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Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 10:56 am
by Davide
Can someone of you please tell me something about the U.S. (Marvel) comic book formats??
Sorry but I'm Italian and the comic book pages and covers here are quite different from the U.S. standards... :(

For example:
I know that the standard Marvel comic has 36 pages (including the four covers) and the cover is pretty much of the same material and consistence of the internal pages (I possess only half a dozen original American comics...).
But what about all the other formats? Do the TPBs have a rigid cover? And is the rigid cover something different from the hard cover? I think that the hard cover is "more rigid than the rigid cover", but I'm not sure...

For example, I have the U.S. version of the (fantastic) "Marvel Chronicle - A year by year History". Is that kind of cover what do you mean with "hardcover"?

Thanks and sorry for all these silly questions!!

Re: Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 10:59 am
by Davide
Oh yeah, and what do you mean with the term "bookshelf format"? Is that another kind of comic book format? :shock:

I swear I will post more intelligent questions in the future.

Re: Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:22 am
by Russ Chappell
Hard cover (or hardback) books are just that: the covers are stiff, inflexible. These are the style books that a library is likely to have. They can come in any size, smaller than your palm, to larger than you can lift.

Soft cover (or paperback) books have covers with a heavy stock (or heavy weight) of paper. This stock can make the covers stiff when new, but still flexible. There are two basic styles of paperback: mass market & trade. Mass market paperbacks are typically 10.5 cm x 17.5 cm, while trades (or TPB's) can be, well, any size.

A bookshelf comic is a book that is typically the size of a comic book, with paperback stock covers and a sqared spine, allowing it to stand up straight on a bookshelf. Unlike a normal comic, which swells near the spine due to stapled binding, these books have a glued spine.

Re: Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:22 pm
by Davide
Thank you :D

And... does that mean that "normal" comic books' covers are softer that soft covers?

Re: Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:00 pm
by Russ Chappell
Yes. A normal comic book cover is comparable to any other magainze cover. A mass market paperback cover uses much heavier stock.


Re: Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 3:36 pm
by Davide
This is the last question, I promise:

so, what is the basic difference between a paperback format and a bookshelf format?

Is it just in the fact that paperback usually contain only reprints?


Re: Comic book formats

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:02 pm
by JephYork
Usually a "trade paperback" is longer (96 to 500 pages), and contains reprints.

Usually a "bookshelf-format" comic is shorter -- 48 to 96 pages -- and has a new original story.

(Bookshelf-format comics CAN contain reprints, though. Uncanny X-Men #141-142 were reprinted in a "bookshelf-format" edition.)

Basically, a "bookshelf-format" comic is a comic that's longer than normal, usually printed on nicer paper, and bound by a cover that has a glued spine instead of staples.