So this blog is now spotlighted on the homepage of Livejournal, which is very exciting and flattering. If you’re reading this for the first time, hello, and please allow me to introduce myself (all apologies to Mick Jagger/Lucifer). In RL I am Josh Neufeld, a Brooklyn, NY-based cartoonist (e.g. comic book writer/artist) who speciaizes in nonfiction. If you’ve read Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, or Art Speigelman’s Maus, or Joe Sacco‘s Palestine or Safe Area Gorazde, then you know comics can be a wonderful way to explore, explain, and illustrate the real world. If you haven’t read any of their work, then go out now and buy some!
In any case, I’ve been working in this corner of the "alternative comics" field for awhile now, as an illustrator of Pekar’s stories, as an autobiographer of my own backpacking adventures, and most recently as a chronicler of Hurricane Katrina, as seen from the perspective of seven real-life New Orleanians who survived the storm. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge is coming out next month from Pantheon Graphic Novels. I’ll be going on tour to support the book, and maybe I’ll be coming to a city near you: stops include Austin, TX; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; Portland, OR; Miami, FL; and of course New Orleans and my hometown of New York City. (You can see all the details here…)
A.D. came about indirectly because I was an American Red Cross volunteer shortly after Katrina, where I worked for almost a month distributing food to Katrina survivors in Biloxi, Mississippi (about 90 miles outside of New Orleans). I wrote about those experiences as they were happening right here on my LJ, and eventually collected the posts — and readers’ comments — in a "blook," cleverly titled Katrina Came Calling. A little later, Jeff Newelt, the comics editor of the storytelling site SMITH, showed it to SMITH’s editor, who shortly thereafter asked me to do a comic about Katrina for his site. In January 2007, after about six months of research and reporting, and finding seven amazing, wonderful people willing to have their stories told in comics form, I began serializing A.D. on SMITH. Lo and behold, two-plus years later and a brand-new, expanded hardcover edition of A.D. debuts August 18 (right before the fourth anniversary of Katrina).
I’m extremely excited for the book to be out, not only because it’s the culmination of many years’ work, but because I think it’s so important that we continue to tell the story of New Orleans. I made a big effort with A.D. to show my characters’ lives continuing on after the hurricane, as the city begins to forge its post-New Orleans history. Four years down the line a lot has happened — some good and some bad — but the rest of America (and the world) needs to keep the "City that Care Forgot" and its people in our hearts and minds. I’m also excited about A.D. because I truly do believe that nonfiction comics are a vital part of the comics mosaic, and my hope is that if enough copies of the book finds their way into the hands of people who wouldn’t normally pick up a "funny book," it will help break down the continuing prejudices against the form.
I’m running on a bit, and I don’t want to bore my normal readers, so I’ll cut things short here. Normally, my blog is a place where I write about all sorts of things, not necessarily just comics, though I would say that 4-eyez (full title "Four-Eyes: Stories and Thoughts from One of Life’s Vagabonds") is mostly about what my comics are about: remarking on and treasuring the experiences of everyday life. Oh, and also my sad obsession with trivia, charts, and statistics.
So look back through some of my previous posts to see what catches your fancy. Meanwhile, to take advantage of LJ’s kind spotlight, I plan on posting once a day for the remainder of the week. Stay tuned!