Thursday, July 15, 2010

Comic Book Vocabulary - A Beginners Guide to Comic Book terms and more

Comic Book Vocabulary - A Beginners Guide to Comic Book terms and more
Video Included!!!
by : John Cannon

Comic books have been around for a multitude of years even starting as early as 1934 when the reprinted regular newspaper comics at first. Now if you have gone through your life and have never read a comic I can understand as they don’t appeal to some people. However if you have gone through your life and never even seen a comic book then I would have to call you a liar. Comics have become apart of the main stream fabric in which we live. Today they are making them into movies and TV shows, mainly because Hollywood has apparently run out of ideas and their effort to appeal to another target audience, but I digress. Ok before I digress, some of these movies are absolutely horrible and don’t follow the established path the comic or even cartoons had taken, I make my point with the X-Men movies, ok now I am done…for now. 

Suffice it to say comic books have been read time and time again and generated their own world. I know this as Rob and I went to Wizard World in Philadelphia and felt completely out of my element. Rob was like a kid in a candy store as he went through comics, DVD, Toy, T-shirt & artists booths. He was like a kid in a candy store until we saw the Jedi’s fighting, then it was just plain depressing, at least to me it was. Yet in a way it was a side of Rob I had never seen before, it was pretty cool. To see him in his universe, as I called it, with such a love and passion for everything comic related was pretty cool and I was glad to be apart of it. However I couldn’t help feel a bit out of my league as I looked around at the people and heard the conversations in a language not entirely familiar to me. It was English, with maybe a little bit of Klingon mixed in, but it was the phrases that they used.

I asked Rob a ton of questions about what was this, what does that mean and why are fat storm troopers so funny to look at. I knew then that I could not be the only person in the world who would be completely lost in this bizzaro world of comics and its terminology. I used to read some comics back when I was in middle school and high school and if you ask Rob he will tell you the only comics I ever really remember reading were any Lobo comics and the graphic novel Batman vs Judge Dredd, which I will find and own someday. Again, I knew I could not be the only one in the world to have such limited knowledge of comics so I pitched the idea to both him and James from Cyborg 1 about doing a segment that could be related to the more novice/beginner comic book reader. Whenever Rob & James get together to go over comics or Rob talks to me about comics I usually stand there with a blank look on my face because I have no clue of the terminology being used. I figured this would be the starting point for me and all those like me, I would research and write down some comic terms and have Rob & James explain them in a way that they were understandable for the average beginner comic book reader.

Listed below are some of the terms I brought to them and you can see the 2 part video of a more in-depth definition of the words on we filmed.

This is associated more with Alternative and Underground comics
This is associated more with more mainstream comic companies such as DC & Marvel
Graphic Novel / Trade Paperback
A series of individual comics compressed into one big book.
Motion Comic
A hybrid of comic books & animation
Prestige & Bookshelf Format
Is based upon the number of pages within the “book” usually being 48 to 64 pages in length
Alternative Comics
Is non-mainstream and delivers on a wide range of subject matter
The Marvel Method
A way a comic is written; mainly being the artist would draw the comic first based upon an outline then the words would be added.
The way in which a comic flows and little things are observed or happen within a comic series
Refers to the stories which are, at any one point, part of the "official", "accepted" history and story of particular characters/universes.
A retcon affects the past history of characters and/or the whole shared universe, and says that the "new" changed events have always been that way.
A guest appearance by one superhero into another superheroes world. Usually one companies heroes into another’s.
Shared Universe
A multitude of different characters co-exist and/or interact
Direct Market
The comics that are sent directly to the comic store rather than to places like Borders or Barnes & Nobles
Same exact comic, but with 2-3 different covers
A lesser known comic with great potential
The condition of a comic
Usually a series of 6 comics to tell a story over time
Usually a series of 8 or more comics to tell a story over time
Japanese comics
The art touches the edge of the pages without the traditional white frames
Splash Page
Full page drawing in a comic book
The space between borders
A monthly book that shows the up and coming comics for early purchase.

I found this glossary link on the DC Wiki website, check it out for some more definitions:

Hopefully these terms and definitions help you understand the comic world just a little bit more and if you have any other you would like explained please contact us at

At the end of all this I realized there was a whole other word out there that I was not aware of. I have heard Rob discuss things like Magic, Pokemon & Starwars RPG Games just to name a few. Now I have “heard” of these things before I just don’t know what the draw is to them, I don’t know anything about them and again I know there are a lot of people out there just like me who have the same confusion. So again I have put it to Rob and we will look at filming some segments that will help to uncover and understand the underground geek world out there. And believe me they are out there and some of them are really scary…did I mention the fat storm troopers?

Be safe and don’t forget your 13 sided die,
John Cannon

Part 2


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