Friday, 8 November 2013

Book Review: "Pedro and Me" by Judd Winnick

I know this looks like the cover to an after school special, and it is actually like an after school special. But don't judge me.

I first came across Judd's work with the hilarious "Barry Ween" series which I do adore (I should write reviews for them). But I did not enjoy his collection of "Frumpy the Clown", which was unfunny newspaper type strips. So I picked this up a few years ago with no idea what it was about.

Turns out it's an autobiographical comic on the author's relationship with his friend Pedro, who was an AIDS advocate in the 90's. They met by becoming roommates in a MTV reality show. There are no surprises here and it ticks all the boxes for being a heartfelt story with a message.

But what really spoke to me reading it this time through  is the message of acceptance of differences and the need to be exposed to diversity. In the final stages of the audition process for the show Judd was asked by the producers if he was comfortable to share a room with someone who is HIV positive. Being a liberal kind of guy he didn't even think before saying yes, but then later admits that he did have some prejudice based purely on ignorance of how the disease is transmitted and how would that impact on him sharing a room with Pedro. Of course everything turns out fine, but it took a little bit of time (not as much as what you may think) to get used to living with someone like this. I think it goes to show that no matter how liberal we may be in our views, until we are close to someone who is different we are probably just full of idealistic words. Here it was someone with HIV, but in our lives we need to expose ourselves to all kinds of different people.

We have gained a multitude of sources for HIV education and this may be a great source to give to people who do not read novels or for teenagers. But I think the main strength is the message of equality and exposing yourself to different people. No, not in a trench-coat-wearing way.

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