By Geoffrey Wood Patterson II

We nerds have our own special language. You’ve probably all heard it. When one of your friends who happens to be a nerd meets someone else, their rate of speech gets faster and they start saying words you don’t recognize. Well, we are here to help. We are beginning a regular feature in this column where we run nerd lessons to help everyone have all the knowledge they could want. We never want anyone to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in our comic book store. You can come in knowing nothing — we have 10 people a day tell us, “This is my first time in a comic book store.” We love new customers, but just in case you want to know a little before you walk in, here are some basic terms you might hear a lot of in Hi De Ho Comics. And do you have a question you want answered? Send it to for our future “Ask a Nerd” column.

Floppies: (noun) A single issue of a comic book, usually published monthly, typically 22-64 pages. This is what most people think of when they think of a comic book. Interchangeable with the term “monthlies,” which also refers to your standard comic book.

Trade paperback: (noun) A square-bound reprint of a complete storyline from monthly comics. For example, the trade paperback “Spider-Man: Matters of Life and Death” is a reprint of the excellent story that was originally printed in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue Nos. 652-657. These are often referred to as graphic novels.

Graphic novel: (noun) People use this term interchangeably with trade paperback, but technically graphic novel refers to a trade paperback that is an original story that was never printed in monthly comic book form. Some greats from this list include: “Persepolis,” “Blankets,” “Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia” and “Batman: Earth One.” These stories were never published as monthly comics, only as large form comic books, 96 pages or more. The difference is slight, and only really matters to the professional, as practically everyone uses both terms to describe the same collection.

Golden Age of Comics: (noun) The period of comic publication from 1933 (the beginning of traditional comic book publication) until 1956. This period saw the creation some of most of the famous comic book characters: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Justice Society of America (the first superhero team), SHAZAM!, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Robin, The Joker, Captain America, The Human Torch … the list goes on and on.

Silver Age of Comics: (noun) The period begins with the publication in 1956 of Showcase Comics #4, the first appearance of Barry Allen, the second person to be called The Flash. Superhero comics had seen a substantial dip in sales after World War II, so much so that every single comic on the above list of superheroes had comics canceled except Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Even Captain America could not escape the axe. Showcase #4 and this new Flash was the first time in over a decade that a new (albeit a remake) character took off in popularity enough to begin publishing more superhero comics. Shortly after DC success with new versions of the Flash and Green Lantern, Marvel Comics took notice. During this period is when Marvel became the company that is now worth billions. Just during the years 1961-1964, Marvel Comics created The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, The X-Men, The Avengers, Daredevil and Doctor Strange, just to name a few.

Bronze Age of Comics: (noun) Unlike the previous two “ages,” the first book of the Bronze Age is not clear. It is agreed that the Bronze Age starts in the early ’70s and is marked by a “coming of age” in the narrative form of comics. Spider-Man’s girlfriend dies. Green Arrow’s sidekick becomes a heroin addict, The Punisher makes his first appearance, and Wolverine joins the X-Men. All these stories and so many more are what turned comic books into the form of entertainment that most closely mirrored and addressed the social changes that America was undergoing. During this time Esquire magazine did a report on the popularity of comic books on college campuses and noted that both President Dwight Eisenhower and Stan Lee spoke at Bard College in New York. Stan Lee had a larger audience.

That is your lesson for today, everyone. I hope you enjoyed it, and if there is something you would like to see us tackle in a future column, please don’t forget to write!

Geoffrey Wood Patterson II is a co-owner of Hi De Ho Comics, 1431 Lincoln Blvd., in Santa Monica.