Here's today's half-baked theory. The comic strip is, I'd suggest, principally, an urban form.

It's a manifestation of city literature. It grew up in tandem with the rise of the city, responding to growing literacy and a mass readership evolving in urban centres at the end of the nineteenth century and through the twentieth century, and time and again it has seen the city as the place to set its fictions.If we think of Batman we immediately think of Gotham City, Superman and Metropolis go hand in hand and Mega City One is as much a character in 2000AD as Judge Dredd. "Really, the city is the actual star of Judge Dredd," comic artist D'Israeli (Matt Brooker) wrote on his blog back in 2009. "I mean, Dredd himself is a man of limited attributes and predictable reactions. His value is giving us a fixed point, a window through which to explore the endless fountain of new phenomena that is the Mega-City."

Comic strips can even shape how we view the cities we live in. How many of us can say our vision of Tokyo is not derived from manga such as Akira? Personally, I grew up on a diet of Marvel comics in the seventies and my vision of New York is essentially a Marvel vision. And so Greenwich Village to me is first and foremost the location of Dr Strange's sanctum sanctorum. More than that, the Marvel New York has fed into my vision of the rest of the world. There is a house in Bannockburn that reminds me of Doctor Strange's home every time I drive by.

I've been thinking about the comic strip's urban roots this week after a visit to a small exhibition at the Anise Gallery in London (just around the corner from the Design Museum). Sequential City showcases the work of six small press and indie comic creators: Owen D. Pomery, Alison Sampson, Lando, Hannah Berry, John Riordan and Tim Bird. "Drawing allows us to make sense of the world and through Sequential City we can see how these artists view the modern metropolis," the gallery argues.

There's a perfect example of what the gallery is talking about on the second page of Tim Bird's strip Grey Area: From the City to the Sea (Avery Hill Publishing, £6). It's a page made up of 12 panels dividing a single image that is effectively a cross section of a London street. At the top we see the wheels of a bus, the middle six panels show an oncoming tube train and the bottom row of panels see various sedimentary layers containing rocks, shells and even a skull. It is past and present, earth and engines all combined in one fractured image.

The exhibition gives a sense of just how variously the urban landscape can be recreated on the page. Hannah Berry, who we interviewed in The Herald Magazine last year, offers an original page from her contribution to the graphic novel IDP:2043. In a single panel she shows an image of a shabby thrown-together collection of drinking dens and accommodation which draws our eyes to different levels and different viewpoints around the page - a lovely visual representation of the fact that the city is a constant collision and conflation of viewpoints.

Each artist involved has a different approach to the cityscape. Sampson and Riordan mirror the density and visual cacophony of the modern city in their work while Pomery, by contrast, offers monochrome simplicity. His use of three-panel and nine-panel grids could qualify for the description "quiet comics".

Pomery's work has echoes of Ben Katchor's New York's strips and my favourite urban comic strip Paul Madonna's San Francisco-set All Over Coffee, a gorgeous pen-and-ink vision of the city unpeopled. He draws intricately rendered street corners and buildings, electricity lines and street lamps and in doing so reminds us how extraordinary the ordinary can be if we bother to look a little more closely.

Sequential City continues at the Anise Gallery, SE1, until March 15. For more information visit