Comic books are not just for kids.  Nor are they all trying to be humorous. A comic has won a Pulitzer Prize and they have proven to be one of the most fertile sources of inspiration for Hollywood and video games. Comics have emerged as specific medium in their own right which communicate with us in a unique fashion.   They work in a very different way to books – even those books with lavish illustrations. Comics are principally visual, the pictures rather than the text drive the narrative. They are drawn rather than written and in some ways viewed rather than read.  They exhibit a more dynamic and interdependent combination of words and pictures than would appear in magazines or newspapers. In the way comics work on our senses they have elements in common with cinema but have a grammar and style very much their own. Comics are a relatively modern phenomenon and have become one of the most innovative and creative media where the individual artist can produce the complete end-product.

Telling stories about familiar characters, using hand-drawn panels, has given us universally recognisable identities such as Superman, Batman, Astorix, Charlie Brown and Dennis the Menace.  But comic books and graphic novels go far beyond the most familiar superhero cartoon strip characters.  The television show The Simpsons did not start as a comic but the hugely successful series has its roots in the comic book culture. Major television series like NBC’s Heroes owe much of their structure, storyline and visual grammar to the comic book format.