alt text



CGC Comics Grader Notes Guide: Missing Part Defects




This category refers to any original part of a comic book that is gone. The most common missing parts involve paper that have been torn, cut, or chipped off, but can also include missing staples, or ink and gloss that has lifted from the surface of the paper. While ink, gloss and staples can be individually lost, the loss of paper will also take ink and sizing with it, causing the loss of three parts of a comic at once. Missing paper and staples constitute a structural defect, while missing ink and gloss are considered aesthetic defects. Examples of missing parts include cut out coupons, chews, bindery chips, scratches, ink lift, fraying and tape pulls.

Binder/Punch Holes

Red underlines

Punch holes, created with a hole puncher, can affect either the cover or the entire comic book. Unlike binder holes used for inserting comics into binders, punch holes serve no purpose and are typically an amateur alteration done years before owners realized the comics' potential value. These holes, resulting in paper loss and potentially impacting the story, are treated severely in grading, with their effect depending on size and number. Comics with two or three average-sized holes through the spine typically receive grades in the 3.0 to 4.0 range, while holes only affecting the cover are graded similarly to missing pieces of the same size. Some rare instances exist where certain comics were intentionally printed with punch holes, such as Key Ring Comics and issues of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, where the presence of binder holes does not impact grading.

Back to Top

Bindery Chip

Red underlines

Bindery chips, stemming from bindery tears during the folding and stapling of comics, are common on Golden Age comics due to their thickness. The size of the chip usually corresponds to the tear's length. While small chips have minimal impact on grading, larger ones up to ½” wide can lower a comic's grade to 8.0 or lower. Bindery tears are less frequent on Silver and Bronze Age comics but may still affect grades below 9.6. Modern comics rarely experience bindery tears, although they can occur with squarebounds, prestige format and those with high page counts. Marvel comics from 1968, like Sub-Mariner #1 and Iron Man #1, may exhibit bindery chips from trimming during printing, potentially lowering grades to 9.0-9.6 depending on severity.

Back to Top

Brittleness Chipping

Red underlines

Brittleness in comic books refers to the chemical breakdown of pages due to hydrolysis, leading to paper loss, often at the edges or corners. This process weakens the paper, making it prone to splitting or chipping, impacting grading. Brittleness splitting shares the same origin and grading impact. When affecting interior pages, brittleness is categorized as slightly brittle or brittle, based on the extent of chipping and pages affected. Slight chipping may result in slightly brittle designation, while larger or multiple affected corners are considered brittle. The maximum grade allowed for slightly brittle pages is 6.5 and 3.5 for brittle pages. Significant paper loss from brittleness, especially if the cover is affected, can further impact grading. Although less common on Golden Age covers due to their sturdier construction, brittleness becomes more prevalent on thinner covers from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Paper loss from brittleness is assessed similarly to pieces missing from normal handling, with extreme chipping potentially leading to a 0.5 grade and posing risks during handling and encapsulation, prompting possible rejection by CGC.

Back to Top

Burn

Red underlines

Burn marks on comic books result from exposure to fire and can vary widely in severity, often occurring during building fires where comics survive partial destruction. These burns, commonly found on the spine or edges, affect both the cover and interior pages and may accompany smoke and water damage from extinguishment. Grading impact depends on paper loss and staining severity; slight burns with no paper loss are treated as stains, with small burns possibly allowed in grades of 9.0 or higher. Severe burns causing significant paper loss can lower grades to 0.5. A specific type of controlled burn mark is the cigarette burn, typically found near the middle of the cover, creating a circular hole with singed edges and potentially affecting several interior pages. This burn is treated similarly to a hole but incurs additional deductions due to the singed marks around the edges.

Back to Top

Chews

Red underlines

Chews in comic books refer to paper loss caused by animals chewing or eating part of a comic, typically affecting most or all pages. They are identifiable by their uneven chipping pattern resembling teeth marks and are distinct from insect damage like silverfish or wormholes, although sometimes misattributed. Chews are graded like missing pieces but often have a moderate to severe impact due to widespread damage. While very light chews may still result in grades as high as 8.0 or 8.5, severe chews can lower a grade to 0.5, with average chews typically landing a book in the 3.0 to 5.0 range.

Back to Top

Erasure Marks

Red underlines

Dry cleaning, the process of using an eraser to remove pencil marks and soiling from a comic book cover, is a common industry practice often combined with pressing to enhance appearance and grade. When performed correctly, erasing leaves no trace, but excessive pressure can remove gloss, ink and even paper. Historically, erasers were used to remove arrival dates, names, or scribbling, sometimes without regard for the comic's grade. Early pedigrees like Larson, Cosmic Aeroplane and Mile High may feature erased markings done before their recognition. Grading erasure marks considers factors like size, location and whether the erasure affects gloss, ink and paper. Most erasure marks, often small, typically affect grades between 8.5 and 9.6, while larger or numerous marks may lower the grade further in rare cases.

Back to Top

Fraying

Red underlines

Fraying refers to the loss of paper and ink along the spine of a comic cover due to rubbing, often stemming from laminar splitting, particularly common in Golden Age comics with thicker paper stock. When ink is absent along the spine, fraying can be challenging to detect, as only the top paper layer is affected, resulting in a fuzzy appearance with protruding fibers upon close inspection. Fraying, especially if it affects color, leads to a significant downgrade in grade due to its impact on eye appeal. Most instances lower a grade to between 8.0 and 9.0, while isolated or light fraying may result in a higher grade. It's important to differentiate fraying from scuff, which typically refers to corner wear.

Back to Top

Gloss Loss

Red underlines

Gloss loss on a comic cover typically occurs due to water-soluble sizing, often from contact with moisture through damp fingers, liquid drops, environmental conditions, or improper pressing. This loss is usually subtle, visible primarily under a raking light and predominantly affects white areas of the cover. The extent of gloss loss varies based on the type of exposure; localized exposure results in isolated spots, while broader exposure leads to widespread loss or streaks across the surface. Comics with isolated gloss loss are typically downgraded to grades between 9.0 and 9.4, moderate loss to 8.0 to 9.0 and large areas or streaking may result in grades as low as 6.0.

Back to Top

Hole

Red underlines

This defect involves a puncture through the paper of a comic book, which may result in slight paper loss but typically does not occur along edges. These holes, often small in size, can penetrate only the cover or pass through the entire comic. Various subcategories exist, including binder/punch hole, printer hole, staple hole, wormhole and burn. Grading impact depends on factors such as the number of affected pages, size of the hole, extent of paper loss and quantity of holes. For instance, a single small hole may lead to a downgrade to between 8.0 and 9.0, while multiple holes, especially with marred paper surrounding them, result in considerably lower grades.

Back to Top

Ink Lift

Red underlines

Ink lift is a defect involving printed ink that has been lifted off the paper during the printing process, often due to ink not fully drying or unstable bonding between ink and paper. Primarily seen on modern comic book covers, especially those from the 2000s when printing quality varied considerably, it also affects vintage comics, particularly in areas of black ink. This occurs when freshly printed covers are stacked together before ink dries, causing transfer between adjacent covers. Unlike ink missing, ink lift occurs during printing. Typically minor, ink lift has minimal effect on grading, with a lesser deduction if a large percentage of the print run exhibits the same pattern of ink lift.

Back to Top

Ink Loss

Red underlines

Ink loss is a diverse defect resulting from color being scraped, lifted, or rubbed off the paper during regular handling, often in conjunction with creases, tears, or missing pieces. It can also occur from the comic rubbing against surfaces, improper pressing, or exposure to moisture. Grading impact varies depending on the accompanying defect and the size of the affected area. For example, a color-breaking crease leads to a lower grade than a non-color-breaking one. Stains have a greater impact if accompanied by ink loss. Minor ink loss by itself may result in a downgrade in the 9.0 to 9.4 range, depending on the affected area's size.

Back to Top

Ink Missing

Red underlines

Unlike ink lift, where ink is applied to paper then lifted off later in printing, missing ink occurs because the ink was never applied to the cover or pages initially. This can result from issues during the printing process, such as uneven paper feed between rollers or problems with printing plates. Roller issues typically cause spots or streaks of missing ink, while plate issues lead to the absence of one of the primary colors, resulting in color distortion patterns. Another distinction is the presence of gloss on areas of missing ink, as lifted ink usually accompanies a loss of gloss. Viewing the affected area in a raking light can aid in identification. While missing ink doesn't affect a comic's structural integrity, it can significantly impact its aesthetic appeal, leading to a broad range of grading effects depending on the size of the affected area and its impact on appearance.

Back to Top

Marvel Chipping

Red underlines

Marvel chipping stands as one of the most notorious printing defects in comic book history, notably affecting numerous Atlas/Marvels from the late 1950s to early 1960s. Stemming from a dull trimming blade at the printers, many comics developed tears along the right edge, particularly on the front cover. Over time, these tears evolved into missing pieces through handling, akin to how bindery chips develop from bindery tears. Marvel chipping significantly contributed to the scarcity of high-grade early Marvel comics. While historically having less impact on grading than traditional missing pieces, its influence has evolved. Now, due to its visual impact, it's treated similarly to regular missing pieces, with severity ranging from one small piece out (9.6) to chipping running the entire length of the front cover's right edge (4.0). Marvel chipping seldom occurs on other edges of the front cover or on the back cover.

Back to Top

Missing Coupon/Panel

Red underlines

Often overlooked but crucial in grading, missing coupons and panels can significantly impact a comic's value. Coupons, typically found in ads, are meant to be cut out and mailed in. The most notorious example is the Marvel Value Stamp, found in various Marvel comics from 1974 to 1976, notably in Incredible Hulk #181. Missing panels are less common but can occur, varying in size and usually cut out rather than torn. Depending on cumulative size, missing coupons or panels can lower a grade from 6.0 to 0.5. Comics graded below 3.5 with missing parts have their grade adjusted based on dimensions and those missing at least 2”x2” are considered incomplete. If a coupon or panel is cut from the cover, it's treated as a normal missing piece, noted on the CGC label, but the comic isn't considered incomplete unless one-third of the cover is missing.

Back to Top

Missing Cover

Red underlines

A missing cover can refer to the entire cover or just the front or back cover, the latter requiring full separation along the spine (spine split). If only one side of the cover is missing, it's usually detached from the interior. Comics missing either the front or back cover are considered incomplete and receive a grade of 0.5. If the entire cover is missing, it's designated NG (No Grade), with the term "incomplete" removed from the CGC label. If missing wraps, pages, or coupons/panels total 2”x2” or more, the coverless copy is considered incomplete. Coverless copies, especially of key issues, hold value and are often married to other copies to create a complete comic, with the centerfold being the most sought-after part.

Back to Top

Missing Insert

Red underlines

An insert refers to any additional item included with a comic book during printing, such as posters, 3-D glasses, tattooz stickers, trading cards and digital code stickers. Since these items were meant to be removed and used by the owner, they are often missing, rendering the comic incomplete. The impact of missing inserts on grading depends on their size; a missing poster has a similar effect as a missing page or wrap, while smaller items like tattooz stickers are closer in size to missing coupons or panels. Comics missing inserts are usually qualified if they grade 3.5 or higher otherwise, with the missing insert factored into the grade, which can drop as low as 0.5. However, digital code stickers, introduced in late 2012, only prevent a comic from achieving a grade of 9.9 or 10 and a missing digital code sticker is noted on the CGC label without a qualified grade. Inserts that were not present in the entire print run of a particular issue do not impact the grade. This applies mainly to inserts like Mark Jewelers, Pizzazz, Mennen and National Diamond Sales inserts, which were added to comics at their centerfold during the mid-70s. Some collectors have combined these inserts with comics to enhance their value.

Back to Top

Missing Page

Red underlines

This defect concerns missing interior pages in comic books, often cut or torn along the spine, especially common with pinup or coupon pages. Squarebound issues typically lack the first or last page due to their position. Identifying missing pages involves checking the page count and examining the spine area for remnants. A missing page earns an incomplete designation, usually receiving a qualified grade if scoring 3.5 or higher, or a 0.5 grade if below. If over half of the interior pages are missing, it gets a No Grade (NG). CGC labels indicate if the missing page affects the story.

Back to Top

Missing Piece

Red underlines

A missing piece, often resulting from handling, refers to any absent paper from a comic book's cover or interior pages, including chews, bindery chips, Marvel chipping, missing coupons/panels, holes, or wormholes. Ranging from small chips to larger, multiple pieces out, they can impact the grade anywhere between 9.8 and 0.5. Missing cover pieces affect the grade based on their size and the comic's overall condition, potentially rendering it incomplete if exceeding 1/3 of the cover. For interior pages, an "incomplete" notation is applied only if the missing area affects 2”x2” or more of content, possibly warranting a qualified grade for comics rated 3.5 or higher; below that, the missing piece influences the universal grade. CGC may identify very small missing cover pieces as "chip outs" rather than full missing pieces.

Back to Top

Missing Wrap

Red underlines

Missing centerfolds are a common occurrence in comic books, often due to detachment at the staple prongs. Multiple wraps may be absent, usually starting with the centerfold, followed by outer wraps, albeit only if the cover is detached. Inner wraps cannot naturally vanish unless the entire book is disassembled. Identifying a missing wrap begins with the page count; an equal shortage on both sides suggests a missing wrap, likely the centerfold. Confirming this involves checking story page sequences or online resources like comics.org. A comic missing a wrap is incomplete, typically receiving a qualified grade if rated 3.5 or higher; below, it's graded 0.5 unless over half the interior wraps are gone, warranting a No Grade (NG). CGC labels note if the missing wrap affects the story. Married wraps, common in vintage comics, especially high-value issues, involve replacing original wraps with others to restore completeness, often seen with centerfolds or wraps featuring cut-out coupons or panels.

Back to Top

Paper Lift

Red underlines

Paper lift is the loss of paper and ink from a top surface of a cover, occurring when the cover has stuck to another surface and pulled apart, or when foreign substance has stuck to the cover and was mechanically removed. Extensive paper lift most often occurs when a stack of comics is exposed to moisture, causing the covers to stick to each other. Localized paper lift usually involves the removal of substance, a sticker, or glue remnants. Paper lift occurring from tape removal is classified under tape pull. Downgrade for paper lift depends on the area affected, similar to tape pull. A very small spot may only lower the grade one or two points from a 9.8, while a larger paper lift can result in a 6.0 or even lower.

Back to Top

Printer Hole

Red underlines

Printer holes, typically found on comic covers from the '70s to '90s, result from paper grips in the printing process pulling small bits of paper from the cover's edge, often affecting the bottom edge of front or back covers. While they're usually small in size and numerous, numbering from one to several, larger holes or multiple ones can impact the grade, potentially lowering it to around 8.0 or 8.5. Despite being common, they're considered defects, with their effect on grade influenced by their number and size; for instance, one small hole might only prevent a comic from achieving a 9.9 or 10.0 grade. Examples of issues prone to printer holes include Giant-Size X-Men #1, Amazing Spider-Man #121, Wolverine mini-series #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #361.

Back to Top

Scratch

Red underlines

Scratches on comic covers result from objects scraping against them, causing lines of missing gloss, ink, or paper depending on the scratch's depth. Unlike scuffs or color lifts, scratches appear as thin lines and may occur singly or in clusters. Vintage comics often have deeper scratches affecting both color and paper, while modern comics with high gloss covers may only suffer from scratches affecting gloss or color. Squarebound comics from the '50s to '80s may have clusters of scratches, particularly near the back cover spine, due to stacking during distribution. Light scratches affecting only gloss have minimal impact on grade, while those causing color loss are graded more severely, though not as severely as creases. Deep scratches affecting paper are downgraded similarly to color-breaking creases. Clusters of scratches on squarebounds typically result in a slight grade reduction, usually by one or two points on an otherwise high-grade copy.

Back to Top

Scuff

Red underlines

Scuffing on comic covers occurs when the color or paper is worn down by rubbing against another surface. These scuffs can vary in size and affect any part of the cover. Color scuffing, the most common type, typically results from rubbing against other comics in a stack, leading to a lightening of color that appears speckled or faded. On the other hand, scuffs that affect the paper are usually caused by sudden impacts from foreign objects and are confined to small areas of the cover. While paper scuffs have a slight impact on grade, similar to paper lifts, color scuffing may result in more severe grade reductions, especially if large portions of the front or back cover are affected, potentially lowering the grade into the range of 6.0 to 8.0.

Back to Top

Silverfish Damage

Red underlines

Silverfish, known for their destructive habits, pose a significant threat to comic books due to their preference for consuming paper and glue. Typically avoiding inked areas, they tend to target the white portions of a cover, especially along the outer borders of back covers. Silverfish damage often removes only the top layer of paper, making it difficult to detect without close inspection. While small affected areas may not heavily impact grading, moderate chews covering a few inches can lead to downgrades ranging from 7.0 to 8.0, while extensive damage across multiple areas may lower grades to 5.0 to 6.0.

Back to Top

Staple Holes

Red underlines

Staple holes are caused by extra staples added after manufacturing that have been subsequently removed. Holes left from the removal of the original staples have no impact on grade because they were originally created during the manufacturing process, although the removed original staples will impact grade. If the original staples have been repositioned, the extra holes they create will impact grade in a similar fashion to extra staples added after manufacturing. These holes impact grade depending on their number and the grade of the comic otherwise. A comic with one set of extra staple holes may not grade higher than 8.5 but can grade as low as 5.0 if multiple staples were added and removed.

Back to Top

Staple Missing

Red underlines

On occasion a two staple book may fail to receive one of its staples during the binding step of the printing process, evidenced by the lack of staple holes in that area of the spine, occurring mostly on vintage comics. This printing defect has no impact on grade, but inevitably places more stress on the other staple, leading to a higher chance of staple tears and detachment. Squarebound comics missing one staple are uncommon. On rare occasion a comic made it through printing and distribution without any staples at all, resulting in complete separation of the cover and all interior warps. In this case CGC typically assigns a qualified grade unless the comic book is otherwise lower than 3.5, at which point the missing staples have no effect on grade.

Back to Top

Staple Removed

Red underlines

Staples may be removed from comic books after printing due to various reasons such as rust, breakage, or for restoration purposes. Evidence of removed staples is indicated by the presence of staple holes. While the missing staple itself results in a downgrade, the staple holes, originally created during printing, do not impact grading. If one staple is removed from a two-staple comic, it may be downgraded to around 6.0. However, if both staples are removed or the single staple of a one-staple comic is removed, resulting in complete separation of the cover and pages, the comic receives a qualified designation or a maximum universal grade of 3.5. Staples that are rusted to the point of disintegration are not considered removed. Additionally, if a comic originally had extra staples during manufacturing and some are removed, it does not affect the grade as long as the cover remains intact.

Back to Top

Tape Pull

Red underlines

A tape pull typically occurs either when a comic book accidentally adheres to tape used to close a bag upon insertion or removal, causing the tape to be pulled off, or when tape is intentionally removed, lifting paper and ink from the surface. While the first scenario affects only the comic's cover, the second may also involve interior pages. The size of the affected area varies, ranging from small bits of lifted paper to the size of the tape itself. In extreme cases, large amounts of tape can be haphazardly pulled off, resulting in extensive areas of missing paper. Due to their usually small size, tape pulls typically result in a grade ranging between 7.0 and 9.0. Identifying small tape pulls, especially if obscured by color, can be challenging and may require examining the full cover under a raking light to minimize the possibility of oversight.

Back to Top

Wear

Red underlines

Wear encompasses various defects resulting in the loss of paper or ink, often observed in high-grade comics as small areas of damage along the edges or spine. It excludes tears, splits and creases that don't break color but may involve rubbing against other objects. CGC may label this as "wear to all corners" or "wear to all edges." Sometimes, wear serves as a catch-all term for multiple defects in one area, like color-breaking creases, paper loss and fraying. Quantifying wear's impact on grade is challenging, determined by its effect on overall eye appeal. Light corner or edge wear typically downgrades comics to between 8.0 and 9.2, while isolated instances may prevent achieving a 9.8 or higher grade.

Back to Top

Wormhole

Red underlines

A wormhole refers to small holes in a comic book, previously attributed to worms but now understood to be caused by beetle larvae burrowing into the paper. Typically found in margins without ink, wormholes often go unnoticed due to their size. In thicker books like squarebounds, larvae may create tunnels throughout interior pages. Since wormholes mainly affect the interior and are small, their impact on grade is slight. A single small hole may prevent a comic from grading higher than 9.0, while multiple holes can lower it to between 7.0 and 9.0. Extensive tunneling can drop the grade further, potentially to 4.0 in extreme cases.

Back to Top