Not a CBCS member yet? Join now »
CBCS Comics
Not a CBCS member yet? Join now »
CBCS GradedQuestions

Hybrid Grading - HGA14290

Collector Supertom private msg quote post Address this user
A quick overview for those that don't follow collectible cards, the card market is exploding much like comics, but the grading services are simultaneously imploding. PSA (who has the market share in card grading much like CGC with comics) has had to stop taking orders, and other companies have taken advantage of the situation by jacking up their prices. But, a relatively new company, HGA has gained some interest in the community. They've developed a new "Hybrid" grading system that's said to eliminate (or at least reduce) the subjectivity of grading by using high res scans and an "AI" that determines the flaws in a card. Similar to Beckett they also give the 4 tier grading system. They also limit the number of submission they allow per week to, get this, GUARANTEE turn around times!

I started a topic a while back about the possibility of CBCS implementing Beckett's 4 tier system in comic grading, which I believe would reduce the amount of confusion and give us collectors a clear understanding of why our comics get the grade they get. That, like almost any topic brought up on a comic forum, was shouted down by a couple people who were adamant that it was an impossible task and it would take hours and hours for a grader to have to write 4 numbers in stead of one.

But what do we think about this "Hybrid" system and limiting the number of submissions? Could something like this be used for comics? High res scans to calculate the number and severity of flaws on the covers, but a human to verify the interior? I personally would welcome any way to reduce the subjectivity and secrecy in comic grading, especially when the value of comics increases exponentially at the higher grades. It'd be nice to have some scientific data to back up a grade rather than just someone's professional opinion. Especially when those professional opinions seems to vary between graders and companies.
Post 1 IP   flag post
Collector DrWatson private msg quote post Address this user
Do you have any affiliation with HGA?
Post 2 IP   flag post
Collector Joosh private msg quote post Address this user
I like the idea, and for cards it could work.
My concern with comics is they are multipage, a more 3 dimensional item to be graded. Automating the exterior for visual flaws can be done, but comics have so much more to grade than cards.
Post 3 IP   flag post
Collector Supertom private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrWatson
Do you have any affiliation with HGA?
None whatsoever. Just a collector who likes slabbed books, but hates the ambiguity and subjectivity of the grading process. I've only done a surface level review of their services so I'm not 100% familiar with how they operate or if they're achieving everything they claim, but it's just an interesting approach. Card grading as a whole feels like it's running and evolving at a much faster rate than comics, so if comic grading continues with the status quo, they're going to repeat all the same mistakes in the coming years.
Post 4 IP   flag post
Collector HulkSmash private msg quote post Address this user
I’m not saying this wouldn’t work solely for the cover, but I firmly believe CBCS ventures different avenues.

when they “press” a book they do not simply iron out the kinks. They determine the best technique (of which there are multiple) to clean and or press the book based on its condition. I think they’ve mastered pressing; books always come back amazing.

When they redesigned the slabs; someone mentioned it, we were all antsy for the new product, and kept bugging for a release. They made sure the new process and slabs were the of best quality without rushing to meet our whiny want it nows.

No one wants to work “harder” if they don’t have to. I have absolute faith that CBCS is constantly working to give us the most accurate grades in the most efficient way possible (either through physical or digital means). Even if this “hybrid” grading were to be used they still have to inspect the interior. I think Maybe a digital grade screen could work, but even the interior in inspected in a grade screen.
Post 5 IP   flag post
Collector KatKomics private msg quote post Address this user
just out of curiosity.....why has PSA had to stop taking orders? too many submissions??

I agree with @Joosh - I think comics are a little to hard to just scan...I mean even on the cover a thumb indent or other wavy imperfections may not be picked up from a high res scan..never mind internal defects like colour touch, clipped coupons, removed digital stickers, restoration, center folds detached from the staple, posters or other inserts missing, heaven for bid a kid filled out the maze on the older books!!!....all these things and more would require a person to look at the book so no real time gain by having a scan....if anything it would add time to the process
Post 6 IP   flag post
Collector GAC private msg quote post Address this user
I completely understand the desire to automate the grading process to remove subjectivity but I don't think it's a viable solution yet. As others have said there's 20+ pages that require analysis. I'm sure the technology exists that can scan comics for imperfections that can't be detected by human eyes but then it would cost $5000 to grade a single book.
Post 7 IP   flag post
TRA LA LA esaravo private msg quote post Address this user
I definitely think the technology exists that could scan the front and back covers of a comic and generate a grade. In my opinion, that grade could/should be used a "screening" grade to get a general idea of the condition of the book. The book would then have to be carefully looked over by a human being to check the page count, interiors for defects, etc. So it would not eliminate graders, but maybe add another layer to grading. I think all books are already looked at by at least two graders to see if there is agreement on the grade. Could a scanner that spits out a grade replace one of these graders, or ideally just add another set of (enhanced) "eyes" to the process to get a more accurate and consistent grade being assigned to each book.
Post 8 IP   flag post
Collector Joosh private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatKomics
just out of curiosity.....why has PSA had to stop taking orders? too many submissions??


My brother sent PSA a handful of football cards about 9-10 months ago. PSA still has them. There is no ETA.
PSA did just send out an email explaining how they are expanding rapidly including additional location.

Interesting note: His cards have tripled in value since sending in. They are now technically in the wrong tiers and insured as such.
Post 9 IP   flag post
Collector MatterEaterLad private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supertom
I personally would welcome any way to reduce the subjectivity and secrecy in comic grading, especially when the value of comics increases exponentially at the higher grades. It'd be nice to have some scientific data to back up a grade rather than just someone's professional opinion. Especially when those professional opinions seems to vary between graders and companies.


This has been my problem with grading companies from day one.

Assigning a numeric grade is QUANTITATIVE.

But the way they grade is QUALITATIVE.

If you had an engineering firm designing aircraft parts but basing their numeric calculations on "Bob is really experienced with tensile strength of aluminum and carbon-fiber, he just knows," no one would board those airplanes.

If there is going to be an assigned numeric grade, then show the math. If you can't do that, then stop assigning numeric grades and just use NM, VF, FN+ etc.

(I say this as someone with 850 slabs in my collection, so obviously it hasn't stopped me. But it also hasn't stopped me from being frustrated with so many over/undergraded books).
Post 10 IP   flag post
Collector DWeeB1967 private msg quote post Address this user
I agree with the consensus on the group: comics would be much harder to grade than cards simply because there are so many variables involved.

For example, with a tip of the hat to the recent @esaravo sales thread and his Wolverine #25, it would be very hard to teach a computer to determine that the inside pages of the comic are the appropriate pages and not the pages from some other book. I'm sure a computer could be taught to interpret the indicia but those pages without the indicia would be much more difficult.
Post 11 IP   flag post
Collector xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
Every 'artificial intelligence' system starts as human intelligence. Yes, you end up with an "objective" algorithm but it begins with training examples provided by people. So people will still disagree with the system. The input-output connection will also be at least somewhat subjective, since it's based on a human's training scores, and would certainly be proprietary since otherwise the company has no way to monetize what they accomplished. There's a reason that CBCS and CGC both publish their loose grading criteria but not their actual grading training. While you would certainly be able to grade more books more quickly, I don't find the idea especially compelling. Not that it would be bad, I just don't think it's obviously better than what we have.

Also, even if someone took the time and effort to work out automated grading of an entire comic book in all its intricacies, I'd rather have people who enjoy comics be gainfully employed by the industry. It would be nice if we worked out a way to support the people in an industry before it was killed instead of after.
Post 12 IP   flag post
Collector Nuffsaid111 private msg quote post Address this user
Subjectivity is one thing.
I've "learned" to deal with it when I find I'm only off +/- 0.5 --> 1.0
With CBCS, 95% of the time, this is a true statement.


Now go travel to Sarasota where they're hiring 70 new graders and expanding their facility AND dealing with an influx of submissions they can't handle.
The definition for subjectivity then changes to inconsistency/nonsense/lunacy.
They SERIOUSLY need to limit the amount of their submissions.
But, oh, wait - they don't care because the $$$ keep rolling in and in fact increasing. Forgot about that part.

Incidentally, on the topic of hybrid system... great idea. The market can use some fresh ideas, because the 100% subjectivity thing is getting real old, real fast
Post 13 IP   flag post
Collector Supertom private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by HulkSmash

No one wants to work “harder” if they don’t have to. I have absolute faith that CBCS is constantly working to give us the most accurate grades in the most efficient way possible (either through physical or digital means). Even if this “hybrid” grading were to be used they still have to inspect the interior. I think Maybe a digital grade screen could work, but even the interior in inspected in a grade screen.


I agree, CBCS is more consistent with their grading. I wish I could say the same for CGC. But this may be a way to help them speed up the process and be more efficient. I like the idea of this being a pre-screen tool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KatKomics
just out of curiosity.....why has PSA had to stop taking orders? too many submissions??

I agree with @Joosh - I think comics are a little to hard to just scan...I mean even on the cover a thumb indent or other wavy imperfections may not be picked up from a high res scan..never mind internal defects like colour touch, clipped coupons, removed digital stickers, restoration, center folds detached from the staple, posters or other inserts missing, heaven for bid a kid filled out the maze on the older books!!!....all these things and more would require a person to look at the book so no real time gain by having a scan....if anything it would add time to the process


I think they just got overloaded with submissions. The card market is nuts and people will send in hundreds if not thousands of cards at once. But they still have their ultra fast premium tier open that's only $300 per card!!

I'm not sure exactly what kind of tech they used but it sounded like it would pick up any of those types of surface imperfections. For a comic it would have to be less of a "scan" and more of a 3D photo to account for the depth of comics. Yes the interior would still have to be examined by a human, hence the "hybrid" method. But let's not make the assumption that graders are examining every page. They typically just count the pages, assign a page color, and check for cutouts or glaring flaws.

This would probably be best suited for copper-modern age books where the vast majority of them are VF+ and up. Or it's for any book in VF or better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GAC
I completely understand the desire to automate the grading process to remove subjectivity but I don't think it's a viable solution yet. As others have said there's 20+ pages that require analysis. I'm sure the technology exists that can scan comics for imperfections that can't be detected by human eyes but then it would cost $5000 to grade a single book.


You might be right, the tech isn't there or financially feasible yet, but I don't think it would need to pick up things the human eye couldn't see. If a flaw is undetectable to the human eye is it really a flaw?

Quote:
Originally Posted by esaravo
I definitely think the technology exists that could scan the front and back covers of a comic and generate a grade. In my opinion, that grade could/should be used a "screening" grade to get a general idea of the condition of the book. The book would then have to be carefully looked over by a human being to check the page count, interiors for defects, etc. So it would not eliminate graders, but maybe add another layer to grading. I think all books are already looked at by at least two graders to see if there is agreement on the grade. Could a scanner that spits out a grade replace one of these graders, or ideally just add another set of (enhanced) "eyes" to the process to get a more accurate and consistent grade being assigned to each book.


I think you nailed it. Technically I think there are supposed to be 3 graders that look at every book, but...I have a hard time believing that. It's my understanding that the second 2 graders supposedly just validate the main graders score but don't do a thorough inspection of the book. So yes, this could replace the initial grader but there would still absolutely need to be humans involved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatterEaterLad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supertom
I personally would welcome any way to reduce the subjectivity and secrecy in comic grading, especially when the value of comics increases exponentially at the higher grades. It'd be nice to have some scientific data to back up a grade rather than just someone's professional opinion. Especially when those professional opinions seems to vary between graders and companies.


This has been my problem with grading companies from day one.

Assigning a numeric grade is QUANTITATIVE.

But the way they grade is QUALITATIVE.

If there is going to be an assigned numeric grade, then show the math. If you can't do that, then stop assigning numeric grades and just use NM, VF, FN+ etc.

(I say this as someone with 850 slabs in my collection, so obviously it hasn't stopped me. But it also hasn't stopped me from being frustrated with so many over/undergraded books).


I'm right there with you. It's really frustrating and I think the 4 tier grading system would help bring clarity to some of that. It would at least help you narrow down the flaws to a specific category. Either than or some better graders notes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWeeB1967
I agree with the consensus on the group: comics would be much harder to grade than cards simply because there are so many variables involved.

For example, with a tip of the hat to the recent @esaravo sales thread and his Wolverine #25, it would be very hard to teach a computer to determine that the inside pages of the comic are the appropriate pages and not the pages from some other book. I'm sure a computer could be taught to interpret the indicia but those pages without the indicia would be much more difficult.


Yes, that's why they call it a Hybrid method. There is still human involvement. Maybe they should call it the cyborg method. Ha!

Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
Every 'artificial intelligence' system starts as human intelligence. Yes, you end up with an "objective" algorithm but it begins with training examples provided by people. So people will still disagree with the system. The input-output connection will also be at least somewhat subjective, since it's based on a human's training scores, and would certainly be proprietary since otherwise the company has no way to monetize what they accomplished. There's a reason that CBCS and CGC both publish their loose grading criteria but not their actual grading training. While you would certainly be able to grade more books more quickly, I don't find the idea especially compelling. Not that it would be bad, I just don't think it's obviously better than what we have.

Also, even if someone took the time and effort to work out automated grading of an entire comic book in all its intricacies, I'd rather have people who enjoy comics be gainfully employed by the industry. It would be nice if we worked out a way to support the people in an industry before it was killed instead of after.


Well when robots completely replace us I think we'll have bigger problems that the value of our comic books. I'm not looking to eliminate the human factor, but just add a level of efficiency and transparency to the comic grading market.

And let's be honest, CBCS will never be able to compete with CGC unless they do something different to set themselves apart. Verified signatures aren't enough. If this HGA company came out and just tried to replicate what PSA and BGS were doing, I doubt I would have even heard of them. Everyone has problems with CGC but they still just flock to them because of the perception that their slabs sell for more. CGC gets free promotion too with a dozens of YouTubers too. The best way I can think of for CBCS to gain market share would be to offer up more perceived value through ultra accurate grading backed up by data, quicker and guaranteed TATs, and better transparency that GCG is terrified to offer up.
Post 14 IP   flag post
Collector moodswing private msg quote post Address this user
I don't think I would want a robot flipping through my comic. It would be nice to get some uniformed standards on grading though. Right now is the chance for cbcs to gain some market share if they can grade faster and still put on the same consistency/quality in their grading. CGC quality control is pretty bad now and they are taking a long time to grade.
Post 15 IP   flag post
Collector MatterEaterLad private msg quote post Address this user
AI can detect lung cancer more consistently than radiologists.

It's only a matter of time before this type of AI comes to the comic world. It may be 20 years from now, but someone's going to find a way to make it work. I'm guessing the hybrid model would be an AI grade with an experienced human verifying said grade.

CGC will always be a hard nut to crack. They don't allow talk of CBCS on their boards, they have secret mods, there are former graders on the boards touting (surprise!) CGC's grading. Plus they have the same ownership as Heritage, both private companies that are never audited.
Post 16 IP   flag post
Collector Supertom private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatterEaterLad
AI can detect lung cancer more consistently than radiologists.

It's only a matter of time before this type of AI comes to the comic world. It may be 20 years from now, but someone's going to find a way to make it work. I'm guessing the hybrid model would be an AI grade with an experienced human verifying said grade.

CGC will always be a hard nut to crack. They don't allow talk of CBCS on their boards, they have secret mods, there are former graders on the boards touting (surprise!) CGC's grading. Plus they have the same ownership as Heritage, both private companies that are never audited.


It's all very shady indeed. I brought up some topics just like that on their boards last summer and I was banned for life. They don't even want people to have the discussion because it might open a few eyes. I've tried to get some of the bigger YouTubers to discuss these kinds of topics but they just plug their ears and scream lalalalalal, while waiting to release their next unboxing video.
Post 17 IP   flag post
Collector moodswing private msg quote post Address this user
@Supertom

There are a couple youtubers who have brought up issues with cgc. I remember back in the day, ComicTom was voicing his opinion on how cgc could grade so many books onsite. He changed his tune when he did some interviews with them.
Post 18 IP   flag post
Masculinity takes a holiday. EbayMafia private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatterEaterLad
If you had an engineering firm designing aircraft parts but basing their numeric calculations on "Bob is really experienced with tensile strength of aluminum and carbon-fiber, he just knows," no one would board those airplanes.


@MatterEaterLad No but I would let that type of non-math, non-engineering based person fix my toilet, work on my car, prepare my meal, replace my flooring, grade my comic books, etc.

Grading Subjectivity: It's not space travel, it's not air travel and it's not heart surgery, no one dies if one grader thinks its a 9.4 and another thinks it's a 9.2. Sure the market assigns significant value differences but the wins and losses of very minor subjectivity even themselves out over enough submissions. We don't have to put to fine a point on grading perfection and consistency. We're not yet at that level of intensity are we?

Limiting submissions to guarantee TAT's? So do I get in a que and they notify me when I can submit? Do they tell me how long the que is or is that an unguaranteed length of time? Better yet, do I have to try to submit every Monday morning and hope that this is the week that my submission beats the others? If one company is taking submission and the other is guaranteeing TAT's but not taking submissions...I'm going with the company that is taking submissions.

I hate to sound like the old guy arguing against the future but sometimes we have to step back and realize that they are just evaluating the condition of comic books and sports cards for hobby enthusiasts.
Post 19 IP   flag post
Collector Nuffsaid111 private msg quote post Address this user
I have been clamoring for an objective system of grading for several years.

At it's base core, CGC/CBCS are indeed just services for hobby enthusiasts. I agree. It seems on the surface to be no biggie.
However, with the recent $$$ thrown around, it has grown into an investment strategy for many. I won't even go into differences between the 9.8 and 9.6.
So, whereas, I do believe it is certainly not a air travel/healthcare importance level; but it's also not a car wash service.
In my opinion it is somewhere in between and it deserves an injection of new blood and a new way of thinking and fresh ideas. R&D costs for AI would be admittedly huge. However, once instituted it'd be support eng.

I wouldn't blink an eye to use a service like this if someone smarter, with more money, and more initiative than me could do so.
Post 20 IP   flag post
Collector Supertom private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by moodswing
@Supertom

There are a couple youtubers who have brought up issues with cgc. I remember back in the day, ComicTom was voicing his opinion on how cgc could grade so many books onsite. He changed his tune when he did some interviews with them.


I remember that discussion. If I remember right, it went something like, "There's no way they can accurately grade that many books in that amount of time...buuuuutttt, I'm not going to stop using them or anything".

They're in too deep. All the more reason for CBCS to do something to stand out and take advantage of the mistrust in CGC.
Post 21 IP   flag post
Collector flanders private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by EbayMafia
I hate to sound like the old guy arguing...



Post 22 IP   flag post
Collector GAC private msg quote post Address this user
As long as this hobby survives then it's only a matter of time before AI takes an active step in the grading process. It may only be front and back covers or colour touch or trimming detection for starters and then a human checks the interior pages for defects and page count. Missing pages can be detected simply by weighing the book. Looking for defects in an inanimate object is in the same realm as looking for physical defects or abnormalities in humans as the healthcare industry does right now. It just applying the logic you want to the AI (I realize I'm over simplifying and there's more to it than just this).
Post 23 IP   flag post
Masculinity takes a holiday. EbayMafia private msg quote post Address this user
I don't like the idea but I like the discussion. Makes me contemplate several sci-fi-ish scenarios. Scenario 1: We all walk around conventions with the CBCS/CGC/Whoever AI app on our Iphones scanning comic books and getting an immediate grade. They charge a $1 fee each time it's used. Scenario 2: A governing body is created to control the parameters of the AI app. Anyone can become an Official Grader by taking a basic test and paying for a license. Official Graders charge a grading fee and pay a smaller fee to the governing body each time you use the AI App. Slabbing is an additional service at additional price.
Post 24 IP   flag post
Collector KatKomics private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by EbayMafia
I don't like the idea but I like the discussion. Makes me contemplate several sci-fi-ish scenarios. Scenario 1: We all walk around conventions with the CBCS/CGC/Whoever AI app on our Iphones scanning comic books and getting an immediate grade. They charge a $1 fee each time it's used. Scenario 2: A governing body is created to control the parameters of the AI app. Anyone can become an Official Grader by taking a basic test and paying for a license. Official Graders charge a grading fee and pay a smaller fee to the governing body each they you use the AI App. Slabbing is an additional service at additional price.


mmmmmmm......but that relies on the honesty of the person paying the fee, the people collecting the fee and the company slabbing (with no audit procedures in place or a way to verify chain of custody).

Lets say you are company..oh say... Pauls Grading Xcelence...I scan a book... it gets a grade then I send 'a' book to Pauls Grading Xcelence to slab it...now did Paul check it was the same book??

I kind of think for slab purposes it needs to do the whole process at 1 facility for that chain of custody thing.

Maybe an AI App just so you can see where the raw book is on the scale to decide if you want to buy it...but being an old guy (man only 47!!) I have working eyes and a few editions of the Overstreet grading guides and most of my estimates on grades are pretty close to what CBCS assigns (allowing for discrepancies as I usually also get pressing done)
Post 25 IP   flag post
Collector KatKomics private msg quote post Address this user
ps....the books I've had changed from Pauls Grading Xcelence to CBCS have generally ended up +- 1 grade i.e 7 to 6.5 or 8 to 8.5
I know there are horror stories but thankfully the very few I bought that were Pauls Grading Xcelence have been ok!!
Post 26 IP   flag post
Collector MutantMania private msg quote post Address this user
You would think a card would be a lot cheaper to grade than a comic book.
Smaller slab, no multiple pages, no missing pages, etc....
Post 27 IP   flag post
Masculinity takes a holiday. EbayMafia private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatKomics
mmmmmmm......but that relies on the honesty of the person paying the fee, the people collecting the fee and the company slabbing (with no audit procedures in place or a way to verify chain of custody).


@KatKomics We can fill in the details creatively, but tell me if this future scenario make sense:
-If you can develop a grading AI it can eventually become an Iphone App.
-If an Iphone app can grade comic books it can also detect fixable flaws...so it could give you both a current grade and a true potential grade.
-Users will be able to buy the App, Rent it on a monthly fee (most likely) or pay a "per use" charge when every time they access the App.
-Slabbing would be a different business entirely, but somewhat unnecessary as the App on every dealers Iphone and many collectors Iphone's can verify the grade any time in the future if the book is resold.
Post 28 IP   flag post
Collector Gaard private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supertom
GUARANTEE turn around times!


Back in the day, '14 or so, CBCS did exactly this. You'd get a coupon to use on your next submission. The amount of $$ was dependent on how much you went past the TAT. I had a couple of 'em, but just tossed 'em. They stopped that practice many moons ago.
Post 29 IP   flag post
Collector MatterEaterLad private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by EbayMafia
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatterEaterLad
If you had an engineering firm designing aircraft parts but basing their numeric calculations on "Bob is really experienced with tensile strength of aluminum and carbon-fiber, he just knows," no one would board those airplanes.


@MatterEaterLad No but I would let that type of non-math, non-engineering based person fix my toilet, work on my car, prepare my meal, replace my flooring, grade my comic books, etc.

Grading Subjectivity: It's not space travel, it's not air travel and it's not heart surgery, no one dies if one grader thinks its a 9.4 and another thinks it's a 9.2. Sure the market assigns significant value differences but the wins and losses of very minor subjectivity even themselves out over enough submissions. We don't have to put to fine a point on grading perfection and consistency. We're not yet at that level of intensity are we?


People replacing your flooring, fixing your toilet, aren't assigning a value to your house.
Post 30 IP   flag post
379617 43 30
Log in or sign up to compose a reply.