6 Hip Hop Comics That Got It Right
Hip-hop and comic books have always had a flirtatious relationship. The graphic novel is like that sixth element of hip-hop that was born and raised in the same house — but never had it’s last name officially changed.
Whether it’s MURS parading about Comic Con in South California or MF DOOM deriving his moniker from a notorious super-villain, the influence that comics have had on hip-hop is palpable; it’s in the culture and it’s in the music. And when the two come together to form the inevitable hip-hop comic, it’s either dope or it’s nearly unbearably bad.
Unfortunately for the comic lovers, the really great hip-hop comics have been somewhat few and far between. Some of the best pieces were put out in limited quantities and details about their availability are sparse.
We dug deep and looked far and wide to put together a list of the comics that got it right. With the release of MF GRIMM’s second comic next month, it seemed appropriate to look back at some of the best hip-hop comics to come out over the past few decades.
1. De La Soul Is Dead #1
What is arguably considered De La Soul’s best album was originally accompanied by a comic book of the same name. The piece was written by the De La members themselves and told the tale of the trio’s tape being found and thwarting the music of Vanilla Ice from infiltrating the ear canals of young listeners. Not much information on this book — it seems to be of pretty limited quantity. You probably won’t find it lying around any of your local book stores.
2. Meanwhile… (Madvillain)
Released in a special box set to release the remix album, Madvillainy 2, this comic continued on the story of the duo’s “All Caps” music video from their highly-regarded collaborative album. Both MF DOOM and Madlib grace the pages of this one. Written and Illustrated by James Reitano for TFU Studios.
The dastardly duo of Atmosphere’s Slug and Living Legend MURS put out a comic book to celebrate the release of their second Felt record. The work was titled simply “Felt” and was illustrated by Jim Mahfood (AKA Food One) — a well-known comic illustrator and underground hip-hop connoisseur. This one came out sweet.
4. Sentences: The Life of MF GRIMM
If anyone’s got a story worthy of a full-blown comic book, it’s MF GRIMM. This book, illustrated by Ronald Wimberly, tells the tale of GRIMMS rise and fall. It includes details leading up to him being shot and paralyzed, along with the story of his drug conviction and life sentence followed by his early release from prison. Definitely one of the best on the list. Soon to be followed up by GRIMM’s 13-page Jim Mahfood-illustrated comic to be released with his next album in May.
5. Cell Block Z
Out of the various Wu-Tang Clansmen that have dabbled in the comic world (we’re still waiting for RZA to stop writing books, directing movies and conducting scores so he can drop that Bobby Digital joint), this one is probably the most well-received. Ghostface Killah’s Cell Block Z lays out an interesting story set in a super-futuristic world, it’s got some pretty good art and overall it’s well-written.
6. Public Enemy
You may not have expected this one to turn out well, but it actually did. The comic book featuring a crime-fighting version of the group (including Flava Flav booting baddies to the tune of “Yeah Boyeeeee”). The story-arc compiles all of the first 5 editions into a nice package.
Get FamiliarJ. Kennedy
Meet Midwest-by-way-of-SD MC/producer, J. Kennedy, and check out the premiere of his brand new project, ‘California Dreaming’.