Guide des originaux de BD

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Glossaire des originaux BD

Auction sniping

Auction sniping is the practice of bidding at the very last seconds before the end of an auction, so as to prevent other bidders from outbidding the sniper. Auction sniping is only possible on timed online auctions without time extension such as eBay or ComicLink, and can be performed either manually or automatically (on major platforms such as eBay) by using special softwares.

See also: Time extension

BIN (Buy It Now)

BIN is an abbreviation for "Buy It Now", an eBay term for the immediate purchase of a lot, as opposed to auctioned lots.

Buyer's premium / Buyer's fee

In auctions, the buyer's premium refers to an additional charge on the hammer price (the winning bid) of an auctioned item that must be paid by the buyer / winning bidder. This buyer's premium goes to the auction house, not to the seller (who is also charged seller's fees), and differs for each auction house, from 0% to more than 30% (see this comparison of auction houses).

Note that, if a few auction houses (such as Heritage) clearly display the total price (including this buyer's premium) during the bidding process, most of them only display the best bid so far without buyer's premium (but they never forget to add buyer's fees when they want to communicate about a new record for a given artist)... so do your math when bidding! Or best, plan your maximum bid amount in advance, taking all additional fees into account (buyer's premium, VAT but also potentially handling / shipping cost, sales tax or customs fees, and resale right).

See: Comic art auction houses (comparison table) - How does a comic art auction work?

Color bluelines

Color bluelines, not to be confused with inks over bluelines, are similar to color guides as they are also hand-painted, but with a slightly different process.

The publishing company would reproduce or "stat" a copy of the inked art onto a board, which the colorist would paint on. The inked art is reproduced on a clear acetate overlay and can be dropped over the color to see what the final, printed version would look like. In the printing process, the color art is photographed for the color printing plates, while the inkline art is photographed separately for the black printing plate only which keeps the black line crisp.

This process was usually reserved for higher end books in the mid-80's through 90's, such as Batman: Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Cult, the Kraven's Last Hunt TPB, the Punisher: Return To Big Nothing Graphic Novel, Howard Chaykin's American Flagg…

Related resources: Steve Oliff riff - Blue line coloring (MuutaNet / Richard Corben)

Color guide

Color guides are one-of-a-kind pieces of hand-colored comic art, part of the production process of a comic book (except for artists hand painting their pages with no intermediate pencils and inks). They should not be confused with color proofs or color separations which are often simply stats or copies of the art done at the printer for testing. See also Color bluelines which is a slightly improved version.

For most of the 20th century, colorists worked on photostats or photocopies of the inked original art using brushes and dyes which were then used as guides to produce the printing plates. Now, this work is usually done using digital media, with printing separations produced electronically.

Color guides are usually the same size as the published comic book and contain additional notes to the printer's color separation department indicating which color tones to use for the proofs (thus the name "color guide"). They are usually far less expensive than all other original artworks in the production process. Search for color guide* on ComicArtTracker.

In Europe, artists used to tape a sheet of tracing paper on top of their pages with color indications, usually with colored pencils (see indication* couleur*).

Sometimes also, but more rarely, artists directly painted color indications on the back of the original art: colors could be seen by transparency when held up to light.

See: 1990s Era Color Guide by Walt Simonson

Commission

Commissions are a huge topic! And in some ways they are the life blood of the comic art market.

For those brave enough to collect comic art in this manner, you would be well-advised to read up on the horror stories that can occur. There are threads at CGC (or here), Facebook and Statue Forum with numerous instances of artists not completing work on time or ever. You have been warned!

Warnings aside, commissions are a great way to interact with a comic artist and come away with a meaningful and personal piece of custom art. Commissions are often distinguished from their cousin, the "con sketch", by typically being worked on at home by the artist, away from the hustle and bustle of a convention. They are generally of a higher quality than convention-drawn pieces. And they are generally-speaking, not quite as good as a piece the artist might do for publication. Of course, there are numerous examples of commissions that are so beautiful that they are chosen to be published after the fact; thereby raising the value of the commissioned original!

The easiest way to get started with a commission is to contact the artist or their rep and request a price list and the artist's current schedule. Be sure to get everything in writing and keep in contact with the artist/rep throughout the process.

More tips on a successful commission experience: Convention commissions: rates, quality, process and tips - How to get commissionned comic art? and Art Commission Guide.

Other useful links: Commission an artist on CAF - Commission an artist on ComicArtCommissions - SketchPrices.net (on Facebook) - Artist's Experience & Rating Thread

Corner box

A corner box is the small box on the top left of comic covers, displaying the company logo, issue number and price, and (later) the CCA Seal of Approval. Corner boxes first appeared with Patsy Walker #106, Amazing Spider-Man #2 and Fantastic Four #14 in April and May 1963. They were placed here to ensure that the hero would remain visible on magazine racks or spinner racks, where only the top of the cover is visible. The traditional corner box as we know it was invented by Steve Ditko.

alt="A sample of Marvel corner boxes" alt="A sample of Marvel corner boxes"

Related resources: Corner Box and UPC Box History & Evolution for Marvel Comics and DC Comics - Comic Legends: Did Steve Ditko Invent the Comic Book Corner Box? - Comics Code History: The Seal of Approval

Cover, splash page, double spread page, panel page, prelim, sketch...

  • Cover: the actual cover art from a comic book.
  • Splash page: the first page of a comic book story, usually made of a single large panel and an indicia with the title and credits of the story.
  • Interior splash page: Like a splash page, it has a single full-page panel, but no indicia or title. Pages with a half-page panel are also called half-splash.
  • Double page splash: two side-by-side pages filled by a single image.
  • Double page spread: two side-by-side pages with multiple panels, meant to be read all the way across the spread.
  • Panel page: an interior comic book page that consists of more than one panel. Panel pages vary widely in number, size and form of panels.
  • Prelim: a roughly-drawn piece of original comic art that was done as a guideline of a more detailed and highly finished piece, or to get approval (typically for covers). Such artworks, even if rarely published, are interesting as part of the artistic process of the penciler.
  • Commission: a commission is a comic artwork (usually an illustration) that you pay an artist to do for you. The more complex / finished the commission, the more expensive.
  • Convention sketch: some artists attending conventions will do sketches of a character of your choice. Some do them for free, some will charge you (for charity or for themselves) - sometimes after a draw to determine the lucky collectors who will get one.
  • "Dédicace": in French, a "dédicace" (translation for "dedication") is an original drawing executed by a comic artist, often on one of the blank pages starting the album, and usually dedicated to a reader. Such drawings could be assimilated to convention sketches. In Europe they are generally free of charge, but you may have to buy your book during the convention.

Some resources: Marvel Covers, The Modern Era (Artist Edition) - Splash Pages and Panel Pages (Prop Store) - All Splash Page Comics - Sean Murphy sketches Constantine @NYCC 2011 - Dédicace de Corboz (Angoulême 2016)

Creative team: writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer

Creating a comic book requires different expertises, which often means a full creative team:

  • Writer: the writer is responsible for the script. It starts with the overall scenario / plot of course but may also include panel description, dialogues, captions, and any other notes that will help the artists to bring the story to life.
  • Penciller: the penciller is the first step in rendering the story in visual form. Pencillers work with different tools, traditionally or on computer. They interpret the script and layout the story in pages and panels to showcase steps in the plot. The pencils tend to be a looser version of the final product.
  • Inker: the inker outlines, retraces and finalizes penciller's drawings by using pens or brushes. Inking can be made directly on the original page on which the penciller worked ("inks over pencils"), on a copy of this page (see Inks over blueline), or digitally on scanned pencils.
  • Colorist: the colorist is responsible for adding color to inked (black-and-white) art. It used to be done by hand, using brushes and dyes which were then used as guides to produce the printing plates (see Color guides). Now it is most often done digitally.
  • Letterer: the letterer is responsible for incorporating all the dialogue, captions and sometimes sound effects onto the page. Typefaces, calligraphy, letter size, and layout contribute to the impact of the comic. This step can also be done digitally.
  • Painter: rather than coloring on computer or as a separate layer, some artists (such as Alex Ross, Juanjo Guarnido, Enrico Marini, Bill Sienkiewicz on Elektra: Assassin) hand paint their pages with no intermediate pencils and inks.

A picture being worth a thousand words:

Please contact us if you know who deserves the credit Please contact us if you know who deserves the credit

Note that, in Europe, penciller and inker (and sometimes colorist and letterer as well) are usually a single person, which explains why an album usually takes between 6 months and one year to create.

Some related videos: The Comic Book Development Process (Prop Store) - Phil Jimenez shares his page layout process - Batman Damned cover #3 Pencils and Inks by Jim Lee - Alex Ross Talks Painting & Comics - Jean Giraud drawing Blueberry with pencil, pen and brush - Scott Williams speed inking - Sandra Hope inking Jim Lee - William Vance at work - Wolverine Logan traditional inking by Walden Wong - Hermann at Work - Steve Mannion shows off his Fearless Dawn process - Le Projet Bleiberg par Frédéric Peynet - Naissance d'une affiche par François Schuiten - Inking Demo by Paolo Rivera - Stan Sakai step-by-step process - Hand lettering

And a few other resources: Coloring Comic Books Before Computers - Dan Jurgens process on Superman, Final Crisis and Booster Gold

Cut bid

On Heritage Live, bids are usually placed in certain increments -- $100, $500, $1000, etc. But once per lot, you are allowed to bid by a half increment (called a cut bid).

Dailies and Sundays (Newspaper comic strips)

Comic art first appeared in newspapers. The Yellow Kid is usually credited as one of the first newspaper comic strips and appeared in 1895. Original art for comics strips is usually split in two categories:

  • Dailies: daily strips were published in a newspaper every day of the week with the exception of Sunday. They were usually made of one single strip of 2-4 panels.
  • Sundays: the name says it all, Sundays were published in a newspaper on Sunday. There were usually made of three strips, and predominately published in color.
Walt Kelly - Pogo daily comic strip original art Walt Kelly - Pogo Sunday comic strip original art Walt Kelly - Pogo daily and Sunday comic strip original art on Heritage

Related resources: A century of Sunday funnies (CBS) - Stripped Official Trailer (2014) - List of newspaper comic strips (Wikipedia) - Barnacle Press - The Comic Strip Library

Dédicace

in French, a "dedicace" is an original drawing executed by a comic artist during a convention or a book signing event. They are often done on one of the blank pages starting the album, and usually dedicated to a reader. Such drawings could be assimilated to convention sketches. In Europe they are generally free of charge, but you may have to buy your book during the convention.

Related videos: FIBD 2020 : séance dédicaces à Angoulême - Mélancolie 5 par Olivier Ledroit (galerie Barbier) - Dédicaces de Zep (Angoulême 2016)

Gaufrier

In French, this term refers to a panel page built on a (usually) 3 x 2 or 3 x 3 panel grid with all panels being the same size.

Golden age, Silver age, Bronze age, Modern age, ...

Key periods of time in the history of American superhero comic books have been given different names:

  • Platinum Age (1897-1937): This is the pre-superhero era of comics with content consisting mainly of funny animals and political cartoons.
  • Golden Age (1938-1955): This period started with Superman in Action Comics #1 and gave birth to some of comics most famous characters like Superman, Batman and Captain America.
  • Silver Age (1956-1969): This period started with the publication of DC Comics' Showcase #4 and the modern version of the Flash. Spider-Man and the X-Men were also created during this period.
  • Bronze Age (1970-1983): Comics produced in this period started to tackle issues of social injustice.
  • Copper Age (1984-1991): "Comics aren't just for kids!" was the slogan of the 80s, with seminal works such as Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Sandman.
  • Modern Age (1992 – present): Also known as the Dark Age as superhero comics produced in this time period became more grim, but also branched out in new directions following the near collapse of the industry in the 90s.

Indicia

Indicia in comic books refers to a piece of text usually located at the bottom of the first page or the bottom of the inside front cover. It contains publishing information (such as book title and issue number, publisher and publication date) and was usually glued on the first page or splash page of a story.

Inks over blueline

During the creation process, original pencils may be scanned by the penciller and then printed by the inker in blue (as this color is easier to remove when the inked page is scanned again later). These prints are used by the inker to ink over, instead of the original art itself. Inking blueline scans of pencils is now a common practice in the comic book (superhero) industry, as it gets the work from the penciller to the inker much faster, and eliminates any risk of the pencilled pages being lost or damaged. Note that this technique is far less used in Europe, mainly because the penciller and inker are usually the same person.

The drawback of using bluelines is that, as a comic art collector, the comic art creation process is split in two different pieces of paper: one with the original pencils and another one with the original inks. Sometimes reps sell the two pages together, but in many case the penciller and inker are represented (rep'ed) by two different reps. So the pencilled and inked pages are sold separately. And beware! The inks over bluelines are not always listed as such. If buying inked modern pages, always check to see if the page original pencils on the same board. If it is unclear, one research technique is to view pages from the same book on ComicArtTracker, ComicArtFans or 2DGalleries.

Regarding valuation, inked blueline scans of pencil art sell for less than an equivalent "inks over pencils" page. Usual price hierarchy is: inks over pencils > pencils > inks over blueline > color guide.

Related resources: David Finch inking over bluelines - Jonathan Glapion inking over Greg Capullo pencils - Converting pencils to blue line (Jonathan Glapion) - The Thin Bluelines (Eye on Comics) - Tutorial Tuesday: TMNT process (Shawn McCauley)

Ligne Claire

Drawing style associated with the Belgian school of comics, and more specifically with the work of Hergé and his followers ("Brussels school"). It uses clear strong lines all of the same width and no hatching, aiming at improving the clarity and easy readability of the panels.

Related resources: Hergé et la Ligne Claire - Hergé : la ligne claire - Entrée libre - Tintin : la ligne claire, tout un style - Ligne claire (Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l'image)

Masonite

Masonite is a type of hardboard made of steam-cooked and pressure-molded wood fibers. Due to its low cost and stiffness, this product is often used to pack original art for shipping.

Moisture / water damage

The staining, rippling and paper loss damage appearing when exposed to both direct and environmental moisture can usually be restored by professionals to a certain extent (see Where can I restore my original comic art?).

Mylar

Mylar is a polyester film used for its transparency and chemical stability. Comic art collectors use Mylar sleeves to store and protect their artworks.

Mylar sleeves exist in different sizes, make sure to always use sleeves slightly larger than the art itself.

Paste-ups, stats, word balloons, overlays

Before the use of computers became standard in the comic production process, logos, titles, corner boxes, indicia and word balloons were often glued to the original comic art after the artworks were completed. Word balloons were sometimes hand-lettered on a separate paper, whereas logos and indicia where usually photostats. All these paste-up elements may still be attached to the original artwork or not.

Some comics in the 1970s (such as Marvel magazines with more elaborate "wash" inking) may have an overlay attached to the original artwork: a piece of clear acetate with all these added elements printed on it, usually taped to the top of the artwork. In Europe, some artists would tape a sheet of tracing paper on top of their pages with color indications (see indication* couleur*).

Be careful! Sometimes entire pages can be stats with no original "hand-touched" artwork on the page. This is known as "production art" and is valued very low by collectors.

Some paste-ups may have original hand-drawn art on them, such as corrections to a character's head or expression. This is generally a more desirable kind of paste-up. Some paste-ups may be a stat, such as a resizing or repositioning of a character or panel. This is less desireable as it was often done by the publisher's production department, not the artist. Some collectors will engage a professional art restoration expert to lift the stat paste-up to reveal the original drawing underneath. Then, they will mount the paste-up on an archival hinge or mylar overlay for display.

Post-auction buy

Post-auction buy (or post-auction sale, or "after sale" in French) is a term used for sales of lots not sold at a particular auction, either because there was no bid or because the highest bid did not meet the reserve. As soon as the auction ends, you can make an offer to the auction house if you are interested in buying an artwork at post-auction sale. Please note that, in this case, the same fees apply to the post-auction sale as if it was sold during the auction.

Proxy bidding

Proxy bidding, also called absentee bidding, is an option that allows a bidder who cannot attend an auction to set a maximum price that he would be willing to pay for an item. The system (or the auctioneer) will then automatically bid for him by the bid increment until someone places a bid higher than this maximum price.

Note: Many collectors do not trust that auction houses are not artificially raising the bidding to the maximum of their proxy bid, since the house can see the bidder's maximum. Thus, most collectors recommend bidding live by phone, internet, or in person.

Recreation

Recreations are a subset of commissions. Typically a collector will commission an artist to recreate a famous cover or other image associated with an older more well-known artist. Recreations are a less-expensive way to collect iconic images from comic history.

Recreations can also be controversial. Some collectors feel they are not as desirable as an original image and resale value is subsequently lower than the modern artist's other work. And there have been instances of older artists doing multiple recreations of their most memorable works, thus lowering the value of each. Recreations, especially those by the original artist or inker, always need to be disclosed and thoroughly researched before purchasing.

Reinterpretation

A reinterpretation is made on the basis of a previous piece, like a recreation, but with variations (eg. scene before / after, different characters or backgrounds, …). It can use the style of the new artist or mimic the one of the original artist. Some collectors are focused on a specific theme and commission different artists to give their own interpretation of this theme. See for instance these great "Trophy Wall" Themed Commissions on Chris C. CAF Gallery and this thread listing Themed Art Collections on CAF (alxjhnsn).

Resale right ("Droit de suite")

The resale right is a royalty received by creators of original artworks when their works are resold by an art market professional (essentially in Europe, but rarely in the United States). It applies under several conditions relative to the artist, the artwork and the sale itself (location and sale price). Resale rights are collected by the art dealer or auction house - sales between private individuals are not affected by the resale right. This additional fee is usually paid by the seller, but Christie's has been known to charge it to buyers in a few of their comic art auctions.

In 2020, the resale right is due on sales above €750 in France, above €1,000 in the UK and above €2,000 in Belgium. The rate applicable is 4% for prices up to €50,000 and gets lower for higher sale prices.

See ADAGP website (France) - SOFAM website (Belgium) and UK Government website (United Kingdom) for further details.

Reserve price

A reserve price is a minimum amount a seller is willing to sell an item for. If the reserve price is not met, the seller is not required to sell the item, even to the highest bidder.

In the US where there is usually a prebid period, if there is a reserve on a lot, the current bid is automatically raised to one bid below the seller's reserve price a few days before the end time, thus disclosing the reserve price. (Heritage and ComicLink follow this practice.) In Europe the reserve amount is rarely disclosed but if there is just one bidder, the auctioneer will bid against him up to one step below the reserve. On marketplaces like eBay or Catawiki, this reserve amount is hidden.

Bidding platforms usually display a "reserve not met" message when relevant: if you see this message, it means that you will not win the item at this price, even if you are the highest bidder at the end of the auction.

Sales Tax

On 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States stated in the South Dakota v. Wayfair case that states can require online sellers to collect state sales tax on their sales, even if the seller does not have a presence in the state. That's why (American) auction houses now have to collect sales tax for all states that require it, which is most of them.

The sales tax rate usually ranges between 5% and 10%. It is determined by the state / county / city where purchases are shipped to (for example, the sales tax in New York State is 4%, but New York City has additional taxes making the sales tax rate 8.875%). It is charged by the auction houses to their (American) buyers except for resellers with a tax exempt reseller certificate.

More about sales tax: State and Local Sales Tax Rates, 2020 (Tax Foundation) - The 5 U.S. States Without a Statewide Sales Tax (the balance) - Sales Tax Information (Heritage)

Seller's commission / Seller's fee

In auctions, the seller's commission refers to a percentage of the hammer price (the winning bid) of an auctioned item that will be payed by the seller to the auction house as a commission. Commission rates can vary greatly but are usually between 8% and 20%.

For instance, if you auction an artwork whose hammer price is $1,000, the buyer will pay a buyer's premium to the auction house, but you as the seller will also pay a fee. Let's say that the buyer's premium is 20% and the seller's commission is 15%: the buyer will pay $1,200 in total ($1,000 + $200), and you will receive $850 ($1,000 - $150). The difference ($200 + $150) is the remuneration of the auction house.

Note that, the seller's commission can be negotiated. If you plan to auction high-end artworks ($10K+), auction houses may be inclined to reduce or cancel this commission to ensure that you'll use their services. And on even higher-priced consignments ($50K+), the auction house may be willing to give the seller part of the buyer's premium.

See: Comic art auction houses (comparison table)

Shikishi

In Japan, "shikishis" are square sheets of rice paper affixed to a hard backing, usually trimmed in gold. They are traditionally used for sumi ink, calligraphy, and watercolor, but also by mangaka for their convention sketches.

Related videos: What is a Shikishi? - Speed drawing du shikishi de Takuya Wada

Shill bidding

Shill bidding is when the seller of an auctioned item has a third party (usually a friend or just himself with a second account) bid on his item to artificially drive the price up, thus ensuring a minimum price for the lot and forcing the person willing to buy the product to pay more than the price he would have paid without shill bidding.

Shill bidding is an illegal practice, whatever the online auction platform or auction house.

See also: Shill bidding policy on eBay

Time extension

Time extension is a practice of some online auctions, where the auction is automatically extended by X minutes if someone bids within the X last minutes. This duration depends on the auction house / bidding platform (see our page about comic art auction houses characteristics).

Time extension is mainly used to avoid auction sniping and reproduces what happens on real live auctions where the auctioneer will wait some time after every new bid, prior to announcing the winning bid ("Going once, going twice, sold!").

Twice-up artwork

A twice-up page, also known as double-up page, is a comic page drawn on a board twice the size of the printed material, with an image size of 12 x 18 inches (30.5 x 45.7 cm). Usual comic pages have an image size of 10 x 15 inches (25.4 x 38.1 cm).

A few resources: Large Art vs Small Art (Prop Store)

Vellum

Vellum is a thin translucent piece of paper sometimes used by artists to trace (lightbox) their pencils in ink while preserving the original pencils. The whole page could be inked on vellum (and sometimes mounted on a cardstock artboard), or only some parts of it, glued to a finished board.

Most collectors view the vellum pieces as less valuable than their Bristol board counterparts for two reasons:

  • Artworks on vellum are often 'inks only' artworks, with pencils on another board
  • vellum tends to become brittle and turn yellow when aging

Some interesting resources: What's the issue with vellum anyway? - Has vellum turned the collectible corner?