Character Appearances

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Universal Rules

  • Optional
  • This field records the appearance of any characters in the story who the indexer thinks are worth indexing, along with brief notes about them.
  • Characters should be separated with a semi-colon (;).
  • Many of the more specific rules regarding how to record information in this field are superhero-centric and do not apply to most other genres.
  • Square brackets should be used for aliases, secret identities and "also-known-as" information which clarify which character if it's ambiguous ("Flash [Barry Allen]" and "Flash [Jay Garrick]"). This also includes characters who assume more than one identity during a story, such as Batman [Bruce Wayne; also as Blair Graeme]. Roman numerals ("Flash I" and "Flash II") should not be used.
  • When a character appears as their "code" name, they also appear as their "real" name. Exceptions would be if it is unknown what their "real" name is. The question about how to deal with characters whose "real" names change (Wolverine, Magneto, Superman) still needs to be decided.
  • For characters that have changed over time due to re-boots or changes or multiple realities, the general rule is to index them as they are described in the comic at the time it was published. For instance Superman in Action #1 (1938) is indexed simply as Superman not Superman (Earth-2). If it is obvious from context or explicitly stated that the character is from another earth, this information can be included in parentheses. There is also information about how to index characters from multiple earths or timelines at Indexing Variant Characters.
  • The older form where different versions of a character were numbered - Wildcat II - is not allowed and should be corrected to the named form - Wildcat [Yolanda Montez]
  • See also the GCD Style Guide for general information on the style of Character entries.

Character Hierarchy Layers

With the character objects in the database we use a so-called layered scheme in view of generalization and specification of a character. The layered scheme is mostly for characters in the superhero context, in many if not most other settings there is just one character record, without a layer on top or below.

For many user and indexing purposes the layered concept can be somewhat disregarded for 'regular' indexing and site usage. One just uses the 'middle' layer of superhero and corresponding civilian identity. But it gives useful additional information for those who care, and allows better grouping and joint display of character records.

Layer 0 - Archetrope (working title)

The archetrope layer arises for superhero concepts that have multiple (civilian) identities. The core of the character concept stays, and the relation is more than just a common name. This layer for example allows to connect the different identities or to get all the appearances of the superhero concept, no matter which civilian identity.

For example, and somewhat simplified, Robin is the alias of several fictional superheroes appearing in the DC universe. The character serves as a junior counterpart to the superhero Batman.

When entering character appearances, the character record from the archetrope layer is rarely used. Essentially only when it is not known which civilian identity is under the mask of the superhero of a story.

Layer 1 - Archetype (working title)

This layer represents the fundamental superhero character, consisting of superhero and civilian identity, without further specifications.

Robin [Dick Grayson] is one example, being the first incarnation of Robin.

For most indexing purposes of appearances, the character record in this layer is the first choice to use.

Later 2 - Multitype (working title)

This layer represents alternative or multi-universe superhero characters. A character is defined by its superhero and civilian identity, and in addition a specific universe.

Robin (Earth 2) [Dick Grayson] is one example, e.g. as appearing in All-Star Comics in the 70s.

Observe the above on indexing variant characters Indexing Variant Characters and the general rule is to index them as they are described in the comic at the time it was published.

Basically, this character record can be used in three situations:

  1. The story directly states it.
  2. The issue is part of a publishing line that is clearly branded as a deliberately alternate set of characters.
  3. A reasonable reader would be able to tell the difference based on the story.

Standard Format for Groups and Notes

  • Parentheses (round brackets) should be used for notes about the character's role in the story: "Superman (origin)". Common notes about character roles are origin, introduction, death, cameo, and villain. Multiple notes should be separated with a comma: "Superman (introduction, origin)". Abbreviations, such as O for Origin, should not be used.
  • Parentheses (round brackets) should also be used to identify the name of an actor or model portraying a character in a photo. The words "photo of" should be used within the parentheses to clarify the relationship ("Superman (photo of George Reeves)").
  • Square brackets are also also used to show members of a group. The groups name is listed, then an open square bracket, then the characters, then a close square bracket. Note that many comics currently in the database (including those from Norway) do not follow this convention but use round parentheses instead. Unless an indexer has specifically been told by the Senior Editors that they can use parentheses, square brackets must be used.

Rules Regarding Photographed Characters

  • If both the character and the photographed subject/actor/model portraying the character are known, then enter:
  • If the character is known but the photographed subject/actor/model portraying the character is NOT known, then enter:
  • If the photographed subject/actor/model portaying the character is known but the character is NOT known, then enter:
? (photo of SUBJECT)
  • If the photographed subject/actor/model IS the character, then enter:
  • If neither the character nor the photographed subject/actor/model portraying the character are know, then do not enter anything.
Photographed Characters


* Sam Zabel; Mr. Lupicinus; Cynthia; Moxie; Toxie; Tisco
* Jimmy Olsen 
* Jimmy Olsen (origin, death) 
* Red Tornado [Ma Hunkel] (cameo) 
* Green Lantern [Hal Jordan]; Green Lantern [Alan Scott] (cameo)
* Batman (photo of Adam West)
* Batman [Bruce Wayne] (of Earth-2)

Standard Form

* Justice League of America [Green Lantern [Hal Jordan] (origin); Superman [Clark Kent] (Earth-1)];
* Justice Society of America [Superman [Clark Kent] (Earth-2); Flash [Jay Garrick] (cameo)]

Photographed Character

* Photograph of Adam West portraying Batman: Batman (photo of Adam West)
* Photograph of Tarzan portrayed by an unknown model: Tarzan
* Photograph of Joy Lansing portraying an unknown character: ? (photo of Joy Lansing)
* Photograph of Roy Rogers: Roy Rogers (photo)

Character Records

We also have an alternate method of adding characters using the Character Table as proposed by the Character Table Design Committee. See also the Recommendations of the Character Table Design Committee.

  • Add characters using this method as follows:
    • Enter the name of the character in the 'Appearing characters' entry field. This is an autocomplete field. The character must have already been created in the Character Table.
    • If the character appears as a member of a group, then use the 'Group' and 'Group members' entry fields instead. (Note: the group and group members must have already been created in the Character Table)
      • First enter the group in the 'Group' field.
      • Then select the appearing members of the group in the 'Group members' field.
    • Additional information for Characters can be entered by selecting the Character in the second box so marked. Then, below that, you can select Roles and set Flags from drop-down value lists. Roles choices are: antagonist, cameo, featured, guest, and supporting. Flag choices are flashback, origin, and death. There is also a Notes field for addition information.
    • Story appearance links for groups can be added regardless of whether any specific individual members are identifiable or indexed with a story appearance link. Please note that if current members of the group appear they should be listed as part of the group:
Correct: Fantastic Four [Mister Fantastic; Invisible Woman; Human Torch; The Thing]
Incorrect: Fantastic Four; Mister Fantastic; Invisible Woman; Human Torch; The Thing

Detailed instructions for adding Character Records and links between Character Records are found at the Character Table page.

  • Note: If a selected superhero has a unique civilian identity, it will be added automatically.


  • Links to external sites pre-approved by the Board or by Policy List vote will be allowed in the future. In order to add such a link, an indexer must select a link source from a dropdown menu populated with the list of pre-approved sources, and the link they enter must point to a page on the selected source that is directly related to the GCD record it is being appended to. The pre-approved sources should be well-established, actively maintained sites that provide information that supplements (not merely repeats) information in our own indexes. Examples include Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Database, or the Digital Comics Museum. Wikipedia links, if used, shall be the first entry in the pre-approved source list.

(end of definition)

Policy Votes Affecting This Topic - 2021-11-10 - 2021-07-12 - 2021-07-12 - 2019-04-03 - 2018-09-27 - 2012-03-26 - 2012-03-26 - 2012-03-26 - 2012-03-26 - 2012-01-24 - 2012-01-10

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