Vaccinated at the Ball

“Vaccinated at the Ball” given a Graphic Medicine award

Publicity, Work
An actual trophy!!

On Saturday I was excited to witness my comics journalism story, “Vaccinated at the Ball,” being given the 2023 GMIC Award for outstanding health-related comic projects (short-form). (GMIC stands for the Graphic Medicine International Collective, and the award was announced at this year’s GMIC conference, held in Toronto. I watched the ceremony on Zoom.) 

I knew the story had been short-listed for the award, but the competition was very stiff, with four other excellent pieces under consideration.

This is what the judges had to say about “Vaccinated at the Ball”:

The judges loved this comic. Josh Neufeld’s graphic journalism is performed with masterful skill. In this piece, he manages to create a brilliantly engaging graphic essay that draws the reader into the action while avoiding excessive narration or resorting to talking heads. The story sets modern-day anxieties about COVID vaccination against historical government malpractice in a way that sympathetically articulates the viewpoint of the vaccine skeptics while reinforcing the importance of vaccination in combating the pandemic.

I’m so grateful to have won, especially because this means more eyeballs on the story, which focuses on COVID vaccination in Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community, particularly house ball celebrations. The piece celebrates the work of UIC nurses Randi Singer, Natasha Crooks, and Rebecca Singer; healthcare advocate Noel C. Green; and of course, house ball legend/activist Jahari Stamps.

I’m thrilled to be sharing the award with my amazing editor Carmen Nobel and her organization The Journalist’s Resource, which commissioned the piece. One of the things I’m most proud of about “VatB” was that it was published under a Creative Commons license, which enabled it to be freely republished by, among others, the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday section — in print!

I’ve been interested in the form of graphic medicine (GM) for a while now — I’m still amazed that there’s an annual academic conference devoted to GM (and has been for over a decade now!). It just so happens that four of the last five comics journalism pieces I have done fall under the label of GM: “Supply Chain Superhero,” “A Tale of Two Pandemics,” “Kansas City and the Case for Restitutional Medicine,” and of course, “Vaccinated at the Ball.” And I’m currently at work on a new piece, on the topic of empathy and medicine. So being recognized by the GM community really means a lot. Thank you, GMIC, and thank you to the late Herbert and Nancy Wolf, who helped develop and sponsor the award.

Congrats as well to the long-form GMIC Award-winner, Ronan and the Endless Sea of Stars, by Rick Louis and Lara Antal.

Zoe Zolbrod's CURRENCY


My ol’ pal Zoe Zolbrod has a novel out, Currency, from OV Press, and she’ll be in NYC next week to read from it!

I was thrilled to be able to blurb the book, and this is what I wrote:

is a dance and duel, a literary thriller with a serpentine twist. With extraordinary imagination, Zolbrod evokes both partners of a star-crossed couple: Piv, a small-time Thai hustler, and, Robin, a questing American backpacker. Based in the seedy rooms of Bangkok’s Star Hotel, the action in Currency ranges from the tranquil mountains of Pai to the traveler haven of Khao San Road, from the heart of Singapore to the scrubby outskirts of the Philippines’ Cebu City. Along the way, the reader confronts walls of every sort — international and cross-cultural barriers, and obstacles to trust, and, ultimately, love."

Zoe will be at Piano’s (158 Ludlow Street, Manhattan, Upstairs Lounge) on Wednesday, May 19, starting at 7pm, where she’ll be one of four readers. A band will be part of the fun. And then on Sunday, May 23, starting at 5pm, Zoe will be reading at Word Brooklyn (126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn), also appearing with some other authors. Try to make it to one of the two events and support Zoe and her thrilling debut novel.

Zoe Zolbrod's Currency

Graphic Novel Institute @ Northwestern Univ. April 25


A short-notice heads-up that I will be in Evanston, Illinois, this coming weekend to take part in a comics and education conference called the Graphic Novel Institute, being held all day Sunday, April 25, at Northwestern University. Sari will also be there, presenting her thoughts on the topic. The G.N.I. will be taking place from 10am – 4pm, with a catered meet-and-greet from 4-6.
The G.N.I. was originally affiliated with the International Reading Association annual conference, but has since broken off on its own as a pre-IRA event. It is being co-sponsored by Northwestern, Diamond Book Distributors, Reading with Pictures, and Baker & Taylor.
I will be co-leading a breakout session with Alex Rodrik on the topic of creating graphic novels with a secondary reader focus; Sari will be on a panel with Michael Bitz, William Ayers, and David Rapp called Why and How to Teach with Graphic Novels. In the afternoon, she’ll be co-leading a breakout session with Josh Elder on Developing Graphic Novel Resources for the Classroom.

Graphic Novel Institute
"Teaching Reading with Graphic Novels”
Sunday, April 25, 2010 — 10 AM-4 PM
Northwestern University
Evanston Campus
Annenberg Hall
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, Illinois

Admission is free, but seating is limited.  Please confirm your seat via RSVP to

A.D. hits the Windy City

A.D., Publicity, Travel

[Continuing my run-down of the A.D. book tour…]

My next stop after the NYC book launch was Chicago, Illinois. There was something fitting about coming back to Chicago, as that was where my comics "career" (such as it is) started: it’s where I lived when I got my first breaks: The Big Book of Urban LegendsDuplex Planet Illustrated, and American Splendor.

Arriving in Chicago Friday, August 28 (earlier than I would’ve liked), I was picked up by my literary escort, who was assigned to get me to the WGN-TV studios for a mid-day news segment. The escort was nothing like what I expected: instead of an effete, rumpled, mustachioed man, Bill was a tall, burly, classic Midwesterner who liked nothing better than talking baseball (specifically the White Sox). He drove me over to the studios where I taped a quick segment on the book. Things went well, but it’s hard for me to watch the tape; they say the camera adds ten pounds, but the way I was slumped back in my chair added at least another ten. Ugh.

Book Cellar Q&AThe event that night was at the Book Cellar, in Lincoln Park. I’d heard a lot of great things about the place, particularly from Larry Smith and Rachel Fershelisher, who landed there during their Six-Word Memoirs book tour. The Book Cellar serves wine (as well as the usual tea & coffee) while you peruse your favorite books. The event itself went really well, with about 40 people in attendance, including my old Chicago pals Amy & Lee, and Zoe & Mark, as well as some old co-workers from the late, lamented Ligature. A couple of old Chicago area-comics pals showed up as well: Steve Darnall of Empty Love Stories and Uncle Sam, and Mike Fragassi, a comics critic from the baby days of the Internet. And last but not least, noted Chicago cartoonist Jeffrey Brown made the scene as well (and even stayed around to chat afterward, which was a nice treat). The crowd was really receptive to the book and ran me through the best Q&A session to date. After a drink and a bratwurst with Zoe, Mark, my Ligature buddy Angela, and some others at the next-door beerhall, I headed back to Amy & Lee’s, my hosts for the weekend.

The next day was August 29, the actual fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. My only event was an "author coffee" at Amy Davis’s writing workspace, where I walked 11 people through the origins of A.D. Everyone there was a writer of some kind, with a range of interests in self-publishing, web-to-print projects, and comics, and we spent a lively couple of hours chewing the fat.

I spent the rest of the afternoon hoofing around the old ‘hood, down in Wicker Park, which has changed a lot since the mid-1990s. But my favorite neighborhood Chinese place, Mon Lung, is still in business, and I lunched on the best mongolian beef I’ve found in these United States. I also visited Quimby’s, where I signed a couple of books and where the manager, Liz, snapped my photo. The day ended with an awesome dinner over at Mark & Zoe’s house, along with Amy & Lee.

Sunday was a day off, and I got to hit Wrigley and take in a Cubs game — oddly enough, versus my own hometown Mets — and then later that evening augmented the decadence with an actual movie. District 9 was a bit of a letdown from a great premise, but still eminently entertaining. A mid-day flight Monday from O’Hare brought me back to NYC, and I even made it home in time to pick up Phoebe from daycare.

The weekend in the Windy City was a great balance of flogging A.D. and enjoying some much-needed down-time.

Literary escort


I just found out that I’ll be doing a TV bit on the WGN Midday News when I’m in Chicago (August 28–31)! Nervous! On top of that, Pantheon is chipping in for a "literary escort" to pick me up at the airport and drive me around, to the station and then on to my pals’ house in Evanston. Now that’s what I’m talking about! For the lowdown on literary escorts, read this engaging piece by Joe Queenan...