The above link is to a beautiful looking graphic novel by Isabel Greenberg that has been chosen as the winner for the Observer/Jonathan Cape Comics/Graphic Short Novel Competition. Her story, Love In A Very Cold Climate, tells of a love story between two people who cannot touch each other; an interesting and potentially heart-breaking idea.
Graphic novels have been enjoying a renaissance in recent years; from my memory since Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Reading that confirmed to me that this style of story telling is not just for children. I grew up reading 2000AD, a brilliant weekly that continued to push the boundaries of the art and grow as the years went on. Some of the writing during the time I was reading it was extremely influential and though I doubt I could ever write something for the comic, it has always remained a tiny dream in the back of my mind.
Other titles, such as Maus; V for Vendetta and The Alcoholic have proven to me that this art form can really push home important messages in a way that does not appear threatening when you pick it up. Perhaps a reason for the continued success story is simply because this mode of writing is not taken seriously; giving it more room to breathe and to broaden itself.
Though graphic novels are targeted (quite rightly) at the comic book reader, namely boys from the age of twelve upwards, there are an awful lot of inspiration that can be drawn from them as a writer; on top of that, if you have an idea that stretches the imagination to the limit, then this comes as a far more cost-effective way of producing your vision. Just look at the richness of Neil Gaiman's work or the beautiful storytelling of Alan Moore; both genuises in my mind.
Graphic novels should be credited as the literary works that they are, they have moved on enormously from the weekly Superman comics. Just look at Tintin, his stories have lasted fifty years and some of them contain some deep political insights, giving it an audience far wider than just the children that may be drawn to it in light of the new movie.
This is an ever growing form and subjects are no longer taboo when it comes to producing something of quality and depth. Look at Holy Land: Resistance; a new book currently in development and one that I for one am very much looking forward to. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Holy-Land-Resistance/271691086197060
Yes, I can be geeky; I like Batman; I enjoy Superman; I can't wait to see the new version of Judge Dredd next year and I'm even, sort of, looking forward to The Avengers too. More out of curiosity than anything, I would far rather they updated our original '60s classic with Steed and Mrs Peel. But I also like to be challenged and for every Marvel there is a Vertigo, the range of titles is staggering and I hope it continues its current trend of being recognised as something far more than just a comic.