4. A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories
by Will Eisner
Published by W. W. Norton & Company
Whether or not Eisner actually created the term "graphic novel," this is the collection that introduced the term to most of the comics-reading public. Technically it's more of a graphic short story collection rather than a novel (unless you determine the main character is the place and not the people). Regardless, there's not a dud in this collection.
My faves are "A Contract with God" and "The Street Singer," the former for it's almost depressing loss and recapturing of faith in light of a child's death and the later for the comical statement it makes about how even local celebrity can be a huge letdown after such a wonderful build up.
This volume proves one thing beyond all argument -- if any writer has ever understood people and the quirks that make them unique, that writer is Will Eisner. Period.