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To celebrate the resounding critical and commercial success of the first two volumes of Ed Piskor's unprecedented history of Hip Hop, we are offering the two books in a mind-blowingly colorful slipcase, drawn and designed by the artist, featuring exclusive all-new cover art on each volume. As if that's not enough, in addition to the two books and the slipcase itself, Piskor has drawn a 24-page comic book — Hip Hop Family Tree #300 — specifically for this boxed set that elegantly reflects the confluence of hip hop and comics, which was never more apparent in the early 1990s than with the famous Spike Lee-directed Levi Jeans commercial starring Rob Liefeld, who went on to create Youngblood and co-found Image Comics, not to mention ending up on the radar of gangster rapper Eazy E. Piskor tells this story as a perfect parody/pastiche/homage to ’90s Image comics.
More detailed descriptions of each book follow. For more previews of each book (or to order them individually), click the titles below.
Vol. 1: 1970s-1981
The lore of the early days of hip hop has become the stuff of myth, so what better way to document this fascinating, epic true story than in another great American mythological medium — the comic book? From exciting young talent and self-proclaimed hip hop nerd Ed Piskor, acclaimed for his hacker graphic novel Wizzywig, comes this explosively entertaining, encyclopedic history of the formative years of the music genre that changed global culture.
Originally serialized on the hugely popular website Boing Boing, Hip Hop Family Tree is now collected in a single volume cleverly presented and packaged in a style mimicking the Marvel comics of the same era. Piskor's exuberant yet controlled cartooning takes you from the parks and rec rooms of the South Bronx to the night clubs, recording studios, and radio stations where the scene started to boom, capturing the flavor of late-1970s New York City in panels bursting with obsessively authentic detail. With a painstaking, vigorous and engaging Ken Burns-meets-Stan Lee approach, the battles and rivalries, the technical innovations, the triumphs and failures are all thoroughly researched and lovingly depicted.
Piskor captures the vivid personalities and magnetic performances of old-school pioneers and early stars like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Funky 4 + 1, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, The Sugarhill Gang, and three kids who would later become RUN-DMC, plus the charismatic players behind the scenes like Russell Simmons, Sylvia Robinson and then-punker Rick Rubin. Piskor also traces graffiti master Fab 5 Freddy's rise in the art world, and Debbie Harry, Keith Haring, The Clash, and other luminaries make cameos as the music and culture begin to penetrate downtown Manhattan and the mainstream at large.
Like the acclaimed hip hop documentaries Style Wars and Scratch, Hip Hop Family Tree is an exciting and essential cultural chronicle and a must for hip hop fans, pop-culture addicts, and anyone who wants to know how it went down back in the day.
Vol. 2: 1981-1983
Book 2 covers the early years of 1981-1983, when Hip Hop has made a big transition 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,” and 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(?!)!
Acclaim for Book 1:
2013 Diamond Gem Award Nominee — Indie Graphic Novel of the Year
One of The Washington Post's Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2013
Ranked #3 (tie) on the Publishers Weekly Comics World 2013 Critics' Poll
Ranked #9 on the Austin American-Statesman's Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2013
One of ComicsAlliance's Best Comic Books of 2013
One of Jeff Smith's Favorite Comics of 2013 as listed at Paste
Ranked #3 on The Seattle Times' Top 5 Music Books of 2013
Ranked #16 on The Best Comics of 2013 by Timothy Callahan of Comic Book Resources
One of SPIN's 18 Best Music Books of 2013
Ranked #55 on Comic Book Resources' Top 100 Comics of 2013
Ranked #9 for 2013 by The Bristol Board
Ranked #18 on Rob Clough's Best of 2013: Top 25 Long-Form Comics at High-Low
One of Locust Moon’s Top 40 Comics of 2013
Ranked #9 on Mental Floss's 10 Most Interesting Comics of 2013
"Being in an Ed Piskor comic is cool enough to freeze hot water." – Fab Five Freddy
"This is the comic of all time." – Biz Markie
"Ed Piskor is the sh#t!!" – De La Soul
"It's a great story and Piskor tells it immaculately well." – Bill Adler (co-author, Def Jam: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label)
"This is the comic I've been waiting 40 years to read." – Harry Allen (Public Enemy Media Assassin)
"They say the story of Jesus is the greatest ever told, but JC didn’t steal a DJ mixer during the New York Blackout of '77 or bomb a subway car with Fab 5 Freddy. With his 'Hip Hop Family Tree,' comics artist Ed Piskor delves into the history of hip-hop and gets straight-up biblical, penning a 'who-begat-whom' with a b-boy twist." – Jonathan Zwickel, MTV.com