Illustration program graduate and comic book creator Brian Wood likens the increasing mainstream popularity of graphic novels to "shining a light into a dark room. It used to be an insular and stereotypically geeky community, and suddenly all eyes are on us. Everyone who was able to roll with that got rewarded."
Wood himself, whose smart and gritty books are considered among the best, has reaped some of the benefits. His graphic novels have been translated into several languages and won praise from the New York Times Book Review. Several of his books, including The Couriers, Local, and Supermarket, are being developed for the big screen. It took him a while to get to this point, though. "I was working nights and weekends for six years before I could quit my day job [as a designer for Rockstar Games]," he says. "Having a career in comics is a lot like being in a band. You have to start small and play a lot of free shows. But you have complete creative freedom."