Every now and then my work for Publishers Weekly lands me something worth reading, and the best thing that fell into my lap last year was artist/writer Ed Piskor's HIP HOP FAMILY TREE VOL. 1: 1970'S-1981 from Fantagraphics. It's exactly what it says it is, namely the first volume in an epic illustrated chronicle of the hip hop musical genre and its cultural impact, and its over-sized format makes for an irresistible eye-catching read. I gushed about it to whomever would listen and I urge you, dear Vaultie, to go out and pick up your own copy. It's a perfect addition to any comics/graphic novel collection, and as a coffee table volume it's a guaranteed conversation-starter.
Skip ahead by roughly ten months and the book is a critical smash, with the second volume — covering 1981 through 1983 — just recently released. I received notification that the new book was receiving a book-signing at Park Slope's Bergen Street Comics, within short walking distance of my apartment, so I made my way over there with my copy of Volume 1 in hand and cash for Volume 2 at the ready. There I found Ed Piskor, signing and chatting with a fan while drawing in the guy's book. Once finished with the fan's book, Piskor and I discussed his career up to and including the HIP HOP FAMILY TREE project while he signed my copies of his books and he revealed himself to be a really nice guy who has clearly done the research and knows his subject inside and out. He also stated that the series is slated to run for a total of six volumes and he's roughly sixty-some-odd pages into Volume 3, so there is much to anticipate.
My signed copies of HIP HOP FAMILY TREE Vols. 1 AND 2.
I made sure to get photographed with Piskor for posterity, and I like the coincidental statement made by our choices in attire: a black guy representing in the name of punk rock/metal and a white guy doing likewise for hip hop. That, my friends, is part of what America is all about.
Yer Bunche with the author.