Patrick A. Reed, of Depth of Field and ComicAlliance, has taken his ongoing discussion “Hip-Hop and Comics: Cultures Colliding,” on the road, bringing a number of colorful voices from both communities into the fold. In Portland, Kid ‘N’ Play’s Christopher Martin joined his panel. In New York, Ed Piskor (Hip-Hop Family Tree) tossed in his two cents. On Thursday, Reed returned the panel to Comic Con, with a wide range of special guests all fitting in the middle section of the hip-hop/comics venn diagram.
From the indie comic scene were Turner Lange (The Adventures of Wally Fresh), Ted Lange IV (Warp Zone), Kenny Keil (Rhyme Travelers, and superhero/album cover mashups), James Reitano (1985, and TFU Studios). Carolina Cooney, the Academy of Art’s History of Comics instructor, was on hand in a velvety Raven costume. Graffiti artist, Deity, elaborated on Sailor Moon and anime’s influence on the characters depicted in her large murals. Rounding out the cast was beloved underground, LA rapper, Murs, who — in the braggadocio style typical of a battle-rapper– made the high claim: “there’s no one in comics reading as much comics as me.” The MC then spent much of the panel proving his statement.
When asked by Reed what he considered the connecting element of the art forms, Murs pointed to the bright, eye-catching colors of both comics and graffiti, describing both as powerful outlets of expression for the underrepresented. He also drew a line between the dualities of both superheroes and rappers: “We all have our symbols and our alter egos.” Revealing a silver medallion, he joked, “I even brought my rapper chain to demonstrate.” As an artist, he’s always looking for inspiration in other mediums. “I want to say steal, but I’m inspired. The more you read, the more storylines you have.”
Murs also credited both hip-hop and comics as safe and constructive outlets where he could transform his otherwise destructive energy: “Battling was somewhere I could fight without fighting… Murs was where I put that aggression,” he went on, “Comics are also violent, but they’re fun-violent.” For Murs, as for many, they represented an escape: “I would be reading Booster Gold. For those fifteen minutes, I wasn’t in Compton.”
The MC admitted both mediums have been unfairly exploitive of women in the past. Now, as a husband and father, he finds it increasingly difficult to read traditional comics (singling out, of course, Rob Lifield). Instead, he urged the audience to read Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s series, Bitch Planet. Calling it “amazing,” Murs explained, “It speaks a lot about feminism. Men can learn a lot from reading that,” as well as the essays included in the back. Every time he sees a traditional female superhero now, he joked, he hears his wife say, “There’s no way she did that in high heels.”
Murs has also self-published his own graphic novel/record through Kickstarter. Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl, was written by Josh Blaylock, with art by Jose Garcia, and colors by Jose and Juan Urueta. If you ask him nicely, he may share where you can still find a copy. He also references Game of Thrones five minutes into his latest record.