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Priscilla Nielsen for NPR For many readers, the comics event of the year has to do with a book published 25 years ago; Art Spiegelman's anniversary compendium Metamaus delves deep into Maus, the book that changed the landscape of graphic novels forever. But for readers interested in pursuing the new as well as commemorating the classics, 2011 offered a wealth of graphic storytelling — from books as ambitious in scope as Spiegelman's masterpiece to books that married word and image seamlessly in the simple service of telling a great yarn. My list of the best six graphic novels of the year includes books from France and Japan, explicit picaresques and hard-boiled mysteries, memoirs and fairy tales. But they're just the tip of the iceberg in what's been an extraordinary year for a medium that, 25 years after the book that changed everything, allows writers and artists to invent something newer, weirder and more beautiful over and over again.