August 16, 2007

Reading Comics for Beginners Part 1: A Superpowered Glossary of Terms

Reading comic books can be somewhat scary for someone that's never done it before. It seems like some sort of secret society with capes and spandex and thought bubbles to an outsider. It's all very imposing.

There is a whole glossary of terms that people in the industry use. These are some of the commonly used terms you, as a reader, should know. Of course this is not an exhaustive list.

Colorist - the artist that applies color to the pen drawing
Comic Book Bag - a clear plastic bag used for comic book storage and protection
Comic Book Board / Backing Board - a (usually white) rectangular cardboard used in the comic book bag to keep the book from bending
Con - comic book convention
Fanboy - an obsessive male comic book collector that knows every detail about a particular comic (think "Comic Book Guy" from The Simpsons)
Fangirl - same as "fanboy" but female
Free Comic Book Day - an annual event when comic book distributors and retailers give away comics at local shops, usually in May
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 - a bound book of either collected comic books or a standalone book that is thicker than a "floppy" comic book single issue
Inker - the artist that applies the ink to the pencil drawing
Letterer - the artist that applies the letters / words and captions to the artwork
Manga - a japanese comic book
Metaseries - "includes series of stories which include references to each other and some overall similar chronological or cast backdrop, but are not similar enough to be considered direct sequels."
Miniseries - a.k.a. Limited Series. a story contained in a limited number of issues, usually 2 to 12 issues
One Shot - "when only a single issue is produced of a title, or when the title is changed with each issue."
Ongoing Series - a series intended to continue indefinitely
Origin - the story of a character's beginning or creation
Panel - a box on the written page which contains a scene
Penciller - the artist that draws the original artwork with a pencil
Silver Age - "the period that begins in 1956 with the publishing of Showcase #4 and ends in 1969."
Splash Page or Panel - a large illustration or panel on the first page
Story Arc - a continuing storyline over a series of comic books
Superhero - character with mutant or super powers that uses those powers to do good and save the world
Supervillain - same as a superhero, but uses powers for evil or to destroy the world
TPB - trade paperback. A collected set of comic books reprinted and bound into a single book
Variant Cover - a comic book issued with multiple covers, each with different art, intended for collectors

I welcome corrections, etc., and look forward to adding to this "beginners" series.

References: books; Comic Book Dictionary; Wikipedia

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