No Hip-Hop & Comics At This Year's New York Comic Con

It has come to Bleeding Cool's attention that, for the first time in ten years, there won't be a Hip-Hop And Comics panel at this year's New York Comic Con, taking place in a couple of weeks' time. Organiser Patrick A. Reed put out the following statement regarding its absence;

No Hip Hop & Comics At This Year's New York Comic Con

We've been getting questions about why Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining isn't on the schedule at New York Comic Con this year, and as the organizer, moderator, and public face of these programs for the past decade+, I wanted to take a moment to explain the situation.

This is the first time since 2012 that there won't be a Hip-Hop And Comics panel as part of NYCC's in-person programming. As in past years, I submitted the panel proposal, began to put together a line-up of speakers, and drew up a list of questions and conversational topics. Then, a couple weeks ago, I received notice that the program had been rejected by NYCC's programming team.

I find this troubling because it leaves this subject that I hold very dear, and the rich and diverse community of Hip-Hop, without recognition or representation at one of the largest and most esteemed fan conventions in the US. New York is the city that birthed both the comic book industry and Hip-Hop culture, and I'd hoped that the convention that calls this city home would, at this point, recognize the importance of that community connection.

Since we first brought Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining to the stage at NYCC in 2012, I have curated and produced programs, exhibits, virtual presentations, and academic conferences on this subject at venues around the country; spoken and written extensively on the connections and crossover between these two creative cultures; and presented Hip-Hop/Comics panels at other conventions around the country including C2E2, WonderCon, Emerald City Comic Con, AwesomeCon, and San Diego Comic-Con. It has been my great pleasure and honor to showcase some of the greatest talents working in these forms, and to highlight many of the most important creative creators in comics, animation, street art/graffiti, music, and other related fields. I've taken care to approach this conversation with the care and respect it deserves, to assemble diverse and varied groups of speakers, and to elevate the voices of those who represent the width and breadth of Hip-Hop in its many and myriad forms.

In this time, I've been lucky enough to welcome an amazing array of luminaries to the stage at NYCC. Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels, Pete Rock, Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Chali 2na, Sammus, Dr. Sheena Howard, Mega Ran, Mix Master Mike, Large Professor, Adam Wallenta, Ytasha Womack, Larry Stroman, Likwuid Stylez, Kagan McLeod, AJ Ampadu, Zoi Ellis, David 'D-Stroy' Melendez, Carolina Cooney, Johnny 'Juice' Rosado, Ronald Wimberly, Ron Wilson, Joe Conzo, Matthew Rosenberg, Khary Randolph, Jamal Igle, Esoteric and 7L of Czarface, Eric Orr (creator of the first-ever Hip-Hop comic book), and many others have participated in this program and shared their stories with NYCC's audience. And in these programs, I have taken care to showcase people of varying gender identities, racial and cultural backgrounds, and generational perspectives; address the history of how these forms have intersected; and properly represent this important topic and elevate a great range of individual voices and perspectives.

Accordingly, these panels have been recognized by media for their diversity, inclusivity, and blend of educational and entertaining content. We have received acclaim from XXL, Ebony, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Bleeding Cool, CBR, MTV News, The Beat, The Fader, ComicsAlliance, Newsarama, Complex, Frank 151, and a number of other notable sources; been listed as one of NYCC's "don't-miss panels" year after year; and created goodwill and positive press for the convention.

And at a moment when this panel would be celebrating its tenth anniversary at New York Comic Con, and as Hip-Hop culture prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023, I'm deeply disappointed that NYCC and ReedPOP do not consider this subject and community worthy of representation in their programming.

All this said, we look forward to continuing to push this conversation forward in other venues, and to create new opportunities to bring this vital conversation to all of you, the fans and creators of this community. Thanks for sharing the past decade with us, for packing panel rooms, for the questions and conversations in the hallways after programs, for coming to the parties and events and signings, and for being the reason we do this.

Now, this is not a unique situation and seems mostly to be caused by a confluence of delayed panels from previous conventions all landing together. There was an NYCC last year, however. I contacted NYCC Event Manager, and former Bleeding Cool correspondent Chris D'Lando, who told me

"With only so many panel slots, that unfortunately meant that the Panels team had to make some difficult choices. We unfortunately just can't make room for every great submission we receive, but there's something for everyone on this year's stacked New York Comic Con panel lineup."

Better luck next year, Patrick? Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do… except have a Hip Hop & Comics panel this year, it seems.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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