Comics' perfection

Maus

The assumption that comic books are for children, greasy-haired science fiction geeks, or middle-aged Japanese businessmen with a penchant for mildly paedophilic pop-eyed porn, is dead. The screen has certainly helped comics become mainstream, with adaptations of Marvel's 1960s superheroes and DC's modern American urban myths, as well as the magical film Manga of Miyazaki, all proving to have widespread appeal. A stage adaptation of Tintin is perfect for a generation already learning about Macbeth and Nazism through cartoons, and the term "graphic novel" - a 60s attempt to lend edgy adult validity to serious European narratives emerging alongside the American action-hero strips - no longer has a defensive ring.

Indeed, adult comic books are securing prime Waterstones square footage, and it's not all Raymond Briggs. Last year, as Bryan Appleyardand Rachel Cooke noticed, new mainstream comics hit a seam of popular gold, as canny publishing houses combined the trend for modern tales of ordinary lives (highlighted when Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan won the Guardian First Book Award in 2001) with the marketing magic of a feminine twist. In 2007, the Sex and the City generation hadMarisa Acocella Marchetto's Cancer Vixen; their mothers, Posy Simmonds' Hardy-inspired Tamara Drewe; their art-student sisters, the indie autobiographies Fun Home by Alison Bechdel or Marjane Satrapi'sPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood.

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