GLOSSARY OF GRADING TERMS
When part of a comic is curved, interrupting the flat, smooth cover surface. Bends WILL NOT show distinct lines (see also crease/fold).
A small horizontal rip in a comic's cover that can usually be seen on both the front and the back. These are always found along the spine and should be graded like spine stress if they are shorter than 1/4".
Damage caused by the gnawing of rodents or insects (usually). Results in multi-page paper loss with jagged edges. Very visually distinct.
Bubbling on a cover's surface (typically a printing defect).
A fold that causes ink removal/color break, usually resulting in a white line (see bend/fold).
Indentations or dimpling (usually in the cover) that don't penetrate the paper or remove any gloss, but do interrupt the smooth, flat surface.
Technically a printing defect, double-cover books had an extra copy of the cover stapled on during manufacturing. This protective extra cover can be a boon, as these books are graded by the condition of the innermost cover.
When a comic has been stored in a stack at some point in its life, any portions of the cover that weren't covered up by the adjacent books have been exposed to environmental air, light, and settling dust particles, sometimes creating lines of discoloration along the edges.
When finger oils left behind from everyday handling remain on a comic's surface, they can begin to eat away at the ink, literally creating color-breaking fingerprints on the cover that are sometimes distinct and sometimes smudged. Finger oils can usually be wiped away, but fingerprints are irreversible.
A method of examining a comic that uses its natural gloss and light (glare) to help you see imperfections in its surface, like denting.
Linear dents in paper that have distinct lines, but DO NOT break color (see also bend/crease).
Bacterial or fungal growth in the paper of a comic (usually the cover) that presents in brownish discolored clusters or spots.
The shiny surface finish of a comic.
The damage left behind when a comic has been exposed to moisture (directly or environmentally). Water damage often presents with staining and/or a stiff or swollen feel to the paper. Look for lines of demarcation.
When the surface of a comic has been compromised. This can be the result of heavy scuffing/abrasion, accidental tape pull, or the chemical reactions caused by some kinds of moisture damage.
Paper quality refers to the coloration and structural integrity of a comic's cover and interior pages. We do give some leeway on pre-1980s comics, but when environmental conditions have caused the paper to oxidize and/or deteriorate significantly, the decrease in eye appeal and paper strength will bring a book's grade down. Generally, paper quality will not be a concern for most modern (post-1980) comics.
A flaw caused in the printing process. Examples: paper wrinkling, mis-cut edges, mis-folded or mis-wrapped spine, untrimmed pages/corners, off-registered color, color artifacts, off-centered trimming, mis-folded or unbound pages, missing staples.
A vertical cover crease near the staples that runs (generally) parallel to the spine, caused by bending the cover over the staples or just too far to the left. Squarebound books get these very easily.
Any attempt (professional or amateur) to enhance the appearance of an aging or damaged comic book. Dry pressing/cleaning and the simple addition of tape repairs are not considered restoration, but the following techniques are: recoloring/color touch, adding missing paper, stain/ink/dirt/tape removal, whitening, chemical pressing, staple replacement, trimming, re- glossing, married pages, etc. Restored comics generally carry lower value than their unaltered counterparts.
A light paper abrasion that may or may not break color, but interrupts the surface gloss of the book. Its effect on grading is determined by severity.
Substances or residue on the surface of a comic. Most commonly found in white spaces. Residue is a more severe form of soiling.
A spine stress that has devolved into a tear (usually through multiple wraps). Spine breaks greatly decrease the spine's structural integrity and are often found close to the staples.
A condition where the left edge of a comic curves toward the front or back, caused by folding back each page as the comic was read. Also usually results in page fanning.
A clean, even separation at the spine fold, commonly above or below the staple, but can occur anywhere along the spine length.
A small crimp/fold perpendicular to the spine, usually less than 1/4" long.
When a wrap has come completely loose from a staple and is no longer bound to the comic in that area.
When staple rust has moved onto the surrounding paper, causing staining.
When one side of a cover has torn right next to the staple, but is still attached by the slip of paper beneath the staple. If not handled carefully, a popped staple can lead to a detached staple.
Literally, rust on the staple.
A vertical cover-to-cover fold caused by the book being folded in half when sent through the mail directly from the publisher.
A single sheet of paper folded to form four pages of a story. Most modern comics have eight wraps, plus the cover (but there are exceptions!).
Writing can be found on/in comics in many forms, and downgrades are based on severity. Common things you'll see:
Minor initial or date markings (do not affect grade except in the highest range)
Names written on covers or in margins
Interior puzzles filled out
Markings/coloring over interior art
Writing indentations, in which no ink or pencil has touched the comic, but it has been used as a writing surface, so you can see rough areas where the writing dented in.