Comic (meaning: comic book)

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

After doing a lot of research I found two dictionaries (Longman for Brazilians and Merriam-Webster online) that say that "comic" meaning "comic book" (a magazine that is made up of a series of comic strips) is typical of British English. In American English I should use "comic book". My question: Are these two dictionaries correct? Is the word "comic" (noun) in the context I provided typical of British English?

An example that I created: ''I was reading a comic when she arrived.''

I've seen Marvel Comics, which as an American Company. I think these dictionaries may be wrong.

Thank you in advance!
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    "I was reading a comic when she arrived" is a perfectly correct British English sentence. To use "comic book" would sound American to me. (These aren't books after all - typically 20-30 pages and soft covers.)

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much.

    I had found it unlikely at first, since Americans tend to use shorter words and there is the American world-famous Marvel Comics. Marvel (American) used a British word - in this case.

    So, in BrE "comic"; in AmE "comic book".


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In AE, the standard countable noun is "a comic book" but people often shorten that noun phrase to "a comic". In a long discussion of comic books, the word "book" isn't repeated.

    But "comic strips" ("the comics") in AE also refer to individual groups of 1 to 5 panels, in newspapers. They have been in newspapers for at least 100 years. Comic books (the same thing, in a collection in a booklet) first became popular in 1933.

    AE speakers usually rely on context to tell the two things apart (a comic book, newspaper comics), or use "comic book" to be clear.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Children in Britain have comics, flimsy magazines that are usually thrown away after being read. I would be a little hesitant to use "comic" for something aimed at adults and expected to be kept. "Comic book" is used in Britain for adult comic magazines, and this might be better, but I agree with dojibear in post #5.

    There are also "graphic novels" which are (usually) in book format rather than being a magazine. As far as I know, they are not called anything else in BrE.


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I grew up in the UK and still speak (mostly) BE. A comic is made of paper while a comic book would be a series of comics bound together in a book form (with hard cover, usually). These would appear as "Annuals" - published in hardback by the company that produced the weekly paper versions Beano and Beano Annual would be examples:)


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I read "comics" when I was a kid. I was sweet on Betty Cooper from the Archie comics. (I think we always used the plural form.)

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