Hip Hop Family Tree, Volume 1
Softcover, full color, 112 pages, first in a serial, Fantagraphics Books, 2013
Let's jump straight into history. Not so much facts and figures, but history as a kind of story. The first volume of Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree explores the earliest roots of rap, when most of the primary movers and shakers were teenagers. (A rapper named Busy Bee Starksi was once yanked off the stage by his mom for violating curfew.) Drawn in the style of 1970s Marvel Comics, every page provides details about the dozens of people who created an art form on the fly. Piskor brings them to life while tying rap into other forms of contemporary art like break dancing, hip hop fashion, and graffiti.
A Voyage to Panjikant, Issue 1
Softcover, full color, 20 pages, first in a serial, available at mdabaie.com, 2013
Marguerite Dabaie goes all the way back to the seventh century to tell a familiar story in A Voyage to Panjikant. Issue 1 introduces teenaged Vandak and his family of traveling merchants. Despite the distant era and unfamiliar locale (roughly, modern-day Uzbekistan), Vandak's struggle to navigate his parents' expectations and restrictions will resonate with readers today. Dabaie brings the era's brightly colored and intricate fashions to life with a careful eye to historical accuracy, but the garments have a flair that would not look out of place in a modern setting.
Hardcover, black and white, 128 pages, Drawn & Quarterly, 2013
Set in the 1960s, Gilbert Hernandez's semi-autobiographical Marble Season presents the escapades of a group of preteen friends during the kind summer where every day has a sense of magical possibility, where the mere fact that it is summer changes all the rules. Rendered in Hernandez's simple, expressive style, the story speaks to pop culture's ability to unite different groups as Caucasian and Latino characters bond over their obsessions with comic books and The Beatles.
Rob Clough writes about comics for The Comics Journal, Study Group Magazine, Infinity, and his own blog, High-Low (www.highlowcomics.blogspot.com). He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, daughter, and two cats.
© 2014 by Rob Clough