GPA Market Reports and the CGC Census

GPAnalysis reports how many copies sell for individual issues and there may be few surprises when the most often CGC graded comics are also the most often sold. But turn those numbers into percentages and the surprises abound. Take a look at the most recent twelve months in terms of what’s trading more often than you might expect.

Read the full article for free on GPAnalysis.com

CGCEMC – CGC Estimated Market Capitalization

Amazing Fantasy #15 sets world record, but thousands of copies are average.

The CGCAMC – Average Market Capitalization introduced in a series of articles during 2020 has been taken to the next step, an Estimated Market Capitalization (EMC) that includes the premiums paid at the highest end of the CGC market. Compare any two comics across ages and genres for their total CGC graded valuation – or at least an estimate that doesn’t take 100 calculations per book.

Read the full article for free on GPAnalysis.com

CGC Math – Paint Me A Picture

Every comic book is high grade, mid grade, or low grade – even if collectors have different personal definitions for those categories.  Picture this:  Using the CGC Census, it is possible to visualize what has been CGC graded so far, and perhaps discover clues about what grades remain to be CGC graded (or not!) in the future.

Visualization of comic book population

Read the article for free on GPAnalysis.com here.

CGC Census Totals – 20+ Years Set The Pace

The CGC Census has been reported throughout the 21+ year history of CGC grading, beginning January 1, 2000. Using end-of-year CGC Census totals from CGCdata.com, the history of CGC can be summarized as:

History of totals on the CGC Census

Having this many points of data allows for a calculation that “predicts” the CGC Census numbers based upon the amount of time which has passed since CGC began grading.

That formula result is a little “ugly” to look at, but it works very well for the first 21+ years of CGC’s history.

Y = 0.00000000505*X^4-0.0000585*X^3+0.250095*X^2+5.88495*X

Where X is the number of days since January 1, 2000.

If the formula continues to be similarly accurate, the following numbers would be expected for the end of 2021 through 2025.

This is a significant increase predicted, nearly doubling the 21.5 year CGC Census totals of January 2000 to July 2021 in the time span of just 4.5 years from July 2021 to December 2025. However, the CGC Census did double most recently in just 5.5 years from December 2016 to July 2021.

Slabbing Comics – CGC Census Retrospective – Five Years at a Time

This month’s article steps through time in five-year blocks, looking at the CGC Census for books graded during 2000-2005, 2006-2010, 2011-2015, and 2016-2020. The Top 25 for each of the five-year timeframes do have many of the same books, however, these are separate lists isolating the books graded by CGC during those five-year spans and not a running total since CGC began. The Top 25 for the whole timespan from 2000-2020 is presented at the end of this article.

Starting with the Top 25 CGC Submissions for 2000-2005, the results for the first five years (technically a little over six years, from late 1999 until the end of 2005) have Wolverine Limited Series #1 as the most submitted book to CGC in the timeframe.

Holland-2021-03-04.png
Most submitted books to CGC between 2000 and 2005.

Read the full article for free and see the Top 25 lists on GPAnalysis.com.

Slabbing Comics – CGC Census Retrospective – The First Two Years

The first CGC graded comic book was Walt Disney Comics & Stories #1 (Dell Publishing, 1940) – CGC Serial #0000001001 (Invoice 0000001, Item 001), originally graded November 9, 1999.  CGC opened to the public on January 1, 2000, bringing the “slab” concept from coins and cards to the comic book market. 

Take a closer look at CGC’s first 100,000 graded comics.

The first comic books submitted to CGC provide a “snapshot” of the state of the comic book market and CGC as it was during 2001.  The market seems to have moved on from the “hot new books of the day” from 2001, but CGC is still spending lots of time grading “hot new books of the day” in 2021.  Does our past show us our likely future?

Read the full article on GPAnalysis.com here.

CGC Average Market Capitalization (CGCAMC): 2020 – 2015 – 2010

Multiply the average price for the average CGC grade by the number of CGC graded copies and you get CGCAMC – a simple calculation that allows any two comics to be compared on roughly equal footing.  Looking back five and ten years, it’s possible to see trends in the market and fascinating to see comic books from the 1980s compete head-to-head against comics from the 1930s. Enjoy multiple Top 25 lists in this month’s article with all the calculations done for you.

Read the complete article on GPAnalysis.com here.

CGC Average Market Capitalization (CGCAMC): An Introduction

When the headlines say, “COMIC BOOK SELLS FOR OVER $3,000,000!” it is certainly an attention-grabber.  It is not hard to name the most valuable comic books of all.  Do those highest priced comic books truly represent the most total market value for an issue?  Would it be better to have 2 copies of a comic worth $100,000 each or 50 copies of a comic worth $5,000 apiece? Don’t worry – the math is already done for you, and the results may be surprising when you see the Top 25 comics calculated with CGCAMC.

Read the full article on GPAnalysis.com.

From Action Comics #1 to early Silver Age – What’s Worth Slabbing in Poor Condition?

This article is Part 4 in a continuing series. Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 are linked.  In previous articles, it was established that books like Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962), Incredible Hulk #1 (1962), and Fantastic Four #1 (1961) – which are submitted to CGC in all conditions – provide a better representation of what conditions might be expected to exist for other comic books of the same age, even if they are never submitted to CGC.  Additionally, the percentage of restored books on the CGC Census may be representative of the time period, reflecting attempts to improve a comic’s appearance over the past six decades.

Read the latest article on GPAnalysis.com.

The Early 1960s Beyond Amazing Fantasy #15 (And How Much Restoration?)

In previous articles, it was seen that there is a significant financial incentive to submit even the lowest grade copies of certain books like Amazing Fantasy #15, and the CGC Census grade distributions for Amazing Fantasy #15 are likely to be a good representation of all existing copies of not only Amazing Fantasy #15 but perhaps all 1962 comic books as well. Looking beyond 1962, Fantastic Four #1 (1961) and Avengers #1 (1963) enhance the evidence for the grade distributions of comics books from early 1960s in different ways.  How many of these books are CGC 9.0 today? Perhaps just 1%, and the answer to the restoration question might surprise many collectors who never touched their raw books but can’t be too sure about their books’ previous owners 50+ years ago.

Read the full article at GPAnalysis.com

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50 – Market Report

(from OSPG #50, pages 129-130, published September 2020, written in December 2019)

Greg Holland
SlabData.com
Certified and encapsulated comic books (“slabs”) are only a small percentage of all comic books in existence, but the slabbed comic market represents a much larger percentage of total dollars spent annually. Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) opened to the public in 2000.  As this book is printed, it is now 2020 and with CGC’s permission, I have been compiling the CGC census into a searchable database online for almost the entire time. 4,816,652 comic books were reported as professionally graded and encapsulated according to the official CGC census in the first 20 years of CGC (as of mid-December 2019). This 20-year total is 3,936,750 universal grades, 772,851 signature series, 58,187 restored, and 48,864 qualified grades. Those 4,816,652 slabs are for 195,695 different comic books. Most comic books submitted to CGC have been graded fewer than ten times.  More than 50,000 comics have been CGC graded only once. Nearly 100,000 comics have been CGC graded no more than three times. At the other end of the list, ten comic books have been graded at least 10,000 times each. Amazing Spider-Man #300 became the first comic to pass 20,000 CGC graded copies, followed by New Mutants #98, Wolverine Limited Series #1, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8, Amazing Spider-Man #361, Uncanny X-Men #266, Incredible Hulk #181, Spawn #1, Amazing Spider-Man #129, and Amazing Spider-Man #252 in 10th place.  Nine of these ten most submitted books are from Marvel along with Spawn #1 from Image Comics.  The most submitted comic from D.C. Comics is Batman: The Killing Joke in 18th place with 6,615 copies on the CGC census.  The Top 100 most-submitted comics have 99 comics from Marvel (84), D.C. Comics (11), or Image (4). The only Top 100 book by another publisher is Rai #0 (1992) from Valiant Comics in 69th place (3,852 copies graded), rising from 101st place a year ago and perhaps nearing the Top 50 by the time of this publication.  The Top 100 most-submitted books to CGC represent 553,534 copies on the CGC census, or 11.5% of all slabs.  While the CGC Census shows nearly 200,000 different comic books graded almost 5,000,000 times, one in nine slabs comes from a short list of just 100 comics (see cgcdata.com for the full list). 

CGC Census Counts by Comic Decade (as of mid-December 2019):

  • 1930s = 8,889 (0.2%) –
  • 1940s = 153,500 (3.2%) –
  • 1950s = 157,137 (3.3%) –
  • 1960s = 733,763 (15.2%) –
  • 1970s = 784,295 (16.3%) –
  • 1980s = 733,428 (15.2%) –
  • 1990s = 558,110 (11.6%) –
  • 2000s = 555,015 (11.5%) –
  • 2010s = 1,121,381 (23.3%) –
  • Others = 11,134 (0.2%) – (“Others” includes undated books)
  • Total = 4,816,652.

CGC counts, totals, and averages are not a random sample of the whole comic book market. Comics which are sent to CGC have often been selected by the submitter for exceptional qualities of high grade condition, high market value, or both. By definition, the average raw comic is unlikely to be exceptional.  Another important note is that comics which have few copies on the CGC census are not necessarily rare. When a comic book has little market value, even if it is very old, there is little reason to pay for third-party professional grading and encapsulation. Comics which appear uncommon on the CGC census may be extremely common and of little value in the market. Since most comic books in existence are worth much less than the cost of CGC grading, we should not expect to find many low-valued comics in the CGC census.  The opposite is also true, the higher the value of a comic book, we should expect that more of the existing copies will be graded.  There will be copies of every valuable comic book which are never sent to CGC, particularly when the owners have no desire to sell the books, but the number of $10,000+ comic books changing hands (publicly) without first being CGC graded is rapidly decreasing.  A review of more than 2,500 sales for $10,000+ comic books at Heritage Auctions shows 99% are “already slabbed” comics. Understanding that the market for $10,000+ comic books has overwhelmingly become slabbed comics; it becomes important to recognize that the CGC census for the highest valued comics now provides significant data points about the existing copies remaining.  Expert estimates for the number of surviving copies of Action Comics #1 (1938) and Detective Comics #27 (1939) generally suggest 100 to 200 copies exist.  With more than one-third (and perhaps as high as half) of those top two key issue estimates already appearing on the CGC Census, it may be possible to estimate the remaining copies of other $10,000+ comic books as well.  With all conditions of Amazing Fantasy #15 now worth $10,000+ and the CGC census showing 3,203 copies graded, perhaps an estimate of 6,500 to 10,000 copies is accurate if about one-third to half are already graded.  If previous estimates for surviving copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 have been much lower or much higher, then perhaps CGC is providing the industry with a better method for calculating estimates on books of such high values.  Estimates for surviving copies of books of lower values are certainly not reflected as clearly by the CGC census, however, it may be possible to understand surviving copy estimates between books of similar value even if only 1% have been CGC graded.  For example, if any two books have been approximately the same value for the past 20 years of CGC grading, and one book has twice the number of CGC graded copies on the CGC census, then it may be fair to estimate that twice as many copies exist.  Using simple supply-and-demand logic, when the demand values are identical then the different counts of CGC graded copies are most likely related to supply.  Sure, there are always other factors and we may never know exactly how many copies remain for books, but it may actually be true that there are twice as many copies when the values are similar and the CGC counts are double. We will never understand everything about the comic book market, but perhaps 2020 will be the year we take the time to really review what can be known (hindsight is 20/20, after all).  Whether we’re talking about the seemingly never-ending debates of first appearances, or the estimates for surviving copies of the highest-valued comics, the decades of census information, sales information, and expert estimates really are the best sources we have in 2020.  CGC has been a focus in this market report, but when another grading company makes their census available and gives permission, they will be included in future reports.  While some collectors proclaim that all surviving copy or print run estimates are a permanent mystery, maybe other collectors like me are thinking that nearly 5,000,000 comics graded over 20 years represents a sample large enough to teach us some things we haven’t known before.  Some say the goal in the market is ABC – Always Be Closing (the sale), but I say always be learning (the market).  More information is available at slabdata.com and more detailed CGC census analysis can be performed at cgcdata.com.

What can the CGC Census tell us about all those ungraded comics?

The CGC Census generally reflects a strong portion of the best copies known, a lighter portion of the existing mid-grade copies, and usually a very small portion of the existing low grade copies. A temptation exists to interpret the CGC Census as representative of both graded and ungraded copies, but the more focused evidence within the CGC Census for specific comics worth grading in all conditions may be applied more broadly to all comic books of the same age. Starting with the CGC Census grades for Amazing Fantasy #15 – a comic absolutely worth submitting to CGC in all conditions.

The CGC universal average grade is 3.52 for Amazing Fantasy #15

This article provides evidence for the likely grades for all other surviving comic books from 1962, even if the vast majority of those comics are never submitted to CGC. Read the full article from August 27, 2020, on GPAnalysis.com here.

How far do CGC average grades drop as comics get older?

The CGC Census reflects which comic books and how many copies of each have been submitted to CGC for grading and encapsulation for over 20 years. There are 204,534 individual comics with 5,210,195 copies CGC graded according to the June 30, 2020, CGC Census. With very few exceptions, newly-released comic books have always been sold without any certification or encapsulation, and billions of comic books printed through the decades still exist as those same “raw” comics in personal collections and dealer inventories. It is tempting to use the CGC Census as a view into the existing quantities and surviving conditions of comic books, but it is important to understand what the CGC Census can and cannot reveal. One question to ask is how far the CGC average grades drop as comics get older? Greg Holland compares CGC average universal grades with the ages and numbers of submissions for all comic books 1930s to present.

CGC universal average grades by decade

Read the full article from July 28, 2020, on GPAnalysis.com here.

CGC Census – Walking Through Time 2000-2020

An interactive data visualization for the first 20 years of CGC grading (2000-2020).

Submissions to CGC by comic in a visualization that steps through the first 20 years of CGC grading. The decades and publishers at the top of the graphic can be selected or de-selected by clicking on the name (such as 1990s Marvel). See how the list changes when you remove the most popular submission decades. The graphic is on a loop, and will restart by itself after 2020 has displayed a few seconds. Use the pause/play button on the bottom left to start and stop the graphic. You can pause and jump directly to any year by clicking on the year in the timeline at the bottom. Then play again to restart.

For the source of this graphic, go to
https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/1764850/

For a much “taller” version of the graphic (showing 50 comics), go to
https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/1769671/

Where is the cut-off for “High Grade”?

If we’re discussing where the cut-off for “high grade” comics would be, in terms of condition, then there’s an answer based on the eye appeal of a comic.  It’s hard to see how a comic book rated at least Very Fine to Near Mint (VF/NM, or 9.0 on the 10 scale) wouldn’t be a “high grade” comic according to its appearance.

However, if the comic was produced last week and was a 9.0 condition, it would actually be “low grade” relative to the quantities which would be available at 9.4 (Near Mint) and above.

It would be hard to say that 9.6 or higher is required for a comic to be “high grade” (regardless of age) since there are older comics which may not even exist in grades above 8.0, particularly comics from the beginning of the superhero genre of the late 1930s to 1940s.

Using the decades of the comics as a guide, and offering possible cut-off points as a percentage of CGC graded copies (Universal and Signature), the following chart provides some extra information to the discussion.

There isn’t a definite conclusion to be made from the numbers, and there isn’t a definite answer to when comics no longer “look high grade” from an appearance standpoint (being in the eye of the beholder), but more than 3,000,000 CGC graded comics were analyzed to produce the chart above. That’s at least a little more information than we had before.

The Age Old Question…

Some traditional names for the ages of comic books have been in place for a while (Golden Age, Silver Age), and some are still being argued (Copper Age, Modern Age).

This website will usually refer to comic books by the decade of their release (or date printed inside), rather than by ages, Golden, Silver, Bronze, etc.

While there is little doubt that a comic book from 1939 and another from 1952 are both Golden Age, there is a significant difference in comics from the 1930s compared to comics from the 1950s.  The addition of a sub-age in the Golden Age (like Atomic Age) may be useful for some, but in all cases these ages are linked with years.

For clarity and to eliminate confusion, this website will say 1950s comic books when it means 1950-1959, rather than attempt to separate Golden Age, Atomic Age, and Silver Age… which can all lay claim to at least a portion of the 1950s.

Comics from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s will be referenced in the tags of articles and charts, when applicable.  Other age labels may be included, but will not be required.

Notes on CGC census information

The CGC Census is updated weekly at cgccomics.com and was updated periodically as early as 2003.  It is the policy of CGC to replace their census information with each update, so the author of this site created a database for prior CGC census data.  As each update was released, the database grew to the point that CGCdata.com was established to provide an easy method for searching current and historical CGC census information.  Permission was given by CGC for the compilation and provision of the historical CGC census data starting in 2003.  Earlier CGC census data files originally provided to the authors of the Standard Catalog of Comic Books from July 2001 and January 2002 were also provided to CGCdata.com.

Additional information is often requested which is not available in the CGC Census.  Examples include: grader notes, the identity of signatures, and individual submitter or dealer submission information.  That type of information is not available in the CGC Census, and is not available to CGCdata.com or slabdata.com.

The CGCdata.com and slabdata.com websites only contain information which was publicly available, which has been stored and compiled for analysis.

What is slabdata.com?

Slabdata.com is a blog established in 2017, associated with CGCdata.com Census Analysis.  The CGC census data available is from July 2001 to present.  No information is available at CGCdata.com that was not publicly available on the official CGC Census at cgccomics.com.  The data has been compiled with the permission of Comics Guaranty LLC since 2003, and the search engine for CGC Census Analysis has been available at CGCdata.com since 2011.  Greg Holland is the administrator of CGCdata.com and slabdata.com.

… but what is a slab?

‘slab’ is the common term used to refer to professionally graded comic books.  The term ‘raw’ is often used to refer to any comic book which has not been professionally graded, in other words,’raw’ is the original way a comic book is published and distributed for reading and collecting.

In addition to receiving a third-party opinion on the condition of the comic book (including a check for restoration), slabbed comics are encapsulated and assigned a serial number by the grading company.

As of January 2017, only the CGC grading company has made their census data public.  When another grading company provides census data, it will be incorporated with their permission into the database and referenced on this blog.