Collecting comics went to an all-new level when it became possible to “slab” a comic, especially after it’s been autographed! (I use the term “slab” so I don’t focus on either of the big companies, CGC or CBCS.)
There are good and bad elements to getting a comic slabbed. Let me elaborate!
WHY YOU GET SOMETHING SLABBED
Right now, the two main companies that can slab a comic are CGC and CBCS. And I describe “slabbing” in this way: Taking a comic, either autographed or not, then having its condition rated, and finally sealing it into a plastic case that will hopefully preserve it for a long, long time to come.
Going through this process should keep that book in its current condition for years to come, hopefully. It’ll be much harder to get to it, anyway!
Of course, this increases the size of the entire unit from the average comic book size. Some people love that, and there are ways to store them that work well.
You want something to stay in your collection for years, get it slabbed!
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T GET SOMETHING SLABBED
Granted, there are many reasons against slabbing a comic. Some are reasonable, others may not be.
The first reason to keep a book away from slabbing is if you want to read it. If you slab it, you cannot touch it unless you break the plastic case, often damaging the comic in the process. Hey, I like to read my books, okay? Of course, you could always buy another one of lesser value to read.
The second one for me is the increased size of the book and case. I only have so much room to keep stuff, and a slabbed comic takes up much more space than an unslabbed one. I can’t afford a bigger place to live!
Another reason is that some creators will NOT sign a comic if they know you are taking it directly to get it slabbed after they sign it. See the first reason for the explanation they often give.
Still another reason against slabbing is the cost. A general average cost to get a comic slabbed is around $50 each. That can add up in a hurry, especially if you’re working with a limited budget. If not, go for it!
Another thing that often happens is the person submitting the comic will not agree with the rating of the book’s condition. You think you should have a 9.8 rating, and it comes back as a 9.4 or below. I’ve heard people complain bitterly about this whole process. Now, you can take it to the other company and see what they say, but you’ve got to pay another fee out of your pocket, and there’s no guarantee it’ll receive a higher rating.
And once it’s slabbed, you really can’t get any more autographs done on the comic unless, again, you break the case. And with that extra handling, your condition might lessen. My experience is that it often does.
Slabbing always reminds me of Han Solo being encased in carbonite in Star Wars. He did get out eventually! Most comics don’t, though.
COLLECTORS ARE IMPORTANT
Please understand that I don’t begrudge anyone having enough money to be able to collect comics by slabbing them. But also understand that I feel that the first and highest function of a comic is to be read, not slabbed.
On the other hand, as someone who has been helping with an Indie comic, I know just who important collectors are. Indie creators often spend their money getting their books made, so anyone who can support them financially – through Kickstarter, con booths or any other means – makes a HUGE difference. Really!
I was helping Richard Rivera from Stabbity Bunny at a signing once, and a collector came in with the ultimate collector line: “What don’t I have?” He bought at least one of everything on sale. He became our new best friend!
I have to say, though, that I do collect some things myself – Hawkman stuff, for instance. But I worry when people just buy comics to put them away someplace and hide them. The way you know a comic is valuable is when you read it! Really and for true!
As long as we maintain the current balance between people who slab and people who don’t, it seems okay to me.
What do you think? Do you take comics to CGC or CBCS? What has been your experience with them? If you slab comics, do you buy a reader copy so you can read it as well? Whatever your opinion, please share your thoughts in the space below!