Glossary

Comic Book Glossary of Grading Terms and Definitions

   
   

A

 
  ABRADED CORNER - Grinding of a corner area caused by improper handling or storage.
  AD - Abbreviation for Arrival Date.
  ALLENTOWN COLLECTION - A collection discovered in 1987-88 outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The collection consisted of 135 Golden Age comics that are of high grade with superior paper quality.
  ANILINE - A poisonous oily liquid obtained from coal tar and nitro benzene, used in making inks, dyes and perfumes. The oxidation of aniline produces quinone, which can cause transfer stains and paper discoloration.
  APO - Abbreviation for Ad Page Out.
  ARRIVAL DATE - The date written or stamped on the cover of comics by either the local wholesaler, newsstand owner, or distributor.
  ASHCAN - A publisher's in-house facsmile of a proposed new title. Most ashcans have black and white covers stapled to an existing coverless comic. Ashcans can refer to promotional comics, often smaller than standard size, released by publishers to advertise a forthcoming arrival of a new title or story.
  AT - Abbreviation for Archival safe Tape.
  ATOM AGE - Comics published from approximately 1946-1956.
   
   

B

 
  BACK-UP FEATURE - A story or character that usually appears after the main feature in a comic book; often not featured on the cover.
  BAD GIRL ART - A term popularized in the eraly 1990's to describe an attitude as well as a style of art portrays women in a sexual and often action-oriented way.
 

BAXTER PAPER - A high quality, white paper used in the printing of some comic books.

 

BBC - Abbreviation for Bottom of Back Cover.

 

BC - Abbreviation of Back Cover.

 
BEND - When part of a comic is curved, interrupting the flat, smooth cover surface. Bends WILL NOT show distinct lines (see also crease/fold).
 

BI-MONTHLY - Published every tow months.

 

BINDER - The person that oversees the bindery process.

 

BINDER HOLES - Either two or three holes punched into the spine of of comics in orders to fit them into a two or three ring binder.

 

BINDERY - The location where comic books are assembled, trimmed, and stapled and/or glued.

 

BINDERY CORNER - Small, triangular spine corner tears that occur during binding.

 

BINDERY DEFECT - Defects associated with the binding process which may include mistrimming, miswrapping, inaccurate stapling, etc.

 

BINDERY TRIMMING DEFCT TAXONOMY - Comic that is not cut/trimmed correctly at the bindery.

 

BINDERY TEAR - A small horizontal rip in a comic's cover that can usually be seen on both the front and the back. These are always found along the spine and should be graded like spine stress if they are shorter than 1/4".

  BLACK COVER - A comic cover where black is the predominant color. These covers show wear easily and in high grades are in great demand by collectors.
 

BONDAGE COVER - Usually denotes a female in bondage.

 

BOUND COPY - A comic that has been bound into a book. The process requires that the spine be trimmed and sometimes sewn into a book-like binding.

 

BRITTLENESS - A severe condition of paper deterioration where paper loses its flexibility and chips or flakes easily.

 

BRN - Abbreviation for Brown.

 

BRONZE AGE - Comics published from approximately 1970 through 1985

 

BROWNING - The darkening of paper from the aging process due to oxidation.

 

BRT - Abbreviation for Brittle.

 

BUG - Abbreviation for Bug Chew.

   
   

C

 
  CAMEO - The brief appearance of one character in the strip of another.
  CBCS - Abbreviation for the Comic Book Certification Service company.
  CC - Abbreviation for Coupon Cut.
  CCA - Abbreviation for Comics Code Authority.
  CE - Abbreviation for Canadian Edition.
  CENTERFOLD / CENTERSPREAD - The two folded pages in the center of a comic book at the terminal end of the staples.
  CERTIFIED GRADING - A process provided by a professional grading service that certifies a comic provides a grade. These comics are put in protective and sealed containers.
  CF - Abbreviation for Centerfold.
  CFL - Abbreviation for Centerfold Loose.
  CFO - Abbreviation for Centerfold Out.
  CGC - Abbreviation for the certified grading company, Comics Guaranty, LLC.
  CHEW - Damage caused by the gnawing of rodents or insects (usually). Results in multi-page paper loss with jagged edges. Very visually distinct.
  CHIP CUT - Missing piece smaller than 1 square millimeter.
  CHP - Abbreviation for Chipping.
  CL - Abbreviation for Cover Loose.
  CLASSIC COVER - A cover considered by collectors to be desirable because of its subject, artwork, history, artists, etc.
  CLEANED - An aqueous process to lighten the paper color or remove soluble acids, often using chemical oxidation, solvents, or water. This process is sometimes called cleaned and pressed or C&P. Common chemicals used to lighten paper include benzene, acetone, xylene, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, chloramine-T, chlorine dioxide, sodium borohydrate, etc.
  CLEANING - A process in which dirt and dust are removed from the cover, pages, surface area, etc.
  CO - Abbreviation for Cut Out.
  COCKLING - Bubbling on a cover's surface (typically a printing defect).
  COLOR FLAKE - The color layer has been lost, making the white paper substrata visible. Color flakes are between 1 and 2 square millimeters.
  COLOR FLECK - The color layer has been lost, making 1 millimeter or less of the white substrata visible.
  COMIC BOOK DEALER - One who makes money buying and selling comic books.
  COMIC BOOK REPAIR - When a tear, staple, centerfold damage has been mended without changing or adding to the original finish of the book. Repair may involve tape, nylon gossamer, glue, etc. and is easily detected. This is considered a defect.
  COMPLETE RUN - All issues of a given title or series.
  CON - A convention and gathering of fans, such as COMI-CON.
  CONDITION - The state of preservation of a comic book, often inaccurately used interchangeably with the grade.
  CONSERVATION - Consisting mainly of direct action carried out on cultural heritage with the aim of stabilitizing condition and further deterioration.
  CORNER BLUNTING - Compression folds at a corner area of a comic as if the comic were dropped on to a hard surface with that corner.
  CORNER CREASE - Permanent crease located within 1" of the corner, usually the upper or lower, right corners.
  CORNER FOLD - A linear dent indicating folds within 1" of the corner. Usually the upper and lower, right corners.
  COSMIC AEROPLANE COLLECTION - A collection of moderate to high grade 1930s-40s comic books from Salt Lake City, Utah that were discovered by Cosmic Aeroplane Books. These comics were thought to be kept by an illistration school and had pencil markings in the margins of the pages. The markings were placed inside the panels that instructors wanted students to draw.
  COUPON CUT / MISSING - A coupon that has been removed with scissors or blade from the comic instead of being ripped out.
  COVER GLOSS - The reflective quality of the cover inks.
  COVERLESS - A comic book without a cover attached to it or a comic where the cover is missing.
  COVER LOOSE - A cover that has become completely detached from the staples or when a cover moves around on the staples but is still somewhat attached.
  COVER OFF - Cover is completely detached from the staples or binding.
  COVER REATTACHED - The cover has been restored to hold staples and is then reattached to the interior.
 

COVER TRIMMED - Cover has been reduced in size by cutting away rough or damaged edges.

  C/P - Abbreviation for Cleaned and Pressed.
  CREASE - A fold that causes ink removal/color break, usually resulting in a white line (see bend/fold).
  CRN - Abbreviation for Corner.
  CRS - Abbreviation for Crease.
  CT - Abbreviation for Color Touch.
  CVLS - Abbreviation for Coverless.
  CVR - Abbreviation for Cover.
   
   

D

 
  DATE STAMP - Arrival or other date printed in ink or stamped somwhere on the comic book.
  DBL - Abbreviation for Double.
  DEACIDIFICATION - When the acidity in paper is reduced using several different processing techniques.
 

DEBUT - The very first apperance of a character.

  DEFECT - Any flaw that detracts from the condition of a book.
  DEFECTIVES - Comics which are imperfect due to flaws.
  DEFORMED STAPLE - A staple that has not penetrated all of the pages properly or one that is bent/mis-shapen.
  DENTING - Indentations or dimpling (usually in the cover) that don't penetrate the paper or remove any gloss, but do interrupt the smooth, flat surface.
  DENVER COLLECTION - A collection consisting primarily of early 1940s high grade first issues bought at an auction in Pennsylvania by a Denver, Colorado dealer.
  DETACHED STAPLE - When a wrap has come completely loose from a staple and is no longer bound to the comic in that area.
  DIE-CUT COVER - A comic book cover with areas or edges precut by a printer to a special shape or to create a desired effect.
  DIMPLE - A surface indentation on the cover, usually caused by thumb/finger pressure.
  DIRT - Inorganic and organic substances that can be removed from paper by cleaning.
  DISTRIBUTOR STRIPES - Color that is brushed or sprayed on the edges of comic book stacks by the distributor/wholesaler to code them for exchange at the sales racks. The typical colors are blue, green, orange, purple, red and yellow.
  DMP - Abbreviation for Dimple.
  DOG - Abbreviation for Dog-eared.
  DOUBLE - A duplicate copy of the same book.
  DOUBLE COVER - Technically a printing defect, double-cover books had an extra copy of the cover stapled on during manufacturing. This protective extra cover can be a boon, as these books are graded by the condition of the innermost cover.
  DRY PRESS - Machine used to flatten comics with rolled spines and/or folds.
  DS - Abbreviation for Dust Shadow.
  DUOTONE - Printed with black and one other color of ink. This process was common in comic books that were printed in the 1930s.
  DUST SHADOW - When a comic has been stored in a stack at some point in its life, any portions of the cover that weren't covered up by the adjacent books have been exposed to environmental air, light, and settling dust particles, sometimes creating lines of discoloration along the edges.
   
   

E

 
  EMBOSSED COVER - A comic book cover with a pattern, shape or image pressed into the cover from the inside, creating a raised area.
  ENCAPSULATION - The process of sealing comics in a plastic, protective enclosure.
  ENTROPY - The gradual decline of a comic book's condition into nothingness.
  ERASER MARK - The damage left when pencil marks are erased from the cover or a page.
  EXT - Abbreviation for Extensive.
  EYE APPEAL - The overall look of a comic when it is held at arm's length.
   
   

F

 
  FINGERPRINT - When finger oils left behind from everyday handling remain on a comic's surface, they can begin to eat away at the ink, literally creating color-breaking fingerprints on the cover that are sometimes distinct and sometimes smudged. Finger oils can usually be wiped away, but fingerprints are irreversible.
  FLASH - A method of examining a comic that uses its natural gloss and light (glare) to help you see imperfections in its surface, like denting.
  FOLD - Linear dents in paper that have distinct lines, but DO NOT break color (see also bend/crease).
  FOXING - Bacterial or fungal growth in the paper of a comic (usually the cover) that presents in brownish discolored clusters or spots.
   
   

G

 
  GATEFOLD COVER - A double-width fold-out cover.
  GENRE - Category of the comic book's subject such as Crime, Western, Sci-Fi, Horror etc.
  GLASSESS ATTACHED - 3-D glasses that are still attached to a comic book or glasses that are still in the original, sealed bag along with the comic.
  GLOSS - The shiny surface finish of a comic.
   
   

H

 
  HC - Abbreviation for Hardcover.
  HEAVY CREASING - A crease that is longer than 2 inches.
  HLP - Abbreviation for Hole Punched
  HOT STAMPING - The process of pressing foil, prism paper and/or inks on cover stock.
   
   

I

 
  IBC - Abbreviation for Inside Back Cover
  IFC - Abbreviation for Inside Front Cover
  ILLO - Abbreviation for Illustration.
  IMPAINT - Another term for Color Touch.
   
   

J

 
  JOINED PAGES - Bindery defect in which pages are trimmed long and are not seperated at the right corners or along the right edge. This could also mean a rare printing defect where a new roll of paper is glued to the spent roll while still on the press. This glued intersection appears as a vertical stripe of double thick newsprint on one of the pages.
   
   

K

 
  KEY / KEY ISSUE - An issue that contains a first appearence, origin, or other hystorical or artistically important future desirable by collectors.
   
   

L

 
  LAMINATED - Clear plastic with adhesive used by early collectors to protect comics. This is an outdated, destructive technique which virtually eliminates collector value.
  LAMONT LARSON - Pedigreed collection of high grade 1940s comic books with the initials or name of its original owner, Lamont Larson.
  LBC - Abbreviation for Left side/edge of Back Cover.
  LENTICULAR COVERS / FLICKER COVERS - A comic book cover overlayed with a ridged plastic sheet such that the artwork underneath appears to move when the cover is tilted at different angles perpendicular to the ridges.
   
   

M

 
  MAGIC LIGHTNING COLLECTION - A collection of high grade 1950s comic books from the San Fransisco area.
  MANUFACTURING FOLD - A defect in which some pages or cover of the comic is folded during the printing / manufacturing process.
  MARRIED - A married comic is one in which the issue includes wraps, pages or cover replaced from another copy of the same issue. This is done to replace missing or damaged portions of the same issue.
  MOISTURE / WATER DAMAGE - The damage left behind when a comic has been exposed to moisture (directly or environmentally). Water damage often presents with staining and/or a stiff or swollen feel to the paper. Look for lines of demarcation.
   
   

N

 
  NAME STAMP - Indicates that an ink stamp with someone's name, address has been stamped in or on the comic.
  NBC - Abbreviation for No Back Cover.
  NC - Abbreviation for No Cover.
  ND - Abbreviation for No Date.
   
   

O

 
  OIL DAMAGE / OIL STAIN - A defect in which oil has penetrated the cover and / or interior pages, causing them to become translucent in the area of the stain.
  ONE-SHOT - When only one issue is published of a title or when a series is published where each issue is a different title.
  ORIGIN - When the story of a charecter's creation is given.
  OS - Abbreviation for Oxidation Shadow.
   
   

P

 
  PAPER LOSS - When the surface of a comic has been compromised. This can be the result of heavy scuffing/abrasion, accidental tape pull, or the chemical reactions caused by some kinds of moisture damage.
  PAPER QUALITY - Paper quality refers to the coloration and structural integrity of a comic's cover and interior pages. We do give some leeway on pre-1980s comics, but whe7n environmental conditions have caused the paper to oxidize and/or deteriorate significantly, the decrease in eye appeal and paper strength will bring a book's grade down. Generally, paper quality will not be a concern for most modern (post-1980) comics.
  PIECE REPLACEMENT - Added pieces to replace areas of missing paper. Piece replacement material can be non-original paper such as wood or cotton fiber papers, married from a donor comic book, or color-copied pieces. This process is sometimes called in filling.
  POPPED STAPLE - When one side of a cover has torn right next to the staple, but is still attached by the slip of paper beneath the staple. If not handled carefully, a popped staple can lead to a detached staple.
  PRINTING DEFECT - A flaw caused in the printing process. Examples: paper wrinkling, mis-cut edges, mis-folded or mis-wrapped spine, untrimmed pages/corners, off-registered color, color artifacts, off-centered trimming, mis-folded or unbound pages, missing staples.
   
   

Q

 
  QUARTERLY - Published every three months.
  QUINONE - The substance in ink that promotes oxidation and discoloration and is associated with transfer stains.
   
   

R

 
  READING CREASE - A vertical cover crease near the staples that runs (generally) parallel to the spine, caused by bending the cover over the staples or just too far to the left. Square bound books get these very easily.
  RE-GLOSSED - Enhancing the cover gloss, typically through the application of canned re-glossing/art fixodent spray.
  REINFORCEMENT - A process by which a weak or split page or cover is reinforced with adhesive and reinforcement paper. Reinforcement papers are commonly wood or cotton fiber papers.
  RESTORATION - Any attempt (professional or amateur) to enhance the appearance of an aging or damaged comic book. Dry pressing/cleaning and the simple addition of tape repairs are not considered restoration, but the following techniques are: recoloring/color touch, adding missing paper, stain/ink/dirt/tape removal, whitening, chemical pressing, staple replacement, trimming, re- glossing, married pages, etc. Restored comics generally carry lower value than their unaltered counterparts
   
   

S

 
  SCUFFING - A light paper abrasion that may or may not break color, but interrupts the surface gloss of the book. Its effect on grading is determined by severity.
  SOILING - Substances or residue on the surface of a comic. Most commonly found in white spaces. Residue is a more severe form of soiling.
  SPINE BREAK - A spine stress that has devolved into a tear (usually through multiple wraps). Spine breaks greatly decrease the spine's structural integrity and are often found close to the staples.
  SPINE ROLL - A condition where the left edge of a comic curves toward the front or back, caused by folding back each page as the comic was read. Also usually results in page fanning.
  SPINE SPLIT - A clean, even separation at the spine fold, commonly above or below the staple, but can occur anywhere along the spine length.
  SPINE SPLIT SEALS - Sealing a spine split using an adhesive.
  SPINE STRESS - A small crimp/fold perpendicular to the spine, usually less than 1/4" long.
  STAPLE MIGRATION - When staple rust has moved onto the surrounding paper, causing staining.
  STAPLE RUST - Rust on the staple of a comic book. This also refers to the area around a staple where rust may reside.
  SUBSCRIPTION CREASE - A vertical cover-to-cover fold caused by the book being folded in half when sent through the mail directly from the publisher.
   
   

T

 
  TANNIN LINE - A brownish stain line of tannin that occurs when wet comic paper dries.
  TAPE PULL - Loss of artwork or color when a piece of tape stuck to the cover has been improperly removed from the paper.
  TAPE RESIDUE - Adhesive substance from tape which has penetrated paper fibers.
  TEAR SEALS - Sealing a tear using an adhesive. An adhesive may be cellulose, chemical, or protein-based glues as well as anything that acts as an adhesive, such as saliva.
   
   

U

 
  UK - Abbreviation for British edition (United Kingdom) such as Marvel UK.
  ULBC - Abbreviation for Upper Left Corner Of Back Corner.
  ULFC - Abbreviation for Upper Left Cover O Front Corner.
  UPGRADE - To obtain another copy of the same issue in a higher grade.
   
   

V

 
  VARIANT COVER - A different cover image or cover type used on the same issue.
  VERY RARE - 1 to 10 copies estimated to exist.
  VICTORIAN AGE - Comics published from approximately 1828-1883.
  VINEGAR SMELL - The smell of acetic acid in newsprint that is deteriorating.
   
   

W

 
  WHITE COVER - A comic cover where white is the predominant color. These covers are easily stained / damaged and readily show wear.
  WHITE MOUNTAIN COLLECTION - A collection of high grade comics from the 1950s and 60s that were originated in New England.
  WRAP - A single sheet of paper folded to form four pages of a story. Most modern comics have eight wraps, plus the cover.
 
WRITING - Writing can be found on/in comics in many forms, and downgrades are based on severity. Common things you'll see:
  • Minor initial or date markings (do not affect grade except in the highest range)
  • Names written on covers or in margins
  • Interior puzzles filled out
  • Marker scribbles
  • Markings/coloring over interior art
  • Writing indentations, in which no ink or pencil has touched the comic, but it has been used as a writing surface, so you can see rough areas where the writing dented in.
   
   

X

 
   
   
   

Y

 
  YEL - Abbreviation for Yellowing.
   
   

Z