Known as France's Ninth Art, the bande dessine has a status far surpassing that of the equivalent English-language comic strip. This publication, one of the first predominantly in English on the subject, provides a thorough introduction to questions of BD history, context and bibliography. Theoretical issues - including the reception of the early proto-BD prior to its modern definition, approaches to the construction of a BD (presented here in BD form by leading artist Tanitoc), semiology and the reading of the current form, or the specificity of the French/US (non)overlap - complement historical approaches, such as Bcassine read in the light of postcolonialism, Le Corbusier and BD techniques in architecture, post-war BD and nostalgia for the Resistance, or Pilote and the 1960s revolution. And whilst broaching issues such as feminism or masculinity, social class, AIDS, exoticism or futurism, the volume presents chapters on some of the cutting-edge artists in the field today: Baru, Moebius, Juillard, Binet, Bilal. This book supplies an introduction to the BD that will be of use to students and researchers at all levels. In addition, the format of the individual case studies provides in-depth analysis allowing the reader to grasp specific examples in terms both of their place vis-a-vis the evolution of the BD and, more generally, of the wider role they play within French and Francophone cultural studies.