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.