12/11/04 - Taken directly from CGC's website:  

"Comics Guaranty, LLC (CGC) is an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group of companies.

The Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) is an umbrella organization consisting of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC) the leading grading service in rare coins, Sportscard Guaranty, LLC (SGC) the fastest growing grading service in sportscards, and now CGC the first independent, impartial, expert third party grading service in comics.

Our certification companies have a proven and respected commitment to integrity, accuracy, consistency and impartiality in grading collectibles that has made them leaders in their fields. This proven model of success is ideally suited to adapt to the unique challenges of grading comic books."

I want you all to read the following again,  "…respected commitment to integrity, accuracy, consistency and impartiality in grading collectibles".

CGC, and their umbrella organization CCG, are considering a move that will bring suspicion to all graded and slabbed comics in the marketplace as well as leave questions about CGC's impartiality and ethics in both their grading service and consideration for the health of this hobby.  This move won't only affect those who collect slabs but normal collectors as well.  Let me explain…

Rumors circulated at the recent National Comic Show in New York City that Chris Friesen, CGC current staff restoration specialist, was going to open his own restoration business as part of the CCG umbrella.  Speculation quickly turned to a hot topic in collecting circles.  Pressing comics.  The act of taking your comic, adding pressure, and changing the comic to appear better than it did before by pressing out non-color breaking creases, wavy pages, fixing spine roll, etc.  There are many instances where the act of pressing has increased the grade CGC gives a comic.  One collector has kept a log of many Edgar Church copies sold on Heritage that have benefited greatly.  Some in the hobby don't see pressing as restoration.  Others do (in which I'm one).  One aspect of the rumor was comics pressed by Chris would be submitted to CGC and, even though they know the comic was pressed, would not be noted on the slab label.  Essentially, CGC was giving it's blessing to pressed comics and was even providing, indirectly, a conduit to which collectors could get their comics pressed.

CGC's stance on pressing over the last year is they don't regard it as restoration if done professionally and safely, whatever that means.  They also claim they can't detect pressing on ALL comics so they aren't going to note it at all.  To be honest, CGC's stance on pressing has always been a bit vague.  And now we know why…

After the rumors started, CGC didn't respond at all on their in-house bulletin board for almost two weeks despite getting bombarded and slammed by collectors who strongly disagreed with the rumor.  Steve Borock, CGC head grader and general spokesman, finally spoke on Friday, 3 Dec.  He confirmed that Chris was leaving CGC and starting his own restoration company.  He also confirmed CCG was actively looking to finance Chris' start-up costs and place the new company under the CCG umbrella.  Steve outlined the separation between Chris' new company and CGC as well as emphasizing that no comics would go directly from Chris to CGC.  Customers would have to submit separately to both services.  Finally Steve gave his complete support to Chris and wholeheartedly recommended his services.

Well it's kind of hard to know where to start.  The statement smacks of collusion.  It's difficult to see how CGC can continue to claim impartiality when one of their own is going to start a comics restoration company under the same umbrella.  Smacks of hypocrisy.  Also, its obvious comics have been pressed and ignored by CGC in the past but collectors have always claimed a sort of ignorance when buying.  They didn't want to know the comic they were buying was pressed.  Now they won't be able to claim ignorance, as everyone will be fully aware the high grade comic they are buying has a good chance of being pressed.  That makes all slabs suspect whether they were graded previous to this "announcement" or after.

If this decision goes through, I can't help but see bad things on the horizon for the hobby.  The number of high grade CGC comics will dramatically increase thus lowering the value of all high grade issues due to the numbers available.  Also, the price spread between mid and high grade, already growing larger, will grow by multiples in a relatively short time.  And finally, the value of all slabbed comics will drop due to collectors aversion to pressed comics.  There is a large segment of the hobby that doesn't buy the pressing isn't restoration argument and will be leery of spending large amounts of money for suspect slabs.  And again, all slabs will become suspect, except maybe the old style slabs, due to this decision.

Outside of slabbed comics, a drop in the prices realized for CGC grade comics will cause a drop on the raw side as well.  Not to mention, the dramatic drops of mid and low grade due to the amount of high grades out there. 

This whole situation could very well start the next comics crash.  The hobby overall isn't by any means healthy and in a lot of respects is skittish.  More collectors than I can ever recall are voicing thoughts on selling their collections and getting out.  Prices across the board have been dropping over the last 3 months regardless of the announcement.  It wouldn't take much to have a wholesale selling feeding frenzy on our hands…

But in my opinion, all this pales in severity to this: CGC, a company that should have the best interests of the hobby in its bore sight, has abandoned the health of the hobby by going after this cash grab.  I'm extremely disappointed by their apparent actions and lack of common sense in this whole situation.  I used to think CGC was terrible for the hobby when they first arrived but over the years came to appreciate their role in comics collecting and seeming goodwill they displayed towards it.  CGC has been a bright light, despite your view on slabbing, in this hobby.  In one fell swoop, they have damaged their impartiality and hard won reputation.  All in the hope of making a few more dollars.  I knew better but was swayed by Steve's apparent love for the hobby and what CGC could bring to make it a better place.  Sadly I was wrong.  I don't plan on being deceived again…

12/11/04 - Had another very successful and enjoyable time at last Saturday's Stuttgart Comic Show.  I'd say the attendance surpassed the same show 6 months ago and everyone seemed to have a good time.

The increase in attendance was also reflected in my comics sales.  Overall, I sold about 40% more raw comics than the last show.  Add in an impromptu bargain basement sale of 19 CGC slabbed comics, due to my disappointment with recent CGC events, and I did very well indeed.  DCs sales ruled the day again highlighted by a lengthy run of mid-grade Bronze Green Lanterns and selected issues of both Silver and Bronze Flash and Batmans.  On the Marvel side, mid grade Marvel Team-ups was the run of choice.

On the buying side, I came away with various Bronze comics to include high grade copies of Champions #1, Freedom Fighter #2-4, and a run of Marvel Greatest Comics as well as some Modern issues I've missed.  I was encouraged though to see more dealers with US comics at this show then last.

Overall, another great show!  Can't wait for the next in 6 months.  My tables are already reserved...