Judging Comics By Their Cover

Grading involves more than judging comics by their cover. I take great care in examining each and every comic book I grade, inside and out, before putting it up for sale. I note any problems worth noting and price it accordingly so the buyer is fully aware of its condition.

I’m often surprised at how many people at shows don’t ask to open a book or if there are any issues to be aware of before making a purchase. Fortunately, I am not a deceptive seller so I typically only have happy buyers.

However, there are many sellers out there who apparently have never heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Whether they are purposely deceitful or simply being careless, there are too many transactions that take place that involve a damaged book for which a buyer has paid too much. Unfortunately, judging comics by their cover tends to create a “buyer beware” market.

Books graded by 3rd party grading services such as CGC provide an excellent means of shopping safely as details regarding damage and restoration are clearly labeled on the slab. But if you’re like me, you may prefer books that you can actually open, read and enjoy. So before buying your next collectible book, be sure to ask to examine it in its entirety. An honest seller should be willing to show you the book – just take extra care when looking at it.

The most common things you’ll most likely find on the pages inside are writing and torn pages. You may also find crude repairs involving tape or staples. Some books have coupons that could be sent off (and thus cut out) or puzzles that were often filled in. All of these problems will impact the value of the book and you need to consider how detracted you are be by their existence.

One thing especially troubling with comic books that were published by Marvel between March 1974 and November 1975 are the “Marvel Value Stamps”. These were small frames made to look like postage stamps that were printed on the letters page. They were often collected by kids and thus cut out. Be sure to look for them in issues published during these dates. Below is a complete list of the issues containing the Marvel Value Stamps. There are several that are very significant in value such as Incredible Hulk 181, which features the first full Wolverine story.

Marvel Value Stamp

Judging comics by their cover can lead to overlooking a missing Marvel Value Stamp

Amazing Adventures 23, 24, 26, 27 and 33
Amazing Spider-Man 130-141, 144-147
Astonishing Tales 23-28
Avengers 121-132
Captain America 171-182, 184 and 192
Captain Marvel 32-36 and 41
Conan the Barbarian 36-44 and 49
Creatures on the Loose 28-33 and 36
Daredevil 108-118, 120 and 127
Defenders 13, 15-17, 19, 20 and 23
Doctor Strange (1974) 1-6
Fantastic Four 144-147, 149-155, 159 and 160
Fear, (Adventure into) 21-26, and 31
Frankenstein 9-14 and 16
Ghost Rider 5-9 and 11
Giant-Size Avengers 3
Giant-Size Creatures (Werewolf) 1
Giant-Size Defenders 3
Giant-Size Dracula 5
Giant-Size Fantastic Four 4
Giant-Size Man-Thing 3-5
Giant-Size Master of Kung-Fu 3
Incredible Hulk 174-177, 179-184 and 186
Invaders 1 and 3
Iron Fist 1
Iron Man 67-71
Jungle Action 9-13
Ka-Zar 2-6, 8, 10 and 12
Kull the Destroyer 13-15
Man-Thing (1974) 3-11, 13 and 14
Marvel Premiere 15-20, 23-25
Marvel Spotlight 14-20
Marvel Team-Up 19-30, 33 and 39
Marvel Two-in-One 2-7 and 12
Master of Kung-Fu 17-19, 21-25 and 31
Power Man 18-21, 23 and 24
Sgt. Fury 118-120
Son of Satan 1
Strange Tales 173-176
Sub-Mariner 69-72
Supernatural Thrillers 8, 9, 11 and 12
Thor 221-229, 231, 232, 235, 237 and 238
Tomb of Dracula 18-31, 34, 35, 37 and 39
War is Hell 11 and 13
Werewolf by Night 15-17, 19-27
Worlds Unknown 6-8

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