Throughout my comments I may use terms that you’ve never heard of. I use these terms because they are a convenient way to talk about a particular phenomenon without using too many words.

If you see any sprite/web comic jargon that I might have missed, just e-mail me:


See Mary Sue.

Breaking the Fourth Wall

When characters acknowledge that they’re in a comic. Note that this in itself is not a flaw, and everyone from Shakespeare to Warner Bros. have used it. However, sprite comics usually don’t do it in a way that’s clever, usually just ripping off common tropes. Bob and George is a common source of these ripped-off jokes, due to its immense popularity and its immense use of this type of humor.


See Reader-Inserts.

Lampshade Hanging (Lampshading)

A term created by TVTropes. While it’s often used loosely, I usually use it when referring to an author’s attempt to legitimize flaws by making fun of them: “Wow, I can’t believe the author was dumb enough to forget to make tails for his word bubbles!”, or the horrifically popular, “I guess we forgot to make a punchline!”

This should not be confused with legitimate parody, which should have some kind of context. The problem with most comics is that they parody themselves, which makes no sense. When you make fun of something you’re saying that you’re against that thing; but if you chose to do that thing, then how can you be against something? See, I often parody bad sprite comics, like when I use all-caps, but I actually have a context to legitimize that use: the comic I’m commenting on. Sprite comics rarely have that.

(Note: When I say that parodies make fun of things they’re against, this excludes homages, whose humor is based on clever twists on other people’s work, not mindlessly copying them.)

Mary Sue

Commonly used as a pejorative, whose definition is highly debatable. I’m not going to debate what it’s true definition; I’m simply going to define how I use it.

A Mary Sue is a character whose use is not to entertain readers, but to entertain the author, usually by providing a source to depict himself as this wonderful, badass person so they can feel better about themselves. As such, it feels great from the perspective of the author making it, but god awful for those trying to read it.

They are usually author-inserts, but I’m not necessarily sure if they have to be. Keep in mind, it’s subjective how much of an author-insert a character is; not sharing a name with a character or even being denied to be a stand-in for the author by the author himself do not exclude a character from being a Mary Sue. Indeed, it’s immensely rare for an author to admit that a character is a Mary Sue, probably because Mary Sues are pretty much objectively bad.

There are common clichés for Mary Sues, which need not always be present in Mary Sues, but are still annoying simply by being trite as hell: “special” names, like “Raven” or “Havoc”, which usually sound ridiculous in and of themselves; strange hair colors, like purple and pink; dark clothing; irregular eye-colors.


Characters known as “cameos”. There is a common phenomenon in sprite comics for the author to make characters based on reader submissions, instead of making their own characters. They’re bad simply because characters should be made based on how they would fit in with the story, not shoved in to please the egos of some specific readers, while harming the quality of a work for others. As Mary Sues are pandering to the author in opposition to a work’s quality, reader-inserts pander to a specific audience in opposition to a work’s quality.

So Bad It’s Good

Another term from TVTropes, and exactly what it says: a work that is terrible in a way that makes it amusing, instead of annoying. I would personally consider Bar’d and Kirby Blast to be So Bad It’s Good; the former for having ridiculous reader-insert characters, the latter for having a ridiculous author-insert and ridiculous artwork.

Splash Page/Intro Page

A page denoting a new chapter or story, without including any piece of story at all. It is simply the chapter title and some snazzy images. Redundant. I fucking hate them.

Sprite Recolors

Exactly what it says: it’s a sprite that’s color’s been altered. Also commonly inspired by Bob and George. Often viewed as an overused attempt to make “new” characters from other characters without any substantial work.

Take That

Another term from TVTropes. It’s simply when a comic takes a shot at something else.

Walls of Text

I believe this term was created by the Bad Webcomics Wiki. This is a large, undivided mass of text. They’re bad because comics are a visual medium, and thus require visuals to be used adequately. This cannot be done when the visuals are crowded out by text. Additionally, text that is one giant mound and not divided into chunks is hard to read and simply annoying.

-J.J.W. Mezun

(Last Updated: July 3, 2011)


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