Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Comics

The Comics WikiProject's style guide is intended to apply to all articles within the project's scope — in other words, to all articles related to comics. While the recommendations presented here are well-suited for the vast majority of such articles, there exist a number of peculiar cases where, for lack of a better solution, alternate approaches have been taken. These exceptions are often the result of protracted negotiation; if something seems unusual or out-of-place, it may be worthwhile to ask before attempting to change it, as there might be reasons for the oddity that are not immediately obvious!

General guidance on editing articles is given in the Wikipedia Manual of Style. The WikiProject has set forth naming conventions, and guidelines for the fair use of copyrighted images. Pages related to this project within the Manual of Style include Writing on Fiction and Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles. The notability guidance on fiction also offers advice on writing on fictional topics.

This page is meant as an adjunct to the Manual of Style and other editorial guidance offered on Wikipedia. It offers guidance that is the consensus currently established at Wikipedia:WikiProject Comics, or summarises other guidance as it applies to specific examples within the comics field. It is not policy and editors may deviate from it with good reason. To discuss major alterations or query points, please use the general project forum at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Comics.

Naming conventions

Characters

(Note: The term "codename" is used to mean the pseudonym, sobriquet, moniker, stage name, nom de plume, or any other alternate name, used or applied as the character's public persona.)

Fairly common throughout comics is that quite often a character will have an alternate name or codename. For example, Hal Jordan is also known as Green Lantern. When selecting a name for an article on a character, use the "most common name" as the rule If a given character is best known by one specific codename (such as Bruce Wayne as Batman or Peter Parker as Spider-Man), then that name should be used for an article of the character. Conversely, if a character is best known by their "real" name, then that name should be used for the article of the character. So John Constantine rather than Hellblazer and Lois Lane rather than Superwoman.

If a given character has been well-recognized in more than one identity such that no "codename" is necessarily better known than another, naming the article after the character's "real name" is generally appropriate. Hank Pym and Roy Harper might be two such examples.

Where a character's name includes an abbreviated term, that term may be spelt out in full rather than abbreviated form where that is the more common occurrence of the character's name. So it is Mr. Freeze but Doctor Destiny.

Publications

An article should generally be placed at the publication's official title, taken from the indicia rather than the cover. In cases of several comic book titles of the same name from the same publisher, X-Men, volume 1; X-Men, volume 2; etc. is the standard (note the use of a comma separating the publication from the volume number). This has the added benefit of essentially being the way the publishers themselves disambiguate between titles, and avoids a parenthetical disambiguation phrase. However, do not use this where only one volume exists.

When using a volume number, do not add publication (or comic book - see above) to the parenthetical disambiguation, as that may be presumed.

Please bear in mind that volume numbers are not always given in the indicia. The current volume of Punisher: War Zone is volume 2 (vol. 1 having run 1992-1995), though the indicia says only "Punisher: War Zone."

Where a cover title is different from the indicia, make this clear within the text of the article. So Doctor Strange vol. 2 is a solo book generally titled as Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts, which ran 81 issues.

In most cases, comic books are periodicals, except when they are published as books for trade. In either case they are a publication. If several comic book titles of the same name come from separate publishers, then default to publisher imprint: Starman (DC Comics publication) or Starman (Marvel Comics publication), for example.

  • Example of disambiguating between publisher and volume: Starman, volume 1 (DC Comics).

For a full list of publisher disambiguations see WP:NCC#List of publisher disambiguations.

Foreign language publications

Use the official English language title for article names, and place the foreign language title on the first line of the article if the work was originally published in a foreign language, unless the native form is more commonly recognized by readers than the English form. If the work was initially published in an English speaking country, use the title specific to that country. See: Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Use English words and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (comics).

Taking a lead from the Manual of Style (Japan-related articles), always make redirects for alternate names and titles.

Companies

Use the full company name rather than the most common name. Example, DC Comics not DC.

The legal status of the company (Inc., plc or LLC), is not normally included, i.e. Marvel Comics not Marvel Comics plc. When a more general disambiguation is not sufficient use (comics), or (company) where that is not appropriate.

In the article itself, the title sentence of the article should include the abbreviated legal status. So Generic Corp. Ltd. is the largest provider of widgets in the world.

Please note, "Comics" should be included as specified by the originating business, so Top Cow but Dark Horse Comics.

People

This section is an abbreviated version of Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people), taking the most likely scenarios and inserting examples specific to comics.

General Wikipedia Naming Conventions start from easy principles: the name of an article should be "the most common name of a person or thing that does not conflict with the names of other people or things". This boils down to the two central ideas in Wikipedia article naming:

  1. The name that is most generally recognisable
  2. The name that is unambiguous with the name of other articles

Several general and specific guidelines further specify that article names preferably:

  • Do not have additional qualifiers (such as "King", "Saint", "Dr.", "(person)", "(ship)"), except when this is the simplest and most NPOV way to deal with disambiguation
  • Are in English
  • Are not insulting

For people, this quite often leads to an article name in the following format:

<First name> <Last name> (example: Alan Moore).

People from countries where the surname comes first

The conventions for dealing with such names vary from country to country, and the standard naming procedures are dealt with in individual manuals of style; see, for example, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Chinese), Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Korean), and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Japan-related articles.

Middle names, shortened names, pen names and abbreviated names

Examples: C.C. Beck, Brian Michael Bendis, Hergé, Bob Kane.

Generally, use the most common format of a name: if that is with a middle name, a shortened name or an abbreviation, make the Wikipedia article name conform to that format. Where a writer or an artist uses both a pen name and their full name, use the full name as the article title. See Peter David and PAD. Where an artist is known almost exclusively by a pen name use that as the article title. See Hergé.

Important: provide redirects wherever possible (or appropriate disambiguation where redirects are not possible) for all other formats of a name that are also in use, or could reasonably be typed in Wikipedia's "Search" box by someone looking for information about that person.

Adding middle names, or their abbreviations, merely for disambiguation purposes (that is: if this format of the name is not the commonly used one to refer to this person) is not advised.

Senior and junior

Senior/junior is only used when this is the usual way for differentiating a person from another with the same name. In the case of senior/junior adding "Sr." or "Jr.", respectively after the name, is preferred. Use of a comma before "Sr." is "Jr." is per the preference of the subject.

Using this as a disambiguation technique is not advised, except for those names where the practice is well established.

Qualifier between bracketing parentheses

Where "comics" is not the most useful disambiguation phrase, for example the person in question works or has worked in a variety of fields, some standardisation of the bracketed disambiguator is possible, for example "(writer)" and "(artist)" are very recognisable. Try to avoid abbreviations or anything capitalised or containing hyphens, dashes or numbers (apart from where more specific guidelines specify particular exceptions to that), and also try to limit to a single, recognisable and highly applicable word regarding the person at hand. Years of birth and death should not be used in a page title to distinguish between people of the same name.

As for all other articles: try to avoid this type of disambiguation where possible (use disambiguation techniques listed above if these apply more "naturally") - but if no other disambiguation technique comes naturally, this type of disambiguation is the most preferred one.

Difficult to disambiguate: some examples

When two or more persons with the same name are known for exactly the same characteristic (usually their profession), the above gives no straightforward solution on how to disambiguate. Here is an example of how Wikipedians sought to overcome excessive clutter in disambiguators:

Topic-specific conventions

There are a number of other naming conventions which are applicable to the articles in our scope. The most relevant ones are as follows:

Category names

A number of naming conventions exist specifically for category names; most of these are used to ensure consistent naming among all the sub-categories of a particular category.

"X by country" 
In most cases, sub-categories of a category named "X by country" take names of the form "X Y", where X is the most common name for the nationality of the country in question. For example:
"X by company" 
In most cases, sub-categories of a category named "X by type" take names of the form "Y X", where Y describes the type in question. For example:

Lists

Lists should begin with a lead section that presents unambiguous statements of membership criteria. Many lists on Wikipedia have been created without any membership criteria, and editors are left to guess about what or who should be included only from the name of the list. Even if it might "seem obvious" what qualifies for membership in a list, explicit is better than implicit. In cases where the membership criteria are subjective or likely to be disputed, list definitions should to be based on reliable sources. Non-obvious characteristics of the list, for instance regarding the list structure, should also be explained in the lead section.

When deciding what to include on a list, ask yourself:

  • If this person/thing/etc., wasn't an X, would it reduce their fame or significance?
  • Would I expect to see this person or thing on a list of X?
  • Is this person or thing a canonical example of some facet of X?

Ideally each entry on a list should have its own Wikipedia article but this is not required if it is reasonable to expect an article could be forthcoming in the future; the one exception is for list articles that are created explicitly because the listed items do not warrant independent articles: an example of this is List of minor characters in Dilbert. Don't use lists as a "creation guide" containing a large number of redlinked unwritten articles; instead consider listing them under the appropriate Wikiproject.

A list can stand alone as a self contained page, or it can be embedded in an article.

  • Stand-alone lists are articles consisting of a lead section followed by a list. The items on these lists include (but are only rarely exclusively) links to articles in a particular subject area, such as people or places, or a timeline of events. The titles of these articles should always begin with List of or Timeline of or Glossary of. The title and bullet style or vertical style is common for this type of list. These Wikipedia articles follow the Wikipedia:Lists (stand-alone lists) style guideline. Subtypes of stand-alone lists include:
    • A Glossary page presents definitions for specialized terms in a subject area. Glossaries contain a small working vocabulary and definitions for important or frequently encountered concepts, usually including idioms or metaphors useful in a subject area.
    • A Bibliography page presents a list of relevant books, journal or other references for a subject area. Bibliographies are useful for expanding Further Reading topics for Summary style articles.
    • A Discography page presents a listing of all recordings which a musician or singer features. Additionally, discographies may be compiled based on a particular musical genre or record label, etc.
    • An Etymology is a list of the origin and histories of words with a common theme.
    • Set index articles document a set of items that share the same (or a similar) name. They are different from disambiguation pages in that they are full-fledged articles meant to document multiple subjects, while disambiguation pages are for navigation purposes only.
    • Dynamic lists change as the subjects they cover change, and may never be completed.
  • Embedded lists are either included in the article or appended to the end of articles. They present information or aid in navigation to related articles. Some examples include: See also lists, Compare lists, Related topics lists, Reference lists, and lists of links under the heading External links. To see how to include a list in an article, go to Wikipedia:Lists (embedded lists)

List formats

There are a number of formats currently used on Wikipedia, both generalized and specialized, for articles that are lists.

Formats for general lists ("List of" articles) include:

  1. alphabetized lists or indexes such as List of mathematics articles, List of economics topics, as well as simple alphabetized lists without letter subheadings.
  2. annotated lists such as List of business theorists and Production, costs, and pricing.
  3. subheading-structured lists (i.e., categorized or hierarchical lists) such as List of basic geography topics, List of cat breeds, List of finance topics, List of marketing topics, Lists of mathematics topics, and Lists of philosophers.
  4. chronological lists such as Deaths in 2007 and List of winners and shortlisted authors of the Booker Prize for Fiction. (Lists whose titles begin "Timeline of" are, of course, always chronological.)
  5. sortable lists, which are formatted as tables, such as List of social networking websites‎

Formats for specialized lists include:

  1. timelines such as Timeline of architectural styles, which use the timeline syntax. (Almost all "Timeline of" lists do not use the timeline syntax.)
  2. glossaries, a type of annotated list, where the annotations are definitions of the list's entries, such as Glossary of philosophical isms

The best format to use depends on which of the uses a list is being put to in any specific instance. If the list is being used primarily by those familiar with the subject, then an hierarchical list would be preferred. If used mostly by those not familiar with the topic, then an alphabetical list may be more useful. Possibly the best compromise is an annotated hierarchical list,which is helpful to both groups.

Other factors include whether the list is being used primarily for navigational purposes or for developing Wikipedia content (redlinks), and whether readers are mostly looking for a specific topic, a group of related topics, or just browsing.

Currently there is no single recommended format.

Sorting lists

In lists and categories Wikipedia generally sorts by the last name first, unless the specific list states otherwise. So Rick Jones is placed under J for Jones, while Clark Kent would be placed under K, and Jean Grey under G. To achieve this in categories, one would add a category link in the following format: [[:Category:Superheroes|Jones, Rick]]. The piping does not make the category link appear with the text Jones, Rick, but rather places the article on Rick Jones in the J section of the category.

When sorting in chronological order, lists should be sorted in publication order rather than in continuity order. Writing time-lines of the larger companies fictional universes is thought to be particularly tricky, given that such universe are always open to being re-written or re-created at the whim of the publishers. Therefore, such time-lines should be written from an out of universe perspective, noting differences for each particular continuity, starting with the earliest published version and noting storylines which have introduced revisions to previously published events.

List naming

In general, lists are disambiguated as articles are, per Wikipedia:Naming conventions (comics).

The name of a comics-related list should use the following format:

  • List of <x> in comics-related media - when the list consists of such things as characters, devices, organizations, etc., which are in all comics-related media, such as comic books, comics strips, film, and TV series.
  • List of <x> in comics and animation - when the list consists of such things as the previous example, but only as what appears in comics or non-live action productions of TV or film (such as cartoons).
  • List of <x> in comics - when the list consists of such things as the previous example, but includes all comics (including comic strips), not just comic books.
  • List of <x> in comic books - when the list consists of such things as the previous example, but only includes such appearing in comic books.
  • List of comic book <x> - when the list consists of things or people who are associated with comic books in some way (such as publishers or artists).
  • List of comics <x> - when the list consists of such things as the previous example, but includes all comics (including comic strips), not just comic books.

So "x" in comic books/comics should be used when talking about something "in universe", or at least printed "in comics", and comic book/comics "x" is used when talking about things (such as creators) outside of the publication.

When using the "...in comics" or "...in comic books" disambiguation, the word "fictional" should be included in the name prior to <x>:

  • List of fictional <x> in comics

The use of "fictional" can be presumed when <x> is something clearly fictional, such as: "superhuman" or "superhero".

  • Examples:
  • "...<x> in comic books/comics"
  • List of alien races in comics and animation (In this case, "alien races" presumes fictional)
  • List of Hispanic superheroes in comics-related media ("superhero" presumes fictional)
  • List of superhuman powers in comics ("superhuman" presumes fictional)
  • List of fictional characters in comic books
  • List of fictional locations in comic books
  • List of fictional devices in comics
  • etc.
  • "...comics <x>":
  • List of comic strip creators
  • List of comic book publishers
  • etc.

Splitting lists

If such a list become too long (See Wikipedia:Summary style), then the list may be split.

Lists "... in comics" are split by media type (such as comic strips or comic books, see above).

Lists "...in comic books" are usually first split by publisher, so List of fictional characters in Marvel Comics.

This may be further split if necessary, so List of fictional characters in The Sandman, volume 1. (Note the use of "the" because this is a publication which has the in its title Also note the disambiguating volume number.)

Another way that lists may be further split is by reference to an in-universe location (nations, continents, planets, galaxies, universes, alternate dimensions, etc.), so List of fictional devices of the DC universe, or List of superheroes of South America. (Note that in this case, of is used rather than in.) When <x> is located "in" the disambiguating location, use "in", so List of superheroes headquartered in New York City (DC Comics). (Note the use of (DC Comics) to further disambiguate between the fictional city published in DC Comics and any other publisher's version of New York City.)

Lists as article sections

Many elements related to an article topic may be suitable to be presented in a section in a list format. The most common material to be treated this way are creators, powers/abilities, characters, and issues or series. Care should be taken though to make sure the list is relevant and would not be better handled as prose or as a separate list article.

Listings of publications will generally fall into the following section types:

  • "Bibliography" sections are reserved for articles on writers or artists. These sections will present a bulleted listing of the person's body of work. Such list can be structured alphabetically by title or chronologically. They can also be separated by publisher. Publications list should not be split up if a chronological sorting is used.
  • "Collected editions" and "Related titles" are reserved for articles that focus in full or in part on a comic strip, series, or book. For comic books these lists present collected editions or spin-off titles. For strips or series these lists can include collected editions or the magazines or publications the series or strip has run through.
  • "Included titles" or "Crossover titles" can be included in articles on "event" story lines that encompass two or more publications.

Articles that focus only on one or more characters or a fictional organization should not include a list section made up of publications titles. Such appearance lists or indexes fall under Wikipedia's concept of a directory or an indiscriminate collection of information.