COMICS ARE HIP HOP: THE REMIX
Comics are Hip Hop.
I think it’s fair to make that comparison (that COMICS are HIP-HOP). The creators of what would become the basis of superhero mythology (i.e. Siegel & Shuster, Kane & Finger, Marston, and Lee & Kirby) came from impoverished and marginalized first-generation immigrants whose hopes and dreams manifested in these new literary beings, which inspired generations…kinda like what Hip Hop did.
Also, both comics and Hip Hop were, and still are to an extent, considered cheaply-produced, low-brow entertainment before they ever achieved economic success and cultural relevance. Both carry that in their DNA.
Comics are in fact an integral component to Hip Hop.
The essence of Hip Hop is dual consciousness. Darryl McDaniels famously said that “DMC was his Superman persona”. Tsidi Ibrahim, a daughter of South Africa, takes the name Jean Grae as her Hip Hop secret identity.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five dressed like ghetto superheroes. The Soul Sonic Force took the Afro-futuristic comic-book style of Parliament / Funkadelic to another dimension of peace, unity and having fun. The Wu-Tang Clan is basically the Hip Hop Avengers. The first major Hip Hop release, Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, name-drops Superman. The Souls of Mischief name-drop Colossus and Magneto on their debut cut Let ‘Em Know. Of course, The Last Emperor’s Secret Wars is self-explanatory.
Understanding the history of comics is critical in making new and interesting material. Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics series would be required viewing in my class, especially, the Milestone episode. That episode clearly illustrates that the emergence of Hip Hop was a direct influence on the rise of the Black Comix movement. Hip Hop created larger-than-life musical superheroes that gave hope to a generation. Hip Hop gave the oppressed a voice that would resonate across the globe, a voice that despite best efforts cannot be silenced.
The reason why the Black Comix movement is called such is because of the creator, not the creation. The creator will define the creation, no matter how inclusive in content. The fact alone that we create makes whatever we do political. So, I say lean into it not in the sense that your creation is the definition of “Blackness” (which is extremely diverse anyway), but in the sense of being proud that you, as a Black creator, are making work that, hopefully, challenges and entices whatever audience you are attempting to reach.
That’s the thing… The artists, writers and creations of the Black Comix are walking legends. In their own way, each of them has changed the game. They showed us that Black stories matter, and that, independently, Black folks can create dope-ass concepts on par, and in many cases, better than anything that the “Corporate Two” could come up with.
They are the reason Blade kicked off the modern superhero film. They are the reason John Stewart became the Green Lantern for a generation. They are the reason Marvel hired Christopher Priest to set the stage for Black Panther’s ascension to the probably most-anticipated movie of the year.
Best believe, DC and Marvel were checking out what was going on, what all of these creators and more brought to the table, and knew they had to step their game up.
Each of these titles inspired me to create The Horsemen and start Griot Enterprises. Not the Justice League, not the X-Men, but these books. And, I’m not the only one who thinks this. You all are part of my comic book DNA, of every brother and sister making comics today, and you should be celebrated as such.
And I’m waiting to see what y’all are going to do next!
So, as you anticipate the release of Black Panther on Feburary 16th, check out Black Lightning on Tuesday, support the brothers and sisters creating our heroes outside of the “Corporate Two.”
Since I wasn’t able to attend the BCAF events during MLK weekend, I’m going to celebrate by showing love to some of the collectives and independent comic book companies that continue to move the needle. There is strength in numbers.
The 4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape anthology series is a celebration of where true diversity exists in this industry, a sampler for potential fans to enjoy our intellectual properties, a showcase for existing and upcoming talent as well as a source guide for those fans to purchase our books.
It’s the multicultural Heavy Metal magazine for the 21st Century.