Comics: Where Do I Start? Lingo

I haven’t been into comics for all that long compared to my fellow writers of this site, so I figured I owe it to other newcomers to define some lingo that could be confusing at first, because it sure was confusing to me. Issue – This is the standard format for a comic, usually consisting of 22 pages.  Usually they are released on a monthly basis.

Trade Paperback (also commonly referred to as just ‘Trade’ or ‘TPB’ for short) – This is usually a collection of around 6 issues, or a story arc.

Saga Vol. 1

Story Arc – A storyline in a series, usually spanning around 4 to 6 issues.  They have a beginning, middle, and end, but tie in with the rest of the plot.

Mini-series – Basically what it sounds like-a series that only lasts around 3-5 issues.

Ongoing Series – A series that continuously runs every month (for example, The Walking Dead is currently on issue #114).


Graphic Novel – A novel told through the comic format.  These are usually around 12 issues put together (Watchmen, for example).


Omnibus – A collection of many issues.  For example, each Walking Dead omnibus collects 48 issues.

“The Big Two” – Marvel and DC.

The Big Two

Indie Publishers – Independent publishers.  Basically this means that their work is creator-owned and they’re not part of some corporation like Marvel or DC.  We cover a lot of independent publishers on the site and some of my personal favorite indie publishers include Image, Dark Horse, and BOOM! Studios.

Image Boom and Dark Horse Logo

Golden Age Comics – This point in time for comic books lasted from around 1938 to about 1950.  This was when the superhero was created and when many of the superheroes we know today made their debut.

Silver Age Comics – From around 1956 to 1970, when comics started to become more mainstream in the US entertainment industry.  Other genres of comics like crime and horror started to become popular, not just superhero stories.

Bronze Age Comics – This period lasted from around 1970 to 1985.  Superheroes were still extremely popular during this time, but darker storylines were introduced along with real-life societal problems that people could connect with.

Modern Age Comics – 1985 to the present, this period sees independent publishers gaining more of a fan-base, even darker and more complicated stories like Watchmen emerge.

CGC – Certified Guaranty Company, this is a company that essentially grades comics based on a .5 (poor condition) to a 10 (gem mint condition).  You can send in your comics to CGC (for a fee) and they’ll grade it and put it in a nice plastic case that will raise the value if the comic itself is worth anything.

CGC logo

Hopefully this will help out some new readers who aren’t quite sure what some of these terms mean.  Happy reading and collecting!