Josh Neufeld: from webcomics to working for the State Department
The Washington Post reports that Josh Neufeld is now working for the US State Department. Neufeld created A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (reviewed here), which was serialized as a webcomic on SMITH Magazine in 2007–2008 and won much acclaim from a variety of mainstream publications (including Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today) even before being collected into a hardcover.
“As with my trip to Burma [in March], it seems that — because of ‘A.D.’ — I am being invited to showcase the cultural freedoms of American society, especially in comparison to the more authoritarian-style policies of the countries I’ll be visiting,” writes Neufeld, who leaves today for the Middle East and North Africa as part of the U.S. Speaker and Specialist Program. His three-week tour includes Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain and “a country to be named later.”
Neufeld went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, volunteering as an American Red Cross worker. He blogged about the storm’s social and physical ravages, which led to a serialized Smith Magazine project, a self-published book and then his best-selling graphic novel “A.D.” (Pantheon), which follows the stories of seven real-life victims of Katrina. (In late-August, Neufeld returned to New Orleans — during the anniversary of the hurricane — for a paperback-release party for “A.D.”; the event was attended by two of the victims.)
The State Department invited me “specifically because of the Katrina book, which is blatantly so critical of the government,” Neufeld tells Comic Riffs of his comics reportage. “The program brings in cultural figures who disseminate [this message] — the State Department is proud of that freedom of expression. … They bring me over as a statement of how our civil society welcomes voices of dissent in all forms.”
(h/t Comics Beat)