Graphic Novels: How important are the pictures?

I’m new to the graphic novel scene, but consider myself converted. There’s just one thing that bugs me – some of the drawings can be pretty appalling.

Adrian Tomine‘s Shortcomings started me on my graphic novel binge. This guy is awesome, if a little morose. Then I picked up Breakfast After Noon by Andi Watson. The blurb on the back made the story sound appealing, but as I flicked through the pages to see what the drawings were like, my brain coughed “amateur” and I almost returned it to the shelf. Always one to keep an open mind however, I decided to risk it and hoped that I would come to love Watson’s illustration style as I got to know it better. I did not. Don’t get me wrong – it was an enjoyable read…just nothing spectacular to look at.

Are my expectations too high? Has Adrian Tomine’s masterful artistry ruined all other graphic novelists for me? Or is it simply a matter of taste? I’m sure that it’s all subjective; just as certain writing styles can be loved or loathed by whoever is reading it, illustrations may appeal to one person and not another.

This all has me wondering what is more important – the pictures or the words? Are graphic novels more about the drawings or the speech bubbles? How much does the quality of the illustrations impact on your ability to get into the story, and vice versa? What graphic novels have impressed you equally for both their words and their pictures?