ComicBuzz Chats With Ed Piskor

With the release of Hip Hop Family Tree Omnibus from Fantagraphics, we are delighted to be joined by cartoonist and New York Times bestselling creator of Hip Hop Family Tree and X-Men: Grand Design, Ed Piskor.


Could you please tell us a little about yourself?

Just a little. I’m a Cartoonist. 🙂


Can you tell us about the origins of Hip Hop Family Tree?

I always wanted the Hip Hop landscape to be the backdrop to a comic I was working on at the very least but I never knew what the actual story should be. I was doing a regular comic strip on a website every week and always struggling to figure out the thing I should do next week when I arrived at Hip Hop Family Tree. My thought was, if it connects, then I don’t have to struggle for what my next comics should be on the site, I’ll just continue building the family tree. The comic caught on right away and I was off to the races for 4 and a half years.


How would you describe Hip Hop Family Tree?
The title buries no ledes. I’m just building a comprehensive narrative about how rap music and hip hop culture built itself into a worldwide phenomenon pretty rapidly, by introducing the people who made it happen and showing how they connect with other people to build the culture.


Could you tell us about your history with Hip Hop?

It was the music of my neighbor and the timeframe I grew up, but I still adopted it in an antithetical way than most people would use it. Hip Hop is built to be cutting edge and up to the minute, trendy, but I would continuously dig back further and further, gravitating to older and older music rather than keeping up with the latest albums that had music videos currently in rotation on MTV. This comic was 30 years in the making by the time I put pencil to paper.


When you were writing the Hip Hop Family Tree comics, did you write a full script?

No. I think full scripts are for writers who can’t draw when it comes to comics. Because it’s a marriage of words and pictures you avoid a lot of redundancy by just kind of drawing a quick and dirty version of the comic on typing paper. Then making a better version when you hit the final boards.


As you are creating all of the art for the comic, what part of that process do you enjoy the most: pencils, inking or colouring?

I’ve created a workflow that makes each piece the most enjoyable piece at that moment. Just when I’m bored with pencilling its time to ink, just when the inking is making my eyeballs glaze over its time to color, etc.


How did Fantagraphics get involved with Hip Hop Family Tree?

I could have had almost any publisher on board for HHFT. Fantagraphics didn’t say “no” to any of the format choices I had in mind and now other publishers including Marvel, use that exact model we created for their best, artistically driven comics.


What kind of research did you do for the Hip Hop Family Tree comics?

Absorbed everything I could find revolving around the topic of the week. Began being able to chat with the actual people involved but there’s a lot of kayfabe to Hip Hop. Everybody would make themselves the main character of every important moment and it wasn’t so useful.


Do you have a favourite scene from Hip Hop Family Tree?

Not really.


Could you tell us about the extra content that Hip Hop Family Tree Omnibus contains?

The HHFT Omnibus is the best book I ever made. I can’t wait for people to see it. On top of the 4.5 years worth of comics, we’ve included all other artwork I’ve made over the years where HHFT is concerned. I drew a bunch of new stuff specifically for this book, and the commentary I provide in the back is something that I want to promote with every cartoonist to include in works they are most known and proud of.


Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?



We would like to say thank you to Ed for chatting with us. We would like to wish him the best of luck for the Hip Hop Family Tree Omnibus.

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