Glossary of Terms

Originally found here, we’ve added our own terms and definitions, because every industry has a lingo and sometimes it’s hard to follow.

Creative Roles Within a Comic Book Creation

  • Writer – The writer writes the story and has the overall vision of how the story will go. They write the dialogue and how the story will progress.
  • Penciler – This person takes the script and draws the comic. They draw the comic in pencil which then gets inked and coloured later on.
  • Inker – The inker inks over the pencils that the penciler drew. Sometimes this is digitally but often it is with actual ink.
  • Colourist – 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.
  • Letterer – The letterer will take the script and place all the dialogue, word balloons, thought bubbles, sound effects etc into the comic in the intended places.
  • 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.
  • Creator – Sometimes this refers to anyone on a creative team, as a blanket category, and sometimes it refers specifically to a specific person or people who came up with the original idea for the story, whether or not they are part of the specific issue in question.

Comic Book Formats

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

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

Creator-Owned – This means the creator owns the 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.

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.

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.

Gutter – The blank space between panels in a comic, responsible for the timing and rhythm of the story.

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.

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

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

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.

MR For mature readers

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 – A story that is contained to a single issue.

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.

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

Pull List – When you set up a subscription to a number of series that you follow at your local comic shop, they will put those issues to the side for you until you come to pick them up.

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.

Splash Page – When a panel consists of the entire page.

SRP – The suggested retail price. When you set up a pull list, a lot of comic shops will give you a percent off SRP.

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.

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”.

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.

  • 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 to be eligible to order the variant.

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

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