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Comic Art Collecting Frequently Asked Questions

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As with most things in this hobby we owe a debt of gratitude to those collectors and comic art enthusiasts who came before us. Much of what follows in this Original Comic Art FAQ was started by collectors in the late 1990's - on sites like,,, and - who wanted to help others understand the hobby better. Credit is given where possible. This FAQ will continue to evolve and has been edited to be more in line with this website and today's collecting trends. If you'd like to contribute please let us know.

Original Comic art Glossary

Acid Free

Used to denote products which are largely free of acids that can harm art over time.


Certain chemicals which are present in products used to produce comics, most importantly in the paper. These chemicals are harmful to paper over time. Acids will turn paper yellow or brown and make it brittle. Proper conservation and restoration techniques can slow or even neutralize their effects.


Like the signature on the bottom of a painting, this says who produced the art. Typically there will be two names -- the penciller and the inker. Attribution can sometimes be tricky because a piece may have been produced by a studio or a bullpen. Most art is unsigned but it has been common practice for decades to identify the contributors to a comic, usually near the beginning of the book.

Bristol Board


Used to denote products, most importantly matting, which are not just acid free but slightly alkaline. These can help neutralize harmful acids already present in most paper.

Blue Line Art

A "blue line" is a reproduction of the "black line" art. The "blue line" will not reproduce and is given to the colorist to "paint" on (see also "Color Guide"). The colorist can see the art to color, but does not have to concern himself with the "black line" art. The "blue line" color then has a "black line" acetate put over top of it, just like an animation cell is put over the background art. When the "black line" is put over the "blue line" color the effect can be quite striking. It is not a popular way to color anymore due to computer coloring.


The artists working in the production department of a comic publisher.


Art which is not overly rendered, which uses an economy of line to convey a maximum of iconographic expression. May also be used to denote original art which is free of staining or other defects.

Color Guide

Usually a reduced photocopy of the original art which the colorist works on with dyes, water colors, markers, etc. The colorist will also add special codes to be used by the people who create the color separation. Sometimes color guides are the same size as original art and may be passed off as original art to the unsuspecting buyer. Color guides are not as valuable as original art so be careful.

Color Separation

A set of four acetate sheets, each with a single color. When these sheets are combined, one on top of the other, the different colors of the final printed book can be viewed. Plates are made for each color and the comic page is run four times, once for each color (one being black) to produce the various colors and shades of the final comic page. There can be multiple copies of color separations as the printer can make them at will. Generally negligible value.


Once the original art has been pencilled, inked, and in some cases lettered, the page is photocopied and sent to the colorist who then creates a color guide.



The study and use of techniques which aim a preserving cultural property. Original art has a number of issues that should be addressed by any collector. As a work on paper, it's medium is by nature acidic. Materials used during production such as tape, rubber cement or glue, can be harmful to the piece over time. See the Library of Congress for a concise page on the treatment of paper or contact a conservation professional. See also restoration.


Corner Box Art

The original art to the small image on the cover portraying the character(s) of the comic book. This image is roughly " x 1" and is on the top left hand corner of the cover. The original art for these pieces is generally much larger, often on the same size board as standard original art. Corner boxes do not change often so the same original may appear on dozen's of issues.

Craftint (Craft-Tint, Craft Tint)

Craftint paper is a type of paper that has two sets of nearly invisible parallel lines set within the paper. The two sets of lines run perpendicular to each other. There are two types of developer that can be bought to go with the paper. One developer will reveal one set of the parallel lines, while the other developer with reveal the other set. If only one developer is used, you wind up with a look of a mechanical hatching of sorts. Using both developers will give a mechanical looking cross-hatching. Wally Wood used Craftint paper quite effectively at times, but the artist who started it all in the comics was Roy Crane. He was followed shortly thereafter by Noel Sickles. Both cartoonists used the Craftint paper in a painterly way, brushing the developers on to create some beautiful atmosphere in their work. Jack Davis has also used the medium quite a bit over the years.

The down-side to Craftint paper is that it's not very lightfast. Many of the Noel Sickles dailies have browned-out because of the Craftint. In many cases, the Craftint shading will fade away through the years. It may be reactivated by simply applying more developer if you're not too chicken to try it!

Crusty Bunkers

A group of artists working in the early 70's who, according to Walter Simonson, "was essentially anyone hanging out at Neal [Adams] and Dick [Giordano]'s studio when a job needed doing in a hurry." Possible participating artists include Howard Chaykin, Alan Weiss, Marshal Rogers, Mike Golden, Adams, and Giordano. Crusty Bunkers was given inking credit on a small number of comic books during this period.

Golden Age

Period in comic publishing beginning in June, 1938 with Action #1 (first Superman) and ending March 1951 (All-Star #57). This was the first superhero period.


Refers to India ink which an artist uses over the preliminary pencils to highlight and enhance the art for reproduction. See also marker.


The artist who applies ink over the preliminary pencils. Most often this is not the penciller. Inkers make a substantial contribution to the final art and are the second artist credited in the attribution.


Beginning in the 70's, some artists began using a marker instead of ink to go over the preliminary pencils. This did not become universal practice and will generally lower the desirability of a piece of original art since marker is not as dark as ink to begin with and so does not have as much presence on a page. Also, marker tends to fade over time. Without proper conservation techniques marker can virtually disappear.

Masonite Mailer

A packaging technique perfected by Tom Horvitz for the safe delivery of art. Consists of two pieces of smooth masonite cut larger than the art to be shipped. The art is placed in mylar which is secured to a piece of masonite by taping the open end (top) and the bottom of the mylar to the masonite. This keeps the art from sliding around. The second piece is place on top sandwiching the art between the masonite. The whole package is then taped shut using duct tape.


Combination of materials, primarily a stiff, cardboard like material, which is used to protect and showcase art. This is often a preliminary step toward framing. Matting should be at a minimum acid free but ideally it is buffered.

Modern Age

Period beginning after the end of the Silver Age to the present day. The Modern Age may be broken down into other 'ages'.


A thick, hard plastic material ideal for storing and shipping art. It is not easy to come by in original art sizes, however. See the links page for sources.

Offset Printing

Offset printing is a type of printing in which a plate is used (generally a metal plate prepared using a negative, but there several other manners used today) and ink sticks the the portion of the plate in which you want the image (or type, etc.) and is transferred to a polished drum. In turn, the ink is transferred to the paper from the drum and you have a printed piece of paper.

Original Art

The art, usually done in B&W with pencil then ink or marker on paper, which is used to create a published comic book. The art is often accompanied by word balloons, various paste-ons, and sometimes special effects such as Zip-a-Tone. There is some debate as to whether the original art consists of only the art itself or of everything that went into the published page. But is it generally agreed that the original is what most closely resembles the finished product and most closely recreates the experience of the comic itself. The biggest exception to this would be the absence of color unless the art was originally done in color or wash tones. This is complicated by modern production techniques and has an effect on restoration.



An area on the page, often square or rectangular, which shows a single scene of the story.


Pieces of paper which may contain art, dialogue, publishing information, etc., which have been cut and pasted on to original art.


Artist who does the pencils. The penciller gets first credit in the attribution.


Preliminary artwork done in pencil. These can have various degrees of detail from rough (less detail) to tight (highly detailed).




A new work of art which is based on a previous and generally well know piece. Recreations are done sometimes in color, sometimes in B&W. Often they are done by the original penciller but there are some inkers who will recreate art that they originally worked on. Sizes vary depending on the artist. In the mid 90s these were often commissioned pieces or works done for sale through auction houses like Sotheby's or Christies.


Techniques used to restore a piece of art to it's original condition or to enhance appearance while respecting the original intent of the artists and preserving its character. Techniques and materials are used which can be identified as not original to the piece and which are not physically harmful. These can include tape removal, replacement of lost paste-on's, paper repair, etc. These should be done by a conservation professional. See also conservation.


See pencils.

Silver Age

Period in comics publishing beginning September, 1956 (Showcase #4) and ending sometime in the early seventies, no later than 1972.

Sketchagraph Card

A Sketchagraph is a card in special sets of Marvel trading cards which began to come out in the late 1990's. It is an original sketch done on a trading card designed to look like an original art page.


A page which has a single panel of art. The first page of a comic is typically a splash page. Everything else being equal these pages are more desirable than pages which have multiple panels.


A copy of words or art which is used as a paste-on.


A group of artists working under a single name, often of another artist, i.e. Adams Studio, Deodato Studio.


Celophane or Scotch tape which was used until the '80s to hold down changed logo's, word balloons, etc. Known for leaving stains on the art. Tape can often be removed by a conservator.


See pencils.


Derogitory term for an inker.


This refers to the size of paper used to create original art prior to 1968 measuring 13" x 18". These pieces are sought after for their size, relative scarcity, and because this is the art from the Golden Age and most of the Silver Age of comics.


A thin, semi-transparent paper. Tracing paper.


A style of inking which uses different colors to create grey tones in B&W comics. Usually watered down black india ink. Sometimes a brown/reddish wash was used. There are also some pieces with a blue wash where blue pencil was soaked in water to make the wash.

Word Balloons

An often round area in a panel which is used to set dialogue apart from art. These have an interesting history and may date back to Benjamin Franklin.


These various patterns of black on a clear sheet of plastic can be cut out and applied directly to the paper to create different shading effects.

Latest Updates


Kit Walker

4/22/2018 4:02:00 AM


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fred ian

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kent mansley

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eBay Auctions

Alan Davis Mark Farmer Original X Men Art Wolverine #2 Nick Fury A

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Ernie Colon, Stan Drake and Marie Severin Damage C

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Comic Connect Auctions

X-Men #36 Pg. 5 by Andru and Roussos

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For Sale Updates

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Ben Chamberlain

4/22/2018 12:46:00 AM


4/21/2018 7:34:00 PM

Zaal Art

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Erik S

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Malvin V

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Erik Essington

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Dealer Updates

Coollines Artwork

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Dave Karlen Original Art

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Tri-State Original Art

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Anthony's Comicbook Art

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Felix Comic Art

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