Who would have though that the French would be obsessed with comic books? Certainly not me, until I moved here and noticed that in any town of any noticeable size, there was at least one bookstore entirely dedicated to bandes dessinées, or BDs as they are called for short. Aside from noticing the crowds in the BD section at just about any Fnac bookstore, I never really followed up on this observation until just recently, when I wrote an article on the subject for a magazine. After having spent a few weeks boning up on Corto Maltese, Monsieur Jean, and Isaac the Pirate, I can now report that I have been converted to the cause. Because this peculiar literary form, when put in the right hands, can produce true works of art—or at the very least, excellent entertainment. We’re not talking superheros here. Nor are we really talking graphic novels, which are getting a lot of attention in the US, but seem a lot grimmer than their French BD cousins. American graphic novels also tend to be longer than BDs, which are large hardbound “albums” of about 50 pages.