Beneath The Pages looks at writers and artists in the comic industry who have made it what it is today. Judd Winick is a writer that’s stood out to me for a number of years. He’s handled many of DC’s main characters such as Green Lantern and Green Arrow, giving them mature storylines to feature in. Winick is also known for his autobiography that chronicles his friendship with AIDS educator, Pedro Zamora.
Winick got his first break by appearing on the MTV reality TV show The Real World: San Francisco. The show focused on six housemates, with one of them being HIV positive. Winick became roommates with Pedro Zamora, who had HIV. Zamora said he was an AIDS educator and wanted to bring more awareness to the illness.
In August 1994, Zamora’s health declined. He asked Winick to substitute for him at a national AIDS education lecture, and when Zamora died on November 11th 1994, Winick was at his bedside. This experience effected Winick deeply, leading to him carrying on Zamora’s work.
Eventually, Winick started writing for DC Comics and he gained recognition for his exploration of gay and AIDS-orientated themes. For example, in Green Lantern #137, he wrote a storyline in which Terry Berg, Kyle Rayner’s friend and assistant, was the victim of a brutal homophobic assault. Rayner hunted down the people who were responsible and beat them to within an inch of their lives.
Winick also received acclaim for his work on Green Arrow. He revealed that Ollie’s 17-year-old ward, Mia Dearden, had HIV from her previous life as a former prostitute. It didn’t stop Mia from living her life, as she became the new Speedy and helped Green Arrow stop crime. Mia became the most prominent HIV-positive superhero in comics, bringing more awareness to the illness.
What I remember Winick the most for is Batman: Under The Red Hood. He brought back Jason Todd as the Red Hood and breathed new life into the character. Winick made me empathise with Bruce and Jason, turning Red Hood into my favourite character. If you’ve never read the graphic novel then you can check out my review here.
Recently, Winick created an all-ages graphic novel called Hilo, inspired by his son. The story focuses on a small-town boy called DJ, who meets a mysterious boy called Hilo. Hilo takes DJ and his friend Gina on an adventure to save the world. The first two volumes of Hilo are both New York Times bestsellers.
Winick’s strength as a writer is his that he can find new ways to make you care for an established character. He’s never been afraid to explore themes that are close to him and that makes him one of my favourite comic writers of all time. You can follow him on Twitter to find out about his latest work.