One options is to go to the Master Page for the site you want to modify and locate the section that reads:
Change StaticDisplayLevels and MaximumDynamicDisplayLevels both to "1". This will create a collapsed version of your quick launch with links appearing as fly-outs. You can then go to the style sheet for you site and locate the ".ms-navitem" style. Once you find it, you can change the color of the background and text on the fly-outs to give them a little more character.
This technique is discussed in Chapter 5 of the "Developer's Guide to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0" by Todd Bleeker. Good book filled with also sorts of useful information.