Hi there, welcome to the fannish post. :)
LK has a series called 'Respect the Veil'. It's both informative *and* entertaining. She infotains us. In the comic, there's a character she calls 'Minnie', who is a chibi. And, of course, me being me, the cuteness of chibi distracted me. :) So, when I decided to do a fun post, it was between chibi's and comic book characters. I went with the chibi.
A chibi, in common usage, refers to the small, 'super deformed' version of an anime/manga character. Chibi's are used, in serious story lines as well as humorous ones, to exaggerate a response. The character, when surprised, happy, shocked, angry, sad, hungry, whatever, suddenly transforms from their normal self into this miniature version, which resembles a small child. The chibi is usually not proportionally correct - their heads are slightly too large for their bodies.
This started out in Japanese comics, but I've noticed that American comics have also picked this up, in slightly adjusted forms. Nowhere near as often as in the originals, but every so often, I spot a chibi. And have any of you seen those Marvel figures, the Super Hero Squad? Chibis.
So, here's some examples (if you google chibi, you'll get a *ton*, but many of them are fan drawings, so I only gave a few that I know are official art - I don't want to steal anybody's stuff accidentally.):
Right, first we have Ginji from Get Backers. On the left is his normal form(okay, wait, let me be *way* too specific for people who don't know this anime: it's technically his Lightning Lord form, which looks like his normal, every day self, except for, you know, the near sociopathy, hair standing up, and, um, lightning), on the right, chibi.
Next, the cast (mostly) of Fushigi Yuugi (which is an *awesome* series by the *amazing* mangaka Yuu Watase - I may have to do a whole post about her and this series later on...):
And, here's my *favorite* character from Fushigi Yuugi, Tasuki:
And here's some of the Super Hero Squad figures I mentioned. Chibi's, I swear it.