Hip Hop Comes to the Comic Book Format

by: Jannah Johnson Special to the AFRO
/ “Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 3.” (Courtesy Image) /
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Hip Hop has long been an important part of Black culture and recently it has been the subject of countless movies, plays and very recently, graphic novels.hiphop

Ed Piskor is a Pennsylvania born comic strip creator who has written and illustrated  one of the most talked about Hip Hop novels of this year, “Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 3.” This cool,urban novel chronicles major events and people in the hip hop era from 1983-1984 such as LL Cool J, the debut of the Beastie Boys and the rise of success of the Fat Boys.

Utilizing colorful illustrations and vintage graphics Piskor relays stories of a bygone musical era with unexpected familiarity, and as a white comic strip creator does a very good job of retelling and explaining important moments in hip hop like the rise of MC’s like Doug E. Fresh and Ricky D and the entrance of Houdini onto the rap scene.

Some may wonder how a white comic strip artist first became acquainted with Hip Hop and immersed in the culture enough to write 3 volumes on its history. In a statement to the weeklings.com Piskor spoke on his history with the illustrious subculture. “I was born in ’82 so hip hop was a fad all around the country at that stage. I grew up in a predominately black neighborhood and rap music was just all around me. My folks didn’t like rap, so that made me way more attracted to it than I probably would have been otherwise.So basically I was born into hip hop.”

All of the Hip Hop Family Tree comics showcase Piskor’s attention to detail. He takes care to capture the essence of the time period, while presenting the information in an interesting but accurate manner.

“The first volume is entirely from resource material – every book on the subject I could get my hands on, every interview from magazines or websites, You Tube interviews. Anything. And I try to present it in a very honest and journalistic way,” Piskor told reporters.

The comic strip has received many favorable reviews but to Piskor the subjects of the novels are the ones who’s feedback is most important. In a statement to Vice Piskor was quoted as saying “De La [Soul]. Biz Markie. DMC is down. Chuck D will retweet my stuff. Grandmaster Flash will retweet my stuff. There’s a bunch, man…It’s almost like the book is officially a piece of hip-hop culture at this point, because different rappers will get in touch, and they want to make sure they’re a part of the story when it comes to their time.”

Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 3 is a great read and Piskor shows no signs of slowing down. He has already confirmed volumes 4-6 and hopefully continues chronicling these great eras of hip hop history.

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