I came to graphic novels in a strange and roundabout way. I love the work of Neil Gaiman, who started in comics and moved on to novels - I'm aware of his Sandman stories, but I don't think I've ever sat down and read one all the way through. However, he came back to comics with his friend Dave McKean to do a re-imagining of the Marvel universe in a story called 1602.
In this parallel universe, the year is 1602, and many superheroes familiar to comic readers are being born early - so the story includes the X-men and Fantastic Four and Nick Fury and lots of others. One of the characters is a blind Irish minstrel called Matt Murdoch, who had a devil-may-care attitude that I rather liked. I discovered that he was based on Daredevil (who I'd never heard of) so I went off and found a Daredevil story to see what he was like in the present day.
The graphic novel that I found was by Mark Waid, and deals with Matt Murdoch's return to his lawyer's practice in New York, where he is also a costumed vigilante. Fortunately, enjoyment of the story doesn't depend on knowing too much back story! I found the depiction of Daredevil's echo location skills and his super sensitive hearing fascinating, and I liked the way other superheroes made guest appearances. Captain America turns up, and the Fantastic Four are mentioned - and so are Latveria and various super villain organisations. I also liked the way that Daredevil can talk his way out of a difficult situation because he is clever, rather than just hitting people very hard (though he can do that too).
I think I'll be looking out for more Daredevil stories.