CBCS Comic Book Grading - Understand the Labels

This is part 3 of a 4 part series about grading comics. Please see part 1 for an introduction to grading and slabbing and Part 2 for CGC labels.


Welcome to Part 3 of our series on grading comics. In this installment we will take a look at Comic Book Certification Services (CBCS). The company was founded by Alec Born and Steve Borock and was recently purchased by Beckett Media. Steve Borock is familiar to collectors, having earned respect in the community for helping create CGC and his time as its Primary Grader and President, followed by a tenure as Senior Consignment Director for Heritage Auctions.



Grades

Grading was introduced in Part 1 of this series Comic Book Grading - Understand the Options and CBCS’s system follows a 0.1-10.0 scale.


Labels and Colors

In 2017 CBCS redesigned their labels, and this article will only be covering the new ones.


Graded (Blue)

The blue label for CBCS covers any comic that is not signed. There are no special labels for restoration or anything else, they all will fall under the standard Blue. The grade will reflect condition, and notes about condition and restoration are printed on the label with the grade.


Detective Comics #37 CBCS 0.5 Bob Kane/DC File Copy

Detective Comics #37 CBCS 0.5 Bob Kane/DC File Copy

Amazing Spider-man #129 CBCS 7.0

Amazing Spider-man #129 CBCS 7.0

X-men #101 CBCS 9.2

X-men #101 CBCS 9.2

Amazing Spider-man #5 CBCS 3.0

Amazing Spider-man #5 CBCS 3.0

Super-Team Family #2 Manufacturing Error 3.5

Super-Team Family #2 Manufacturing Error CBCS 3.5

Bloodshot Reborn #10 CBCS 9.8

Bloodshot Reborn #10 CBCS 9.8

Giant Sized X-men #1 CBCS 5.5

Giant Sized X-men #1 CBCS 5.5

House of Secrets #92 CBCS 2.5

House of Secrets #92 CBCS 2.5


Authentic Signature (Yellow)

CBCS uses the Yellow label to signify that a signature or sketch cover was made in the presence of an authorized witness of CBCS. Thus you have a guarantee that the signature is authentic, and is an important distinction when considering the Red label below. Immediate grading and encapsulation is a part of the Yellow label process to preserve the witnessed state of the book.


Batman '66 #1 CBCS 9.8

Batman '66 #1 CBCS 9.8

Edge of Spider-verse #2 CBCS 9.6

Edge of Spider-verse #2 CBCS 9.6

Marvel Super-heroes Secret Wars #8 CBCS 9.8

Marvel Super-heroes Secret Wars #8 CBCS 9.8

Spawn #265 CBCS 9.8

Spawn #265 CBCS 9.8

Extinction Parade #1 CBCS 10

Extinction Parade #1 CBCS 10

Walking Dead Pooh CBCS 10

Walking Dead Pooh CBCS 10

Wolverine The Best There Is #1 CBCS 9.6 and Hulk #50 CBCS 9.8

Wolverine The Best There Is #1 CBCS 9.6 and Hulk #50 CBCS 9.8


Verified Signature (Red)

Now imagine you had the audacity to not get your comic signed or cover drawn in the presence of a CBCS representative… are you as out of luck as Magneto in a glass prison? Luckily CBCS offers the Red label as an alternative.


Miracleman #1 CBCS 9.4

Miracleman #1 CBCS 9.4
First VSP label book was displayed at Chicago Wizard Con 2014

Incredible Hulk #181 CBCS 2.0

Incredible Hulk #181 CBCS 2.0

Young Romance #6 CBCS 8.5

Young Romance #6 CBCS 8.5 (old label)

Captain America #34 CBCS 5.0

Captain America #34 CBCS 5.0

Wolverine #1 CBCS 8.0

Wolverine #1 CBCS 8.0

Wolverine #2 CBCS 8.0

Wolverine #2 CBCS 8.0

Wolverine #3 CBCS 7.0

Wolverine #3 CBCS 7.0

Wolverine #4 CBCS 8.0

Wolverine #4 CBCS 8.0


How does it work? Starting in 2018, your comic will first be examined by experts at Beckett Authentication Services (Beckett is CBCS’s parent company) to verify the authenticity of the signature. Assuming it comes back without issue, the comic will then be graded without penalty (i.e. just like a Yellow label) and encapsulated with the Red label. The average market price of a Red may be below that of an equivalently graded Yellow, but it does provide collectors a unique option.


Original Art

Another intriguing and unique option to CBCS, the Original Art (OA) label allows you to prove authenticity of an artwork (or signature). This is done by requiring the handoff from artist to collector to be in the presence of a CBCS witness. Most commonly this will be a sketch cover, but can be any piece of art that meets certain restrictions, most importantly no larger than 10.25 inches tall by 7.25 wide because it must be encapsulated.


If you are thinking this sounds similar to a Yellow label that’s because it is, so much so that it gets a special version of the Yellow label. The key difference is that OA is not graded. Without a grade there is obviously no guarantee of condition with an OA, it is merely to prove the art or signature is authentic.


Original Artwork Batman Signed and Sketched by Bruce Timm

Original Artwork Batman Signed and Sketched by Bruce Timm

Original Artwork Joker Signed and Sketched by Bruce Timm

Original Artwork Joker Signed and Sketched by Bruce Timm

Original Artwork Star Wars Signed and Sketched by Steven Davis

Original Artwork Star Wars Signed and Sketched by Steven Davis

Original Artwork Punisher Signed and Sketched by Steve Dillion

Original Artwork Punisher Signed and Sketched by Steve Dillion

Original Artwork Hulk by Sal Buscema


For an original piece of art the value is obvious, but for comics where grades are often so key this label may be a bit confusing. However, some see grades as taking away the focus from the art, and other times the underlying book is not really what the collector cares about.


Raw Grade

Here we will take the opportunity to note that CBCS offers a “raw grade” service that will grade your comic but not put it through the slabbing/encapsulation process.


Homebre Arana #368 CBCS 6.5

Homebre Arana #368 CBCS 6.5

Moon Knight #25 CBCS 9.6

Moon Knight #25 CBCS 9.6


CBCS Checkmark/*

CBCS Checkmark

The grade may also be marked with a qualifying asterisk (pre-2014) or check mark (current) to indicate a mismatch in condition. Here the cover implies a higher grade than given, while unseen interior defects have resulted in the lower awarded grade.

In early 2017 CBCS launched a new design for their archival grade cases including new labels, font, and colored holofoil CBCS label


If you love CBCS and want to connect with other collectors checkout CBCS Comic Collectors Club on Facebook

Thank you to all the collectors who shared their amazing CBCS graded books with us for this article!
Adam Tomlin, Ronnie Powers, Carissa Nichole Smith, Ryan F Anderson, Michael Thomas, Paul Evans, Todd Erwin, Bryan Neustein, Mark Stong, Jonathan McCool, Jesse A. Olson, Kevin Kilgo, Lance Inovejas, Scott Arcuri, Josh Tullis, Steve Edler, Robin Smith, David Whalen, Rick Jones, Jason Palisano, Chris Owens, Stephen Bagley, Harinder Khaira, Nico Felix Capurro and everyone else who submitted photos through the Collector's Corner Facebook Group and our Comic Burst Facebook page

Thank you for joining us on part 3 of our journey through comic grading. Join us in Part 4 to review PGX’s labels.

Writers - Matt Tuck & Dr. No

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Cover thumbnails are used for identification purposes only. All rights to cover images reserved by the respective copyright holders.