Let's be honest that is what they are....and I love that about them. Many people don't take them seriously for that very reason. They are seen as a lesser form of literature because they have pictures and fewer words. They speak through images and dialog verses standard novels which rely on the readers imagination to form the images they describe. I have a comfort zone and will not deny it but when I see a graphic novel a friend may have I can't help myself from picking it up and giving it a read. The workmanship that goes into these books is most of the time very impressive and should be given the respect the art deserves both in the drawings and the dialog.
So here's my suggestion get out of your comfort zone, get to a comic book store, and check one out. You may surprise yourself and LOVE IT!