Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pedro and Me

There are people who come into our lives and make a difference, and from all accounts Pedro Zamora was that type of person. Pedro, who was HIV positive, appeared on MTV's third season of the Real World where he had a platform to inform many people about being homosexual and living with AIDS. His roommate on the show was Judd Winick, a young cartoonist from Long Island.

Pedro and Me
is Winick's tale of his friendship with Pedro, but it also is an account of both their lives before and after the show. Winick takes up Pedro's life-work with this book, debunking myths about AIDS, providing medical facts, and putting a very human face on the many issues surrounding the disease and homosexuality. This book is alternately poignant, funny, devastating, and hopeful.

Judd Winick was starting his career during the Real World and eventually found some success and acclaim for this book and his series Barry Ween, Boy Genius. He has parlayed that success into writing primarily for superhero comics such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Batman. His artwork here is best described as cartoonish realism, relatively realistic drawings with exaggerations added for effect.

Pedro and Me won multiple awards and nominations from various library, comics, and medical organizations, which can be found here. Reviews by and large echo Zach Shemtob's remark that Winick "seems to have poured his heart and soul into this piece, and boy, does it show." Calen Cross called it a "sad yet life-affirming work." D. Aviva Rothschild dubbed it an "instant classic." Chris Mautner offers a contrasting opinion, calling it only passably good.

For those interested in what has happened since Pedro and Me's publication, Winnick speaks in this article about a recent film made about Pedro's life.

The book was published by Henry Holt, and a preview is available on Amazon.com.

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