Josh Neufeld's Blog, page 9

October 2, 2012

The all-ages publisher Graphic Universe (a division of Lerner Publishing Group) invited me to contribute a quote to their new title, Little White Duck: A Childhood in China, and this is what I wrote:

A graceful marriage of words and images, Little White Duck is Andrés Vera Martinez’s loving evocation of his wife Na Liu’s childhood in China during the Cultural Revolution. Ancient fables mix with the hard realities of rapid industrialization, and Martinez’s colorful, accessible artwork perfectly captures the look and feel of that time and place. It’s a gem of a book.

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Published on October 02, 2012 07:06 • 16 views

September 25, 2012

September 18, 2012

The boutique digital publisher The Atavist releases Stowaway today, a new comics journalism piece by Tori Marlan and myself.

Atavist No. 17, Stowaway, is an “enhanced e-comic” that traces the 12,000-mile journey of an orphan from Ethiopia to America. Stowaway follows Fanuel on his odyssey from the streets of Addis Ababa to the deserts of Mexico, through the Atavist’s immersive storytelling technology, which includes sound, music, video, and interactive graphics. Fifteen-year-old Fanuel dodges authorities while relying on complete strangers as he struggles to find a mysterious woman in Seattle named Sofia,who is his last hope for the future. This is the first Atavist story to be available through the Web as well as The Atavist tablet app. The App version can be downloaded from the iTunes store.

The Atavist’s software team created a custom comics app which includes panel-by-panel navigation and a soundtrack integrated with all of the traditional extras features the Atavist is known for, like interactive maps, timelines, and animations—all in the service of bringing the reader into Fanuel’s uncertain world as he tries to hold onto a dream which at times seems to disintegrate before his eyes. Extra features include a five-minute interview with Tori and me which also shows various stages of production of the piece, from script to thumbnails, pencils, inks, and colors. And the compelling soundtrack is by my brother-in-law Evan Wilson!

Tori, who I’ve known since the early 1990s, first met Fanuel in 2006 while doing research at the International Children’s Center in Chicago. She eventually learned the details of his journey to the U.S. Although Tori’s background is investigative print reporting, and she had never worked in nonfiction comics before, she felt strongly that a graphic approach would bring Fanuel’s story to the public in a unique way. Our collaboration developed organically.

Stowaway is $3, either through the app or on the Web. To learn more, visit

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Published on September 18, 2012 08:51 • 15 views

July 14, 2012

The late great Harvey Pekar left behind an amazing legacy of work. He had so many books in the pipeline when he passed away in July 2010 that there are still new books coming out today (including the wonderful Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, illustrated by Joseph Remnant). Another new book of Harvey’s, illustrated by JT Waldman, was sent to me in galley form by his publisher, who asked for a blurb. I was happy to oblige, and here it is:

Not The Israel My Parents Promised Me is a fascinating history of the so-called Promised Land—as seen through the eyes of an estranged Jew from Cleveland. Brimming with classic Pekar asides and details, the book sheds light on a subject usually obscured by heat. JT Waldman’s evocative artwork combines down-to-earth American Splendor-style illustrations with motifs inspired by everything from mythology to Islamic Art to illuminated manuscripts to Chagall. In cleverly reminding us of its collaborative nature, the book evokes the uneasy conversations Jews often have amongst themselves about Israel. Personally, I never got to say goodbye to Harvey, a man I had known and worked with for over fifteen years. Reading this book was like having a final, wide-ranging conversation with him.

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Published on July 14, 2012 11:04 • 17 views

May 11, 2012

Next Tuesday I’ll be taking part in CEC ArtsLink’s “Factual Fictions FaceOff,” along with authors Ted Conover, Leonora Flis, and Elizabeth Stone.

Telling true stories takes many forms: novels, literary journalism, graphic novels, memoirs, travelogues, blogs… How do we define nonfiction narrative? Where are the lines between fiction and fact, between public and private in these tales? As the event blurb says, “The authors’ investigations took them to either such high-octane destinations as Sing Sing prison or New Orleans after Katrina, or inspired them to delve deeper into their family stories discuss the place of nonfiction in our lives.”

I really look forward to the other participants’ insights on these questions. Needless to say, I’ll have a lot to contribute to the discussion as well! And I’ll be showing images from my various works.

CEC ArtsLink, in existence for 50 years, is all about “engaging communities through international arts partnerships.” Here are the details…

Factual Fictions FaceOff

Tuesday, May 15, 6:30 pm

Deluxe New York

435 Hudson Street, 9th Fl.

RSVP to or 212.643.1985 x26

Please join us. The event is free, but space is limited, and an RSPV is required.

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Published on May 11, 2012 07:35 • 16 views

May 10, 2012

After working in the field of comics-format journalism for the last six years, I’ve been “officially” anointed—I’ve been offered a 2012–2013 Knight-Wallace Fellowship in journalism!

The Knight-Wallace Fellowship gives mid-career journalists a chance to pursue customized sabbatical studies at the University of Michigan for a full academic year. The program also includes twice-weekly seminars, as well as training in narrative writing, multi-platform journalism, and entrepreneurial enterprise. Fellows also make two extended international tours to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Istanbul.

I’m the first comics journalist to be offered a Knight-Wallace Fellowship, and I believe only the second comics journalist to receive an American journalism fellowship of any kind (the first being Dan Archer, who was a 2010–2011 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford). I’m proud to be part of a growing recognition that this field—exemplified by the incredible Joe Sacco—is legitimate and lasting (as evidenced by the work of folks like Archer, Sarah Glidden, Matt Bors, Susie Cagle, Josh Kramer, Ted Rall, and the folks behind Symbolia and the Illustrated Press, just to name a few).

I was inspired to apply for the fellowship after learning that Archer had done the Stanford version, and realizing how beneficial such a program could be for my craft (particularly the journalism side of things). All during the early part of this year, I worked on my application, essays, and supporting materials, as well as rounding up letters of recommendation. (Thank you again, recommenders!) In mid-March I was notified that I was a KWF finalist, and in mid-April I went out to Ann Arbor for the big interview with the board. During that weekend, I got to tour the Wallace House (named after program benefactor Mike Wallace), and meet the current Fellows. Awkwardly, I also mingled with the “competition,” 30+ other finalists for the final roster of 12 American 2012–2013 Fellows. I came away from the interview weekend with a good feeling, but obviously it wasn’t until that April 30 early-morning call from program director Charles Eisendrath that I knew I had it. (I was asked to hold off on spreading the word until the program put out a press release, which they now have done.)

My study plan is to extensively research Bahrain’s Pearl Revolution (which I did a short piece about for Cartoon Movement, the Eisner Award-nominated “Bahrain: Lines in Ink, Lines in the Sand“). I plan on taking courses in the history of the Persian Gulf, Islam (specifically the Sunni-Shia divide), and the language and culture of the region. The ultimate goal is to produce a long-form comics-format book on the topic.

(My one tiny regret about the fellowship is that I have to back out of my October “Master Artist” residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Fortunately, however, ACA director Nick Conroy was gracious and understanding about my dilemma, and when I suggested that my long-time collaborator and pal Dean Haspiel take over for me, he was thrilled. And maybe I’ll get another chance to do the ACA residency in 2014…)

I really look forward to this amazing opportunity. I especially look forward to immersing myself in the practice of journalism, a field I’ve long been associated with (going back to my early days at The Nation magazine) but am now a designated member! I can’t wait to pick the brains of my fellow Fellows—both American and international—all of whom have more traditional backgrounds and training. The whole experience promises to be incredibly enriching.

So come September, Sari, Phoebe, and I will be temporarily relocating to Ann Arbor, Michigan. We’re all excited to embark on this new adventure. (Spouses and partners are invited to all seminars, and are Fellows in all but name. And the program is notoriously family-friendly.) Everyone I’ve talked to who’s had this fellowship just can’t stop raving about it.

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Published on May 10, 2012 08:18 • 12 views

May 3, 2012

The Influencing Machine paperback coverNext Tuesday, May 8, Brooke Gladstone and I will be debuting The Influencing Machine‘s paperback edition at Greenpoint’s independent bookstore WORD. Titled “Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld Explain Everything,” Brooke and I will “dish” on the state of modern media, the process of creating the book, and more with a multimedia presentation, Q&A, and signing. Plus, WORD will be raffling a free, signed copy of the book!

Here’s the Facebook event, where you are encouraged to RSVP:


Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m.

WORD, 126 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Nearest subway: G train (Greenpoint Ave.)

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Published on May 03, 2012 07:41 • 13 views

April 26, 2012

This weekend sees the latest edition of the MoCCA Art Fest, at the Lexington Avenue Armory here in New York City. I’ll be there on Sunday, doing a panel with Portland, Oregon-based cartoonist Shannon Wheeler.

Wheeler’s recent book is the quite wonderful Oil and Water, about the BP oil spill and its effects on the region. Shannon and I will ll be interviewing one another about our work in comics, especially as it relates to our approaches to documenting tragedy on the Gulf Coast.

I’ve occasionally been asked if I ever thought of doing a sequel to A.D. Well, Oil and Water could be seen as that sequel—and done far better than I could have ever hoped to do. Anyway, it should be an interesting conversation. Please come!


Sunday April 29, 2 p.m.

Lexington Avenu Armory

68 Lexington Ave. (btwn. 25th & 26th Sts.)

“Room B” (downstairs)

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Published on April 26, 2012 10:21 • 23 views

April 17, 2012

This Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m., Union Docs presents “Reportage in Balloons: The Emerging Field of Comic Journalism.” Curated by Amélie Garin-Davet, the evening will feature comics journalists Seth Tobocman, Matt Bors, and myself, as well my Influencing Machine collaborator, Brooke Gladstone, in a discussion lead by comic critic Bill Kartalopoulos. Seth, Matt, Brooke, and I will all show examples of our work. The event will close with a book signing.

Union DocsUnion is a center for documentary art that generates and shares big ideas. They bring together a diverse community of experimental media-makers, dedicated journalists, critical thinkers, and local partners on a search for urgent expressions of the human experience, practical perspectives on the world today, and compelling visions for the future.

Saturday, April 21, 7:30pm. $9 suggested donation

Reportage in Balloons: The Emerging Field of Comic Journalism

Union Docs

322 Union Avenue

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Published on April 17, 2012 07:49 • 15 views

April 16, 2012

The final component of the Rubin Museum‘s “Karma-Con” approaches. This Wednesday, April 18, the Rubin will unveil the finished illustrations of the “Cartoonists’ Wheel of Life.” After interacting with the art that inspires us, discussing the significance and merit of the Wheel of Life as an artistic image, working collaboratively in an open studio setting and individually in our own studios, artists Molly Crabapple, Sanya Glisic, Ben Granoff, Rodney Greenblat, Steven Guarnaccia, Michael Kupperman, Katie Skelly, and myself unveil our completed works as a unified Wheel of Life.

As I’ve mentioned before, my section is the world of humans. The human world is typically portrayed as one of suffering. These deprivations include:

separation from friends
being attacked by enemies
not getting what they want
getting what they don’t want

Humans also suffer from the general maladies of:

pain of childbirth
old age

A careful viewer will see examples of all these sufferings in my image, as well as allusions to the Occupy Wall Street movement (and a sneaky self-portrait of the artist).

The evening includes a Himalayan happy hour & spiral music, a pre-program tour of the Wheel of Life and second floor galleries, the unveiling of the new Wheel of Life and a discussion with the artists moderated by comics historian Christopher Irving, and a post-program tour of the accompanying exhibit Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics. And did I mention the whole evening is free?!

Karma-Con: Unveiling

Rubin Museum

Wednesday April 18, 2012 @ 7:00 PM

See below for a sneak-peek at my section from when it was in progress. And check out the Rubin’s page on the event for the full details.

Wheel of Life: Humans

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Published on April 16, 2012 13:11 • 14 views