Does reading comic books and graphic novels count as "real" reading?
Absolutely. Partly due to the influence of Japanese anime and manga (and a certain subculture of die-hard comic book fans), comic books and graphic novels are now recognized for their unique approach to storytelling and their literary significance. No one would say to a kid reading The Secret of the Unicorn or Cardboard that she's wasting her time.
Comic books and graphic novels have a lot to offer kids. They can entice reluctant readers, motivate kids to read more (because they usually come in a series), and coax kids into looking for deeper meanings (comics are famous for their subliminal messaging).