Learn your comic book A-Z

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

Creating a comic book

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

Featured Artist

From the blog

A history of comic books


We’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.

Marvel | The Legacy Collection | 2023


Revealing a snapshot into the early modern era of Marvel Comics, our exciting new line-up for 2023 features legendary superheroes like Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Black Widow.

New collection of Marvel Superhero comic book covers hand-signed by the late great John Romita Sr.


We’re delighted to present a commemorative collection of unique graphics of iconic comic book covers hand signed by Marvel creator John Romita Sr.

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