Pedro and Me Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned

Judd Winick

Square Fish



Trade Paperback

192 Pages



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An Eisner Award NomineeA YALSA Notable Graphic NovelA Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Pedro Zamora changed lives. When the HIV-positive AIDS educator appeared on MTV's The Real World: San Francisco, he taught millions of viewers the realities of being gay and living with AIDS. Pedro's roommate on the show was Judd Winick, a cartoonist from Long Island. They soon became close friends. Judd created Pedro and Me, a book in words and pictures, to honor Pedro Zamora, who was his friend, teacher, and—most of all—an unforgettable human being.


Praise for Pedro and Me

"Pedro and Me should be made compulsory reading. It's moving, honest, funny, and romantic."—Neil Gaiman

"Pedro and Me is as lovely and resonant a tribute as one friend could possibly pay another. Winick takes us beyond all those tilty camera angles into the realest world of all: the hearts and minds of the people who actually lived this wrenching but triumphant story. I was utterly captivated."—Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City

"A narrative of dignity and extraordinary accessibility . . . Zamora would be proud."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"This unique book presents the powerful relationship between the author and Pedro Zamora, the HIV-positive, AIDS educator who appeared on MTV's The Real World: San Francisco. The two men were roommates on the show. Not only did Pedro teach Judd about courage and friendship, but he also taught millions of television viewers about being gay and living with AIDS. This special book pays a lovely, genuine tribute to an inspiring young man whose efforts to educate young people about the dangers of unsafe sex now continues after his death. Winick is a talented cartoonist and writer, who combines his abilities with a great story in this book."—Children's Literature

"Judd Winick's graphic book about his friendship with Pedro Zamora is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. It is the story of two men who meet and develop a close friendship during the filming of one of MTV's Real World series . . . He was only 22 when he died and yet, as Winick's book shows, his life touched thousands of people. Diagnosed while in high school, Pedro decided to give meaning and direction to his life by educating others about the disease and how to prevent it. Starting with his own classmates, he set out to save others from his fate. Along the way, seeing that television would increase the audience that he could reach, Pedro agreed to appear on Real World. He and Winick met when they were designated roommates. Winick is honest in his self-portrait as a liberal who was afraid of rooming with someone with AIDS. He chided himself about his fears, seeing in them hypocrisy. But Pedro, by weeding out the facts from the misconceptions about the disease, allayed Winick's concerns. Winick's book is straightforward in its depiction of what HIV and AIDS can do to its victims. His transcription of one of Pedro's talks provides the reader with a lesson on how to prevent AIDS and makes this book a useful resource for teaching students about the disease. Its simple language and illustrations also makes this an ideal choice for reluctant readers. It is a sad story, beautifully written in clear and concise language."—Debra Mitts Smith, YA Librarian, Glenview Public Library, Glenview, Illinois, KLIATT

"The format . . . is enticing, with images that are effusive and alive . . . Engrossing, wise, and impossibly brave."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Winick, part of the 1993 television cast of MTV's Real World: San Francisco, uses his cartoonist skills to take readers back to the house where the show was set and tell the story of his fellow cast mate Pedro Zamora, an AIDS educator who died in 1994 from complications related to HIV. Part lesson about AIDS, part biographical sketch, this book differs from the many graphic novels that rely on action drawings or high-octane plotting. It's facial expressions that count most here, and they are Winick's forté as he briefly recalls how he came to the show, his evolving friendship with Zamora, whose background he describes, and his growing understanding of AIDS, which broadened the boundaries of his world . . . Most memorable is Winick's heartfelt description of Zamora's final days (he died at the age of 22), which are described with great tenderness and a keen sense of the loss of a friend."—Stephanie Zvirin, Booklist

"In graphic-novel format, Winick addresses the moral depth of friendship, the molding processes of family, the attention required to discern and pursue a vocation, HIV education, acceptance of gay-identifying youth by themselves and by their families, and the role of death in the human life cycle. The author does a stellar job of marrying image to word to form a flowing narrative. He introduces readers to his own formation as a cartoonist wanna-be, and how he landed a role in MTV's The Real World series in order to live rent-free in San Francisco for six months. Among his television producer-selected roommates was Pedro Zamora, a Cuban immigrant who developed HIV as a teenager. Pedro's response to his diagnosis was to become an HIV educator, traveling around the nation to give informed and inspirational speeches in venues that included schools. Zamora and Winick became close friends after the author's initial trepidation about sharing living space with a gay man infected with the AIDS virus. The role of another of their roommates, a female Asian-American medical student, both in Winick's education and his personal life, is nicely folded into his account. The story continues through Zamora's decline and death to the periods of grieving and grief recovery that followed for Winick, Zamora's family, and his many friends. This is an important book for teens and the adults who care about them. Winick handles his topics with both sensitivity and a thoroughness that rarely coexist so seamlessly."—Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, California, School Library Journal (starred review)

"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."—Publishers Weekly

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Read an Excerpt

JUDD WINICK is an award-winning cartoonist and the creator of the comic series The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius. He also writes for Batman, Green Lantern, and Exiles, and is the creator and producer of the animated series The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. He lives in San Francisco.
Read the full excerpt


  • Judd Winick

  • Judd Winick has been cartooning professionally since age 16. He illustrated the Complete Idiot's Guide series, and wrote and illustrated the series Road Trip, which was nominated for an Eisner Award (comics' highest honor). Winick lives in San Francisco.
  • Judd Winick