Glossary of Terms

Comic Terminology


  • Album

    Comic book in Europe (typical comic album is 48-page hardcover).

  • Anime

    Japanese animated cartoon.

  • Annual

    A book or publication that is published once a year.

  • Arrival Date

    Markings on a comic book cover made by the newsstand dealer or distributor denoting the date the book was placed on the newsstand. Usually in pencil.

  • Artwork

    Original paintings of comic book art.

  • Ashcan

    A publisher's in-house mock-up of a proposed new title. Usually consisting of a black and white cover stapled to an existing book; a half-sized (4" x 5"), typically black and white, promotional copy of a comic book.

    Originally, ashcans were produced to claim trademarks.Today, ashcans are produced more as a promotion than to gain guardianship of intellectual property.

  • B

  • Ballons

    The container of the text-dialogue spoken by character.

  • B&W

    Artwork done in black and white.

  • BD

    Bande Dessinee - comic book in French.

  • Bi-Monthly

    A book published every two months.

  • Bi-Weekly

    A book published every two weeks.

  • Blurb

    Copy which relates to a title.

  • Border

    The outline of the page.

  • Brittleness

    The final stage of paper deterioration.

  • Bubbles

    The little connecting circles on thought balloons.

  • C

  • Cameo

    Situation, when a character briefly appears in one or two panels.

  • Caption

    Copy in which someone is talking to the reader.

  • CBG

    Comic Buyers' Guide, a weekly newspaper.

  • CCA

    Comics Code Authority.

  • CCA Seal

    A emblem placed on a cover of the comic showing approval by the CCA.This practice began in April-May 1955.

  • Centerfold

    The two folded pages found in the center of the book, where the staples can be seen.

  • Colorist

    The artist that applies color to black and white pen and ink drawings.

  • Comic Code Authority

    A committee formed in 1954 by the major publishers to set up guidelines for acceptable contents for comics.

  • Comics

    Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence (from the book "Understanding Comics - The Invisible Art" by Scott McCloud.

  • Comix

    Independent, non-mainstream comics.

  • Con

    Short for comic book convention.

  • Credits

    Text where the authors are listed.

  • Crisis

    The Crisis on Infinite Earths (usually).

  • Cross-Over

    Situation when a character or storyline crosses over to another strip or book.

  • CSN

    Comic Shop News, a free weekly hype sheet dangling plotline.

  • D

  • Dangler

    An unresolved plot-line or mystery which an author has apparently forgotten about, since it hasn't been mentioned in a long time.

  • Debut

    The first time a character ever appears.

  • Double Cover

    A binding process error in which two or more covers are bond to a single book.

  • F

  • Fan-Boy/Fan-Girl

    A rabidly devoted fan. This can be used in a general sense, or a specific sense, such as X-Men fanboy, Anime fangirl, etc.

  • Fanzine

    A fan club publication put out by amateurs.

  • File Copy

    A comic originating from the publisher's files.

  • First Appearance

    When a character makes it's first ever appearance.

  • Flashback

    Recalling an earlier story.

  • Four Color Process

    A printing process involving three colors and black


    Originally used with reference to stage sets, this term refers to the imaginary wall between the characters and the audience.

    "Breaking the fourth wall" refers to comics in which the characters are aware that they exist in a comic book, sometimes for the purpose of humor.


    The small orange and brown spots found on the pages and covers of comics.


    Comic book in Italian.

  • Furry

    A animal with human-like characteristics "anthropomorphic".

    Can also refer to someone who 'costumes' as an animal-like character.

  • G

  • Gesture

    Human movement of expression.

  • Golden Age

    The period of comics beginning June, 1938 with Action #1 and ending in 1945 with the end of World War II.

  • Graphic Novel

    Term created by Will Eisner; comic book with high quality storyline and artwork.

  • Gutters

    The space between panels.

  • H


    Manga-term, refers to a type of anime that is extremely adult oriented.

  • I


    Text, showing who, when and where is publishing the magazine, usually found on the bottom of the first page.

  • Infinity Cover

    A cover scene that repeats itself into infinity.

  • Inker

    The artist that does the inking for a comic.

  • Intro

    When a character makes it's first appearance.

  • L

  • Letterer

    The artist that applies letters to comic book artwork.

  • Logo

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

  • M

  • Manga

    Japanese comic book.

  • Market Value

    The price for which a comic may be bought from a dealer for.

  • Marvel Chipping

    A defect occurring on Marvel Comics during the 1950s and 1960s caused by a trimming process that causes a ragged edge around the cover.

  • Mecha

    Manga-term, mechanical objects such as weapons, vehicles, or robots.

  • N

  • ND

    No Date for comic.

  • NN

    No Number for comic.

  • O


    Original Video Animation: an anime direct to video release, anime made only for the video market.


    Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition.

  • One Shot

    When only a single issue is produced of a title, or when the titleis changed with each issue.

  • Open Letters

    Letters drawn in outline, with space for color to be added.

  • Origin

    The story in which a character's creation is given.


    Refers to a anime fan-boy or fan-girl.

  • Over Guide

    When a comic book's price is greater than the guide's price.

  • P

  • Page

    A leaf of the publication or total area of the work.

  • Panel

    A box which contains a given scene (also BOX, FRAME).

  • Pedigree

    A comic book from a famous outstanding collection.

  • POD Person

    A character who has been taken over by a new writer and/or editor and immediately acts very inconsistently with previous characterization, with no explanation given for the change, and no change noticed by other characters in the book.

    The term is from the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers,where aliens grew duplicates of people in giant pods.

  • Penciler

    The artist that does the penciling for the comic.

  • POG's or Milk Caps

    Round, approximately 2.5 inches in diameter, and cardboard, pogs are the element of a game from Hawaii.

    While the game involves stacking the pogs and flipping another to knock them over.

    They have simply become another alternative to trading cards, bearing art and/or text concerning super-heroes.

  • Post-Code

    Comic books that where published with the CCA seal.

  • Post-Crisis

    Events/history/characters in the DC Universe as they existed *after*the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

  • Post Golden Age

    Comic books published between 1945 and 1950.

  • Post Silver Age

    Comic books published from 1969 to the present.

  • Posture

    Attitude of the body.

  • Pre-Code

    Comic books published before the CCA seal.

  • Pre-Crisis

    events/history/characters in the DC Universe as they existed *prior*to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

  • Pre-Golden Age

    Comic books published before June, 1938 when Action #1 was published,and introduced the Golden Age.

  • Pre-Silver Age

    Comic books published between 1950 and 1956 when Showcase #4 was published.

  • Printing Defect

    A defect caused during the printing of the book. These tend to lower the value of the comic book.

  • Provenance

    When the past owner of the book is known, adding to the documentation of it's authenticity.

  • Q

  • Quarterly

    A publication published 4 times a year.

  • R

  • Rare

    A comic in which only 10 to 20 copies are known to exist.

  • Repair

    A repair of a tear, or centerfold with glue, tape or some other easily detected means.

    This does not change or add to the book's finish,and is considered a defect.

  • Reprint

    Newspaper comic strips reprinted in comic book form.

  • Restoration

    Any attempt to enhance the appearance of a comic book. Whether done by a professional or amateur the restored book can not be worth as much as an original book in the same condition.


    To retroactively change the continuity of a character or title. Originally, the term "retcon" was used only in cases where the interpretation of "facts" from earlier stories is changed,but the facts themselves are preserved.

    "Retcon" is to change history, so that something that had existed in the continuity of the fictional universe, not only doesn't exist now, but in the fictional history, never existed. This can be true of an event, of a character, ect

  • S

  • Series Collecting

    Collecting issues in a single title.

  • Silver Age

    The period that begins in 1956 with the publishing of Showcase #4 and ends in 1969.

  • Silver Proof

    The actual size black and white print given to a colorist to indicate colors to the engraver.

  • Sound Effect

    BANG! WHAM! ZAT! etc.

  • Spine

    The folded and stapled part of the comic book.

  • Spine Roll

    A defect of uneven pages and bowing of the spine caused by improper storage.

  • Splash Balloon

    An outline around lettering done in jagged shape.

  • Splash Page

    The first page of the story, with a large introductory illustration.

  • Splash Panel

    A large panel, usually at the front of the comic book.

  • Spolier

    Any item which "gives away" information about a story.

  • Squarebound

    A glue bound comic book, resulting in a square spined cover.

  • Stress Lines

    Wrinkles occurring along the cover or spine of the book.

  • S

  • Strip

    Comics, published in newspapers, mostly 3-4 panels in horizontal layout.

  • Style

    The manner in which artist draws (or writes).

  • Subscription Crease

    A defect resulting from the folding of comic books for mailing to subscribers,causing a crease in the center of the book.

  • Super Hero

    A fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also : an exceptionally skillful or successful person.

  • T

  • Tail/h4>

    Pointer leading from balloon to speaker; sometimes also referred to simply as 'pointer'.

  • Technique

    The manner in which art is rendered.

  • Thought Balloon

    The container with the text which represents what a character is thinking.

  • Tier

    Row of panels (left to right) on page.

  • Title

    The name of the story.

  • U

  • Under Guide

    A comic book that is priced less than the guide book price.

  • V

  • Very Rare

    A comic book in which only 1 to 10 copies are estimated to exist.

  • W

  • Warehouse Copy

    A comic originating from the publisher's warehouse.

  • X

  • X-Over

    Situation when a character or storyline crosses over to another strip or book.