Whatever your definition of "comic book," we can all agree that sequential art is a big deal. On the Internet, webcomics flourish. In small independent comic shops, superheroes often reign, but Yorick Brown and Morpheus hang around as well.
But today's comics and graphic novels are not limited to sci-fi and fantasy. People tell all kinds of stories with pictures, including historical biographies.
Maus: A Survivor's Tale is the story of Art Spiegelman's relationship with his father Vladek, a survivor of the Holocaust, and of Vladek Spiegelman's life, including his experience during Hitler's reign.
The characters of Maus are depicted as animals. Different groups are different species--Jews are mice, Germans are cats, and Americans are dogs, for example. This could be a bit misleading, but I assure you, anthropomorphic animals do not a children's book make. Maus is a look at the experience of a real person in the real world, with metaphors.
Maus might just be perfect for the friend in your life who loves comics. Most comic readers I know aren't hopelessly narrow-minded when they choose what they consume, but they may need a little urging to set aside Superman and The Sandman* for something like this. They could end up better for it.
Buy Maus: A Survivor's Tale through Barnes & Noble for $18.56.
Image via Barnes & Noble.
*Actually, I tend to think you can expect more from those who read DC's Vertigo imprint than you can from people who only ever read superhero comics. My observations are not scientific. Also, you all know how I feel about Neil Gaiman.