Comics or Bandes Dessines are seen as "the ninth art" in France. Graphic novels are not just entertainment - they deal with serious topics from biography and philosophy to chronicling events like the Iranian Revolution and the Rwandan genocide. So why were the French the first to elevate comics to an art form rather than a geeky pastime?
Kirsty and Lucy talk to Jose Luis Bocquet about his vivid chronicle of the rollercoaster life of Kiki de Montparnasse -the famous beauty, artists' model and painter in her own right. In Paris, magazine editor Patrick de St Exupery explains why he commissions cartoonists to bring current affairs stories to a new audience. He says that the cartoons in XXI, which he set up as a French equivalent to the New Yorker, help to sell this glossy and expensive monthly magazine at a time when his competitors are closing down. And Lucy and Kirsty discover that Paris has several bookshops entirely devoted to selling graphic novels and cartoon books.