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Transformers: Age of Extinction. The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sin City 2. The movie industry has cornered the hell out of the superhero comics market. Since the first X-Men, in 2000, studios have been optioning comics so often that publishers like DC and Marvel have found themselves investing ever more heavily in stories that may transition well to the silver screen.

"And as a result, there's this sort of inherent, implied symmetry between a story that you can tell with comics, and a story you can tell within a movie," says local comic book artist Langdon Foss. "Like, comics are basically movies made on a budget."

The PR campaigns for Thor and Iron Man are huge, and aimed at mainstream America. But the legions of film fans aren't helping the shaky comics industry, which like all things paper, is struggling.

That's part of the reason why works like Maus or Persepolis or The Great War are so important. Besides the intriguing stories and beautiful artwork, they often play upon the comics medium itself, defying a screen format. Speaking of Maus specifically, Foss puts it this way, "Not only did it sort of legitimize comics as a way to tell stories that are relevant to society, it showed that comics are not simply poor-man's movies."

Maus author Art Spiegelman is a galvanizing force for comics, literature, memoir and how they intertwine. In advance of his local appearance next week, read our interview here.

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