Nothing beats the excitement of opening a new comic book (except maybe a hand-signed print from our Marvel collection). To help you get on the right page, here’s a glossary of popular comic book terms.
Anthology: Comics that contain multiple short stories. Historically, these were often testing grounds for new characters (e.g. Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15)
The Big Two: Marvel and DC Comics
Cover: The front page of a comic book, usually boasting a feature image, title, pricing and enticing snippet of text
Crossover: When characters and storylines cross over into another title
Event: A large-scale crossover story, which often includes characters from a shared universe joining forces (e.g. Secret Wars, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers vs. X-Men)
Gutter: The space between panels
Indie: An independent publisher that publishes comics independently from the Big Two and other smaller corporations
Onomatopoeia: Words chosen to convey sound effects phonetically (e.g. ‘BOOM’, ‘POW’ and ‘BANG’)
Panel: A box on the page of a comic book
Run: The number of consecutively published comics in a series by a writer and/or artist, e.g. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s run on Fantastic Four lasted 100 issues
Splash page: A panel that fills the entire page
Story arc: Smaller stories, or a storyline that spreads over multiple issues
Team-up: When multiple characters join forces
Two-page spread: Comic book art that fills two pages
Variant cover: An alternative cover of an issue. Often they include the art of a different artist, and fewer copies are available
Some, or all, of the following roles may be assumed by the same person:
Writer: The writer shapes the story, crafting the dialogue and plot twists
Penciller: Using this script, the penciller sketches out the storyline in pencil. This will be inked and coloured later
Inker: Once these drawings are complete, the inker outlines them, adding shade and detail to bring the characters to life. This is sometimes done digitally, but often it is completed with actual ink
Colourist: With this dynamic black-and-white template in place, the colourist can work their magic. As this is one of the last stages in the process, this role demands speed and an understanding of how colour changes under light and shadow. Historically, the final touches of colour were added using coloured ink, but modern digital methods create incredible tones and a variety of different styles
Letterer: A master of layout, typography and calligraphy, the letterer draws in the sound effects and writes the letters in the word balloons. They also produce the story title lettering and the credits and captions on the first page
Editor: The pressure is on as the editor meticulously checks for spelling errors and art inconsistencies, while working with other collaborators to ensure that story elements won’t clash with other comic books
22/02/2019The Marvel mastermind's own story is captured in a special commemorative edition of the best-selling American magazine. Join us as we take a deeper look into the life of the man who changed the comic book industry forever.
15/07/2020We’ve sketched out some of the most important dates in comic book history, including little-known facts from behind the scenes of Marvel and DC Comics.
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