Comic Review: Hip Hop Family Tree Two-In-One: FCBD Special (Fantagraphics)

wpid-wp-1399034262978.jpegI love indie publishers, and I’m always excited to see what their offerings for Free Comic Book Day will be. This year, Fantagraphics is sharing one of my favorite comics Hip Hop Family Tree. If you’re not familiar with this title, it’s Ed Piskor’s history of hip hop. First published online at Cory Doctorow’s boingboing.net, Piskor lovingly shares a comprehensive, well-researched, and always fun narrative about the early days of hip hop.

The cover is fantastic, mimicking the Marvel 30th anniversary covers of my youth, but replacing Marvel heroes with the titans of hip hop. It’s fun to peruse the cover and try to name everyone depicted. It has a very DIY feel, with the word “FREE” seemingly written in marker across the cover. It looks so real, in fact, that I thought it was just my copy. It’s a neat detail.

Once you get inside the book, though, the real magic happens. Piskor’s style is at once retro and modern, and his likenesses, while cartoonish, are spot-on. The stories are interesting, and he depicts each spot in the timeline with dynamic dialogue.

Also included are pin-ups of hip hop artists by Toby Cypress, Natalie Andrewson, Jasen Lex, Johnny Negron, and Alexis Ziritt. Each one is a different style. My favorite is Ziritt’s depiction of the Soulsonic Force. I’m a fan of Ziritt’s work and of Ziritt himself, having crossed paths with him at HeroesCon and sharing booth space with him at C2E2 this year.

This one’s not for the kiddies, but if you’re in the comic shop picking up comics for them, grab this one for yourself. While you’re at it, pick up Fantagraphics’ collection of Hip Hop Family Tree. It’s a gorgeous comic perfect for anyone who’s interested in how this genre of music came into being.

About Staff Writer