Rob Pistella

How does restoration impact the value of comic art?

How does restoration impact the value of comic art?

Original Comic Art

One question that is frequently asked is how does restoration impact the value of comic book and comic strip art? In other collectible fields such as comic book, card, automobile and others, condition is a major determinant that contributes to the value of the item. For example, comic books and sports cards are often graded and slabbed (a word used to describe the third party process of enclosing a comic book or card in a hard plastic holder that prevents the item from being bent, with a label on the front describing the item and issuing it a condition grade) and the value of the item largely conditional on the grade it has been given.

Eduardo Rizzo


So, on a scale from 1-10, a Spider-Man #1 varies in price as the grade ascends from a low of .5 (poor) to 5.0 (mid-grade) to 9.8 (high grade). The same comic in .5 grade might be worth $5000, in 5.0 grade it could be worth $50,000, and in 9.8 grade it could be worth over $1 million.

Grading is common for collectibles that were sold in large quantities such as cars, comics, cards, books, etc. and the value of the item is impacted heavily by the grade.

Now comic art, and other art as well, the grade or condition of the item is of secondary importance. Let us remember that art is a one of a kind item, which has been hand drawn.

Value of Art

The value of the art is derived by other factors that have been covered in another article here titled ‘What is Comic Art?’ which includes the artist himself, the subject matter, and the significance of the event depicted on the page.

Comic book and comic strip art are largely vintage production art. This means the art was produced for the purpose of being mechanically reproduced, and therefore was physically handled by production staff, often quickly and sometimes carelessly.

Enki Bilal

Collectors have now agreed that condition issues the art may exhibit, like small tears, stray marks, pencil notations, publishing residue, and characteristics such as bends, folds, mild discolouration, slight staining, residual glue or tape marks on recto and/or verso, stray marks and other physical imperfections are acceptable defects and have little impact on the potential value of the item.

This is not to say that gross defects and major issues won’t impact price. But, the attention to the smallest defect as in other collectible fields would dramatically impact price, doesn’t apply to art. Additionally, comic art is often restored by professional and sometimes not so professional art restorers, performing such restoration as sealing tears, removing stains, replacing missing word balloons or title stats, and similar work that improves the visual appeal of the art.


Restoration of the services performed should be disclosed when buying or selling art, but unless the restoration includes the replacement of published areas of the image, there should be little price adjustment, except perhaps upward as the art now has better visual appeal, rather than a lower price that a mass produced item with restoration would have.

Collectors of comic art shouldn’t worry too much about potential restoration that has been performed on a potential comic art purchase. Most comic art sold today does not have any restoration performed and this is evident because the art will exhibit defects and described above. When restoration has been done, unless actual original art has been replaced, the restoration will likely increase the eye appeal and therefore the value of the art.