Developed on two opposite ends of the 1900’s, comic books and Hip-Hop music has made its way into today’s pop culture. New York Comic-Con was one of the biggest events of the Fall this year. The convention was home to numerous outlets of entertainment as well as panel discussions. One panel in particular that was contemporary and exclusive to this year’s convention was the Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining panel.
On Thursday October 8th the Hip-Hop and Comics: Culture Combining welcomed visitors of the convention to participate in the panel discussion. The program guided visitors as to how comic books and Hip-Hop have grown from modest origins to achieve global impacts. Some of these global impacts include both mediums touching on subjects like gender equality and the issue of racism. The panel also showed how both comic books and Hip-Hop have inspired and influenced each other in the process of growing and becoming intertwined. The panel speakers guided the audience through the essence of comics and the Hip-Hop genre to show how it has transcended into skate/street fashion, graffiti, animation, dance, films, and other related expressive forms.
The panel was led by Patrick A. Reed who is the editor of Depth of Field Magazine. The panel also featured some well-known and legendary individuals from the hip-hop, comics, and art community. The panelist included a few artist as well as contributors in the music industry
The panel began with humor and progressed into a serious comparison between comics and Hip-Hop. Reed began by asking the panelist why they decide to become apart of Hip-Hop and comics panel. Each panelist expressed how both art forms began as expressions of revolution against people who would want to silence marginalized groups.
“There was an Incredible Hulk television show and a Batman show. Kids were never made fun of for wearing Spider-Man pajamas,” Illustrator Ronald Wimberly said.
Wimberly then continued to describe how he believed that both art forms were once about rebellion. Wimberly then spoke about the huge difference in culture. For example in Hip-hop he compared Public Enemy to Drake. He talked about how both artist are popular in two different eras of Hip-Hop and how they are different musically although they are apart of the same genre. He described the difference between “geek culture” which is a term used to describe eccentric people that are passionate about comic books and video games. He described the difference between the culture back in the day and geek culture of the present day. Wimberly feels as if they are both being sold as a liability to the art forms.
The panel also discussed the usage of language in both Hip-Hop and comic books and how the relationship between an MC and DJ is similar to that of a cartoonist and an editor.
“The use of a secret identity in comics is basically the same as an alias in Hip-Hop” says MC, songwriter, and illustrator Likwuid Stylez .
Stylez went on to say how nowadays secret identities, and aliases were seemingly not as popular or necessary. She Tony Stark who openly admits that he is Ironman in the Marvel comics. Rappers like Drake don’t wear eccentric outfits or rap in different voices unlike rapper Nicki Minaj who disguises herself in multiple different ways to entertain her audience without revealing who she really is.
“Drake is just…Drake. I guess in an age of social media where even everyday people are ‘bands’ or ‘content creators’, having people connect with your personally and know your real name is important” Stylez says.
Stylez also talked about being a woman who works in Hip-Hop and loves comics. She found it interesting that women were more likely to buy a comic as opposed to someone who hangs out in comic book store and read the comic.
Wimberly even chimed in to discuss Marvel’s variant Hip-Hop comics that had debuted a few weeks prior to the panel. He used them as an example of the commodification of Hip-Hop and the fact that there wasn’t any media coverage about it.
The panelist all agreed that fans of both comic book culture and Hip-Hop culture are anticipating what the next “big thing” is going to be.