The Beginner’s Guide to Comicbooking: Buyer’s Glossary

The more I get involved with comic books, the more I seem to learn. Which I like, because I still feel so new to the game. One of the most important things I’ve learned is comic book vernacular, or comic book lingo. This lingo is incredibly helpful when shopping for comics, and it will help you to become a better buyer and collector.

To help other newbies, here are some terms that I’ve learned which have helped me when I purchase my weekly comics.

Issue #0 

Last year on Free Comic Book Day, I picked up Marvel’s Secret Wars #0. For the longest time, I thought that it was odd that there could be such a thing as Issue #0, but I came to realize that #0 is anything in a particular story that comes before Issue #1. Thus, Issue #0 is necessary background information. Recently, I bought Boom! Comics’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0, which details basic information about the Power Rangers we grew up with. From what I understand, comic books marked Issue #0 can be extremely helpful.

Variant Covers 

Many comic books will have a direct issue cover, and several different variant covers. So what are variant covers? Usually, they are covers that may have been created by guest artists, an addition to a variant cover series, or feature a different scenario from that particular issue. Sometimes, variant covers are a little more expensive, depending on who created them. However, there are variants that are set side-by-side with the direct issue covers, and they cost the same amount.

Primarily, variant covers are coveted by collectors. In the grand scheme of comic books, these variants may become more valuable as the years go by, or if a particular artist hits the big time. And if a variant cover is a limited release? Then that makes it even more valuable. Personally, I buy variants that look cool. I’m not into the whole collecting game just yet, so I buy whatever interests me. For example, I am currently reading The Mighty Thor, and I bought the cosplay variant cover for Issue #1. I have another variant cover for this series, too. If you want to get into collecting, consider researching variant covers.

Bags and Boards 

Any time you buy a comic, you will more than likely see some bagged up, with a thin piece of cardboard to back it. These accessories are lovingly known by the highly creative name of bags and boards.

When storing your comics, the easiest way to keep them looking nice is to slip them into a a bag with a board. Any local comic book shop will sell them, or you can buy a bulk pack online. Even if you’re not into hardcore collecting, comic book aficionados will recommend that you bag and board your own. When bagged, the comic books become much more stackable, and travel better. As your own collection grows, consider investing in bags and boards to extend the life of your issues.

Digital Issues 

If you hate the idea of having a physical copy lying around, you can always purchase a digital issue. Much of Marvel’s comics provide the reader with a code to download a free issue onto their app, so that you have your collection all on your smart device. DC, Marvel, and ComiXology offer an extensive digital library for fans to peruse. Sometimes, you can even unlock exclusive content through digital issues.

New Printings 

Every once in a while, publishers will release new printings of past issues, especially if they were popular. Sometimes, they’ll even release a variant cover to go with it. These new printings could be of issues that were once limited printings, or featured popular plot lines or characters. So far, I haven’t encountered a new printing with any of the series that I buy, but it would be interesting to see one in person.

What are some terms you have learned while comicbooking? Am I missing some important piece of comic book lingo? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Life was meant to be lived nerdily, so what are you waiting for? 

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