La Machine à Influencer invades Angoulême

IM-french-cover-final-450pxI’ll be attending my second-ever Angoulême International Comics Festival this week, ostensibly to promote La Machine à Influencer, the French translation of The Influencing Machine. (I’ll also be signing copies of A.D.: Le Nouvelle Orléans Après le Déluge, published back in 2011 by the good folks at La Boîte à Bulles. They’re the ones who brought me to Angoulême the last time, back in 2012, which I’ll be forever grateful for, as this festival is to me like making the pilgrimage to Mecca.)

The French translation (published by Ça et Là) is already the third one for the book, following Korean and Italian editions, with a German translation coming soon. (I already wrote about the evolution of the cover for the French edition in a previous post.) It’s ironic, because when we were working on the book, Brooke kept saying that she didn’t expect much interest from foreign-language publishers because it deals mostly with the unique trajectory of American media. Apparently, however, the book is more universal than even she imagined!

La Machine à Influencer has received a nice reception in France, with the distinguished newspaper Libération even doing a large spread about the book. Despite the fact that Brooke already visited France to promote the book (back in May), it gladdens my heart to be invited as well.

I want to say this without any bitterness whatsoever, but so much of the American reception of The Influencing Machine centered solely on Brooke, to the exclusion of my contributions as co-author. Yes, it’s Brooke’s manifesto, and I illustrated her ideas, but it wouldn’t be a comic book if I hadn’t drawn it. Ya know? In the U.S., the role of “illustrator” often seems to be dismissed, as if it were the work of a soulless machine. (Since I’ve collaborated with so many writers over the years, I can tell you this from long experience, and many of my comic artists cohorts would echo my feelings.) The fact is I sweated over the book for two years, working on it every step of the way from concept to scripts to finished product, and I felt as invested in communicating its “teachings” as anyone else—including Brooke. So, as I was saying, it’s gratifying that Ça et Là’s editor, Serge Ewencyzk, thought enough of my contributions to ask me to come represent La Machine à Influencer at Angoulême. Merci encore, Serge!

It probably doesn’t hurt that in the last few months the book has been blessed with a couple of journalism award nominations. The first one was from the Assises Internationales du Journalisme, a big three-day international congress on journalism which takes place in the northeastern city of Metz. La Machine à Influencer actually won the “Education to media” award, a special category created just for the book. There was a ceremony back in October in Metz, which Serge E. attended and accepted the award on our behalf.

The other prize the book was up for was the Prix France Info, an award for comics which contribute to journalistic understanding. It didn’t win that one, but still—not bad for our little collaboration!

P.S. One other thing: after Angoulême, I’ll be going up to Paris to do some more signings at some Parisian comics stores. One of them, Librairie les Super-Héroes, previously commissioned an exclusive bookplate for which I drew an image of Brooke as Spider-Man (riffing off a panel from the book, with her exclaiming, in French, Spidey’s famous phrase,“with great power comes great responsibility”). And here’s the image in question:

Brooke-bookplate

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Evolution of a book cover: The Influencing Machine en français

IM-french-excerptToday marks the debut of the French translation of The Influencing Machine, my collaboration with Brooke Gladstone. The publisher is Ça et Là, run by one of my favorite people in comics, Serge Ewenczyk. This is the third translation of the book, which had already benefitted from two great cover designs in hardcover (Mark Melnick) and then paperback (Albert Tang):

im-cover-150px IF-paperback-cover-sm

And here are the previous translated editions, in Korean and Italian, also both very cool:

IF-Korean-cover-sm IF-Italian-cover-sm

Serge asked me to draw the cover for the French edition, saying that neither of the American editions would work for French audiences. so here’s a blow-by-blow of the process involved. IM-french-cover-mockup1-450pxHis first suggestion was to create something similar to a panel on page 37 of the book, with Brooke in front of a wall of screens/panels showing TV scenes but also illustrations connected to other media, like press and radio. (I have to also say here that the composition and some of the images on p. 37 itself pay homage to Alan Moore and Dave GibbonsWatchmen—think back to the scenes in Ozymandias‘ Antarctic lair.) As always, my first step was to rough up a couple of sketches. Both went for the idea of “the media” as a sinister, controlling force—even though, utlimately, the book disputes that thesis. The first sketch was pretty straightforward—a spooked-looking Brooke in front of a row of screens… Read more of this post

Influencing Machine Korean edition cover

Just for poops & chuckles, I thought you’d like to see the cover of the Korean language edition of The Influencing Machine, published by Doddle Saeghim. They took the art from the last page (with Brooke’s head blown up a bit) and colored it—in a much louder style than I use in the book itself. They also added a bunch of shadows. 

IF-DoddleSaeghim-cover-sm

P.S. Anyone out there have a Korean URL for the book? I can’t seem to find it…

Influencing Machine featured on 1book140 (The Atlantic.com’s Reading Club)—Twitter convo tonite!

IF-paperback-coverThis month The Influencing Machine is one of two graphic novel’s being read on 1book140, The Atlantic.com’s Reading Club. And tonight at 7pm EST, writer Brooke Gladstone and I will be taking part in a live Q&A via Twitter. Please join in the conversation!

1book140 has been running since May of 2011 and they’ve read & discussed works by living authors and by dead authors; they’ve read thrillers, mysteries, beach reads, science fiction, poetry, history, and travel writing. Some of the previous entries from the 1book140 reading list include Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five,  P.G. Wodehouse’s Right Ho, Jeeves, Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, China Mieville’s The City & the City, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son. And they’ve even read comics before, including Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Alan Moore & David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, and Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg’s Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

1book140 is currently being run by J. Nathan Matias, and the process seems very democratic. Books are nominated on by readers and the finalists are voted on in online polls. And now, after some runoff voting (against  very esteemed competition), The Influencing Machine—along with Chris Ware’s masterwork Building Stories—has emerged as this month’s 1book140 selection! The first two weeks of August were spent on Building Stories and now it’s our book’s turn.

Tonight from 7-8pm EST, Brooke & I will be sitting by to answer any and all questions related to our collaboration. To join in, tweet your question to #1book140; we’ll do our best to respond!

May 8 @ WORD: Gladstone & Neufeld Explain Everything

IF-paperback-cover-smNext Tuesday, May 8, Brooke Gladstone and I will be debuting The Influencing Machine‘s paperback edition at Greenpoint’s independent bookstore WORD. Titled “Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld Explain Everything,” Brooke and I will “dish” on the state of modern media, the process of creating the book, and more with a multimedia presentation, Q&A, and signing. Plus, WORD will be raffling a free, signed copy of the book!

Here’s the Facebook event, where you are encouraged to RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/402451176440183/

Details:
Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m.
WORD, 126 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Nearest subway: G train (Greenpoint Ave.)

The INFLUENCING MACHINE paperback cover

IF-paperback-coverFor The Influencing Machine paperback cover, my publisher went in a very different direction, but it’s definitely eye-catching.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the hardcover design. Thoughts?

The paperback debuts May 8.

THE INFLUENCING MACHINE is a New York Times bestseller

Just got word that The Influencing Machine is debuting at #8 on the New York Times Graphic Books — Harcover Best Seller list. (Try saying that five times fast.) And we’re the only book not published by DC Comics — and the only one not featuring Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, or vampires (though Spider-Brooke does make an appearance in our book)

New York Times Graphic Books Best Sellers List

Brooke Gladstone’s THE INFLUENCING MACHINE Book Tour

I’m a bit tardy in posting this, but better late than never. My Influencing Machine co-author Brooke Gladstone is out on tour right now, presenting the book to eager bookstore and convention audiences everywhere. She’s already hit Book Soup in L.A., and and been on Seattle’s The Conversation (KUOW FM), but here’s her upcoming schedule (plus a few events we’ll be doing together). Hopefully you can make it to an event near you…

As more events get added, I’ll be sure to add them.

The AP on THE INFLUENCING MACHINE

Dinesh Ramde of the Associated Press has reviewed The Influencing Machine, which means his review is wending its way through the nation’s newspapers and media venues. (It’s already appeared in the Washington Examiner, Newsday, and on ABC News’ website.) It’s a nice review, though he actually faulted my drawings for possibly being "so good they distract from the content of the book"! He goes on later to write, "While animation in comic books might provide context that adds to the action, these drawings sometimes provide humor or eye candy that draws enough attention that the reader has to reread the previous dialogue bubble to return to Gladstone’s train of thought." Still, Ramde writes, "Distractions aside, Gladstone still tells a compelling story. It’s easy to imagine The Influencing Machine becoming mandatory reading in journalism classes around the country." That would be nice!

Check one off the bucket list: Brian Lehrer

I’ve been listening to the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC radio on a regular basis since I moved back to New York City in 2000. During that time — from the election fiasco of 2000, to 9/11, the war in Iraq, the 2004 elections, the ’08 elections, the "Ground Zero Mosque," "Wikileaks," and right on through the killing of Osama bin Laden — I’ve relied on Brian’s show for a fair, sober examination of the issues.

He’s always on top of the news and never strident in his opinions. He has a warm, easygoing manner, and is adept at asking his guests tough questions without resorting to cheap "gotcha" journalism. At first, his approach challenged my old way of looking at the world. I had been taught to demonize the "enemy" (whoever that might be), and although I haven’t moderated my own left-of-center politics, I’ve come to see that sometimes different political positions come from different philosophies, not necessarily evil intentions. (Though there are evil folks out there!)

To that end, I especially appreciate Brian’s ability to talk to pundits of all political stripes — and his ability to find areas of agreement between the poilitical right and left. (I know it’s all very "pie in the sky" of me, but I’ve come to believe in the "common ground" approach to real, everyday politics.) Some might find Brian’s show too middle-of-the-road, but, as Brooke Gladstone points out so eloquently in our book The Influencing Machine, there are a myriad of other options out there, from WBAI to Fox News, and everything in between.

I don’t want to go on too long here, but it’s not exaggerating to say that, through Brian’s show, I’ve come to a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of local, national, and international events — and hopefully become a better citizen of the world.

So it was all the more exciting for me to be a guest on the Brian Lehrer Show earlier this week. As part of WNYC’s pledge week, the show did a multiple-segment examination of The Influencing Machine — and on Tuesday I got to join in the conversation. It was truly thrilling to sit in the studio with Brian and Brooke and discuss the book and nonfiction comics. Brian was obviously prepped about my work, because he set me up with a couple of questions which broadened the discussion to include my previous book, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. I know A.D. appreciated the plug!

They’ve archived the segment on their show page; you can listen to it here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2011/may/24/reporting-stories-and-influencing-people-5-media/