I would love to do a graphic novel - it’s definitely on my bucket list. I’ve been fascinated by sequential art my whole life, and while the classical super-hero comics were not around in my time and place, the whole Italy-France-Belgium area has always had a big tradition in graphic novels. My favorite artist by far is Sergio Toppi, though I’m a big Moebius fan too. At the moment, the comic artist I’m most inspired by is probably Skottie Young but I collect books by a lot of other artists, mostly Italian and French artists.
Here’s some information and thoughts for career consideration (keeping in mind that I’m only following kidlit):
Graphic novels for midgrade are a huge thing at the moment. They are sales leaders, very high on the bestseller lists, with many large publishers starting imprints dedicated to midgrade and YA graphic novel exclusively. My agent started clamoring for GN samples months ago, and I obliged, making a few pages for her. Midgrade does not demand the same style and subject matter as adult comics, but I personally like it a lot and it’s worth taking a look whether it’s something you would want to dab into. It’s not just “Dogman” (which I detest, though it dominates the Bestsellers since months), but books by Raina Telgemeier, Nathan Hale (who has a course here at SVS), Molly Ostertag, James Burks and many many others. Samples in that vein have a chance to capture publishers’ attention, because they’ve all got books like these in their lists for the next years. Same goes for story ideas from authors/illustrators for GN for midgrade and YA.
Standard midgrade books (books for 8-12 year olds) are often more or less heavily illustrated in a style that is very close to comics. Though they don’t generally use panels (an exception would be the “Tank and Fizz” series or the books by Lincoln Peirce, which mix panel sections with text), if you like inking and a more comic-like style, this could be a good market for it. I’ve done two so far, with more contracted in 2020 and 2021, and it’s always been the more comic-like samples in my portfolio that attracted the AD attention.
This assuming you’re interested in going the traditional route - nothing speaks against a self-published project, of course. I just wanted to make the point that there is no gap between children’s illustration and comics: a huge sector of children’s illustration nowadays is graphic novel. I also believe it’s the largest sales driver in GN at the moment.