The ComiQuad: A Lesson in Vocabulary

Boom! Wham! Pow! The ComiQuad is a column dedicated to the spandex-laden world of comics and superheroes. It goes up each Tuesday and will alternate between comic book reviews and other comic book news. Reviews shall try to be spoiler-free. Zam!

You don’t know how it all happened. You were following the mall directory to the nearest bathroom, took the left you were supposed to (or was it a right?), and you walked right into it. Guys and gals dressed in spandex as far as the eye can see.

You’ve ruled out Cirque Du Soleil and have come to terms that you aren’t in an 80’s work-out video. It can only mean one thing. You’ve wandered into a stray army of superhero comic book fans on a pit stop to the San Diego Comic Con.

How will you ever navigate your way out of this mess and finally to the bathroom? Hopefully, with the help of this guide, you’ll make it to the bathroom with your street cred still intact.

Word Girl is impressed by your "leet" vocabulary skills. | Cover courtesy BOOM! Studios.

Comic Book Vocab Terms

LCS [el-see-es] (noun): An abbreviation for Local Comic Store. The place where one goes about picking up physical comics. Sometimes smells of body odor and Febreze. “Brb, g2g LCS lol, ttyl.”

Con [cahn] (noun): An abbreviation for “convention.” Includes San Diego Comic Con, MegaCon, GeekGirlCon, etc. In the comics world, it’s one of the many places where nerds, geeks, and their embarrassed family gather en masse. “Dude, cons are like Halloween. They’re exciting, full of fear, and people dress up in costume! Except there’s no candy, just heat exhaustion.”

T&A [tee-uhnd-ey] (noun): A term used to refer to the upper lady regions and lower back lady regions. Employed in comic book lingo to describe an artist’s visual direction towards drawing women. “Dude, Poison Ivy sure is showing a lot of T&A, but Batman’s not showing much D&A. Stupid gender inequality, bro.”

Cheesecake [cheez-keyk] (noun): An art style that showcases a greater amount of female skin. Not always exploitative and can sometimes resemble old pin-up art. “This issue of Catwoman is so filled with cheesecake that I think it’s turning me diabetic.”

Creator-Owned [kree-ey-ter ohnd] (adjective): Used to describe comic book characters and properties that are owned by the writers or artists that created them. The founding basis of Image Comics. “Had the Ghost Rider property been creator-owned, Marvel Comics would not have ruined the life of character creator Gary Friedrich.”

Company-Owned [kuhm-puh-nee ohnd] (adjective): Used to describe comic characters and properties that are owned by parent companies for all eternity. The reason Batman will outlive planet Earth. “A writer’s babies, both creative and real, will forever be enslaved by their parent companies since they’re company-owned.”

Crossover [kraws-oh-ver] (noun): According to comic book companies, it’s an exciting creative opportunity where superheroes cross paths and create epic stories that span multiple titles. According to fans, it’s spending more money on other comics to get the full storyline. “DC Press Release: Fans everywhere are outraged enthralled by the new Superman/Swamp Thing/Teen Titans/Downton Abbey/Sarah Palin crossover that spans over $100 of books per month!”

Women in Refrigerators [wim-in in ri-frij-uh-rey-ters] (noun): A term popularized by Gail Simone and others who were outraged over treatment of women as easily killable plot devices. Refers to the fate of Alex DeWitt, girlfriend Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. “Since the Women in Refrigerators movement, writers have been more careful about putting women in refrigerators, coin-operated laundry machines, and even overhead storage.”

Back-Up [bak-uhp] (noun): A smaller, usually quasi-related story at the back of a comic book. Features characters not interesting enough to carry their own title. “Hmm, this Adventures of Kim Kardashian back-up story feels slightly out of place in my Spider-Man comic. Totes not worth another dollar.”

Retcon [ret-con] (noun or verb): Slang for “retroactive continuity.” Refers to a writer’s decision to reverse, alter, or ignore content in current continuity. Instantly turns comic book readers into the Incredible Hulk. “Billy’s life was going well until Marvel retconned Spider-Man and Mary Jane’s marriage. That’s when he turned to a life of disorganized crime and Ke$ha.”

Death [deth] (noun): A state where a superhero character is missing from comics for about a year. Unless she was your favorite un-superpowered supporting character. Then she’s gone forever. “They killed off the Flash? I’m not worried. He’ll rise again when DC’s sales take a dive.”

Fanboy/Fangirl [fan-boi/fan-gurl] (noun or verb): An insult avid comic book fans use against other avid comic book fans. “Home skillet, quit fangirling over Harley Quinn in public. It’s inappropriate.”

About Jon Erik Christianson

Jon Christianson (COM/CAS '14) is the zany, misunderstood cousin of The Quad family. His superpowers include talking at the speed of light, tripping over walls, and defying ComiQuad deadlines with the greatest of ease. His lovely copyeditors don't appreciate that last one. If for some reason you hunger for more of his nonsense, follow him at @HonestlyJon on Twitter or contact him at!

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