Comic Book Terms and Definitions


A
a

Story art; a(i) – Story art inks; a(p) – Story art pencils; a(r) – Story art reprint.

Adzine

A magazine primarily devoted to the advertising of comic books and collectibles as its first publishing priority as opposed to written articles.

Allentown Collection

A collection discovered in 1987-88 just outside Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Allentown collection consisted of 135 Golden Age comics, characterized by high grade and superior paper quality.

AmeriManga

Manga-style comics created by American artists.

Ani-manga

A term used to describe comics produced directly from the cells (frames) of animation.

Anime

Animation originating in Japan.

Annual

An over-sized special of a comic book that are released in a yearly edition to the regular comics in that series.

Anthology

These are comics that contain multiple short stories from multiple creators.

Apparent

An Apparent grade is applied to any comic book that has evidence of repair so that it will appear as it did when it was in its original condition. These repairs can be either professional or amateur in their application.

Arrival Date

The date written (often in pencil) or stamped on the cover of comics by either the local wholesaler, newsstand owner, or distributor. The date precedes the cover date by approximately 15 to 75 days, and may vary considerably from one locale to another or from one year to another.

Ashcan

A publisher’s in-house facsimile of a proposed new title. Most ashcans have black and white covers stapled to an existing coverless comic on the inside; other ashcans are totally black and white. In modern parlance, it can also refer to promotional or sold comics, often smaller than standard comic size and usually in black and white, released by publishers to advertise the forthcoming arrival of a new title or story.

Astro Boy

Manga series and first TV series to embody the aesthetic that later became known as anime. An English-language version first aired on American TV from September 1963 through August 1965.

Atom Age

Comics published from approximately 1946-1956.

 

 

B
B&W

Black and white art.

Back-Issue

A previous issue of a single comic. Back issues are a month or older and not the latest issue.

Back-Up Feature

A story or character that usually appears after the main feature in a comic book; often not featured on the cover.

Bad girl Art

A term popularized in the early ’90s to describe an attitude as well as a style of art that portrays women in a sexual and often action-oriented way.

Bande Dessinée

Franco-Belgian comics. A French term for “drawn strip.”

Baxter Paper

A high quality, heavy, white paper used in the printing of some comics.

BC

Abbreviation for Back Cover.

Bend
When part of a comic is curved, interrupting the flat, smooth cover surface. Bends WILL NOT show distinct lines (see also crease/fold).
Bi-Monthly

Published every two months.

Bi-Weekly

Published every two weeks.

Big 2

Marvel Comics and DC Comics.

Big 3

Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Image Comics.

Bindery Tear
A small horizontal rip in a comic’s cover that can usually be seen on both the front and the back. These are always found along the spine and should be graded like spine stress if they are shorter than 1/4″.
Bleed

When the comic art is allowed to run to the edge of the page, rather than having a white border around it.

Bondage Cover

Usually denotes a female in bondage.

Bound Copy

A comic that has been bound into a book. The process requires that the spine be trimmed and sometimes sewn into a book-like binding.

British Issue

A comic printed for distribution in Great Britain; these copies sometimes have the price listed in pence or pounds instead of cents or dollars.

Brittleness

A severe condition of paper deterioration where paper loses its flexibility and thus chips and/or flakes easily.

Bronze Age

Comics published from approximately 1970 through 1985.

Browning

The aging of paper characterized by the ever-increasing level of oxidation characterized by darkening; The level of paper deterioration one step more severe than tanning and one step before brittleness.

 

 

C
c

Cover art; c(i) – Cover inks; c(p) – Cover pencils; c(r) – Cover reprint.

Cameo

The brief appearance of one character in the strip of another.

Canadian Issue

A comic printed for distribution in Canada; these copies sometimes have no advertising.

Canon

The accepted history for characters and universes.

Capes & Tights

Any superhero comics. It’s not limited to the Big 2.

Caption

In a caption, words appear in a box separated from the rest of the panel or page, usually to give voice to a narrator, but sometimes used for the characters’ thoughts or dialogue. In some comics, where speech balloons are not used, the caption provide the reader with text about what is happening in the images. This genre is called text comics.

Cartoonist

A cartoonist (also comic strip creator) may refer to a person who does most or all of the art duties, and frequently, but not always, implies that the artist is also the writer.

CCA

Abbreviation for Comics Code Authority.

CCA Seal

An emblem that was placed on the cover of all CCA approved comics beginning in April-May, 1955.

Centerfold or Center Spread

The two folded pages in the center of a comic book at the terminal end of the staples.

Certified Grading

A process provided by a professional grading service that certifies a given grade for a comic and seals the book in a protective Slab.

CF

Abbreviation for Centerfold.

CFO

Abbreviation for Centerfold Out.

CGC

Abbreviation for the certified comic book grading company, Comics Guaranty, LLC.

Chew
Damage caused by the gnawing of rodents or insects (usually). Results in multi-page paper loss with jagged edges. Very visually distinct.
Chromium Cover

A special foil used on covers.

Classic Cover

A cover considered by collectors to be highly desirable because of its subject matter, artwork, historical importance, etc.

Cleaning

A process in which dirt and dust is removed.

Closure

The reader performs closure by using background knowledge and an understanding of panel relations to combine panels mentally into events.

Cockling
Bubbling on a cover’s surface (typically a printing defect).
Collected Edition

This is where multiple single issues are collected to create a whole story or set of stories, often collecting 5-6 single issues.

Color Touch

A restoration process by which colored ink is used to hide color flecks, color flakes, and larger areas of missing color. Short for Color Touch-Up.

Colorist

This person gives the comic colour. This used to be done with coloured ink but now-a-days this is done digitally to allow for a variety of different styles.

Comic

A book containing sequential art that can be printed in a number of ways. Ongoing titles appear as monthly issues of 22 pages and are sold in specialist comic shops and online. Monthly issues are also referred to as magazines, floppies and pamphlets.  These ongoing titles can be collected into trade paperbacks, graphic novels and collected editions. They can also appear as original graphic novels, having never been sold as monthly issues. Comics can be about any type of story or any genre. They are not limited to superhero stories.

Comic Book Dealer
A seller of comic books; One who makes a living buying and selling comic books.
Comic Book Repair

When a tear, loose staple or centerfold has been mended without changing or adding to the original finish of the book. Repair may involve tape, glue or nylon gossamer, and is easily detected; it is considered a defect.

Comic Code Authority

A voluntary organization comprised of comic book publishers formed in 1954 to review (and possibly censor) comic books before they were printed and distributed. The emblem of the CCA is a white stamp in the upper right hand corner of comics dated after February 1955. The term “post-Code” refers to the time after this practice started, or approximately 1955 to the present.

Comic Con, ComiCon, or Comic-Con

A convention of comic book dealers, publishers, creators, and fans.

Complete Run

All issues of a given title.

Condition

The state of preservation of a comic book, often inaccurately used interchangeably with Grade.

Continuity

This is where a comic book’s narrative has a past which might also be shared within a universe of a vast array of other comic books. The majority of Marvel and DC comics involve continuity in one way or another. This allows characters like Batman and Superman to exist in the same universe.

Copper Age

CGC Registry term for comics published 1980 through 1989.

Cosmic Aeroplane Collection

A collection from Salt Lake City, Utah discovered by Cosmic Aeroplane Books, characterized by the moderate to high grade copies of 1930s-40s comics with pencil check marks in the margins of inside pages. It is thought that these comics were kept by a commercial illustration school and the check marks were placed beside panels that instructors wanted students to draw.

Cosplay

When fans dress up as characters at anime conventions.

Costumed Hero

A costumed crime fighter with “developed” human powers instead of super powers.

Coupon Cut or Coupon Missing

A coupon has been neatly removed with scissors or razor blade from the interior or exterior of the comic as opposed to having been ripped out.

Cover Artist

The cover artist is responsible for creating the art on the cover of a comic. Most often the cover art is painted rather than drawn. The cover is sometimes a photos, in this case, there is no cover art. Sometimes the penciler who does the interior art also supplies a cover. Many issues are published in different versions with different covers.
Cover Detached

A cover to a comic book that is detached from the interior.

Cover Gloss

The reflective quality of the cover inks.

Cover Trimmed

Cover has been reduced in size by neatly cutting away rough 944 or damaged edges.

Coverless

A comic with no cover attached. There is a niche demand for coverless comics, particularly in the case of hard-to-find key books otherwise impossible to locate intact. See Remainders.

C/P

Abbreviation for Cleaned and Pressed.

Crease

A fold which causes ink removal, usually resulting in a white line.

Creator-Owned

This means the creator owns theq work that they create. This also means that the publisher doesn’t own the rights to the characters or story but just the right to publish it.

Crossover

This is when story elements of two or more comic books come together to create one storyline across multiple titles.

CVR

Abbreviation for Cover.

 

 

D
Deacidification

Several different processes that reduce acidity in paper.

Debut

The first time that a character appears anywhere.

Defect

Any fault or flaw that detracts from perfection.

Denting
Indentations or dimpling (usually in the cover) that don’t penetrate the paper or remove any gloss, but do interrupt the smooth, flat surface.
Denver Collection

A collection consisting primarily of early 1940s high grade number one issues bought at auction in Pennsylvania by a Denver, Colorado dealer.

Desiccant

A “paper” used to preserve paper ephemera by taking contaminants out of the sealed area where it has been placed.

Dessin Anime

The French phrase that literally means cartoon. The term may have inspired the abbreviation anime.

Detached Staple
When a wrap has come completely loose from a staple and is no longer bound to the comic in that area.
Die-Cut Cover

A comic book cover with areas or edges precut by a printer to a special shape or to create a desired effect.

Digest

These are collected editions that are smaller in height and length. The most popular comics in this format are All Ages comics and Manga.

Digital Comics

Editions of comics that can be viewed on computer screens, tablets or mobile phones.

Digital First

This is where a comic is released in a digital format first then later in print.

Distributor Strips

Color brushed or sprayed on the edges of comic book stacks by the distributor/wholesaler to code them for expedient exchange at the sales racks. Typical colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Distributor stripes are not a defect.

Double

A duplicate copy of the same comic book.

Double Cover

When two covers are stapled to the comic interior instead of the usual one; the exterior cover often protects the interior cover from wear and damage. This is considered a desirable situation by some collectors and may increase collector value; this is not considered a defect.

Drug Propaganda Story

A comic that makes an editorial stand about drug use.

Drug Use Story

A comic that shows the actual use of drugs: needle use, tripping, harmful effects, etc.

Duo-tone
Printed with black and one other color of ink. This process was common in comics printed in the 1930s.
Dust Shadow

Darker, usually linear area at the edge of some comics stored in stacks. Some portion of the cover was not covered by the comic immediately above it and it was exposed to settling dust particles.

 

 

E
Editor

The editor makes sure that everything is good to publish in a comic. They will check for spelling mistakes, art problems and will also co-ordinate with other collaborators to make sure story elements will not interfere with other comic books.

Embossed Cover

A comic book cover with a pattern, shape or image pressed into the cover from the inside, creating a raised area.

Encapsulation
Refers to the process of sealing certified comics in a protective plastic enclosure.
Eye Appeal

A term which refers to the overall look of a comic book when held at approximately arm’s length. A comic may have nice eye appeal yet still possess defects which reduce grade.

Event

This is a crossover story on a generally larger scale than normal. Often these events include many more comic book characters from a shared universe coming together. Also the outcome of the storyline often effects on-going titles for months and sometimes years to come.

 

 

F
Fanboy or Fangirl

An extreme fan of comics, someone who proudly lives and breathes comics. Usually used as a pejorative term, although many fans wear it as a badge of honor.

Fanzine

Abbreviation for Front Cover.

File Copy

A high grade comic originating from the publisher’s file; contrary to what some might believe, not all file copies are in Gem Mint condition. An arrival date on the cover of a comic does not indicate that it is a file copy, though a copyright date may.

Final Order Cutoff (FOC) 

The amount of time a comic shop has before the release date of a comic to place an order, usually three weeks in advance. Comic shops are liable dollar-wise for the comics they order (no returns!), so it’s important to get it right. Whether a series is cancelled often depends on the preorders for first and second issues (yes, the comics industry is broken). The way this applies to the consumer is if there’s a comic you really want to support, make sure you get your order into your retailer before the FOC.

Fingerprints
When finger oils left behind from everyday handling remain on a comic’s surface, they can begin to eat away at the ink, literally creating color-breaking fingerprints on the cover that are sometimes distinct and sometimes smudged. Finger oils can usually be wiped away, but fingerprints are irreversible.
Flash
A method of examining a comic that uses its natural gloss and light (glare) to help you see imperfections in its surface, like denting.
Flashback

When a previous story is recalled.

Floppies

A slang term for the single issue comic. Called so as it is used with floppy paper.

Foil Cover

A comic book cover that has had a thin metallic foil hot stamped on it. Many of these “gimmick” covers date from the early ’90s, and might include chromium, prism and hologram covers as well.

Fold
Linear dents in paper that have distinct lines, but DO NOT break color (see also bend/crease).
Four Color

Series of comics produced by Dell, characterized by hundreds of different features; named after the four color process of printing.

Four Color Process

The process of printing with the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) plus black.

Foxing
Bacterial or fungal growth in the paper of a comic (usually the cover) that presents in brownish discolored clusters or spots.
Fumetti

Illustration system in which individual frames of a film are colored and used for individual panels to make a comic book story. The most famous example is DC’s Movie Comics #1-6 from 1939.

 

 

G
Gateway Colder

A double-width fold-out cover.

Gekiga

Japanese term for dramatic pictures. A realistic drawing style that is violent and emotionally dark.

Gem Mint

A term used by the hobby for a book graded as Mint 10.0.

Genre

Categories of comic book subject matter; e.g. Science Fiction, Super-Hero, Romance, Funny Animal, Teenage Humor, Crime, War, Western, Mystery, Horror, etc.

Giveaway

Type of comic book intended to be given away as a premium or promotional device instead of being sold.

Glasses Attached

In 3-D comics, the special blue and red cellophane and cardboard glasses are still attached to the comic.

Glasses Detached

In 3-D comics, the special blue and red cellophane and cardboard glasses are not still attached to the comic; obviously less desirable than Glasses Attached.

Gloss
The shiny surface finish of a comic.
Golden Age

Comics published from approximately 1938 (Action Comics #1) to 1945.

Good Girl Art

Refers to a style of art, usually from the 1930s-50s, that portrays women in a sexually implicit way.

Graders

Collectors or former dealers whom now work grading comic books for CGC. These graders are contractually obligated to not deal commercially in comic books while employed by CGC.

Graphic Journalism 

Journalism/news reporting that is done in comic form.

Graphic Memoir

A standalone story that is also a memoir.

Graphic Novel

Often a fancier term for collected edition but can also be used to describe an OGN. Essentially any comic that is bounded like a book. Some people use the term graphic novel to make the comic book medium sound more serious.

Grey-Tone Cover

A cover art style in which pencil or charcoal underlies the normal line drawing, used to enhance the effects of light and shadow, thus producing a richer quality. These covers, prized by most collectors, are sometimes referred to as Painted Covers but are not actually painted.

 

 

H
Hardcover (HC)

Similar to a Trade Paperback but the cover has a very thick stock just like a hardcover novel. Sometimes these collected editions can collect more single issues than Trade Paperbacks, with 12 issues common.

Harvey Awards

The Harvey Awards are unique among awards given in the comics medium in that they are voted on entirely by professionals in the industry, meaning that winners are honored for excellence by their peers. This prestigious award is named after Harvey Kurtzman, co-founder of MAD Magazine and a seminal influence in the development of comics as a versatile storytelling vehicle.

HB

Abbreviation for Hardback.

Headlights

Forward illumination devices installed on all automobiles and many other vehicles…OK, OK, it’s a euphemism for a comic book cover prominently featuring a woman’s breasts in a provocative way.

Hologram Cover

A cover of a comic book that has a 3-D hologram manufactured on the cover.

Homo Superior

A character in the Marvel comics’ universe who is the product of a genetic mutation and has gained superpowers through the mutation. Also known as mutants, many of these are in the X-Men or are the enemies of the X-Men.

Hot Stamping

The process of pressing foil, prism paper and/or inks on cover stock.

Hourly Comic

A journal comic drawn each hour the artist is awake. Hourly Comic Day is February 1.

HRN

Abbreviation for Highest Reorder Number. This refers to a method used by collectors of Gilberton’s Classic Comics and Classics Illustrated series to distinguish first editions from later printings.

 

 

I
Illo

Abbreviation for Illustration.

Impaint

Another term for Color Touch.

Incentive Cover

A variant cover in which the retailer has to order x amount of a cover to redeem the variant cover. For example the retailer might need to or 10, 25, 50 or maybe even 100 of the regular cover to be eligible to order the variant.

Indie

Generally referring to an independent publisher who publishes comics for a creative team.

Indicia

Publishing and title information usually located at the bottom of the first page or the bottom of the inside front cover. In rare cases and in some pre-1938 comics, it was sometimes located on internal pages.
Infinity Cover

Shows a scene that repeats itself to infinity.

Inker

The inker inks over the pencils that the penciler drew. Sometimes this is digitally but often it is with actual ink.

Introduction (Intro)

Same As debut ot first appearance.

Investment Grade Copy

  1. Comic of sufficiently high grade and demand to be viewed by collectors as instantly liquid should the need arise to sell;
  2. A comic in VF or better condition;
  3. A comic purchased primarily to realize a profit.
Issue

The traditional 20-25 page (though they can be as long as 60 or 70 pages) serialized comic.

Issue Number

The actual edition number of a given title.

Ish

Short for issue.

 


J
JLA

Abbreviation for Justice League of America.

JSA

Abbreviations for Justice Society of America.

 

 

K
Key Issue

  1. An issue that contains a first appearance, origin.
  2. Historically or artistically important feature considered especially desirable by collectors.
Kodomomuke Manga (or Anime)

Manga (or anime) made for children.

 

 

L
La Nouvelle Manga

French comics drawn in styles influenced by Japanese manga.

Lamont Larson

Pedigreed collection of high grade 1940s comics with the initials or name of its original owner, Lamont Larson.

LCS

An acronym for Local Comics Store/Shop. This acronym is often used in comics journalism.

Lenticular Cover

A comic book cover overlaid with a ridged plastic sheet such that the special artwork underneath appears to move when the cover is tilted at different angles perpendicular to the ridges.

Letter Column

A feature in a comic book that prints and sometimes responds to letters written by its readers.

Letterer

Normally separate from the writer, the letterer is the person who fills (and possibly places) speech balloons and captions with the dialogue and other words meant to be read. Letterers may also provide the lettering for sound, although this is often done by the artist even when a letterer is present. In the West, comics have traditionally been hand-lettered, although computer typesetting has become increasingly common. The manner in which the letterer letters the text influences how the message is interpreted by the reader, and the letterer can suggest the paralanguage of dialogue by varying the weight, size and shape of the lettering.

Limited Series/Mini-Series

This is a comic series that has a set number of issues. Most commonly it is 6 issues but it will often vary depending on the story. The series has a beginning, middle and an end.

Line Drawn Cover

A cover published in the traditional way where pencil sketches are overdrawn with india ink and then colored.

Logo

The title of a strip or comic book as it appears on the cover or title page.

LSH

Abbreviation for Legion of Super-Heroes.

 

 

M
Magic Lightning Collection

A collection of high grade 1950s comics from the San Francisco area.

Manga

Japanese comics. These comics are read right to left, opposed to left to right like western comics.

Manhwa

Comics that originate from Korea.

Mainstream

Comics that appeal to the broadest fan base. In the comic book industry, that fan base is predominately interested in titles that feature super-heroes.

Marvel Chipping

A bindery (trimming/cutting) defect that results in a series of chips and tears at the top, bottom, and right edges of the cover, caused when the cutting blade of an industrial paper trimmer becomes dull. It was dubbed Marvel Chipping because it can be found quite often on Marvel comics from the late ’50s and early ’60s but can also occur with any company’s comic books from the late 1940s through the middle 1960s.

Maxi-Series

A maxi series is a longer mini-series generally 12 issues or longer but often each publisher has a different definition. Often mini-series of 12 issues duration have been referred to as maxi-series.

Meta-Series

The term meta-series is used to describe a set of related series, mini-series, one-shots, and shorts which are published under the same title and are part of the same narrative.
Meta-human
A character in the DC comics’ universe who is human and has superpowers.
Micro-chamber
A “paper” used to preserve paper empheria by taking contaminants out of the sealed area where it has been placed
Mile High Collection

High grade collection of over 22,000 comics discovered in Denver, Colorado in 1977, originally owned by Mr. Edgar Church. Comics from this collection are now famous for extremely white pages, fresh smell, and beautiful cover ink reflectivity.

Mini-Comic

A comic that is smaller than the conventional comic book size. Generally these comics are handmade with a DIY ethos and have small print runs.

Mini-Series/Limited Series

This is a comic series that has a set number of issues. Most commonly it is 6 issues but it will often vary depending on the story. The series has a beginning, middle and an end.

Modern Age

A catch-all term usually applied to comics published from the 1980s to the present.

Moisture/Water Damage
The damage left behind when a comic has been exposed to moisture (directly or environmentally). Water damage often presents with staining and/or a stiff or swollen feel to the paper. Look for lines of demarcation.
Mylar

An inert, very hard, space-age plastic used to make high quality protective bags and sleeves for comic book storage.

 

 

N
ND

Abbreviation for No Date.

NN

Abbreviation for No Number.

No Date

When there is no date given on the cover or indicia page.

No Number

No issue number is given on the cover or indicia page; these are usually first issues or one-shots.

N.Y. Legis. Comm.

New York Legislative Committee to Study the Publication of Comics (1951).

 

 

O
Omnibus

These are very large hardcover collections. These collections can can be 25+ singles issues collected. Often these collect entire series or a creative run on a comic series.

One-Shot

When only one issue is published of a title, or when a series is published where each issue is a different title (e.g. Dell’s Four Color Comics).

Ongoing

Usually used in conjunction with “series.” This implies a comic book series that has no ending planned and will continue until sales dictate its cancellation. An example is Action Comics, published by DC Comics, a series that has been published nearly continuously since 1938. Ongoing series can have a frequency from weekly to semiannually. Most are monthly or bimonthly.

Origin

When the story of a character’s creation is given. Origins often set up the primary motivation for a super-hero’s or super-villain’s actions.

Original Graphic Novel (OGN)

This is a comic book that comes out in the trade paperback/hardcover format without being in the serial single issue format beforehand.

Otaku

A term used to describe diehard fans of anime and manga outside of Japan. The term has a negative connotation in Japan.

Over Guide

When a comic book is priced at a value over Guide list.

Oxidation Shadow

Darker, usually linear area at the edge of some comics stored in stacks. Some portion of the cover was not covered by the comic immediately above it, and it was exposed to the air.

 

 

P
P

Art pencils.

Painted Cover

  1. Cover taken from an actual painting instead of a line drawing;
  2. Inaccurate name for a grey-toned cover.
Pamphlet

Used by some to describe the slim, periodical-like format of original comic books.

Panel

A panel is one of the boxes on the page of a comic book.

Panelologist

One who researches comic books and/or comic strips.

Paper Cover

Comic book cover made from the same newsprint as the interior pages. These books are extremely rare in high grade.

Paper Loss
When the surface of a comic has been compromised. This can be the result of heavy scuffing/abrasion, accidental tape pull, or the chemical reactions caused by some kinds of moisture damage.
Paper Quality
Paper quality refers to the coloration and structural integrity of a comic’s cover and interior pages. We do give some leeway on pre-1980s comics, but whe7n environmental conditions have caused the paper to oxidize and/or deteriorate significantly, the decrease in eye appeal and paper strength will bring a book’s grade down. Generally, paper quality will not be a concern for most modern (post-1980) comics.
Parade Of Pleasure

A book about the censorship of comics.

PB

Abbreviation for paperback.

Pedigree

A book from a famous and usually high grade collection – e.g. Allentown, Lamont Larson, Edgar Church/Mile High, Denver, San Francisco, Cosmic Aeroplane, etc. Beware of non-pedigree collections being promoted as pedigree books; only outstanding high grade collections similar to those listed qualify.

Penciler

This person takes the script and draws the comic. They draw the comic in pencil which then gets inked and colored later on.

Perfect Binding

Pages are glued to the cover as opposed to being stapled to the cover, resulting in a flat bound edge. Also known as Square Back or Square Bound.

PG

Abbreviation for Page.

Penciler

The penciler or penciller lays down the basic artwork for a page, deciding on panel placement and the placement of figures and settings in the panels, the backgrounds, and the characters’ facial expressions and poses.

Photo Cover

Comic book cover featuring a photographic image instead of a line drawing or painting.

Piece Replacement

Added pieces to replace areas of missing paper. Piece replacement material can be non-original paper such as wood or cotton fiber papers, married from a donor comic book, or color-copied pieces. This process is sometimes called infilling.

Platinum Age

Comics published from approximately 1900-1938.

Polypropylene
A type of plastic used in the manufacture of comic book bags; now considered harmful to paper and not recommended for long term storage of comics.
Pop

Abbreviation for the anti-comic book volume, Parade of Pleasure

Popped Staple
When one side of a cover has torn right next to the staple, but is still attached by the slip of paper beneath the staple. If not handled carefully, a popped staple can lead to a detached staple.
Post-Code

Any comic books that are published after the Comics Code Authority (CCA) seal came into use.

Pougkeepsie

Refers to a large collection of Dell Comics file copies believed to have originated from the warehouse of Western Publishing in Poughkeepsie, NY.

PP

Abbreviation for pages.

Pre-Code

Describes comics published before the Comics Code Authority seal began appearing on covers in 1955.

Pre-Crisis/Post-Crisis

This refers to period in DC Comics’s history set either before (pre) or after (post) the story Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was released in 1985-6. Without going into too much detail, Crisis on Infinite Earths acted as a big housecleaning for DC continuity with parallel universes disappearing and characters getting modern updates. Many comics fans use the term Pre/Post-Crisis as a way to describe characters and stories either side of this story as due to the big changes that it created.

Pre-Hero DC

A term used to describe More Fun #1-51 (pre-Spectre), Adventure #1-39 (pre-Sandman), and Detective #1-26 (pre-Batman). The term is actually inaccurate because technically there were “heroes” in the above books.

Pre-Hero Marvel

A term used to describe Strange Tales #1-100 (pre-Human Torch), Journey Into Mystery #1-82 (pre-Thor), Tales To Astonish #1-35 (pre-Ant Man), and Tales Of Suspense #1-38 (pre-Iron Man).

Prestige Edition

These are comics that are generally 48-64 pages long that have a thin spine.

Price Variant

A comic book that has a different cover price than others of the same comic book and that was intended for distribution in the same country.

Printing Defect
A flaw caused in the printing process. Examples: paper wrinkling, mis-cut edges, mis-folded or mis-wrapped spine, untrimmed pages/corners, off-registered color, color artifacts, off-centered trimming, mis-folded or unbound pages, missing staples.
Prism Cover

A comic book cover with special reflective material that has 3-dimensional repeated designs.

Provenance

When the owner of a book is known and is stated for the purpose of authenticating and documenting the history of the book. Example: A book from the Stan Lee or Forrest Ackerman collection would be an example of a value adding provenance.

Pull List

A list of comics you have at your LCS that you pick up on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. The shop pulls the comics for you and keeps them in a box, so you make sure you have all your subscriptions

Pulp

Cheaply produced magazine made from low grade newsprint. The term comes from the wood pulp that was used in the paper manufacturing process.

 

 

Q
Qualify

A qualified grade is used when book has a significant defect that would otherwise prevent giving the highest possible grade.

Quarterly

Published every three months (four times a year).

 

 

R
R

Abbreviation for Reprint.

Rare

10-20 copies estimated to exist.

RBCC

Abbreviation for Rockets Blast Comic Collector, one of the first and most prominent adzines instrumental in developing the early comic book market.

Re-Glossed

Enhancing the cover gloss, typically through the application of canned re-glossing/art fixodent spray.

Reading Copy

A comic that is in FAIR to GOOD condition and is often used for research; the condition has been sufficiently reduced to the point where general handling will not degrade it further.

Reading Crease

Book-length, vertical front cover crease at staples, caused by bending the cover over the staples. Squarebounds receive these creases just by opening the cover too far to the left.

Reinforcement

A process by which a weak or split page or cover is reinforced with adhesive and reinforcement paper. Reinforcement papers are commonly wood or cotton fiber papers.

Reprint Comics

In earlier decades, comic books that contained newspaper strip reprints; modern reprint comics usually contain stories originally featured in older comic books.

Restoration

Any attempt, whether professional or amateur, to enhance the appearance of an aging or damaged comic book. These procedures may include any or all of the following techniques: recoloring, adding missing paper, stain, ink, dirt or tape removal, whitening, pressing out wrinkles, staple replacement, trimming, re-glossing, etc. Amateur work can lower the value of a book, and even professional restoration has now gained a certain negative aura in the modern marketplace from some quarters. In all cases, except for some simple cleaning procedures, a restored book can never be worth the same as an unrestored book in the same condition.

Retcon

Short for “Retroactive Continuity”. This is when a past event in a shared universe or a character’s past is changed retroactively. This can be done to add new elements to an existing story that allows for future stories. It could also be used to update a character eg: originally Tony Stark (Iron Man) was wounded in Vietnam but Marvel comics retconed this and now it is in Afghanistan.

Reuben Awards

Voted on and presented by the National Cartoonists Society, the Reuben Award is bestowed upon illustrators in numerous categories, including comic strips, comic books, and animation. Winners have included many of the world’s most famous cartoonists, including Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Scott Adams (Dilbert), and Will Eisner (The Spirit, and the man for whom comics’ coveted Eisner Award is named). The Reubens are named for legendary cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who founded the Society.

Revival

An issue that begins republishing a comic book character after a period of dormancy.

Rockford

A high grade collection of 1940s comics with 2000+ books from Rockford, IL.

Rolled Spine

A spine condition caused by folding back pages while reading.

Round Bound

Standard saddle stitch binding typical of most comics.

Run

A group of comics of one title where most or all of the issues are present.

 

 

S
S&K

Abbreviation for the legendary creative team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, creators of Marvel Comics’ Captain America.

Saddle Stitch

The staple binding of magazines and comic books.

Scarce

20-100 copies estimated to exist.

Scuffing
A light paper abrasion that may or may not break color, but interrupts the surface gloss of the book. Its effect on grading is determined by severity.
Set

  1. A complete run of a given title;
  2. A grouping of comics for sale.
Semi-Monthly

Published twice a month, but not necessarily Bi-Weekly.

Sewn Spine

A comic with many spine perforations where binders’ thread held it into a bound volume. This is considered a defect.

SF

Abbreviation for Science Fiction.

Shojo Manga

Aimed at teenage girls. A few popular titles are Sailor Moon, Train Man and Fruits Basket. Common themes and ideas are relationships, magic girl characters, fashion, boyfriends.

ShonenManga

Aimed at teenage boys.  A few popular titles are Bleach, Naruta and Dragonball Z. Common themes are action, adventure and sports.

Silver Age

Comics published from approximately 1956 (Showcase #4) to 1969.

Silver Proof

A black and white actual size print on thick glossy paper hand painted by an artist to indicate colors to the engraver.

Slightly Brittle

Interior pages with areas prone to cracking when handled.

Single Issue

This is the serial magazine style format of a comic. Generally 20-32 pages of story but sometimes can be more, with some being up to 100 pages. These are generally numbered in chronological order eg. Issue #5.

Slab

Colloquial term for the plastic enclosure used by grading certification companies to seal in certified comics.

Slabbing

Colloquial term for the process of encapsulating certified comics in a plastic enclosure.

Soiling
Substances or residue on the surface of a comic. Most commonly found in white spaces. Residue is a more severe form of soiling.
Solicitations

A block or text, generally accompanied with cover images, which details upcoming comic book releases that has been supplied by the publisher.

SOTI

(Seduction of the Innocent). A book by Dr. Fredric Wertham, which attempts to link juvenile delinquency to comic books. This book helped lead to the Comics Code Authority.

Sound Effect

Sound effects or onomatopoeia are words that mimic sounds. They are non-vocal sound images, from the subtle to the forceful.

Speech/Word/Dialogue Bubble

A speech indicator, containing the characters’ dialogue. The indicator from the balloon that points at the speaker is called a pointer tail.

The speech balloon bridges the gap between word and image—”the word made image”, as expressed by Pierre Fresnault-Druelle. In early renderings, speech balloons were no more than ribbons emanating from their speakers’ mouths, but as it evolved and became more sophisticated, it became a more expressive device. Its shape came to convey meaning as well. A thought balloon contains copy expressing a character’s unvoiced thoughts, usually shaped like a cloud, with bubbles as a pointer. Emotions can be expressed by the shape of the balloon—spiked balloons can indicate shouting, and “dripping” balloons can indicate sarcasm.

Spine

The left-hand edge of the comic that has been folded and stapled.

Spine Break
A spine stress that has devolved into a tear (usually through multiple wraps). Spine breaks greatly decrease the spine’s structural integrity and are often found close to the staples.
Spine Roll

A condition where the left edge of the comic book curves toward the front or back, caused by folding back each page as the comic was read.

Spine Split
A clean, even separation at the spine fold, commonly above or below the staple, but can occur anywhere along the spine length.
Spine Split Seals

Sealing a spine split using an adhesive.

Spine Stress
A small crimp/fold perpendicular to the spine, usually less than 1/4″ long.
Splash Page

A Splash Panel that takes up the entire page.

Splash Panel

  1. The first panel of a comic book story, usually larger than other panels and usually containing the title and credits of the story;
  2. An oversized interior panel.
Square-bound

A comic book where the cover is bound with glue to the interior, resulting in a square spine.

Staple Migration
When staple rust has moved onto the surrounding paper, causing staining.
Staple Pop
When one side of a cover has torn right next to the staple, but is still attached by the slip of paper beneath the staple. If not handled carefully, a popped staple can lead to a detached staple.
Staple Rust

Literally, rust on the staple.
Store Stamp

Store name (and sometimes address and telephone number) stamped in ink via rubber stamp and stamp pad.

Story Arc

A story arc is a specific story told in an ongoing series over a course of many issues. The story arc will often have its own title, with each issue being a “chapter.”

Stress Lines

Tiny to large bends on or along the spine of a comic book, that may or may not break color, usually resulting from mishandling.

Subscription Copy

A comic sent through the mail directly from the publisher or publisher’s agent. Most are folded in half, causing a subscription crease or fold running down the center of the comic from top to bottom; this is considered a defect.

Subscription Crease
A vertical cover-to-cover fold caused by the book being folded in half when sent through the mail directly from the publisher.
Sun Shadow

Darker, usually linear area at the edge of some comics stored in stacks. Some portion of the cover was not covered by the comic immediately above it, and it suffered prolonged exposure to light. A serious defect, unlike a Dust Shadow, which can sometimes be removed.

Super-Hero

A costumed crime fighter with powers beyond those of mortal man.

Super-Villian

A costumed criminal with powers beyond those of mortal man; the antithesis of Super-Hero.

Swipe

A panel, sequence, or story obviously borrowed from previously published material.

 

 

T
Tear Seals

Sealing a tear using an adhesive. An adhesive may be cellulose, chemical, or protein-based glues as well as anything that acts as an adhesive, such as saliva.

Text Illo.

A drawing or small panel in a text story that almost never has a dialogue balloon.
Text Page

A page with no panels or drawings.

Text Story

A story with few if any illustrations commonly used as filler material during the first three decades of comics.

The Big Two

This a term used to refer to Marvel and DC Comics. Used as they are the two publishers with the largest market share.

The Marvel Method

A technique of writing comics made popular by Stan Lee in the 1960s where the writer and artist talk over a plot outline rather than writing a script. The artist draws the page and then the writer adds dialogue.

Title

A comic book series that comes out monthly and is about one character or one team of characters. For example, X-Men, Superman Man, Iron Man, Avengers, Justice League of America. Titles can also be referred to as Ongoings. When people talk about a Title they are generally referring to many issues published under that name, not one specific issue.

Title Page

First page of a story showing the title of the story and possibly the creative credits and indicia.

Trade Paperback (TPB)

This is the most common kind of collected edition where it is usually collecting 5-8 single issues. It is in a paperback format and can be often referred to as a “trade”.

Two Page Spread

When the comic book art spills over into two pages.

 

 

U
UK

Abbreviation for British edition (United Kingdom).

Under Grade

When a comic book is priced at a value less than Guide list.

Upgrade

To obtain another copy of the same comic book in a higher grade.

Universe

Universe usually refers to the world in which stories are based.  For example, all DC published books take place in the DC universe, so characters can interact with each other across their titles. The same is true of Marvel published books.

 

 

V
Variant Cover

A variant cover is an alternative cover of a single issue. Most of the time it includes the art of a different artist and are often fewer of these available.

Very Rare

1 to 10 copies estimated to exist.

Victorian Age

Comics published from approximately 1828-1899.

 

 

W
Want List

A listing of comics needed by a collector, or a list of comics that a collector is interested in purchasing.

Warehouse Copy

Originating from a publisher’s warehouse; similar to file copy.

Water/Moisture Damage
The damage left behind when a comic has been exposed to moisture (directly or environmentally). Water damage often presents with staining and/or a stiff or swollen feel to the paper. Look for lines of demarcation.
Web Comic

Comics that are made for viewing on the Internet  This could be in a comic strip format or as an on-going narrative.

White Mountain Collection

A collection of high grade 1950s and 1960s comics which originated in New England.

Will Eisner

An American comics writer known for his series The Spirit and for establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature.

Word Balloons

The text-filled “bubbles” that contain a story’s spoken dialogue.

Wrap
A single sheet of paper folded to form four pages of a story. Most modern comics have eight wraps, plus the cover.
Writer

Sometimes also called scripter, plotter or author, the (or writers) scripts the work—scripting may include plot, dialogue and action—in a way that the artist (or artists) can interpret the story into visuals for the reader. Writers can communicate their stories in varying amounts of detail to the artist(s) and in a number of ways, including verbally, by script, or by thumbnail layout.

Writing
Writing can be found on/in comics in many forms, and downgrades are based on severity. Common things you’ll see:

  • Minor initial or date markings (do not affect grade except in the highest range)
  • Names written on covers or in margins
  • Interior puzzles filled out
  • Marker scribbles
  • Markings/coloring over interior art
  • Writing indentations, in which no ink or pencil has touched the comic, but it has been used as a writing surface, so you can see rough areas where the writing dented in.

 

 

X
X-Over

Short for crossover.

 

 

Y
Yonkoma Manga

Japanese equivalent to comic strips, generally consisting of four equal sized panels ordered from top to bottom.

 

 

Z
Zero Issue

Usually an issue set before issue #1 that acts as a prelude to the main series.

Zine

Self-published and often handmade comic or magazine.