The Great Graphic Novice Glossary of Really Important Terminology

To those of you who were promised this article weeks ago, I apologize for the delay.  When you live the hard, fast & crazy lifestyle of a comic book podcaster, it can be tough to find the time to fit everything in.  Luckily for all of us, we ran out of booze, hookers and cocaine this afternoon, and I’ve found a few quiet moments alone to start putting this thing together.

We will definitely need to add to this, and I’m hoping the IT department will consider adding it to the main menu eventually.  We’re not on the greatest of terms at the moment however, so here is the first draft of our glossary in article form.  Please send us requests for any terms you would like added.


Arc – A story arc is a continuing storyline that will span across several issues of a comic book series.  “Arcs” will commonly last anywhere from 2-12 issues.  A “storyline” might contain several arcs, but an arc will generally not contain several “storylines”

Back-Issue – A previously released comic book.  The term is often used to describe comics that are no longer readily available.  “Back-Issue Review” is a wildly popular segment of the Graphic Novice Podcast where Nickel and the gang look back at the comics that put down the roots of the current Marvel Universe.  It has been temporarily suspended by the twisted and irreconcilable views of Doc Thirst.

Brony – A term used to describe male fans of the My Little Pony franchise.  Also a group of people who have been upset with some of the members of the Graphic Novice podcast (prior to our peacemaking efforts in Episode 10, The My Little Pony Episode).

Creative Team – These are the people that put your comics together.  The creative team will generally consist of a writer, a penciller, an inker, a colorist, a letterer and an editor.

Continuity – The evolving history of a character or comic book character, team or story.  Stories written in continuity generally will respect and continue the events and stories that have been written in the past.  Stories written out of continuity will often ignore the past events of a characters history.  The degree to which continuity is respected will often change depending on several factors including editorial mandates, the comic book series, and the story the creative team wishes to tell.  Several plot devices have been used to justify lapses in continuity.  New series and even universes have been created to facilitate storylines outside of the established continuity.  Obviously, long-running titles such as Batman, the Avengers, and the X-Men will often have to take painstaking measures to respect the already established history of events for their respective characters and the world they live in.  Continuity and its importance is a highly contested issue amongst many comic book fans.

Crossover – Refers to a storyline that carries over multiple titles.  In other words, you will need to read more than one series to follow the story.  In other words, you may have to buy a series you had no intention of ever reading to follow the storyline in the series you do purchase and follow.

Graphic Novel – A collected edition of a comic book storyline or arc.  The term “Original Graphic Novel” is often used if the story was not released as individual comics first.

Indy/Independent – Refers to a book or series published for the creative team.  Independent titles are usually creator owned, instead of the more familiar situation where the publisher owns the characters and the title.  Here at Graphic Novice, the term is frequently used as a blanket term to describe anything that isn’t published by Marvel or DC, despite the fact that we have no knowledge of the internal workings of any of the publishing companies.

Kearnsy – Newly appointed nickname of Australian correspondent, super-fan and friend of the show, Brian Kearns.  At the time this article was published, the nickname was still yet to be approved and in the early trial phase.

One-Shot – A single issue with a self-contained story.  These books are not part of a series, but can be associated with a larger storyline.  While quite often refreshingly entertaining, they are always annoying to file in your comic boxes.

Run – A “run” of comics simply refers to a number of comics with something in common.  The term is often used to refer to a writer’s time spent writing a specific title. [Example: Author Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men lasted 16 years.]

Rick Remender – VF’s God and/or deity.

Short-Box – A smaller comic box that collectors use to store their comics in.  Not to be confused with “short bus”, doc’s childhood transportation to and from school.

Steamwhistle – The Graphic Novice beer of choice.

Trade – A term used to refer to a “Trade Paperback” or collected volume of multiple comics.  These will most often consist of 4-6 single issue comics.  The trade paperback is often referred to a “TPB” in written form.

VF’d – A term named after Graphic Novice co-host “VF” that refers to sneaking off in the middle of a conversation and consequently causing dead air when the other podcasters ask a question or throw to the “VF’er”.


Some other people have put together more exhaustive glossaries, and I would highly recommend going to see them if you are still stumped or looking for answers that Graphic Novice cannot provide.  For more definitions of comic book terminology check out the How To Love Comics Glossary, or the CGC Glossary.

Feel free to send us links for more resources, or link them in the comments section below.

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