used their input to develop guidelines that address their most common concerns about comic book conditions. By providing clear criteria of what a comic should look like at each condition, we make sure everyone knows what to expect when buying and selling comic books on TCGplayer.com.

This guide has been developed to simplify our Comic Book Conditioning Standards, which outline the criteria for our conditioning scale.

 

Our Comic Condition Guide

Many sources have created different standards for conditioning comics based on their printing, comic age, or manufacturer. There are valid reasons for doing so, but these need to be balanced with the need for consistency. Consistency helps to create unified, trustworthy condition standards.

Consistency should take into account a comic’s manufacturing, composition, and overall structure. Comics can show wear differently, have different qualities of printing and binding, and can have natural fading or color loss due to age. Conditioning standards and processes need to allow for these factors. We balance this consideration for manufacturing characteristics with a universal set of definitions and standards.

There are 2 types of criteria: one that relates to the manufacturing or printing process, and another that applies after the production. To allow for differences in comic composition and printing/manufacturing, comics should be judged in the context of their manufacturer and print run for any printing, ink, or manufacturing imperfections. These types of imperfections are a characteristic of the comic and the comic’s production inherent to the comic itself.

For any damage or wear that can’t be attributed to the comic printing process – imperfections that occur after the manufacturing process – the same criteria should be applied universally to all comics, printings, and manufacturers to achieve the highest level of consistency.

 

Imperfections

The condition of a comic is determined by the number and extent of imperfections that a comic exhibits. Imperfections are any atypical printing or manufacturing defects and any wear or damage to the comic after that printing process. Imperfections are characterized by both Type and Severity.

 

Cover Wear

An example of a comic with cover wear.

Faded ink or ink discoloration, along with abrasions or general cover damage.

Terms: Abrasions, Scratches, Fading/Discoloration

 

Staining/Soiling

An example of a comic with staining or soiling.

Discolorations in the printed material caused by foreign substances or residue.

Terms: Water/Moisture Stain, Browning/Tanning, Smudging

 

Blunting

An example of a comic book with blunting on a corner.

Rounded or worn corners.

Terms: Corner Rounding

 

Tear

An example of a comic with tearing.

A split or rip in the cover or page

 

Spine Roll

An example comic book with spine roll.

A condition where the left edge of the comic book curls toward the front or back, caused by folding each page to the back as the comic was read, rolling it, or by storing it flat and stacked with other comics.

 

Stress Lines

An example comic book with stress lines.

Generally short, thin, straight horizontal lines on the spine, most commonly found around the staples, which are often caused by stress to the cover from bending or handling.

 

Edge Creases

An example comic book with edge creases

Creased marks on the edges of the comic book and usually results in a white line.

 

Cover Crease

An example comic with cover creases.

Book-length, vertical front cover crease along the spine, caused by bending the cover over the staples.

 

 

Bindery/Print Defects

The condition of a comic is determined by the number and extent of imperfections that a comic exhibits. Imperfections are any atypical printing or manufacturing defects and any wear or damage to the comic after that printing process. Imperfections are characterized by both Type and Severity.

Some imperfections are printer or manufacturer characteristics. These defects and their severity are judged by their frequency within each manufacturer and print run. Some manufacturers have been able to provide extremely consistent printings, resulting in little variation in their comic population. For manufacturers or print runs that exhibit a greater variety of binding and centering, our condition standards allow for those variations to be evaluated in the context of their manufacturing or print runs.

Bindery / Print Defects are grouped into two categories:

Defects that impact the comic’s integrity

Defects such as missing pages, spine splits, and other imperfections that impact the integrity of a comic would qualify as Damaged. Comics with these types of defects need a Listing with a Photo and can be listed under the condition the comic would qualify for if it didn’t have this defect.

Defects that do not impact the comic’s integrity

Defects such as miswrapped covers or untrimmed pages, folding, and other imperfections that do not impact the integrity of a comic are evaluated based on their severity. Slight imperfections are ignored in terms of evaluation. Minor and Moderate imperfections would downgrade a comic by one condition level. Major imperfections should be listed as a Listing with a Photo under the condition the comic would qualify for if it didn’t have this defect.

 

Condition Levels

Near Mint

An excellent copy with outstanding eye appeal, generally having the appearance of having been carefully handled. The overall look is like it was purchased and read once or twice.

 

Very Fine / Fine

An above-average copy that shows some minor wear, generally flat and clean, with no significant defects. This condition appears to have been read several times and has been handled with moderate care.

 

Very Good / Good

While a comic book of this condition is still desirable as it has been handled with some care, it is your average and well-used copy. A comic book in this condition will show moderate wear. Eye appeal will be reduced because of the accumulation of defects.

 

Fair

A used comic book showing some substantial wear. These books will have all of their pages and covers. However, there may be some pieces missing while still being completely readable.

 

Damaged

Comics in this condition have been sufficiently degraded to the point where there is little or no collector value. Many collectors may consider this grade as the lowest collectible grade. Books in this condition completely lack eye appeal, may be severely creased, mildewed, or ragged, and may have staining and odor. This is the last grade for which a comic remains generally readable.

(Note: No one likes to receive a comic that is covered in a foreign substance, such as food, liquid or other material. Comic books like these are not accepted through TCGplayer.)

 

For more in-depth information about conditioning comics, please visit our Comic Book Conditioning Standards guide.

 

Change Log

  • 10/17/22 - Added example images for comic imperfections.
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