Glossary of Comic Terms
comic art that is drawn and printed in two color layers, producing a 3-d effect when viewed through special glasses.
3-D Effect Comic
comic art that is drawn to appear as if in 3-d but isn’t.
contains story and/or art for “mature” readers. For example: sex, violence, strong language.
a magazine advertising comic books and collectibles.
informal name for key periods of time in the history of American superhero comic books.
Victorian Age (1828-1899)
Platinum Age (1897-1937)
Golden Age (1938-1955)
Atom Age (1946-1956)
Silver Age (1956-1969)
Bronze Age (1970-1983)
Copper Age (1984-1991)
Modern Age (1992 – Present)
a comic that is published yearly.
referring to the “apparent” grade that is given to a comic book with evidence of professional or amauteur restoration or repair to look like it once did in its original condition.
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.
a promotional comic given to retailers by publishers to advertise the upcoming release on a new title, character or event.
comics published from 1946-1956.
black and white, specifically referring to the cover or interior art being printed without color.
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 way.
a high quality, heavy, white paper used in the printing of some comics.
abbreviation for back cover.
a bend is a curve that will disrupt the flat surface. A bend can sometime be hard to see without inspecting a book at different angles. Lines will not be visible in a bend. Lines will be only be visible within a crease and/or fold.
published every two months.
published every two weeks.
abbreviation for “buy it now.”
a small horizontal rip found on the spine in a book’s cover that can usually be seen from the front to the back. if a bindery tear is shorter than 1/4″, then these can be graded like a spine stress.
best offer. Also seen as b/o.
usually denotes a female in bondage.
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.
a comic printed for distribution in Great Britain; these copies sometimes have the price listed in pence or pounds instead of cents or dollars.
severe paper deterioration causing the paper to become stiff and fragile.
comics published from approximately 1970 through 1985.
the natural oxidation process causing the paper to become much darker in tint.
Buy It Now
ebay term for the immediate purchase of a book. See: BIN.
abbreviation for cleaned and pressed.
a quick reveal or inclusion of a character within another book.
a comic printed for distribution in canada.
abbreviation for Comics Code Authority.
an emblem that was placed on the cover of all CCA approved comics beginning in april-may, 1955.
See: subscription copy
two folded pages located in the middle of the book at the end of the book’s staples.
a grade given for a comic by a professional grader and/or grading company.
abbreviation for centerfold.
abbreviation for centerfold out.
abbreviation for the Certified Comic Book Grading company, comics guaranty, LLC.
damaged, jagged and ripped edges caused by the teeth of animals, rodents, insects and small children (it happens).
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.
See: Subscription Copy.
See: Subscription Fold.
a cover considered by collectors to be highly desirable because of its subject matter, artwork, historical importance, etc.
a process in which dirt and dust is removed.
bubbling that appears on a cover’s surface.
bound collection of of stories into one large printing.
a restoration process by which colored ink is used to hide color flecks and larger areas of missing color. Short for “Color Touch-Up.”
an artist who paints the color guides for comics. Many modern colorists use computer technology.
polybagged physical comic book with a code for a digital download. DC comics offered this “variant” from 2011 to 2015.
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.
Comics 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.
all issues of a given title/series.
abbreviation convention or public gathering of fans.
the state of preservation of a comic book, often inaccurately used interchangeably with grade.
a limited print run variant sold/distributed at a comic book convention (for example: san diego comic con “sdcc” 2015 variant). For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
a costumed crime fighter with “developed” human powers instead of super powers.
the reflective quality of the cover inks.
cover has been reduced in size by neatly cutting away rough 944 or damaged edges.
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.
a distinct white line that causes ink removal/color break.
a story where one character appears prominently in the story of another character. See: X-Over.
abbreviation for cover.
numbers (such as a publisher’s hand written notes.) For example: #2 of 100.
several different processes that reduce acidity in paper.
See: Comic Book Dealer.
the first time that a character appears anywhere.
any fault or flaw that detracts from perfection.
the blunting, denting, indentations or dimpling that interrupt the flat surface.
a comic book cover with areas or edges pre-cut by a printer to a special shape or to create a desired effect.
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. These are not considered a defect.
a duplicate copy of the same comic book.
a frequently sought after printing defect when a extra copy of the cover is stapled on top of the original cover during printing.
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.
printed with black and one other color of ink. this process was common in comics printed in the 1930s.
when the portion of a book has been exposed to environmental air, light, and settling dust particles, creating discoloration on that section.
reprints (or “variants’) of popular/key issues sold in promotion with a physical DVD or BLU-RAY movie. For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
a comic book cover with a pattern, shape or image pressed into the cover from the inside, creating a raised area.
refers to the process of sealing certified comics in a protective plastic enclosure. Also See: Slabbing.
error books that contain a miss-printing error and were accidentally distributed, sold or leaked to the public. Frequently, these error issues were recalled and replaced with normal copies. Also See: Double Covers. For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
a term which refers to the overall look of a comic appears better then what it’s condition is graded at.
an amateur fan publication.
abbreviation for front cover.
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.
the oil within fingers can leave traceable and untraceable marks upon the surface of a book. This oil can sometime smudge and/or remove ink, leaving color breaking and permanent marks. Due to the amount of ink, dark covers tend to be more sensitive to these flaws.
using the glare from a book’s natural gloss and light to help discover imperfections.
when a previous story is recalled as a narrative device.
the immediate listing or selling of a book after purchasing it to sell it at a higher price. Someone who does this is known as a “Flipper.”
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.
a bend over on itself so that one part of it covers another, but does not break color.
series of comics produced by Dell, characterized by hundreds of different features; named after the four color process of printing. See: One-Shot.
Four Color Process
the process of printing with the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) plus black.
bacterial or fungal growth in the paper of a comic that appears as discolored spotting.
a double-width fold-out cover.
categories of comic book subject matter. For example, science fiction, super-hero, romance, funny animal, teenage humor, crime, war, western, mystery, horror, etc.
type of comic book intended to be given away as a premium or promotional device instead of being sold.
in 3-D comics, the special blue and red cellophane and cardboard glasses are still attached to the comic.
a comic book’s smooth shiny finish on the cover’s surface.
comics published from approximately 1938 (e.g. 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.
“the holy grail” of comics, refers to both hard to obtain and/or expensive books as well as an inidividual’s most sought after book for their collection.
essentially any comic that is bounded like a book. Typically refers to comic books but can also be an umbrella term that refers to trades. See: Trades and Hardcover.
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.
similar to a trade paperback (see below) 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 roughly 12 issues.
abbreviation for hardback.
abbreviation for illustration.
another term for color touch.
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 (1:10, 1:25, 1:50, 1:100).
light abrasions that disrupt the surface of the book.
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.
shows a scene that repeats itself to infinity.
artist that does the inking.
short for issue.
an “issue” is that specific instance of one comic book. It is denoted by a numerical value. For Example, issue #1.
the actual edition number of a given title.
abbreviation for Justice League of America, a superhero group associated in DC comics.
abbreviations for Justice Society of America, a superhero group associated in DC comics.
Key, Key Book or Key Issue
an issue that contains a first appearance, origin, or other historically or artistically important feature considered especially desirable by collectors.
acronym for “local comic shop,” terminology given to one’s homebase store. For example, “I found a really hard to find variant at my LCS today!”
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 Col or Letter Column
a feature in a comic book that prints and sometimes responds to letters written by its readers.
Line Drawn Cover
a cover published in the traditional way where pencil sketches are overdrawn with India Ink and then colored. Also See: Grey-Tone Cover, Photo Cover, and Painted Cover.
the title of a strip or comic book as it appears on the cover or title page.
LSH or LOSH
abbreviation for Legion of Super-Heroes. (another popular search is SLOSH: Supergirl and theLegion Of Superheroes)
completing an ask (ie. cut out/mail in coupons, mail in product packaging, redeem a free voucher, etc.) in order to receive a special edition comic book sent through the mail.
a four page color inserted into the centerfold of an estimated 592 comic books from August 1972 through July 1986 advertising jewelry sold by the company Mark Jeweler. For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
a broad term usually applied to comics published from the 1980s to the present.
the staining, rippling and paper loss damage created when exposed to both direct and environmental moisture.
an inert, very hard, space-age plastic used to make high quality protective bags and sleeves for comic book storage. “Mylar” is a trademark of the Dupont Co.
abbreviation for No Date.
comic books not sold directly in comic shops (ie. newsstands, book stores, grocery stores, etc.) For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
abbreviation for “No Number.” See: No Number.
when there is no date given on the cover or Indicia page.
no issue number is given on the cover or Indicia page; these are usually first issues or one-shots.
this indicates an item that did not sell at auction because it did not receive bids equal to or greater than the reserve (minimum bid) amount set by the owner.
these are very large hardcover collections. These collections can can be 25+ singles issues collected into one. Often these collect entire series or a creative run on a comic series.
when only one issue is published of a title, or when a series is published where each issue is a different title.
when the story of a character’s creation is given.
when a comic book is priced at a value over guide list.
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. Also See: Dust Shadow and Sun Shadow.
cover taken from an actual painting instead of a line drawing.
one who researches comic books and/or comic strips.
comic book cover made from the same newsprint as the interior pages. These books are extremely rare in high grade.
missing and chipped portions of the cover created by various conditions such as: tape pull, moisture, abrasions, etc.
the eye appeal, coloration and paper strength that a comic contains.
abbreviation for Paperback.
an acronym for “Personal Collection.”
a book from a famous and usually high grade collection.
artist that does the pencils.
pages are glued to the cover as opposed to being stapled to the cover, resulting in a flat binded side. Also known as Square Back or Square Bound.
abbreviation for Page.
comic book cover featuring a photographic image instead of a line drawing or painting.
comics published from approximately 1900-1938.
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.
abbreviation for the anti-comic book volume, Parade of Pleasure.
describes comics published after February 1955 and usually displaying the CCA stamp in the upper right hand corner.
abbreviation for pages.
describes comics published before the Comics Code Authority (CCA) seal began appearing on covers in 1955.
price variants are comics sold in limited quantities in other territories with a higher or different price than more their common same issues. For example, 35 cent variants that were distributed in Canada. For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
refers to the number of actual physical comics that were printed by the distributor.
a printing flaw. For example: no staples, mis-cuts, overhang, color artifacts, double covers, discolorations, etc.
when the owner of a book is known and is stated for the purpose of authenticating and documenting the history of the book.
cheaply produced magazine made from low grade newsprint. The term comes from the wood pulp that was used in the paper manufacturing process.
a qualified grade is used when book has a significant defect that would otherwise prevent giving the highest possible grade.
published every three months (four times a year).
abbreviation for Reprint.
term used for a difficult to find book and/or a book with a very small print number.
damage caused by the gnawing of rats and mice.
an ungraded, unslabbed copy of a comic.
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.
the vertical crease near the front cover’s staples parallel to the spine.
a book requested to be destroyed or immediately returned to the publisher due to error or controversy.
in earlier decades, comic books that contained newspaper strip reprints. Modern reprint comics usually contain stories originally featured in older comic books.
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.
the amateur or professional attempt to “fix” or enhance the appearance of a comic book by altering, adding, cleaning, replacing, trimming or removing the original integrity.
Special publisher programs where a retailer could receive a special exclusive cover by meeting specific order requirements. For example, a free “thank you” special cover for a retailer’s participation in promotion.
Retailer Roundtable Program (RRP)
the comic industries occasional meeting to connect with hand-picked and diverse retailers to garner feedback and ideas on sales and marketing of their comic books. Exclusive variant comics are sometimes given out to RRP attending retailers and have very low print runs.
an issue that begins republishing a comic book character after a period of dormancy.
a spine condition caused by folding back pages while reading.
standard saddle stitch binding typical of most comics.
a group of comics of one title where most or all of the issues are present. See: Complete Run.
abbreviation for retailer roundtable program. See: Retailer Roundtable Program
abbreviation for the legendary creative team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, creators of Marvel Comics’ Captain America.
the staple binding of magazines and comics.
like Rare, a term used for a fairly difficult to find books and/or small print number.
light abrasions that disrupt the surface of the book.
published twice a month, but not necessarily bi-weekly.
the “series” refers to the title of a group of comics. A popular character like Spider-Man can have multiple series with his name in them. For example: Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, etc).
a complete run of a given title or a grouping of comics for sale.
a comic with many spine perforations where binders’ thread held it into a bound volume. This is considered a defect.
abbreviation for Science Fiction (the other commonly used term, “sci-fi,” is often considered derogatory or indicative of more “low-brow” rather than “literary” science fiction, i.e. “sci-fi television.”)
comics published from approximately 1956 (For example: Showcase #4) to 1969.
a black and white actual size print on thick glossy paper hand painted by an artist to indicate colors to the engraver.
colloquial term for the plastic enclosure used by grading certification companies to seal in certified comics.
the process of encapsulating certified comics into a plastic enclosure.
residue found on the surface of a comic.
the left-hand edge of the comic that has been folded and stapled.
a tear going through the spine throughout the entire book.
the difference in surface condition where the a portion of the cover dips or curves from the rest of the cover along the spine.
a spine folds clean and even separation.
a small fold perpendicular to the spine.
a splash panel that takes up the entire page.
the first panel of a comic book story, usually larger than other panels and usually containing the title and credits of the story.
Square Back or Square Bound
See: Perfect Binding
when the cover has been removed or loosened from a staple and is no longer attached.
rust staining from a staple that has spread to the paper/cover.
a tear around the staple that is still partially attached and has not detached yet.
the brown oxidation of the staples metal.
store name, and sometimes address and telephone number, stamped in ink via rubber stamp and stamp pad.
a limited print run commissioned and sold directly by a store or company. For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
refers to a type of mini-story within a series.
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.
a front to back vertical fold from folding in half from a publisher’s direct mailing.
See: subscription copy. Differs from a Subscription Crease in that no ink is missing as a result of the fold.
any additional printing ordered and delivered for an issue by the publisher after the former print runs sell out. For example, second print, third print, fourth print, etc.
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 costumed crime fighter with powers beyond those of mortal man.
a costumed criminal with powers beyond those of mortal man; the antithesis of super-hero.
a panel, sequence, or story obviously borrowed from previously published material.
a drawing or small panel in a text story that almost never has a dialogue balloon.
a page with no panels or drawings.
a story with few if any illustrations commonly used as filler material during the first three decades of comics.
the name of the comic book.
the first page of a story showing the title of the story and possibly the creative credits and Indicia.
a reprint (or variant) of a popular comic sold within the packing of a toy, board game or video game system. For a full list of variant types See: Variant.
Trade Paperback (TPB)
a Trade Paperback (often shortened to TPB, TP, or Trade) is a collection of stories originally published in comic books, reprinted in book format, usually capturing one story arc from a single title or a series of stories with a connected story arc or common theme from one or more titles.
abbreviation for Tales to Astonish.
abbreviation for British Edition (United Kingdom).
when a comic book is priced at a value less than currently found on known guide lists.
to obtain another copy of the same comic book in a higher grade.
an alternative cover of a single issue. There are several different types of variants.
term used for an exceptionally difficult book to find and/or very small print number.
comics published from approximately 1828-1899.
a listing of comics needed by a collector, or a list of comics that a collector is interested in purchasing. Also known as a Wishlist.
originating from a publisher’s warehouse; similar to File Copy.
DC, Marvel & Gold Key titles published under the Whitman bagged comic line in 1980 that was sold to department and general stores.
a book found in public and not from online sellers/stores. For example, “I found this book in the wild.”
Writing or Graffiti