Congratulations to Carl for gaining world wide attention for the sale of Origin #1 for $2,250 CGC 10.0

June 2002 letter from Carl with opinions on why he is a convert to certified comics. Thanks Carl! 

I've enjoyed the back and forth with Chris  J____ in the past few issues and he brings up some real good points; the purpose of this letter however is to counter most of them and provide my POV on these matters. I am one of those sellers who focus on mainly modern books, CGC graded and un-graded alike.

CGC has provided an opportunity for newcomers to enter a field that has been entrenched with dealers stuck in the mentality of the olden days and denouncing anything that may change the status quo. With the onset of CGC's success, the naysayers poured out of the woodworks. "Who are they to just set themselves up as the authority in comic grading" Third party graders! That is what they do. They do not force buyers to spend the exorbitant amounts on graded back issues, modern or not. Chris's opening statement, grouping CGC with companies he has put into a negative light, is a genius stroke of sarcasm; yet shows itself for mostly his sour grapes attitude. I think he may have missed out on the CGC boat and is now trying to sink it to bring his status quo back in which he is more comfortable with.

I agree that most eBay users that cruise the collectibles/comics/pop culture sections have no clue what CBG is (unfortunate for CBG...we'll keep spreading the word.) I never heard of CBG until my cousin showed it to me about 2 years ago and I was hooked on the quality informative articles and letter from readers (such as Chris) that caused controversy and stirred up some opinions of my own. Selling on ebay you get plenty of questions about your goods and judging from the level of some of these questions, they are not readers of CBG or know nothing of CGC, its website, its Census, or price guides in general; maybe they are just buying a comic for someone else, or first time buyers that have heard of a hot book in the news or by word of mouth.

The first time I saw a CGC ad was in Wizard and concurrently from eBay, when CGC decided to offer its services through eBay. Fellow sellers told me to get in while the charter memberships were still open. I'm kicking myself for not taking advantage of it back then, not knowing what it was all about.

In answer to Chris's claim that CGC "provides fodder for the easily enthusiastic", is : BUYER BEWARE!

If you are going to spend good money on anything, you should always shop around. I've never looked at CBG's price guide (sorry!) yet I know what a good price would be for me to buy and sell most CGC'd modern books. That's just from watching auctions and bidding, trial and error.

I do not feel that CBG's coverage of CGC emphasizes the investment and return aspect over the "simpler reading and collecting pleasures". It enlightens those who have or are trying to make their living on what's hot in the comics and collectibles community, as well as educates the buyers out there who want to know a little more before spending their hard earned money.

My gripe is that with CGC's effect, most of the dubious sellers out there who have been over grading their books for years and selling it for multiples of guide, are now crying foul. I can't count the numbers of times, back in my younger collecting days when money was real tight, I have bought back issues at cons at a grade and I get it looked at by another dealer and received a totally different opinion on condition. CGC takes that factor out. I and many others obviously are willing to pay for that security and confidence in the grading.

CGC does have higher standards than most graders/guides, and I feel that is directly correlated to the fact that they are a third party grader. They reap no direct benefits when a CGC book is transacted between a buyer and seller online. They get a set fee whether the book graded at a 9.2 or a 10.0; what you sell it for depends on you and your skills in conveying its value to the buyer.

On the other hand, the sellers will over grade because of an inherent bias to make money for their livelihood, a situation that I FIND DEPLORABLE. They need to sell that book to pay rent, put food on the table, just to maintain their daily life. Not every seller is like that obviously but I've already run into more than my share that I've settle down with a select few that I like to work with, regardless of price. You go around bargain hunting and more times than not, you will be disappointed. The savings in cost comes at the expense of the quality of the book.

Why so focused on condition? Because if there was something that I wanted for reading, I'd buy a second copy or get the trade paperback (those are so underrated!) with the whole story. While some of the reading material out there may not be available in TP format, there are always alternatives (comics on the web, reading  clubs/chat rooms for special interests...I'm sure there's a Tarzan new group out there for Chris...) I read all my comics as well. What do you think helps me decide if I want them slabbed? I want to have something preserved down the road in the condition I bought it in. What if there was a CGc back in the 60's that preserved Amazing Spider-Man 1's!!! We'd have high quality books for those uber-collectors willing to pay for them now and actually have something worth buying instead of a yellowed crumbly book that you really can't turn the pages with out destroying it.

Wanting to read the comics is still evident to this day. It is not a quality lost long ago in Chris' childhood days of pharmacies and riding bikes (Growing up in Queens, NY if I rode a bike to the comic store, I'd most likely get jacked by a neighborhood thug who just wanted my bike, but I digress...). Nowadays, one can just get an extra copy for reading or read it at the comic shop (some stores still let most customers do this, despite the prevalent opinion to the contrary)

What's so hard to figure out Chris? I read the books and I sell them slabbed as well, and "my joy is great." Why can we just do both and get along?

Chris' passage on greed ("the avariciousness factor") reminds me of Michael Douglas' classic speech in "Wall Street" that earns him quite the ovation from his audience. Greed is something that is built into our capitalistic economy that makes this country go round. To the retailer who sells at cover price when a book is in short supply: good intentions but those folks buying it from you will turn around and sell it for the $10 and that's lost profit no matter how you look at it. To the eBay seller who lists NM books for Very Fine of Fine (if there ever was such a paragon of charity on eBay or in the comics business), you'll have happy customers but your profits will decrease once you run out of stock and everyone you sold it to is making multiples of what you sold those books for. To the buyer of a Sonic the Hedgehog 1 slabbed for $500, enjoy your book. If no one else could provide what you needed and feel that is what it is worth to you...it's your money to do with as you please. I would not do the same thing, but then again I don't have $500 to blow on a cartoon hedgehog. Who knows what motivates these buyers but as long as it works to the benefit of both buyer and seller, who cares? I'm sure Chris, if you had the chance to sell a Sonic the Hedgehog # 1 CGC'd to a buyer willing to pay that much for it, you would not hesitate. In the same way, I go back to those sellers who sell restored comics for multiples of guide to collectors eager to have the book, how is this any different? At least with CGC, the buyer knows up front due to what's commonly termed as "The Purple Label of Death" splayed prominently across the top of the CGC graded book.

I applaud the effect that CGC has had on the comic community. It has restored some bustle to a what I saw as a slowly dying medium. I'm glad that CBG gives it as much coverage as it does, as it is news that concerns a large part of the comic community. I think the message that Chris and other doomsayers are missing is this: CGC is here to stay! It is a new impetus in bringing integrity back to comic grading and dispelling the curse of dubious over grading sellers who have had their stranglehold on the supposed "high-grade" comics and their "greedy" claws in the buyer's pockets. CGC has opened up a world of opportunity for collectors who want comics graded at what they feel comfortable paying for, as well as new sellers who are willing to invest in grading to provide these issues. Thanks to Chris for writing in so much. I enjoy the letters immensely. CBG, I'm glad I'm a subscriber and you keep us all in the loop. I only ask that you revisit your policy against covering Modern graded books. I hope some day soon, I see the CGc indicia covering modern sales multiples and I'm doing my darndest to get that stat into the eyes of comic buyers everywhere!

Carl and Kolette De La Cruz
6923 Victoria Drive
Unit # L
Alexandria, VA 22310-4371

(darthdiesel@yahoo.com & Padoodledo@aol.com)


RJ -

Took a long time reading your CGC forum - I enjoy it always. Maybe I can
make a few comments worth considering.

Tip of the Month - Although I agree that one should always check their
comics in a well-lit area for cover flaws and such before submission, I know
that it is possible to score greater than a 9.4 even with a cover ding,
nick, or nearly invisible warp. I have plenty of 9.6's and 9.8's that attest
to this. Best example that everyone can see is an Origin 1 CGC 9.8 with the
cover flaw that is evident on most copies and the "printer error" a.k.a.
"packing error" a.k.a. "slightly visible, only when held at an obtuse angle
to a light source, uplifting on the right edge of the book - error" is not
mentioned in the label notes. When people cannot guess as to why CGC grades
the way they do, it is best practice to seek out the grader's notes which
are cataloged under the bar code number.

There is a mention in a recent issue of Comic Buyer's Guide from the
President of CGC, Steve Borock about the Origin 1 'printer's error' and how
it will not affect the grading. To answer BJ in Arizona's question: "No, the
Origin 1's with the "defect" will not be slabbed with the Green Qualified
label."  I don't understand why there is such a negative connotation to the
Green Label? I figure the purple label (for restored comics) is much more
derogatory to the value of a comic. I think the Green label is mainly for
the signed/sketched books outside of DF/CGC's signature series books! For
instance I got my USM 1 DF cover with Art Thibert signature and head sketch,
limited to 500 copies graded - bought it for wholesale @ $45. Got it slabbed
and came back a qualified NM 9.4, which I 've seen sell on ebay (by bartlart
or tiger texan) for $175 - $220. Any book signed will also fetch the green
label. I guess it depends on the books that is getting the green label.
Remember that green labels are our friends!

I have more books coming the week before X-mas and I'll let you know how
those turn out. My big project was to submit Origins 1 and 3, ASM 36's for a
cutoff of 9.8 and up. Honestly I feel with the prices out there on ebay that
it is not worth having any of these particular books graded unless they are
of that caliber or higher.  Why would anyone in their sane mind pay any
higher than $25 for a CGC 9.4 Origin # 1 when they can get the same quality
of book ungraded for $10 - $15. Even the higher grades are not showing the
return they once had. Non DF - CGC 9.8 Origin 1's have gone for as low as
$45 - $53 in the last week.

So, if a comic has a cardstock cover, or chromium, or made for collectors,
or made in the 90's by Image/Top Cow ( the variant comic lords ) does that
mean when these are graded at a 10.0, they are any more inferior in
condition than the Thor 136 at a 10.0? A 10.0 is a 10.0 and should earn the
common respect for being professionally graded as a perfect comic. Let me
tell you that I would much rather be staring at my CGC 10.0 copy of
Witchblade 25 Speckle Cover holofoil edition with the two lovely ladies on
the cover (drawn by Michael Turner who must have done extensive research to
get the women's curves down just SOOO right), than Silver Age blocky artwork
Goldilocks swinging his bad @$$ hammer! I am a Thor fan too (post #337
Simonson years) but I don't place much in this silver age 10.0 over 90's
Modern 10.0s business.

How do you feel about foreign comic prints (or reprints)? Marvel France,
MarvelItalia and MarvelDeustscheland all crank out superior quality Ultimate
books to their American counterparts. (Their only flaw is that they can get
their numbering right - their covers are not concurrent with ours here) They
also sell these for cheaper over there if you take the time to convert the
cover price currency to US $. But doesn't it take much more to make these:
glossy sheen on cardstock covers, pages inside don't smudge? I've started
submitting foreign copies to CGC - even posted an Italian USM 2 car cover
CGC 9.4 - should these be worth any less than the US counterparts?

CGC is definitely a driving force in the comic book economy today and what I
would suggest is that people contact them if unhappy with a grade and find
out why directly from the notes. I always see (ad nauseam) complaints about
CGC not grading their treasured book that they thought was MINT or
considered MINT (true comic grading is relative, you know...well... within
an acceptable degree of variance...) coming back at a lower grade than
expected, sob story, sob story, b*tch, b*tch, b*tch...CGC is evil, CGC is
blind,  - does anyone ever quote the graders' notes on this particular copy?
NO! NEVER! No one takes the time to find out what the real deal is before
wenching anymore. If you feel that it truly deserves a better grade,
resubmit it. If you are paranoid and think that CGC hates you and out to
cause your financial ruin, crack it out of the case and have a friend
resubmit it. GEEZ! A little common sense is all it takes. Remember that you
are probably all sore because you are personally involved with the book (you
stand to profit or benefit otherwise directly for this book to come back to
you with a high CGC grade of 9.8 and up): you thought it was perfect, you
didn't find a crease, and then CGC comes back, with their purely objective
opinion, and stamps it a grade lower than you'd have liked. HOW DARE THEY!
WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY ARE! WHAT ARE THEY BLIND! THEIR GRADING IS
ARBITRARY! SOMEONE IS ON THE RAG OVER THERE! WHAT HAVE THEY BEEN SMOKING
WHILE THEY WERE GRADING MY BOOK! You immediately find this as an affront to
your notion of what grading should be or your experience of 30+ years in the
comic business and this 2 year old company is daring to tell you what the
grade should be. What you forget is that by CGC giving you a bad grade,
you're less likely to go back to them to get more of the same caliber of
books from your collection graded by them. So bad grades are bad business
for CGC. I feel more likely than not, it is a flaw that you did not catch
that caused the lower grade. I submit hundreds of books and I tell you what,
I glance over every cover and corner, spine and edge - but it is a rare day
when I go through each and every page (like CGC does) to find out of the
corner is ruined, if there are those production tears in the bottom of the
pages, if a coupon or stamp is cut out, if the promotional tatooz or marvel
collectible card insert is still in the book...you know who does this for me
- CGC - so I stand behind any grade, no matter how good or how bad it is. If
I really need to know why I got a 9.4 instead of a 9.6 or a 9.8 instead of a
9.9, I'll call or email the bar code number and ask for the grader's notes.
May also be possible that you didn't pack well enough for it to get there
safely or the opposite case, where you overpacked and put so much tape and
bubble wrap on it that it made it hard for the handler to take it off
without dinging, bending or damaging the book. Easy as that.

When I first submitted to CGC, I took ten books, went to ebay and submitted
9 great books (not all 9 were considered Mint, but grading any of them would
have increased their value no matter the grade 9.0 - 10.0) and the tenth
book was the crappiest X-factor 1 book I had laying around. I did not do
anything special to the book to lower the grade. It was my reading copy. It
was intact with no tears and all pages were there, but this book had all the
spinal dings and cover folds breaking colors imaginable. I got that back at
a CGC 6.5 Fine plus (funny thing is that someone submitted one in worse
shape!) That gave me a barometer of how my grading scale and standards
compared to CGC.
Over the past two years, I've fine tuned my own grading standards - so does
that mean I should go work for CGC because I ready to match their grading
standards - HELL NO! Like I mentioned before, I'm a collector and my own
biased opinion will always skew my call in favor of the higher grade.
On smaller submissions (around 20 books) my friend and I like to guess what
it'll come back as, so we list the books and the possible CGC grades they
may come back with and we each keep a copy of this list for 2 months later.
Most of the time we are on (+/- 0.2), sometimes we are right on, but within
the same batch we also get books that are different by whole grades NM down
to VF. My worst one was a 9.6 down to a 9.0. My buddy's worst was a 9.4 down
to a 6.5 - turns out the book was restored and something was missing inside
that he wasn't born back in 1974 to know the difference.

I'm just glad that there is a CGC. Putting comics in hard plastic with a
grade is such a neat idea. For those people who say they won't ever buy a
CGC comic because they don't want to buy any comic they can't open or read,
that is a load of crap. You want to read it, get the trade paperback. Page
for page, trade paperbacks are better bangs for the bucks. The whole story
arc is in there. With editor's notes, maybe extra cover art. A CGC comic was
slabbed because someone thought it had some collectability to it and wanted
to protect their investment. Who the heck cares if you can't read it? You
can always open it if you really want to.

CGC's objective grading is exactly what the industry needs to get rid of
those totally dishonest sellers (you know who you are) that over-grade and
blame the damage on shipping. CGC grading also allows non-comic collectors
and more importantly, their financial resources, to enter a fair playing
field, where they can be confident they are getting what they pay for.

Anyway, enough prattling,...God Bless America! Happy Holidays! and I love
this Forum! (though it may not love me after this letter...)
Carl De La Cruz -
darthdiesel@yahoo.com <mailto:darthdiesel@yahoo.com>
Alexandria, VA 22310-4371

Response

I like your straight forward manner in addressing all the issues. For many collectors , submitting comics to CGC is a big learning experience. I imagine most people reading this have had similar experiences . This is an opportunity to get it all out. I bet Carl feels better and so can anyone who wants to drop me a letter.

Thanks Carl! I couldn't have said it better! I'm going to hunt up the CGC notes on many of my submissions.

RJ