Cover image for Hip hop family tree, [vol.] 02 : 1981-1983 / Ed Piskor.
Hip hop family tree, [vol.] 02 : 1981-1983 / Ed Piskor.
First Fantagraphics Books edition, Fantagraphics treasury edition.
Publication Information:
Seattle, Washington : Fantagraphics Books Inc, 2014.

Physical Description:
112 pages : chiefly colour illustrations, colour map ; 34 cm


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
PIS V.2 Graphic Novel Adult Graphic Novels

On Order



Vol. 2 of the graphic novel series Hip Hop Family Tree covers the early years of 1981-1983. Hip Hop has transitioned from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records. The performers make moves to separate themselves from the paying customers by dressing more and more flamboyantly, until a young group called RUN-DMC comes on the scene to take things back to the streets. This volume covers hits like Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message," the movie Wildstyle, and introduces superstars like NWA, The Beastie Boys, Doug E Fresh, KRS One, ICE T, and early Public Enemy: cameos by Dolemite, LL Cool J, Notorious BIG, and New Kids on the Block (?!)!

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Originating as a webcomic serialized at Boing Boing, this oversize volume is an epic, exhaustive chronicle of the most culturally impactful popular music movement of the past four decades. With its roots embedded in the streets of 1970s New York City, hip-hop and rap slowly germinated as a DIY urban party phenomenon, weaving a powerful funky spell among the Big Apple's people of color. Local deejays and rappers were catapulted into the scene's spotlight overnight, and the battles for performance supremacy honed the skills of the form's progenitors at parties and clubs, which soon led the sounds they created to be recorded and distributed on bootleg vinyl. As the movement grew, so too did its visibility, and the rest is international pop-culture history. The strip's visual tone bears a borderline underground aesthetic that perfectly suits the material-brown-edged paper and antique flat color-with a semi-cartoony feel, reminiscent of the graffiti that helped define the graphic aspect of the movement. It's a massive undertaking, but Piskor succeeds mightily in chronicling hip-hop's formative years with riveting detail. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

Comics can tell certain kinds of stories that prose, photographs and films can't. They can also tell familiar stories in drastically different ways. The artists of some of this seasons graphic novels transform history into broad comedy or rollicking adventure. Others show us worlds frighteningly different from our own, or aestheticize the realities we know with something as simple as a set of squiggly lines or a canny splash of color. Beakermania Thanks to the imminent 50th anniversary of the British Invasion, we're seeing a small wave of comics inspired by the Beatles, none more inventive than Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde's NOWHERE MEN, VOL. 1: Fates Worse Than Death (Image, paper, $9.99). Its shuffled chronology requires multiple readings to puzzle out, but essentially: It's set in a world where a long-disbanded team of four brilliant scientists had the earthshaking effect on culture that the Beatles had on ours. The story, interspersed with fictional magazine clippings and book excerpts, is liberally sprinkled with sly allusions to the rock mythos. Shades of Love Julie Maroh's first graphic novel, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (Arsenal Pulp Press, paper, $19.95), was published in France in 2010 and adapted by Abdellatif Kechiche into this year's Palme d'Or-winning film of the same title. The story begins with a woman named Emma inheriting her lover Clementine's diaries, which trace their relationship over the course of about a dozen years, beginning when Clementine was an uncertain teenager and Emma a confident, slightly older lesbian with a shock of blue hair. Maroh's text is as melodramatic as any youthful fantasy of romantic torment ("Today everything changed," one diary entry begins. "Today innocence died"), but her delicate linework and ink-wash effects illuminate the story's quiet pauses and the characters' fraught silences and wordless longing. In the book's flashback sequences, everything is gray except for the blue that lingers in Clementine's memory. Taking a Stand Peter Bagge's comics, notably his '90s-era "Hate" series, are built on broad satire and slapstick, his characters rubbery dolls who rage, fume and fret. WOMAN REBEL: The Margaret Sanger Story (Drawn & Quarterly, $21.95), a biography of the birth-control activist who defied the Comstock laws in the first half of the 20th century, is an unlikely but inspired pairing of author and subject. A more or less historically accurate biography, it's played for boffo yocks on almost every page. Bagge throws in cameo appearances by the likes of the labor leader Big Bill Haywood and the sexologist Havelock Ellis, and brashly squeezes black humor out of even the savageries Sanger was trying to mitigate. He treats her capacity for vain self-delusion as grist for comedy but reserves his funniest blasts of contempt for the sanctimonious moralists she perpetually reduced to fits of frustration. Make Some Noise Since early last year, Ed Piskor's HIP HOP FAMILY TREE has been lovingly documenting the early days of hip-hop music and culture. The online strip's first collection (Fantagraphics, paper, $24.99), printed on mock-yellowed newsprint to give it the look of battered old comics, follows the story from Kool Herc's and DJ Hollywood's 1970s parties to the 1981 showdown between Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee. Piskor has an aficionado's eye for details and connections - his portraits illustrating how the Funky Four Plus One dressed before and after they signed to Sugar Hill Records say a lot about hip-hop's rapidly shifting image - and a caricaturist's knack for cramming in visual information while ribbing nearly everyone he draws. (Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin come in for particularly irreverent treatment.) When Casanova Fly or Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five rock the house, their sheer volume seems to blow the printing off-register. In the Cross Hairs The writer Alex de Campi's acclaimed comics series "Smoke," drawn by the Croatian artist Igor Kordey (panel below) and initially published in 2005, was a quirky but relatively straightforward political thriller, involving a plucky young journalist, an albino assassin, vicious aristocrats and a grossly obese terrorist cell called the Right to Beauty Brigade. It's now been paired with a longer, stranger sequel, as SMOKE/ASHES (Dark Horse, paper, $29.99). "Ashes," a crowdfunded project illustrated by 14 different artists, begins with the lives of survivors from "Smoke" already in ruins. As they're pursued by a malevolent digital ghost, the story goes from spy-style noir to sci-fi horror (a factory holds "five square miles of genetically engineered stem-cell bones growing pig meat"), and its art makes whiplash shifts - a section that looks like a scribbled-on Beatrix Potter book is followed by a pastiche of medieval illuminated manuscripts. By the final chapters, de Campi and her collaborators shoot out the support beams of typical plot resolution, and the closing sequence, painted by Bill Sienkiewicz, abandons even the comforts of visual realism. DOUGLAS WOLK is the author of "Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean."

Library Journal Review

Piskor's obsession with the cultural history of hip-hop combined with his mastery of facial detail honors the dozens of artists and supporting players who populated New York's streets, clubs, and recording studios in the early 1970s and 80s. Hip-hop neophytes may find the relationships among the huge cast confusing, yet Piskor's portrayal of a "history-through-connections" comes through clearly. To please beat-happy crowds, platter-jockeys playing pop music for parties began mix/mastering the instrumental "breaks." Then emcees superimposed verbal showmanship and rhyming over the instrumentals. These innovations were slow to find backing in the recording industry-even some of the artists experimenting with this work thought its appeal came from live performances only. They were wrong. Here Piskor (Wizzywig) tells the tale in primary-color art reminiscent of 1970s comic books. VERDICT Piskor shows how the vitality of words and art have trumped violence and poverty, even if only sometimes. His gritty chronicle will spark debate among fans and help orient newcomers to hip-hop's history. Salty language and sex references put this into adult collections.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.