Front Cover Photo From Auction

I bought my first ever slabbed comic book this week. For those of you who don’t know: a slabbed comic is the slang term for sending out a comic book to a professional grading company where they grade your book and encase the comic in plastic. The plastic is the “Slab.”

This service first started around 25 years ago. At first it was mostly for expensive comic books. Before slabbing if you had a high end comic that you wanted to sell then you and the buyer would have to agree on what the grade was of that comic. That wasn’t always easy when a slight change in grade would swing the price hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The seller might see the book as a higher grade than the buyer since that would get him more money. Conversely the buyer might see it as a lower grade to spend less money. You can see where a third party grader would come in handy.

I generally don’t buy high end comics and therefor haven’t had much interest in slabbed books. But these days people even get new books right off the shelf graded. I think it costs around $25 a book (with shipping included) to get a book slabbed. So if you can spend $4 on a “Hot” new book, spend another $25 to get it graded, and get it back before it cools off then you might be able to get $100 for that $4 comic book. Of course it has to be a good grade. It better be a 9.8 out of 10 for a brand new comic or you’re wasting your time.

This has led to a lot of people speculating on new comics. If you can guess what the hot books are going to be and get them graded fast then you can make plenty of money. This is called flipping.

I’ve also noticed people (I’ve seen them on YouTube mostly) slabbing books for other reasons. Sometimes it looks like a craft project to me. They like to get the book autographed so the signature can be officially verified and then graded and slabbed. I’ve even seen people open up a slab to get another signature on it. Then it has to be re-slabbed.

I’ve seen people get books slabbed so that if they die their loved ones will have an easier time selling the book. They’ve actually said that on YouTube. They want to keep their books until they die but they also know that a comic book collection can be a burden on whoever inherits it. If the expensive books are already graded and slabbed that’ll make things easier on whoever sells them.

Another reason I think people get books slabbed is just to be right. They see a comic that’s in really good shape, they think it can get a high grade, so they send it off to be graded, and then have a lot of satisfaction when the book comes back with a high grade. It’s fun to be proven right. I don’t discount that as motivation.

I wanted to get a slabbed book as a conversation piece. I have a big comic book collection so why not get a slabbed book? That way when someone asks what a graded and slabbed book is I can show them.

Back Cover Photo From Auction

The problem I ran into was figuring out what comic book I wanted to buy. I decided it was too much effort to send a comic I already owned off to be slabbed and it would be easier to buy one already slabbed. So I looked on eBay.

I can’t even tell you how many years I’ve been actively looking to buy a slabbed book. Probably somewhere around six years. The cheapest price I could see for a random slabbed book on eBay was around $35 to $40. That’s with shipping so the seller wasn’t even making much profit off the book.

Most of the books I saw for $35 to $40 looked like failed speculation books to me. They were issues of random series, mostly indie comics at that price, that the seller thought might be hot at some time. Except that time passed and they never got hot.

I kept my eye on that low end market for years but never bought anything.The reason was that whenever I got interested in a particular comic I always came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to pay $35-$40 for a $4 comic book. I’d rather but a bunch of $4 comic books. I’m more of a comic book reader than a collector.

This week I finally pulled the trigger and bought a $36 slabbed book. I saw a comic that seemed worth it to me. It’s the Skybound fifth anniversary printing of the first issue of a comic book named “Cloned.”
Most people probably haven’t even heard of the series let alone are familiar with this printing that was only available in a box set sold at the San Diego ComicCon back in 2015. I wasn’t even aware of this version of it.

What sold me on getting this slabbed comic as a conversation piece is that it had a nice cover and was hard to get. The cover is a wraparound cover, with art on the front and back, with art by the series artist Juan Jose Ryp. I bought the series back in the early 2010s when it came out so this was a cool version of something I already liked.

It’s not easy to find, not because it’s popular, but because nobody really cares about it. That and it was part of a boxed set. The set itself sells for around $100 so why would anyone break a set up? I imagine it’s because maybe an issue or two of the more popular comic books in the set could be sold for $50 if they were slabbed and got a high grade. So maybe a few people broke open a sent and sent them out to be graded.

I had my eye on this particular auction of “Clone” for a couple of months before I finally pulled the trigger and I’m glad I did. Seeing the cover in person I really like it. There is a lot of cool detail in the drawing. So much so that I was looking at it with a magnifying glass. Cool.

As a coda to this piece as I was thinking about writing this and wondering if I could even find this comic in its un-slabbed form (not in the box set). So I looked it up on eBay. I couldn’t find it before I bought this slabbed one but sure enough I saw this issue plus the “Sketch Variant” version of the cover in a single auction. The sketch variant is a look at the pencils in their uncolored form. I put it on my watchlist and soon after the seller offers me a deal on the comics. So I bought those two comics for $15 shipping included.

Now I have the raw and regular version, the sketch variant version, and a slabbed version of the same “Clone” comic. That’s some conversation piece.