CGC Comics Grader Notes Guide: Crease Defects




This category contains defects that involve a folding or bending of the paper of a comic book, and usually occurs on the cover, although creasing is sometimes evident on interior pages as well. Creases can be very small or large, few or several, and may either barely affect the paper or leave a deep impression. Creases are considered a structural defect. Some individual defects that fall into the crease category include bends, indents, stress lines, spine rolls and subscription creases.

Bend

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Bends are common defects in comic books, disrupting their flatness without breaking color and manifesting in various shapes and sizes. They include stacking bends, finger bends, dents, indents, writing indents and crunches, often serving as precursors to creases, which are more severe and typically break color. These bends can vary in visibility, with some requiring close examination under specific lighting conditions. Assessing whether a bend constitutes a crease involves examining if paper fibers are broken; if so, the defect cannot be fully remedied by pressing. Bends, typically affecting high-grade books, can impact a comic's grade, with light bends lowering it to the 9.0 to 9.4 range, moderate bends reducing it to 7.5 to 8.5 and heavy bends potentially dropping it to 6.5 or 7.0.

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Crease

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Creases are common defects found on comic book covers, resulting from paper folding over and breaking fibers along the fold. They can lead to color loss, depending on factors like angle, pressure, paper thickness and color presence. Various sub-categories exist, including polybag, printer, subscription, reader and finger creases, each impacting grading differently based on severity, color involvement and location on the cover. Light creases may resemble bends, while heavy ones often result in hinged folds, especially in reader or subscription creases. The distinction between a bend and a crease lies in whether paper fibers are broken along the seam. Creases' effect on grading considers factors like length, location and severity, with diagonal creases breaking color having different grading impacts depending on placement and type.

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Crunch

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This defect occurs when any corner of a comic book suffers an impact, causing accordion-like bends throughout the area. A crunch affects both the cover and interior pages and can be as small as 1/8” or expand several inches into a book. Because it affects the entire comic, a crunch has a bigger impact on grade then other bend related defects, many of which only affect the cover. Most moderate crunches land in the 8.0 to 9.0 range. Depending on the severity of the crunch, color breaking creases may form where the paper is bent. Crunches without color breaks can be completely removed with pressing.

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Dent

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Like an indent and crunch, a dent is a non-color breaking disturbance to the cover and possibly interior pages as well. Unlike indents, which occur in the middle of the cover and crunches that affect the entire book at its corners, dents affect only the edges of a comic book. They are small in nature and caused by impact from a foreign object. A large dent may be classified as a bend and if it breaks color it may be classified as a scuff, scratch, or wear. Dents can be removed with pressing.

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Finger Bends

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Finger bends are small impacts to the cover, caused by pressure from the fingertips holding the book too tightly. They can be found anywhere on the cover but are typically found near the outer right edge of the front cover, or left edge back cover where a comic is usually held. There may be one or two light bends or several throughout. Finger bends do not break color, barely affect the surface of the paper and are only visible in a raking light. If they break color, they are classified as finger creases. One finger bend can keep a comic from achieving 9.9 or 10.0. The most common finger bends land a book between 8.5 and 9.4 and large clusters can push a grade even lower. Finger bends on thick covers, such as Golden Age cardboard covers and prestige format comics often resemble veins. Most finger bends can be removed with pressing.

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Finger Creases

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Like finger bends, these are small impacts to the cover, caused by pressure from the fingertips holding the book too tightly, but finger creases exhibit color breaks. These breaks usually appear as small crescent shapes and can be found anywhere on the surface of a cover, but usually appear on the outer edges of the front and back cover where a comic book is typically held. One finger crease can lower a grade to 9.6. More often several finger creases are present, which land a book between 8.0 and 9.2 and large clusters can push a grade even lower. Finger creases are like regular creases in that its effect is determined by the cumulative length of the color breaks.

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Indent

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An indent is an impression on the surface of a comic book’s cover that is caused by an interaction with another object. It is not to be confused with a dent, which affects only the edges, or a crunch, which affects the entire comic at the corners. An indent most often takes the form of a point or line, can be small or large, shallow or deep, few or numerous, but will not pierce the cover. The object the causes a dent or the shape of the indent may result in a different classification, such as a pencil (writing indent), or the hand (finger bends). Indents do not break color and can be removed with pressing.

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Polybag Crease

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During the speculation boom of the early ‘90s, several comics were distributed inside sealed polybags when accompanied with loose premiums like trading cards or posters. The process of enclosing a comic book inside the bag involved pressure that pressed a light or heavy bend into the cover (usually the back cover, less often the front) that ran top to bottom, similar but not as deep as a subscription crease. Polybag creases are typically light in nature and can be removed with pressing. Comics continue to be distributed in polybags today and often suffer the same effect.

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Reader Crease

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A reader crease is a vertical fold typically found along the spine of a comic book's front or back cover, caused by misaligned staples or glue in squarebound comics. During the Golden and Silver Ages of comics, the inconsistent saddle-stitching process often resulted in off-center binding, leading to visible "maverick staples" and potential creases if the cover was opened too widely. Similarly, in squarebound comics, excess glue can cause a vertical crease along the spine when opened too far. These creases, known as reader creases, vary in severity, with hinged creases being the most serious. While they can affect grading similarly to regular creases, reader creases are typically less severe due to their location on the edge of the cover. Light reader creases may only slightly impact grading, while full-length creases with color breakage can significantly lower a comic's grade.

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Reverse Spine Roll

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A reverse spine roll, unlike a natural spine roll, is deliberately created through pressing to shift spine defects to the back cover, enhancing the appearance of the front cover spine. Recognizing a reverse spine roll involves observing fanned pages along the front cover's right edge, contrary to the typical direction of fanning in a natural spine roll. Confirmation occurs when a worn spine line appears along the right edge of the back cover. These rolls are typically narrow, ranging from 1/16” to 1/8”, with grading impact depending on width; smaller rolls may minimally affect high grades, while wider rolls can lower the grade significantly, potentially to 8.0 or 8.5. Despite being intentional, collectors disapprove of reverse spine rolls as they alter the comic's original appearance, leading to harsher treatment compared to natural spine rolls.

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Spine Roll

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Spine rolls, common in Golden and early Silver Age comics, occur when the cover and pages curl around the back of the book during reading, causing torque and fanning along the left edge of the back cover. Severity ranges from slight shifts to widths exceeding one inch, with torquing causing fanning along the top or bottom edge, usually not exceeding ¼”. These rolls often lead to staple tears, detached staples and spine splits due to pressure on the spine. Rare instances may involve rolls causing fanning along the right edge of the front cover, distinct from intentional reverse spine rolls. While slight rolls have minimal grading impact, moderate ones typically lower a grade to 6.0 to 8.0 and heavy rolls can reduce it to 4.0. Most spine rolls are correctable with pressing, depending on spine and staple fragility.

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Stacking Bend

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This type of bend occurs from improper storage, most often when a comic is unevenly placed in a stack of comics with one or two edges protruding from the edge of the stack. Heavy, direct pressure over time causes a bend along the line of exposure, affecting either the cover or the entire book. The line usually runs vertically or horizontally and is most often found parallel to the spine. Stacking bends are usually light in nature, do not break color and can be removed with pressing. A very light stacking bend to only the cover may only keep a comic from achieving 9.9 or 10.0, which a heavy stacking bend affecting the entire comic can grade as low as 8.5.

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Staple Impression

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Staple impressions, subtle yet noticeable, occur when heavy pressure during storage or pressing pushes staples into the surrounding paper, especially if they're unevenly placed during printing. Depending on the pressure, impressions can affect specific wraps or the entire book, leaving marks and potential color lift or tears. Impressions confined to interior wraps typically don't affect grading but can prevent a comic from achieving top grades. Those on the cover may lead to downgrades, especially with accompanying color lift or tears. Squarebound comics are prone to staple impressions due to staple placement beneath the covers, though these generally don't impact grading. Occasionally, staples may even penetrate the cover, termed as staple poking through cover.

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Stress Lines

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Stress lines, commonly seen on comic book spines, are small horizontal breaks resulting from spine bending, affecting over 99% of vintage comics and often preventing modern comics from achieving grades of 9.4 or higher. Their grading impact depends on number, width and whether they break color. While a 9.9 copy may have a few non-color breaking stress lines, a 9.8 allows one or two color-breaking ones. Most stress lines lower grades to 8.0 to 9.4, with numerous ones potentially categorized as general spine wear and those exceeding one inch in length considered creases. Non-color breaking stress lines are hard to spot head-on but visible under a raking light. Though pressing may remove non-color breaking lines, those breaking color maintain grading impact. Stress lines can worsen into tears on aged covers, sometimes necessitating color touch during restoration checks.

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Subscription Crease

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Subscriptions were a prevalent method of comic book delivery, often resulting in a vertical crease through the middle due to folding for mailbox fitting. The severity varies from light bends to hard hinge creases, potentially breaking color, with the closed side bearing a more pronounced fold. Occasionally, multiple parallel creases form from folding. Factors affecting grading include crease length, number, color breakage and hinge degree. Traditional subscription creases, breaking color from top to bottom, can lower a grade to 5.5 or lower, especially if heavily hinged or affecting both covers. Lighter creases may grade higher and can sometimes be mitigated with pressing. Grading criteria for subscription creases align with those for regular cover creases. Subscription creases differ from reader’s creases near the spine or typical handling creases.

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Vein

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A vein is similar to a crease, causing a disturbance in the color and paper of a cover, but instead of a straight line, a vein line appears squiggly. It is caused when an open cover is pinched in one isolated area and pressure is applied downward as the cover closes. Veins are usually small in length but can run in any direction on the cover. They usually break color and as such are treated similar to a color breaking crease, with its impact on grade depending on its length (or accumulated length if more than one is present). Very light veins can sometimes be removed with pressing, but more often they have disturbed paper fibers to a point of being permanent.

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Writing Indent

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A writing indent occurs when pen or pencil impressions form on a comic cover due to pressure from writing on stickers placed on storage bags. These indents, typically faint and not color-breaking, can be removed with pressing. Similarly, tracing indents intentionally outline images on the front cover, often with deeper impressions and may be harder to detect without a raking light. While most writing indents are small and affect high-grade comics, tracing can cover larger areas and result in significant downgrades, usually between 6.0 and 8.0. Occasionally, writing or tracing indents coincide with actual writing on the cover, with the latter usually having a greater impact on grading.

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