This interview series is with Greg Ciraulo, who runs a great Facebook group, Making the Grade, and sells on Instagram as well. If you're on Facebook, I highly recommend joining his group. It's a great resource for getting another opinion on your raw books in terms of grading. So I thought what better person to interview and pick his brain for this interview series.
What got you into comics?
- I would have to attribute my interest in comics to the 1990 Marvel Trading Card set from 90s, specifically series one and two. They were my proverbial gateway drug. I really loved all the characters and the stats that came along with them. I was pretty fascinated by the "1st appearance" section of the cards, which then pointed me in the direction of the actual comics.
Favorite childhood memory about comics?
- Going into the local small candy store that sold cards and comics was always extremely exciting to me. Specifically storyline wise, I remember the The Infinity Gauntlet series was really my first big moment with physical comics as a kid. I loved the idea of all the heroes coming together in one massive story and was absolutely blown away by the actual concept of the gauntlet and all the stones. Maybe being a collector at heart even at that age, I was really intrigued by each individual stone and its respective power.
What got you into selling comics?
- I wasn't really interested in selling up until a few years ago. I was always uncomfortable selling with the fear that I would regret what I had sold, which was something I have experienced in the past with non-comic related items. The time had come for me to really make a push to buy a Hulk 181. In order to do that, I had to sell a handful of graded books. I actually really enjoyed how fast they sold and found that selling comics actually filled a void I didn't know existed in my personal hobby experience in general. I think selling is a craft in and of itself.
Biggest mistake you made when you started selling?
- Not selling sooner! But when I did start, I sold a few things in haste for reasons and prices that didn't really benefit me in the long run - but I try and look at it as lessons learned because hindsight is always 20/20. We're in a hobby that changes by the day, so it's almost impossible to know that a $100 book might be a $1000 book a year later.
What’s your favorite character or title to collect?
- In 2020 I was able to complete my collecting of every major Silver Surfer key. Other characters include the Punisher, Spider-Man and more recently some peripheral TMNT characters.
Next big thing for your personal collection? Your grail?
- In July I acquired an X-Men 1 CGC 4.0, which was a major goal. It took a lot of patience and hustle. Since then I've acquired some smaller personal grails while I muster up the energy to focus on a Fantastic Four 5 (also preferable a CGC 4.0). I'm big on collecting villain 1st appearances and Dr. Doom is the next major villain I would like to tackle. I think that book may be the last major grail I would need to feel my collection is complete.
Most unique or favorite thing in your collection?
- I have a lot of really great books in my collection, but I wouldn't necessarily refer to them as "unique". I think the most unique item in my comic-related collection is a graded Casey Jones Playmates figure from 1989. The card is unpunched and in near mint condition graded by AFA (Action Figure Authority).
Raw or Graded? Why?
- I'm at the point now where if I'm going to be spending a good chunk of change, I need to treat it as an investment, so I have to go with graded. I need to be able to look up the value with certainty at any given time in the event I need to move a book. I also am big on displaying my collection and prefer to display graded books as opposed to raw. I love raw books and have my fair share, but will really only buy raw if I plan on grading the book or don't care about the condition. I do understand that it's personal preference and not everyone is into the grading aspect of the hobby. As far as "comics are meant to be read", there are plenty of ways to have a collection of graded books and still be able to read that story (facsimiles, TPB's, digital, etc.).
Best find or score?
- I've had some decent luck purchasing raw books at shows that, after graded, wound up being worth sometimes three or four times the value I paid. Off the top of my head I think potentially my best "score" was a raw Silver Surfer 4 at a show that wound up grading an 8.0 White Pages. I think everyone should fine tune their grading skills for this reason alone.
You run a FB group on grading, what advice would you give someone that's new or a veteran of the hobby about grading?
- Oddly enough, advice I would give to new collector's and veteran's regarding grading go hand-in-hand. I think asking questions and opinions from others is always important and valuable no matter what level you're at in the hobby. If you're green, don't be shy/afraid to ask questions at the risk of sounding "stupid" and at the same time, if you're a veteran, don't act like you know everything and have no need for anyone else's opinion. Not getting a second or third pair of eyes on the book can result in one leaving money on the table or getting back a grade much lower than you anticipated. Always try and learn something new.
That wraps up another great interview series. If you have any topics or know someone you'd feel would be a great interview, drop a comment below!