THE INFLUENCING MACHINE is a New York Times bestseller

Influencing Machine

Just got word that The Influencing Machine is debuting at #8 on the New York Times Graphic Books — Harcover Best Seller list. (Try saying that five times fast.) And we’re the only book not published by DC Comics — and the only one not featuring Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, or vampires (though Spider-Brooke does make an appearance in our book)

New York Times Graphic Books Best Sellers List

Brooke Gladstone's THE INFLUENCING MACHINE Book Tour

Influencing Machine, Publicity

I’m a bit tardy in posting this, but better late than never. My Influencing Machine co-author Brooke Gladstone is out on tour right now, presenting the book to eager bookstore and convention audiences everywhere. She’s already hit Book Soup in L.A., and and been on Seattle’s The Conversation (KUOW FM), but here’s her upcoming schedule (plus a few events we’ll be doing together). Hopefully you can make it to an event near you…

As more events get added, I’ll be sure to add them.


Influencing Machine, Publicity

Dinesh Ramde of the Associated Press has reviewed The Influencing Machine, which means his review is wending its way through the nation’s newspapers and media venues. (It’s already appeared in the Washington Examiner, Newsday, and on ABC News’ website.) It’s a nice review, though he actually faulted my drawings for possibly being "so good they distract from the content of the book"! He goes on later to write, "While animation in comic books might provide context that adds to the action, these drawings sometimes provide humor or eye candy that draws enough attention that the reader has to reread the previous dialogue bubble to return to Gladstone’s train of thought." Still, Ramde writes, "Distractions aside, Gladstone still tells a compelling story. It’s easy to imagine The Influencing Machine becoming mandatory reading in journalism classes around the country." That would be nice!

Check one off the bucket list: Brian Lehrer

A.D., Influencing Machine

I’ve been listening to the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC radio on a regular basis since I moved back to New York City in 2000. During that time — from the election fiasco of 2000, to 9/11, the war in Iraq, the 2004 elections, the ’08 elections, the "Ground Zero Mosque," "Wikileaks," and right on through the killing of Osama bin Laden — I’ve relied on Brian’s show for a fair, sober examination of the issues.

He’s always on top of the news and never strident in his opinions. He has a warm, easygoing manner, and is adept at asking his guests tough questions without resorting to cheap "gotcha" journalism. At first, his approach challenged my old way of looking at the world. I had been taught to demonize the "enemy" (whoever that might be), and although I haven’t moderated my own left-of-center politics, I’ve come to see that sometimes different political positions come from different philosophies, not necessarily evil intentions. (Though there are evil folks out there!)

To that end, I especially appreciate Brian’s ability to talk to pundits of all political stripes — and his ability to find areas of agreement between the poilitical right and left. (I know it’s all very "pie in the sky" of me, but I’ve come to believe in the "common ground" approach to real, everyday politics.) Some might find Brian’s show too middle-of-the-road, but, as Brooke Gladstone points out so eloquently in our book The Influencing Machine, there are a myriad of other options out there, from WBAI to Fox News, and everything in between.

I don’t want to go on too long here, but it’s not exaggerating to say that, through Brian’s show, I’ve come to a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of local, national, and international events — and hopefully become a better citizen of the world.

So it was all the more exciting for me to be a guest on the Brian Lehrer Show earlier this week. As part of WNYC’s pledge week, the show did a multiple-segment examination of The Influencing Machine — and on Tuesday I got to join in the conversation. It was truly thrilling to sit in the studio with Brian and Brooke and discuss the book and nonfiction comics. Brian was obviously prepped about my work, because he set me up with a couple of questions which broadened the discussion to include my previous book, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. I know A.D. appreciated the plug!

They’ve archived the segment on their show page; you can listen to it here:

Graphic Novel Reporter interview(s)

Influencing Machine

Writer John Hogan interviewed me and Brooke separately about The Influencing Machine (whose on-sale date, by the way, is today) and they posted both interviews up on the Graphic Novel Reporter site. My favorite part about the whole thing is that the GNR folks actually put together a couple of promo images — one of me and one of Brooke — to advertise the interviews. I don’t think anyone’s ever created a custom graphic of me before; I like it! Check it out below…

Graphic Novel Reporter

THE INFLUENCING MACHINE animated book trailer!

Influencing Machine

The very brilliant animator Ben Arthur has created an amazing promotional video for The Influencing Machine (my new collaboration with radio journalist Brooke Gladstone). With Brooke narrating, and using my art as the jumping-off point, Arthur (with producer Steve Colca) has created a really outstanding cartoon. Music! Special effects! Austrian accents! Exploding heads! Check it out…

The book debuts May 23.


Influencing Machine, Publicity

Booklist has just reviewed The Influencing Machine, and since there’s no link yet, I’m attaching the text here:

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media. Illustrated by Josh Neufeld
The cohost of NPR’s On the Media says she has always wanted to write a comic book, and here, with the indispensable aid of nonfiction alt-cartoonist Neufeld (A Few Perfect Hours, 2004; A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge, 2009), she merges that dream with her vocation to tell the story of news media and dissect the practice of reporting. First, however, she explains her chosen title by sketching the sad, historic cases of James Tilly Matthews and Natalija A., who believed machines were controlling their minds—which makes one wonder if the topic at hand might be, say, conspiracy theories, or Fox News. But no, it’s the real media, beginning with the Incas, Herodotus, and the Acta Diurna of the Roman Senate. The history’s always interesting, though, of course, a matter of tidbits, but the discussion of reportorial ideas, especially objectivity, and what psychological research has revealed about how people receive news and opinion is enthralling. Placing a simply caricatured Gladstone on every illustrated page (occasionally, what she writes defies pictorialization), Neufeld assures a bright aura throughout. — Ray Olson

INFLUENCING MACHINE Starred Review at Kirkus

Influencing Machine, Publicity

The first review has come in for The Influencing Machine, my forthcoming collaboration with Brooke Gladstone, and it’s a Starred Review from Kirkus!

Though the graphic format employed here is often playful and always reader friendly, this analysis of contemporary journalism is as incisive as it is entertaining, while offering a lesson on good citizenship through savvy media consumption.

As co-host of NPR’s "On the Media," radio veteran Gladstone must have gotten a change-of-pace kick out of a project so dependent on visuals in general and her own caricature in particular. She finds an ideal collaborator in artist Neufeld, whose A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (2009) could be categorized as graphic journalism. While the current technological revolution has many claiming that journalism has reached a state of crisis, if not obsolescence, the author takes a longer view, emphasizing not only that “we’ve been here before,” but that “Everything we hate about media today was present at its creation.” Instead of wringing her hands over manipulation and distortion, as well as the pesky impossibility of objectivity, Gladstone focuses more of her attention on biases that are institutional rather than ideological. Among them: commercial bias toward “conflict and momentum” (the narrative momentum that attracts readership), the access bias that results in self-censorship, the fairness bias that makes it seem like two sides have equal weight (when there could be many sides). The author also shows how every president eventually considers the press an adversary, and why war reporting tends to be particularly problematic (“Every media bias shows up in war reporting, in spades.”) Ultimately, she urges a democracy that relies on media to share responsibility “by playing an active role in our media consumption.”

While some may see a sign of bias in the author’s own media affiliation, this historical analysis of how and why media and society shape each other should prove illuminating for general readers and media practitioners alike.

Poynter Institute points to A.D. and The Influencing Machine

A.D., Influencing Machine, Publicity

Mallary Jean Tenore of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies just posted a comprehensive look at "comics journalism" using two of my projects as models. Tenore’s piece, "Journalists, Artists Tell Stories with Nonfiction Graphic Novels," looks at the potential for using comics as a journalism tool, and she talked extensively to me and my Influencing Machine collaborator Brooke Gladstone in doing it. I discuss my process as a "reporter" and then artist in doing A.D., and then how that process will shift in working with Brooke. And Brooke has some very insightful things to say about writing as a journalist and then learning to write for comics.

The Poynter Institute is a school and journalism resource institue located in St. Petersburg, Florida, They’re the parent company of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, and also publish Jim Romenesko’s media insider blog. Check out the piece if you’re interested in such things.