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Glossary of comics terminology

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Comics as a medium has a specialized terminology, some of which is also used on this wiki. Because many fans may be unfamiliar with these terms, this article gives an overview of the most important terms used on this wiki. Where possible an analogy to TV series is given.

The term comic or comic book or comic title itself can ambiguously refer to various formats in which comics are published.

Original publication formats

Comic stories can generally be originally published in one of three ways.

Issues

An issue is an original publication in a stapled, magazine-like format, usually interspersed with ads. At the end of an issue is usually a letters column, where fan-letters are publish and information from the publishing company. The story of an issue is often between 22 and 26 pages, with the ads and letters adding another 10 pages to the comic. Most comic stories are first published as an issue. Many issues are part of a series, as such issues can be compared to TV episodes.

Graphic Novels

A graphic novel (or OGN) is an original publication in a bound paperback book(let), without any ads or letter collumns. Graphic novels usually have higher production values and are longer than issues; they can be related to, but are rarely part of, a series. Graphic novels can be compared to (TV) movies.

Shorts

Shorts are short comic stories which are usually originally published as only part of another publication. Shorts are commonly between 4 and 12 pages. Some shorts are in black-and-white. E-comics are a form of shorts. In the Buffyverse, some shorts are published as part of a larger non-Buffyverse publication, for example Harmony Comes to the Nation was published in MySpace/Dark Horse Presents #25 along with non-Buffyverse shorts; sometimes a Buffyverse issue or graphic novel is made up of several shorts, such as "Tales of the Slayers".

Series

Many comic issues are part of a periodically published series of numbered issues.

Ongoing series

The terms ongoing series or just series are used to refer to a series which has no definitive end-point or which runs for a long time. For the purposes of this wiki, any series with 8 or more issues can be considered an ongoing series.

Limited series

The terms limited series or mini-series are used to refer to series which have a definitive end-point or which run for a limited amount of time. For the purposes of this wiki, any series with 7 or less issues can be considered a mini-series.

One-shots

A one-shot is a comic (issue or graphic novel) which is not part of either an ongoing series or limited series. Most graphic novels are one-shots.

Meta-series

The term meta-series is used to describe a set of related series, mini-series, one-shots, and shorts which are published under the same title and are part of the same narrative. For instance, Season Eight consisted of one ongoing series, three one-shots, and a number of shorts.

Collections

A collection or collected edition is a publication which collects several comic stories which were previously published as individual issues, graphic novels, shorts, or e-comics.

Trade Paperbacks

A trade paperback (or TPB) is a collected edition with a soft cover.

Hardcovers

A hardcover or hardcover collection (or HC) is a collected edition with a hard cover. Hardcovers are usually longer than TPBs and also considered more luxurious.

Omnibuses

An omnibus is an oversized soft cover collection which contains much more stories that both TPBs and HCs.

Creative Team

A comic's creative team refers to the team of individuals who collectively are responsible for the creative production of comic, similar to the cast and crew of a TV series.

Writer

The writer, naturally, writes the comic. This includes writing the dialogue, but also describing the visual aspects of the story in such a way that the penciller can then draw it. In some cases co-plotting a comic can also warrant being credited as a writer. The role is similar to the role of writer on a TV series.

Penciller

To the penciller falls the task of initially drawing the comic. As such the penciller is sometimes also referred to as the artist as (s)he has the most important visual impact on the comic. The penciller creates the designs for characters and creatures. The penciller is also responsible for the lay-out of the panels and the viewing angles, as such the role is similar to the role of director on a TV series.

Inker

The role of the inker is to supplement and enhance the pencil artwork, by better defining the dark lines, which adds depth and shadow to the art. The inker thus brings out the best in the penciler's original art.

Colorist

The role of the colorist is to add color to the previously black-and-white artwork, either by hand or on computer. The colorist will often make the ultimate decision over color scheme, which critically determines the whole tone and feel of a comic, and is thus a key part of the creative process.

Letterer

The role of the letterer is to places the word balloons and captions on the finished artwork and fill the text from the script. This is usually the last stage in a comic's production, although the letterer will liaise with the artist initially to make sure there will be space to fit the text into the artwork without obscuring too much/any of it. The role of the letterer is sometimes also to add soundeffects and to pick a font appropriate to the speech.

Cover artist

The cover artist is responsible for creating the art on the cover of a comic. Most often the cover art is painted rather than drawn. The cover is sometimes a photos, in this case, there is no cover art. Sometimes the penciler who does the interior art also supplies a cover. Many issues are published in different versions with different covers.

Editor

The editor of a particular comic is tasked with overseeing the entire production process and to catch mistakes and continuity issues. Most often, the editor is also the official representative of the publishing company to fans. The role of editor is similar to the role of producer on a TV series.

Executive Producer

This term is not common to comic books, but is used on Season Eight and Season Nine comics to refer to the creative role that Joss Whedon has, namely to oversee the story.

Publishing company

The publishing company (or publisher) is the company which creates, prints, and publishes the comics. Compared to TV series, it serves both the role of production company as well as TV network. Only two publishing companies, IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics have worked on Buffy/Angel comics.

See also

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