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Josh Neufeld receives the Knight-Wallace Fellowship in journalism

Earlier this year, Josh Neufeld received an Eisner Award nomination for his webcomic, Bahrain (which I reviewed here). Now, the webcomic has opened up an even bigger opportunity for Mr. Neufeld: the Knight-Wallace Fellowship, a grant from the University of Michigan “for a full academic year of sabbatical studies at the University’s campus, with twice-weekly seminars and other educational opportunities.” Robot 6 elaborates:

“My study plan is to extensively research Bahrain’s Pearl Revolution, which I did a short piece about for Cartoon Movement,” Neufeld said in an e-mail. “I plan on taking courses in the history of the Persian Gulf, Islam (specifically the Sunni-Shia divide), and the language and culture of the region. The ultimate goal is to produce a long-form comics-format book on the topic.”

I always love it when webcomics are used as a starting point for something even greater. Neufeld’s accomplishment is a pretty important touchtone in using comics in the field of journalism: “Neufeld is the first comics journalist to be offered this fellowship, and the second comics journalist to receive any sort of American journalism fellowship.”

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on May 11, 2012, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Honestly, I do not think Neufeld’s succes will reflect in any way on webcomics. Simply put, Neufeld isn’t a webcomic artist, he is not connected to anything or anyone that is more involved in webcomics. And the fact of the matter is, Bahrain is hardly a webcomic. It’s a short comic, made with a technique that facilitates drawing many pages, that was put on the internet. The only reason I would say it gets this sort of attention, is its subject matter.

    As for the comic itself, I find myself drawn to Sara’s side of the argument purely because she’s vastly superior, as an artist, to Mohammed. Not only is his art crude and immature, but it lacks any subtlety.

    In the end, what do I think is the most interesting thing about this comic, culturally speaking? The fact that a Middle-Eastern artist, drawing for a Middle-Eastern audience about Middle-Eastern issues makes frequent use of Japanese stylisms.

    • And the fact of the matter is, Bahrain is hardly a webcomic. It’s a short comic, made with a technique that facilitates drawing many pages, that was put on the internet.

      That’s what a webcomic is, though, isn’t it? A comic that’s put on the internet. That’s all it needs to be to be a webcomic. Bahrain and Neufeld’s earlier piece, AD: New Orleans After the Deluge, had primarily found their audiences online. If we can accept that Penny Arcade — which has become more or less an editorial on something as trivial as video games — is a webcomic, why not something of a nature that comments on politics? Bahrain is short, and that should notdefine whether or not it is, at its core, a webcomic. There’s nothing that says “webcomics” aren’t also “short comics.”

      I don’t think that Mr. Neufeld’s work will, say, cause Tim Buckley to suddenly abandon CAD and take up journalism. Journalists, on the other hand, will see the advantages of webcomics as a legitimate form of reporting — and that will reflect positively on webcomics as a whole. The shorter format, rather a longer narrative work, may be more appropriate for news reporting that requires immediacy. Take the comics that came out of China during the earthquake, for example. They were few and they came out fast. Were those webcomics? I think so. Its very nature of being on the web were the main reason the comics were distributed (via reddit, stumbleupon, etc.) so swiftly and reached such a large audience.

      • Now, I never said it wasn’t a webcomic. I said that, as far as I’m concerned, it hardly fits the bill. More so because, while it is lauded by some who have an interest in webcomics, it will have no impact on the concept as a whole, despite the awards. It also has very little international appeal. So, I’d say it is a traditional comic that uses a new medium, rather than a comic specifically made for the medium.

        I also tend to view webcomics as independent. The product of the creators delivered directly to the audience by virtue of the internet. With such things as the US State Department involved, I do not think Bahrain counts as independent.

        As for it commenting on politics, I like the format. But I will not consider something to be better than I would otherwise because it treats a “smart” subject. Comics about politics aren’t inherently better than comics about videogames.

  1. Pingback: Webcomic Beacon Newscast for May 20, 2012 | The Webcast Beacon Network

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