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Ninth Art. Bande dessinée, Books and the Gentrification of Mass Culture, 1964-1975

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Examines six albums published between 1964 and 1975, which chart the transformations of the French comics market

  • Outlines the distinctiveness of the French comics publishing industry

  • Studies publishers of comics rather than authors or creators

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels (PSCGN)

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Hardcover Book USD 49.99
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About this book

In France, comics are commonly referred to as the "ninth art". What does it mean to see comics as art? This book looks at the singular status of comics in the French cultural landscape. Bandes dessinées have long been published in French newspapers and magazines. In the early 1960s, a new standard format emerged: large hardback books, called albums. Albums played a key role in the emergence of the ninth art and its acceptance among other forms of literary narrative. From Barbarella in 1964 to La Ballade de la mer salée in 1975, from Astérix and its million copies to Tintin and its screen versions, within the space of just a few years the comics landscape underwent a deep transformation.

The album opened up new ways of creating, distributing, and reading bandes dessinées. This shift upended the market, transformed readership, initiated new transmedia adaptations, generated critical discourse, and gave birth to new kinds of comics fandom. These transformations are analysed through a series of case studies, each focusing on a noteworthy album. By retracing the publishing and critical history of these classic bandes dessinées, this book questions the blind spots of a canon based on the album format and uncovers the legitimisation processes that turned bande dessinée into the ninth art. 


  • bande dessinée
  • French comic books
  • neuvième art
  • bédéphiles
  • Barbarella
  • Astérix and the Normans
  • Flash Gordon
  • Tintin

Authors and Affiliations

  • IRHiS-UMR 8529 (Univ. Lille, CNRS), University of Lille, Lille, France

    Sylvain Lesage

About the author

Sylvain Lesage is associate professor in history at the University of Lille, and editor-in-chief of the journal Neuvième Art, published by the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée in Angoulême.

He specializes in book history and media studies, with a particular interest in comics. His PhD dissertation provided the material for two books: Publier la bande dessinée. Les éditeurs franco-belges et l'album (Presses de l’Enssib, 2018) and L’Effet livre : métamorphoses de la bande dessinée (Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2019).

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Hardcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
This title has not yet been released. You will be able to pre-order it soon.