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CSBG Archive

A Month of Good LGBT Comics – Pedro and Me

In conjunction with Prism Comics, the preeminent website for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) comics and creators, every day this month I will be detailing one good comic book/graphic novel with LGBT themes.

Here‘s an archive of the featured works so far!

Today we look at one of Judd Winick’s earliest comic book works.

Pedro and Me is Winick’s tale of the friendship he struck up with AIDS educator Pedro Zamora when both men were cast members on MTV’s The Real World in Season 4 of the show (set in San Francisco).

Probably the number one thing you take away from reading this graphic novel is just how heartfelt the whole thing is – Winick really manages to dig in deep and tug on the heartstrings, but never in an offensive, over-the-top manner. He simply slowly reveals information about everyone involved until you care about everybody, so that you are practically weeping when we get to Pedro’s tragic passing from AIDS at the far too young age of 22.

Winick’s characterization work is spot on, including a particularly good job handling his own characterization. He shows an uncanny knack for self-examination in the comic, including some not-so-flattering depictions of himself, like his initial reaction when he learned he was going to be living with someone with HIV – how suddenly his super liberal ideals were tempered by his actual feelings when he actually meets someone with HIV. Very good stuff.

It is striking how much of an influence that one season of Real World had on Winick – he met Pedro, but he also met his future wife, Pam Ling, on the show. The book details the beginning of their relationship, too. It’s noteworthy to see just how different Real World was as a show back then – someone like Ling would never be on the show nowadays – she was too busy with a “real” life to interact much with most of the cast members, while the current show stresses cast member interaction.

I remember someone, when this book came out, noting that the book is probably most powerful if you read it all in one sitting. I think that’s probably accurate, so just bear that in mind if you ever read it.

Winick’s artwork sometimes doesn’t fit the style of the book, as a few of his characters seem oddly cartoonish (while at other times, his cartoonish artwork really helps get across the story, particularly in scenes with Pedro), but for the most part, his work is fine. It doesn’t really HURT the story ever.

The storytelling is quite excellent – Winick paces the comic beautifully. I think he even mentions that Pedro helped him work on this skill – it shows up here in full effect.

So yeah, this is a beautiful and poignant comic book – one of Winick’s finest comic works, if not his finest.

9 Comments

I’ve never seen this book as a LGBT one, for me, this is an humanitarian tale above anything else, as the fact that Pedro is gay is only a tiny part of the story, the important thing here is how Pedro fights against his illness and how he, even dying, overcomes it by spreading the word of experience and teaching others how to accept themselves and not to fear the sick.

For me this is a book about tolerance, more than a LGBT one.

This is one of those comics I can get non-comic book readers to read. Pedro & Me is a favorite.

This season of The Real World was shown in the UK only the once, on some throwaway time slot, but I made sure I caught it every week.

Normally, these kind of “reality” shows have me running for the hills but I saw the first episode and amongst all the usual goings on – fights, bitching, etc. – there was something that made me want to stick with it: namely, the unfolding friendship of Winick and Zamora, and I remember thinking it was such a shame it didn’t reach a bigger audience over here because it did so much to inform people (including me) about HIV and AIDS.

Ironically, I’ve never gotten around to reading Winick’s book – perhaps because the TV show has stayed with me all these years so vividly.

I HAVE to get this book. My experience reading Winnick-penned comic books wasn’t really satisfying, but I have been told that both this book and Barry Ween are brilliant, so I’m eager to read them despite what little I’ve read from Judd.

This book is really great — and yes, touching without being cloying. After he wrote it, Winick toured the country and spoke to youth groups (including queer youth groups) about his experience. In doing so, he really made a difference. I’ve given it to nieces and nephews when they reached adolescence, and all of them devoured it and liked it.

The quality on “Pedro and Me” gave me a lot of good will towards Winick that I eventually lost as his mainstream DC stuff was never that great, and sometimes downright awful (Green Arrow-Black Canary wedding, I’m looking at you). I wonder what happened to that talented storyteller.

Judd Winick wasn’t Exiles writer? He was in Real World? I saw that show and never noticed that!

This is by far one of my favorite graphic novels. I have a real appreciation for Winick’s work, because everything he writes has a lot of heart. “Road Trip”, “Green Arrow”, “Batman” and even Barry Ween (just the last panel of Monkey Tale’s #6 alone). “Pedro and Me” is definitely worth highlighting.

I’ve been a fan of Winick since his newspaper comic strip “Frumpy the Clown”. Followed his work on Green Lantern, and loved how he wrote Terry Berg and his gay-bashing storyline. Heard about this book and had to read it. By the end, I was a sobbing wreck. I actually got to meet Pedro Zamora in person in 1991- he came to my Miami middle school to address a sex-ed class about AIDS and safe sex. The world is a worse place without him. :( I recommend this book to everyone, even to non-comic readers.

I’ll add to the praise for this one; this, Barry Ween, and Frumpy the Clown (and possibly his Green Lantern and Exiles runs) are what I think of as the “real” Judd Winick; he’s doing a lot of stuff to pay the bills right now, and I can’t fault him much for that, but you can tell what his personal, heart-felt stuff is, and it’s his best work. And “Pedro and Me” is very personal, very heart-felt, and very good.

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