As a school librarian, a member of the American Library Association's Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee, a reviewer for Booklist and a lifetime lover of the form, a read a lot of graphic novels. There are plenty of excellent Best Graphic Novels of the Year lists out there (why, here's one now), so I won't labor the point myself. I just want to mention a single title, the best one I've read in 2010 and also among the best three or four I've read in my life.
Set to Sea by Drew Weing, besides being a loving tribute to my favorite sailor man (Popeye, of course), is insightful, melancholy and deeply wise. A big, galoomphy fellow with dreams of being a poet is shanghaied aboard a rough and tumble vessel that sets to sea, where the unintentional sailor journeys through a lifetime of woes and joys, all in a cartoon style crosshatched with a depth that suggests the way the shadows of our past can cling to us and help form what we become. Lyrical and beautiful and somehow, over the course of 144 single-panel pages, communicating the sense of an entire life lived and the wisdom accumulated along the way, Set to Sea may be the worlds first example of a new genre: graphic poetry.
The best graphic novel of the year, at the very least.