Last weekend, Manhattan was once again on fire with mutants, zombies and superheroes as the New York Comic Con jumped off at the Jacob Javitz Center. Billed as the World’s Biggest Asylum, fanboys and -girls were a happy, raucous group of attendees for four days. The hype was felt all throughout midtown for lovers of movies, video games, fantasy, anime, science fiction and comic books.
The 2014 NY Comic Con sold more tickets than previous years. Fans from all over purchased over 151,000 tix, up from 133,000 in 2013. Add to the mix the convention’s first New York Super Week—a 10-day festival with over 100 events associated with the festivities—and you have your weight in awesomeness. From film screenings to panel discussions to a reunion of some of the 1980s’ greatest stars, the convention was exactly where you needed to be this past weekend.
While George Clooney was the gala’s largest “a-ha” moment (the newlywed actor popped up to promote Tomorrowland), Marvel Entertainment received a host of attention for its upcoming television projects. Footage from their upcoming Daredevil and Agent Carter shows were previewed, and—at a private event for Marvel Unlimited Plus members—footage from their potential 2015 summer blockbusters, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.
With numerous lines and a gaggle of geeks all clamoring to get into the big events, we sauntered into the Hip-Hop and Comics: Cultures Combining session. Moderated by Depth of Field’s Patrick A. Reed, the panel discussion featured Large Professor, Pete Rock, illustrator Khary Randolph and a host of others.
“[Hip-hop and comic books] are both built on mixing elements, be it beats and rhymes or pictures and words,” Reed said while letting those in attendance know the significance of both art forms. There were no shortage of passionate lovers of both, as DMC of Run-DMC hosted two heavily populated events: I’m DMC, I Can Draw! and Boom! Bap! Pow! Hip-Hop & Comics! It’s no secret that the hip-hop icon and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is an avid support of comics.
Joined by some rap industry names (Riggs Morales, Atlantic Records; Chuck Creekmur, AllHipHop; DJ Bobbito Garcia, Doin’ It in the Park), DMC makes comics and was damn keen to show off his skills and how hip-hop influenced his comics career. Hip-hop might not be as old as the comic book industry (Marvel and Batman both are celebrating 75 year anniversaries), but both have certainly revitalized the arts. Acts like MF Doom and the Wu-Tang Clan own comic books and its heroes (or villains) a debt of gratitude. During the Hip-Hop and Comics chat, Pete Rock even admitted his not-so-secret love for Marvel and how their legacy influenced his deft for lyricism.
“Everyone can relate to being angry and upset. I referenced [the Hulk] a lot when even making beats,” the Chocolate Boy Wonder said to a captive audience. He then regaled those in attendance with a rhyme from a song called “Fakin’ Jax” where he rapped, “As I commence lyrical content now bust the grammar/Brother tryin’ to make me flip out like David Banner.” The relationship between hip-hop and comics plays off each other in this beautifully symbiotic way. “We all grew up reading comic books, so the heroes inspired us. We kind of have to be the heroes in music,” Rock said.
As the faces of those arriving at the hallowed halls of “the asylum” continue to change (diversity, again, was a theme of the Comic Con), discussions like these help to destruct the lingering stereotypes. If you were just there to read the books, catch up with friends, or take a chance at cos play for the first time, the New York Comic Con was a moment for true collaboration and cohabitation of cultures.
Television, movies, and other forms of pop culture might’ve all made giant leaps in being accepted by the masses, but at the Jacob Javitz Center, it was the superheroes that were still inside everyone’s heart.
Kevin L. Clark is a Brooklyn, New York based pop culture writer. Any Hulk-sized messages can be sent to him on Twitter @KevitoClark.