Grading has become one of the best ways to encapsulate a collector's favorite books along with identifying and preserving its value. For some collectors it is so much more than just a plastic case with a number on it. Rather, it is an opportunity to mark a comic as unique, forming a more personal relationship for the collector.
Grant Adey, owner and operator of Halo Certifications of Australia, is dedicated to creating unique graded slabs. Comic Burst had the exciting opportunity of being the first American company to interview hi. We hope you enjoy reading as much as we did producing.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Comic Burst: Grant, thank you so much for joining us today!
Grant Adey: Hello! Thank you for having me on. I believe this is my first American Interview.
CB: That's quite the honor for us Grant, thank you for doing this. Halo Certifications is not as well known as the big US grading companies, so can you tell us a little about how you got started?
GA: I started Halo Certification about three and a half years ago in Australia. We have a strong following in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Indonesia, and Malaysia [Editor’s note: Halo Certifications will also grade comics of US collectors]. These are areas that would be difficult for other grading companies to service and it's been great. I was a grader with CGC for around thirteen years or so and also owned a comic shop. In 2013 I was an Overstreet advisor and had enough with my shop, so I left Overstreet to start my own grading company here in Australia. Three and half years later... wow! Its It's been a crazy ride already. We've been very, very busy.
CB: So before you decided to start Halo you had quite a firm handle in the industry already, touching each part of the business. How did you use this experience to make Halo Certifications stand out from the competition?
GA: Well, in the beginning it was a question of quantity. We didn't know if we were going to sell 10, 20, or 100 slabs. How would we know right away? The big certification guys have a huge inventory and a lot of money tied up in cases; it is literally a quarter of a million dollars in injection molded cases inventory just to get in the game. I spent six months researching and trying to figure out a way to streamline the entire process to make it so that it wasn't a factor for Halo. I also have a background in engines and engine repair, so I utilized that to design and build my own slab manufacturing machinery. Don't get me wrong, it was quite involved working out a solution. It's the one that we still use in production today.
CB: Absolutely gorgeous. I love how much the color enhances the view of the comic! The labels really stand out as well. What a beautiful slab.
GA: Thank you. They are very sturdy: the backing plate is 4.5 MM with a bubble front where the comic book lies, which is 1.5 MM in thickness. Then, it is chemically welded together, which produces a VERY TOUGH [Grant slaps his hand on the slab] slab indeed. So there you go, that's the Mark I and we still manufacture this one to date. But we also have the Mark II.
CB: Very cool! Your website states you have implemented NFC chips into the Mark II slabs. What is the purpose of the NFC chip?
GA: So the NFC chip is a really a neat thing, tying the slab to the owner. We can pretty much put any data into it that we want, like personalized messages or pictures. All you need to do to access it is have a smartphone with NFC capability. You wave your phone across the chip and it will make a “ping" sound, at which point you have accessed the information. Once the chip has been written it cannot come off; it is a permanent fixture within the slab. In regards to the density and strength of the Mark II, it is a bit lighter and thinner. The Mark I is essentially the “Queen Mary” in regards to durability but the Mark II is still very durable, and is a bit more slick in design. When we ship these, we use special wooden crate containers for them to eliminate issues with damages.
CB: A unique feature of your cases is the ability to choose a color. Tell us a bit about the different colors that are available. Do customers usually match to the comic cover or choose based on other reasons?
GA: We have a really nice Smoke Grey color, Deep Blue, and this gorgeous Violet color that is very popular with collectors, especially for those who enjoy matching the color scheme to their favorite comic book. Then we have our Hulk Green, which does look yellow due to the transparency of the plastic and the way the light is hitting it right now, but I can assure you it’s quite green. (INSERT PICTURE F). We call it “Hulk Green”, as it really looks awesome when you put a Hulk book in one, it really makes it pop!
We've had these on the market now, for about seven or eight months now and they have been very popular. I would say that I do about 60% of the Mark I and 40% of the color Mark II slabs with NFC chip. A lot of the shops stick with the Mark I, as they are super durable and they can be carried from show to show without the worry of it being damaged. Collectors really like the Mark II however. It's different, it makes the book stand out, and they know they are getting an accurate grade, along with a cutting edge slab.
CB: You mentioned that you worked as a CGC agent in Australia. Can you tell us a little about your experience with them?
GA: I started for CGC, back in 2000. I was dealer #671 and I hear today, that they are on agent two thousand and something [laughs]. CGC was really the first to do the grading of books. I started right along with them and continued that relationship for thirteen years. So yeah, I flew their flag for thirteen years and I just knew that slabs were the future of collecting. When slabs first started hitting the scene it was not like it is today. Today, you can find a slab in any shop or con you can think of. But back in like 2004 it was different. There were maybe one or two slabs at a convention and it was a BIG deal. People loved the idea of it and it exploded. I love this industry and business very much. To have seen things grow and expand the way they have I consider myself very lucky.
CB: How does a collector submit a book to Halo? Are there instructions on the website?
GA: Yes. Absolutely. Just go to the website, www.halocertificationptyltd.com and fill out the details. I also have a representative for the US by the name of Del Stewart who takes submissions in the States.
CB: Thank you for joining us today Grant. We are sure the community will be very excited to learn more about Halo Certifications and we look forward to hearing more about Halo’s future endeavors.
GA: Thank you!
Writer - Nathan Liberty
Editor - Dr. No
As always, thank you for joining us on our journey through comic grading. Keep coming back for more great content from the Comic Burst team.