Two weeks ago, Bleeding Cool ran the news that there would be no Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining panel for the first time in twelve years at New York Comic Con. With organiser Patrick A. Reed telling us "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."
NYCC told us "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."
But then something very strange happened. And Patrick A Reed had to tweet it out. "UPDATE: @NY_Comic_Con has added a "When Hip Hop and Comics Collide" panel to their schedule. This panel is presented by a publisher, and – despite the title – does not represent and is not affiliated with our 'Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining" programs and events. PLEASE NOTE: this is a panel promoting a specific company, and is not part of the Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining series of events and programs that I've produced at cons, festivals, and colleges around the country for the past decade."
This was a renaming of an existing Friday panel for Z2 Comics, a graphic novel publisher that specialised in publishing music-related comic books, everyone from Tori Amos to Gorillaz. And, yes, plenty of hip-hop artists as part pf that. But this seemed a little close.
Patrick tells Bleeding Cool "I've been dealing for the last couple days with a lot of confused people – artists and colleagues who have understandably assumed this is one of my panels, big names I'd proposed in my initial NYCC program submission wondering why they weren't asked to take part in the panel after all, and friends and fans on social media who are generally wondering what the heck is happening. And though I contacted Z2 asking them to clarify the situation publicly, they have not yet done so. My concern here, understand, is not that someone else is doing a Hip-Hop panel – it's that they're doing so in a way that creates brand confusion, and that this title has been co-opted to promote a specific publisher's products, rather than a conversation that reflects and showcases the rich history, diversity and creativity of Hip-Hop and comics culture."
It also looks like the change happened three days after Bleeding Cool ran our original story. Did someone spy a gap in the market and decide to fill it? Z2 Comcis representatives did not respond to Bleeding Cool enquiries made yesterday, but, well, New York Comic Con is going on, so folk are probably rather busy.
Though they have the time to recreate one of their convention panels to fill a gap made by an established panel brand getting booted. I'd call this opportunistic, but then this is New York Comic Con, it's all about opportunism! Talking of which, it looks like comics and hip hop folk have been paying attention, such as Pharoahe Monch, Matt Fraction, David 'D-Stroy' Melendez, Mike Pellorito, graffiti artists 179 and Deity, Dart Adams, and a bunch of other notables offering comments of support and likes.
Here's the Z2 Comics panel for reference…
Z2 Comics Presents: When Hip Hop and Comics Collide with Chuck D, Czarface & DMC.
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
In the past decade, the worlds of spitfire rhymes and breakbeats have merged with the sequential art flow of panels and word balloons for a new era of hip-hop comics. This panel unites four hip-hop and rap icons who have crossed over to create stirring comic opuses. Join legendary MCs Chuck D (Public Enemy, Apocalypse 91: Revolution Never Sleeps), Esoteric and 7L (Czarface: A Czar Is Born), and DMC (Darryl Makes Comics) for a can't-miss panel that spans worlds and media.