Holy March Madness, Batman! Terminology for the Comic-Book Challenged


If you’ve stopped by the library recently, you’ll have noticed the latest contest taking place on the first floor – where Marvel and DC Comic superheroes duke it out to become the one, supreme hero. You are fully in control of the bracket; who you vote for will rise to the top, and you can vote for your favorites, for the one who has the coolest powers, any criteria you want! Only one vote per week – but by April 11, we’ll have our winner, and one lucky student, faculty, or staff member will receive a $20 gift card as a prize, just for voting!

… but some of you might not know anything about comics. Fret not, this blog entry will give you all the terms you need to know in order to understand this latest contest:

Comic Book Creators: There are several people involved with the making of a comic book. From the writer who pens the dialogue and story, to the penciler, inker, and colorist who do exactly what it sounds like they do, to the letterer who puts the “bams” in speech bubbles, a lot of work goes into a single page in a comic.

Single Issue: The most common form of a comic – a serial magazine format, usually 20-some pages long, numbered in chronological fashion (i.e. Issue #6)

Graphic Novel: A single original story normally bound like a book without first being in a serial format. One of the heroes on our bracket, The Watchmen, fall into this category, as do stories like 300, Maus, and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Panels, Splash Pages, and Spreads: Panels are a section of a page where action happens, marked by solid lines. Splash Pages are when an entire page is a single panel. Spreads are when the artwork for a panel stretches across the binding to the next page (much like a centerspread in a newspaper).

Manga and Manhwa: Japanese and Korean comics, respectively. While Manhwa comics are read like English comics, Manga are read in a right-to-left fashion (and usually include warnings of such reading styles at the beginning of the book).

Creator-Owned: This is the case where the creator of the comic owns the rights to their work, and not the publisher. The biggest (and most successful) example of this is The Walking Dead series.

The Big Two: A term referring to Marvel and DC Comics, as they are the two publishers with the largest market sales in comics.

Continuity and Retconning: Marvel and DC Comics are well-known for their continuities within their comic “universes,” which is how Batman and Superman can rub elbows in the Justice League. However, there are times when a “retcon” must occur, where details about a character’s origins can be changed after their original publication (e.g. Iron Man being previously wounded in Vietnam, now retconned to Afghanistan). Sometimes, these retcons can be so large that they prompt an all-new series of comics, starting over from first issues and bringing whole new characters to life (e.g. DC’s The New 52).

Crossovers: When elements and characters from one series intermingle with another, stretching over multiple issues and posing “what if” scenarios… which, we suppose, is what’s going on in this contest of ours.

Happy voting!

Source: Van As, Trevor. “Glossary of Comic Book Terms.” How to Love Comics. Published on January 21, 2013. http://www.howtolovecomics.com/comic-book-glossary-of-terms/

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