These are works of literature that have been or are marketed under the name "graphic novel." Some were originally branded as such, while others have been accorded the term retroactively. These works have been included because of their popularity and/or critical reception.
A work that explores comics as a medium, delving into both history and visual theory to try to define what comics are and how they work. McCloud's work is especially interesting because it is done entirely in comics format.
"Watchmen" was one of Time Magazine's 100 best English-language novels of the century. Its unusual take on the superhero genre, as well as its intricate plot and innovative artwork, make this one of the graphic novels that contributed in large part to the surge in interest in the medium in the late 80s.
Critically and commercially well-received, Miller's take on Batman was, along with "Maus" and "Watchmen," one of the works that made 1986 "a watershed year for comic books . . . Together, the three set in motion changes that brought about the fertile, diverse graphic-novel landscape fans enjoy today."
Flagg, Gordon. "Another Look at: Watchmen." Booklist (March 1, 2009) 34.
Although he did not necessarily invent the term, Eisner's work is thought to be "the first book marketed as a 'graphic novel.'"
Chute, Hillary. "Comics as Literature? Reading Graphic Narrative." PMLA 123, no. 2 (2008), 453.