The New York Times Magazine gives a long (7,000+ words) look at graphic novels (registration required). The piece ponders whether or not the graphic novel will replace the normal, word-based novel as the next great literary form, the way the novel replace poetry once upon a time. It’s a toss-up at this point, though their growing popularity — and floor space in major bookstores — is worth noticing.
McSweeney’s Quarterly even dedicated a recent issue to comics. (Comics? Comic books? Graphic novels? What’s the difference? Comics are typically the multipanel stories you’ll find in the newspaper. Comic books are typically multipanel stories stretched out into a small magazine. Graphic novels take the multipanel story and stretch it into a novel. That’s my horribly inadequate definition, though there’s a lot of overlap. The issue of McSweeney’s is edited by graphic novelist Chris Ware and features many other graphic novelists.)