Without the third season of MTV's The Real World
, set in San Francisco, Pedro Zamora would have lived and died quietly, a Cuban immigrant who became an AIDS educator after his HIV diagnosis at the age of 17. But in 1993, he and seven others were selected for the cast of The Real World
, and Pedro's battle with AIDS, his irrepressible good nature, his love affair with Sean Sasser, and his growing friendship with his housemates would become public knowledge. When Pedro succumbed to complications of AIDS in November 1994, news of his death was carried on every major network and made international headlines. Thousands of letters arrived from around the world. Even President Clinton applauded Pedro's bravery in speaking out to young people about AIDS prevention and self-esteem. Judd Winick, a struggling cartoonist, had also been chosen for that season of The Real World
, and became Pedro's roommate and close friend. His cartoon memoir tells the story of their friendship and serves as a vivid memorial to a bright-eyed and gifted man who made more of his 22 years of life than most of us could make of 80. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
In this powerful and captivating graphic novel, Winick, a professional cartoonist and cast member of MTV's The Real World 3: San Francisco, pays tribute to his Real World housemate and friend Pedro Zamora, an AIDS activist and educator who died of the disease in 1994. Striking just the right balance of cool and forthrightness sure to attract a broad cross section of teens, twenty-somethings and beyond, Winick describes the special bond he developed with Zamora and shares some of his own journey to enlightenment about AIDS awareness. From Winick's initial preconceptions about the disease to the ultimate moments of heartbreaking loss, the author bravely invites readers into a life-altering experience. The result is never mawkish: Winick speaks of his friend not with otherworldly awe, but with palpable love and warmth and profound admiration. Readers unfamiliar with the graphic novel genre would do well to start with this title. Winick imbues deceptively simple black-and-white comic-strip art with a full spectrum of emotion, and his approach is particularly adept at conveying Zamora's mind-set; for instance, a series of partial views of Zamora driving, just after he's received the news that he's HIV positive, communicates Zamora's anxiety and confusion. Throughout, Winick depicts Zamora as a vital force, a tireless teacher using frank language to relate facts about how people contract the virus that causes AIDS, how they can prevent it and how they can live with it. An innovative and accessible approach to a difficult subject. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
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