Open Access article: Comics, emceeing and graffiti: A graphic narrative about the relationship between hip-hop culture and comics culture (Darnel Degand)

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Below is the abstract the author posted on the journal website

Hip-hop culture will officially turn 50 years old on 11 August 2023. This cultural movement began in a recreational room in The Bronx, New York City, and is now enjoyed throughout the world. In recognition of its upcoming half-century celebration, this article reviews the origins of hip-hop culture (e.g. hip-hop pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc, Keef Cowboy and Lovebug Starski) and the relationship its emceeing and graffiti elements have with comics culture. I begin with a brief review that demonstrates how graffiti predates hip-hop culture. This is illustrated through depictions of cave paintings, ancient Roman street art and ancient Mayan graffiti. I also highlight hobo graffiti and the graffiti from the Cholos and Bachutos gangs from twentieth-century Los Angeles, California. The introduction of the ‘Kilroy was here’ tag during the Second World War and the protest graffiti from a German anti-Nazi group are also depicted. I conclude the historical review of graffiti with an introduction to the early appearances of hip-hop-styled graffiti. Next, I present multiple historical influences on hip-hop emceeing. Examples include (but are not limited to) West African griots, enslaved Africans, Muhammad Ali, Millie Jackson, The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron. Likewise, older genres, such as funk music, blues music, jazz poetry and Black militant poetry inspired much of rap music. Afterwards, I examine the bidirectional relationship between graffiti and comics art, and emceeing and the textual/storytelling aspects of comics. This includes comics-inspired graffiti, hip-hop monikers (e.g. Big Pun, Snoop Dogg, MF Doom and Jean Grae), hip-hop lyrics (from artists such as Grandmaster Caz, Inspectah Deck, Jay-Z and The Last Emperor) and album covers. Conversely, I offer examples of how graffiti has inspired comics visuals and storytelling as well as how emceeing has inspired the comic-book storytelling and the protagonists featured in fictional and non-fictional comic book narratives.