Scroll down the page for Carl's letter.

Hi RJ,

It’s been awhile since I wrote, but I’ve been following your always-entertaining “Monthly Forum” from the back of the room so to speak. I enjoyed Gene (DeLekkerste’s) professionally guided insights as always, and rather enjoyed the “new blood” as well, particularly Carl (Darthdiesel’s) CGC comments, some of which I’ll comment on further.

I also want to completely agree with that genius, Peter, who brought up the possibility of your carefully collected and stored stock being offered as a possible Pedigree Candidate, or at the very least some Modern Evolved Equivalent...

> I think you should be a pedigree collection just like Mile High and the others who make a big deal about the great condition of their comics. Now that CGC has leveled the playing field it is apparent that these promoted collections are mostly hype. Now that data is available, it is apparent that your collection has the most older MINT books ever. The plain facts have blown away the competition. Keep up the good work. Peter <


I want to officially second the motion and further suggest that you provide a link on your website which will allow all of your satisfied customers to easily “E-Sign” an “E-Petition” earmarked for Overstreet and CGC consideration. After all, as Peter points out... Back Issue Comix has an incredible statistical dominance in producing the oldest CGC graded 9.9 to 10.0 MINT comic’s anywhere in the world. That’s no accident and deserves recognition!! Certainly as much as some other previously declared pedigree collections. I haven’t seen any 9.9 or 10.0 Western Penn offerings yet. Perhaps there should be new criteria in judging these special collections now that CGC grading is a factor? I also like the idea that you’ve since implemented, providing a C.O.O. “Certificate of Origin” with any ($50 or more) book purchased from your collection. If the petition does not accomplish anything with the “big boys”, a grass roots recognition, appreciation and desirability will still develop. The COO will further enhance the collectibility and investment potential of all your books. >And for the record, NO I’m not blowing smoke up RJ’s keester. I don’t get any special discounts *unfortunately* : )<

>NEW TOPIC: CGC  (or ongoing one)...
After reading Carl’s straightforward and well-written defense of, and appreciation of CGC, I had to reflect on his comments and view points. After all, without CGC’s emergence, I would likely not be collecting comics and enjoying the thrill of re-obtaining the beloved High-Grade Key Bronze Marvel Comics of my youth (If anybody’s selling – Email me!) . Instead, I’d likely be in prison for going on a killing spree targeting the Clueless Online Sellers of Drastically Overgraded Comics!!! Searching for “Ungraded Gems” online is a serious exercise in anger management, patience, diligence (in pursuing the eventual refund) and diplomacy (in how carefully you craft your email, as not to directly insult, but firmly make your point while holding back the almost unbearable desire to type... You Suck!... Learn to Grade!... 18 spine ceases, folded corners, coffee stains, foxing and rips don’t equal a NM book you #@!*!@!#!!! Aaaaaah!).  Question: Is it possible to beat someone to death with the overgraded comic they sold you? If you rolled it up, and beat them about the temple about 181,000 times could that work?...

Anyway, back to the point. CGC is certainly a true godsend to the hobby. My answer to the “old school fans” (whom I appreciate too, because I’m a hybrid of many stereotypes ) that ask “how can you read or appreciate it?” yaadda, yadda – I say, buy a HG CGC copy AND get a “reader copy” you can hold, smell, fall asleep on, spill Pepsi and taco sauce on, and read over and over again – doesn’t that work? There’s nothing like obtaining a slabbed copy of a comic you’ve been looking for and knowing it’s been heavily scrutinized and is nicely displayed in that attractive protective holder. With that being said, CGC is also a source of frustration to some, particularly concerning their undeterminable criteria for grading and inconsistent/fluctuating standards as they “fine-tune” their service. After all, they have not been around that long and in hindsight it’s reasonable to have expected a “learning curve” to have taken place. Carl brought up that you can call them, provide the serial number, and obtain the “grader’s notes” on the book in question. Very true, and helpful in revealing defects you may have never noticed or deemed noteworthy, but without a published set of grading criteria (as difficult/impossible as that may be) it still can leave you puzzled and without a clue as to how the particular assemblage of defects equal the given grade. (Note: When questioned, CGC said modern books may not always have graders notes?).

In my opinion, CGC has been more consistent than ever (and for a longer period of time) since the Spring/Summer period in which things were overly strict. The prevailing opinion in the circle of sellers and collectors I communicate with is that CGC has loosened up just a bit. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with are very content with the current (and hopefully permanent) CGC grading standard. I personally hope it stays this way as it has become much easier to determine/pre-grade a comics eventual CGC grade. CGC’s previous inconsistency (when comparing similar defects) is what bothered me the most.

Listen to this... at the same time I was “off my nut” because my sweet Hulk 181 got slammed with only a 9.2, and had cracked it out of it’s slab to be resubmitted (it came back a 9.4), another friend/customer of mine was equally stunned at the 9.0 he received on his. I never saw his book in person (just by scan), but encouraged him to resubmit it since my attempt was successful. Most suspect that “Mega-Keys” are rightfully scrutinized even harsher than other comics that are not as significant, and these keys are almost never over-graded. I personally feel that there should not be more than a (.2) variance or (.4) “range of difference” in a potential “grade change” of a resubmitted “high grade” (9.0 and up) comic.  How could you have any confidence in the accuracy of the system if books regularly can differ by more than that? Anyway... 3+ months ago he got his 181 back and it’s a 9.6 now!!!!! I nearly pinched a biscuit!!!  A (.6) variance and a (.8) range of difference on a HG Mega-Key!!! How in the living hell could that happen??? I want to believe that this was a one-time aberration. Maybe the CGC graders in question may have eaten a “mushroom” pizza delivered by a mischievous “deadhead” ; ).  However, I do recall a “What If” story written by you (RJ) in which you mentioned a number of previously graded CGC 8.5 What If #1’s coming back 9.6’s after a resubmission. That’s scary! Did I dream that, or did you experience a drastic CGC variance yourself?? I’m glad things are improving though, as recently I have not heard a story like that.

I recently got back my (26) book order from CGC. I was very pleased! (18) books came back exactly as I predicted, (7) came back better (the ones on the edge) and only (1) came back lower. My predicted 9.8 Wolverine #1 came back a 9.6. I can live with that!!! It shows that things have loosened, as I was predicting grades a bit stricter based on the Spring/Summer results I had. It’s helpful, necessary and important for experienced collectors and sellers with true grading experience to be on the same page with the CGC grading standard. Please don’t adjust again, CGC!


€ Ebay will only reimburse up to $175.00 if you are ripped off in an Ebay transaction, and only under certain circumstances. They will not reveal anything about the other party that may help you. They won’t update you on the status of their investigation after you file a fraud report. They won’t even tell you the outcome – meaning, what action they took, if any against the other party. You can look to see if they are still a member, but Ebay won’t directly tell you anything. They will not, even in extreme circumstances, agree to a phone conversation (that you agree to pay for) so you can quickly and efficiently extract information from them. They insist you use their incredibly inefficient and slow email system. That really helps (sarcasm) when there are time sensitive issues and if you need to quickly have follow-up questions answered. In short, they don’t give a s—t!!! I speak from “frustrating” experience.

€ Paypal customer service reps often don’t know (or pretend not to know) the specific answers to fraud/protection coverage/charge-back related questions. They use terms like “should be covered”, “I think so”, “in most cases”,  and other non-committal type language to protect themselves and not reveal how vulnerable buyers and sellers can be in certain circumstances.

Sellers: the safest way to receive payment is by Paypal Balance or Bank Account transfers. (anyone notice how Paypal hides the source of funds info now? They don’t want, and no longer allow anyone to be able to deny payment. So, if the buyer agrees to one form of payment source and than decides on another, you won’t know.) Paypal Balance or Bank Account payments can’t directly be reversed by the Buyer, so the seller has the advantage in a dispute. Credit Card payments can be charged-back in any number of scenarios. I eventually spoke to a Paypal Manager that admitted many troubling truths about the security of the service and how Sellers are not covered in many Credit Card charge-back scenarios. Paypal will come after the seller if Paypal is out money from a chargebacked credit card payment and the seller will have no choice but to pay. There’s a clause in their user agreement which allows paypal to take the money right out of your verified bank account without consent if they lose money on a chargeback. They are not your protector and “pal” as they try and project.

Buyers: the safest way to send payment is naturally by Credit Card funds. (ever wonder why you get the “are you sure” prompt from Paypal when you change your source of funds from Bank Account Funds to Credit Cards Funds? Or why you have no choice but to use Paypal Balance first? It’s because their neck is on the chopping block when you pay by CC). If you pay with Paypal Balance or Bank Account transfers that leaves you with only Paypal to fight for your money in a dispute or fraud situation. If they fail to collect, you’re out the money – period. They do have limited insurance like Ebay under certain circumstances, but it’s NOT full coverage.!

Don’t use a Paypal Credit Card as your credit card for making payments on Paypal!!!! What do you think happens if you want to dispute a charge (in a fraud situation) like you can with other non-Paypal Credit Cards... Can you say DENIED!!!! Don’t fall for that one. I had a Paypal rep. admit to me that there’s a good chance you will have more difficulty disputing charges with their CC.

Email me at  <>  AFTER Feb 28th  if you like to buy/sell/trade  primarily High Grade Bronze Age Keys (mostly Marvel and some early Moderns)

I’ll report back sooner this time...

Bruce Coller

More by Carl: Nov. 2001

Here's a letter from good friend Carl who responds to my questions about the latest happenings in the wonderful world of CGC. I had told him I thought the  Comic Buyers Guide had done some good research on pricing and received this critical response.

Happy Friday, brother! Imagine my surprise when I received your CGC items that you shipped just this past Tuesday! Makes for a great weekend! Thanks again and they all look great, well-packed and arrived hand delivered by UPS guy.
I enjoyed reading your enclosed articles and am in awe of how big you've turned that CGC to work for you. When we first dealt over the Star Wars # 1-7 set 2 years ago, I specifically recall the many emails going back and forth with you, discussing the then-new CGC and how it would impact the comic industry, as we knew it.
Your unique quest for the oldest high CGC grades ever is commendable. I have to admit that I haven't a clue when it comes to grading pre-Modern age comics. I follow the work of mainly 80's - 90's artists and enjoy getting the different variant covers graded, so I am fascinated with your upcoming Top Cow/Tomb Raider CGC high grades project. You brought up a great point about Tomb Raider: The Movie and why the comic series was not promoted in conjunction with the movie. I presume that there may not have been as much collaboration between Top Cow Comic/ProductionCompany and Hollywood as much as there was between EIDOS, the original Tomb Raider video game creators and the movie producers. So the TR comics were left out in the cold. Also, there is no continuity or parallel between the comic and the movie. There was no comic book adaptation of the movie because of possible licensing conflicts. EIDOS has turned all creative license rights to the comic character and storyline (independent of the video game) to Top Cow. So, these factors may have influenced the lack of comic book promotion concurrent with the summer movie release. Go from that to the other end of the spectrum: X-Men: the Movie, where the lead movie consultants were top Marvel Comics bigwigs. Promotion was very high profile and possessed limitless potential, as sole creative rights belonged to Marvel.
How CGC decides whether an item is worthy of a grade higher CGC 9.8 is still a mystery to me. I submitted 4 WITCHBLADE 25 SPECKLEFOIL editions and got 3 copies graded CGC 9.8 back and one 10.0. Upon closer inspection, I couldn't tell the difference among them all (obviously if I did I would only submitted those grading 10.0 J). One way to find out would be to ask CGC for the grader’s notes, referencing the bar code number.
Anyway, I always feel privileged to deal and discuss these tidbits with sellers like you. My best wishes for your online business and endeavors. I will keep an eye on your stuff and enjoy entertaining future emails. If I don't take advantage of them myself, I can pass the good word along to several buyers as well. I am a collector, striving to be an entrepreneur in a business that I probably don't understand all too well. I just fall back on good ol' customer service and my eye for grading modern books.
If I haven't said it before, I know I haven't said it nearly enough: THANK YOU, RJ!!!
  Reynold Jay <> wrote:

Glad you got them quickly. I imagined they could arrive Friday, however hate to get anyone exited about 3 day delivery. I remember those discussions with you and , as you can envision, made big changes in thinking since then . I hadn't thought too much about Tomb Raider not being followed up as you suggest, however your thoughts about a lack of related products is certainly true. My feeling about the movie was that I loved it, however having the opening scene as a "practice workout" rather than a real life event was a major boo boo. Just a tiny change in the script would have done it too. Most viewers would feel that the beginning was misleading and were left with a big emotional let down.
As for CGC giving out the mystery grades, you are not alone. Virtually everyone wonders how comics that are virtually identical can come up with different grades.  Imagine  how Dynamic Forces feels about its recent publishing venture. They work out a deal with Marvel ( I suppose) to have 200 numbered ORIGIN #1 issues printed up and send them in to CGC and get back 9.6 and 9.8 grades! It was a first class publishing job that by-passed the distribution system. Yep! CGC takes a look at this and gives half the batch 9.6, four notches below best grade.