West Stephan joins the CGC grading team!

June 1st, West Stephan will join CGC as a grader.

“I have known West for many years and he is one of the best graders I know. Not only can he grade, but his restoration detection ability, as well as his integrity, is way above most of the people in our hobby. We can't wait to have him join the CGC team in June." Said Steve Borock, CGC Vice president and Primary Grader. “This will really help us out on our turn times.”

A little about West Stephan:

“West's start into the world of comics actually began in Toys R Us at the age of 12. He was there with his older brother and mother. They were buying a few toys and on their way out, his mother saw some comic books in a bag. She thought buying comics would make them want to read. She handed her boys a Marvel bag containing GI Joe #21, 22, and 23. Accepting their gifts, they thanked their Mom!

Like any 12 year-old boy, West could not wait until he got home. He opened the bag in the car and read GI Joe #21, his first comic! Funny thing was…this comic had no words in it! Turns out it was the first ever “silent” comic with nothing but pictures. He read the other issues and was hooked. In the back of the comic was a subscription form for Marvel comics. The first comic to come in the mail was GI Joe #25.

It wasn't long after that when West went to his first store devoted ENTIRELY to comics! He journeyed down to the store and was in complete shock. Thousands of old and new comics, WOW! West looked around and then asked the guy behind the counter to see his GI Joe's. He brought out 2 large stacks. West quickly picked out the #24 I needed to fill his run. He was able to get #3 and #10 and was so happy with those purchases. After about 3 months West had #3-30, but could not afford those first two issues and had to wait for many months to come.

Being fascinated by older things, West decided to see what the earliest comic in the store was. West asked for Superman because Superman had been around for a while. At the bottom of the stack was the oldest issue, Superman #127. On the cover was this “King Kong” ape looked so cool, and it turned out to be the first appearance of Titano. West bought the book for $10.80. It was in good condition, but he was very happy with his first purchase of an "old" book.

Fast forward to age 15. By this time West had a nice collection of many key Silver Age books. He received a copy of the Overstreet Price Guide for Christmas from his Grandmother. Armed with this, West was able to make wiser buying decisions. It was around this time his local comic book store got their first major key issues, consigned pieces including All Star #1 in poor and Amazing Fantasy #15 in poor. Asking price was $650 each! West informed the manager of his interest and offered $650 for the pair. The next day the shop owner called and accepted his offer. West was so scared! He had never dreamed of spending this much money on comic books. He didn't know what his parents think? West worked an entire summer for that money. He rode his bike to the store, paid for those two books and carefully rode his bike home, trying to avoid every bump in the road and praying his parents would not ask, “What's in the bag son?"

A month later West found out about comic conventions. He took his $75 (a fortune for a kid at that age) and went to a convention that weekend. West was so excited. Nothing could compare to that first feeling of attending a major convention. Even standing in line was a thrill, knowing all these people were here to collect, buy and sell comics. West finally felt validated in spending all his money on these things. He finally felt connected to others in the same field, he was alone no longer. Shortly after this West got his first booth at a convention and sold as a dealer. He made a lot of connections with other collectors and national dealers. West found out about the Mile High Collection and other pedigree collections. He bought his first Mile High there, Captain Marvel Adventures #44. As it turns out it also was also the exact same comic pictured in the newly released Gerber Photo-Journal, how cool was that! West started buying high-grade Golden Age books, Mile Highs and other Pedigree copies while selling off most of his Silver Age and lower grade Gold. He focused on acquiring books from the Mile High Collection. The first Mile High run West bought was Sensation Comics #3-30. Over the years he has owned many other runs of Mile Highs, including titles such as Action Comics, All-Flash, Boy Commandos, Green Lantern, Leading Comics, More Fun Comics and Star Spangled Comics to name a few.

West says it is Unfortunate that CGC was not in existence back in the early to mid 1990s. They would have saved him literally tens-of-thousands of dollars as a collector! Over the first few years of serious collecting he was a victim of buying books with undisclosed restoration. Luckily there was one good thing that came out of those experiences, he vowed he would never get cheated again and learned everything I could about restoration. It took many, many years but West became an expert on detecting restoration by purposely viewing restored books and seeing all the things that can be done to enhance a book. All the wisdom and experience of grading books, knowing and studying Pedigree's as well as West’s training in restoration detection for the last 15 years is what he brings to the team at CGC. He looks forward to the new experience with CGC as a lifelong comic book hobbyist.”

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