Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What we've got here is failure to communicate.

Collectors who embrace foreign comic book collecting soon learn that foreign comics are not mere reprints, but have undergone substantial changes from the original material.  Changes that can be found in foreign editions include: translating the text into the native language of the country the comic is distributed in; modifications to covers and indicia for publisher identification; modifications to cover text; using different artwork entirely on the cover; and dropping, adding, or rearranging pages and/or panels in the interior content.  To simply dismiss a foreign edition as a reprint does a disservice to the work taken by a publisher to adapt the material to their readers.  It is an arrogance born of naivety that unfortunately is prevalent in some comic collecting circles.

Comics are books, just a specialized niche of books that utilize images to communicate to the reader.  To dismiss comics as anything but a book is to dismiss comics as literature and that is a battle that has been won by comic creators years ago.  Comic books are studied in school as literature, they exist on best-selling lists along with other publications, and comics are sold alongside other books in bookstores.  So, if a comic is a book, how do books collectors or bibliophiles (a practice that has existed for centuries if not millennia) differentiate between editions and reprints?

If a book doesn't change it is still the same edition.  So, if an author changes the text (as text books do almost every year) or if the pages need to be re-done for a paperback's smaller size, then substantial changes have been made and you therefore have a new edition.

If the publisher runs out of copies and makes new ones without making changes, they just make more, then the edition has not changed, but you have a new printing.

It is clear from these definitions that the first printing of a comic book for a foreign country are foreign editions and not reprints.  The next time you hear a fellow collector incorrectly identify a foreign comic as a reprint, think about these definitions for books (and comics are most assuredly books!) and correct them.  If foreign collecting is going to be embraced, this ignorance needs to be met head on.


  1. What is an edition?  What is a printing?

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