Wednesday, February 09, 2005

East meets West, by way of hip-hop

The Boston Globe takes a surprisingly lengthy look at the merger of hip-hop, graffiti art and manga in the form of Tokyo Tribes, Blokhedz, @Large and the like:
Hip-hop comics may seem fresh, but they represent an exchange between black and Asian culture that goes back decades. Think of the Asian influence on the hip-hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan in the 1990s. Think of the Hong Kong film explosion that made Bruce Lee a superstar in the 1970s. "Kung fu movies -- the only places they played were 42d Street in New York and downtown LA," says David Walker, who adapts Tokyo Tribes for the American audience. "Most of the people going to those movies were black folks."

Now, instead of Carl Douglas singing the campy 1974 disco song Kung Fu Fighting and Jim Kelly costarring in Lee's 1973 film Enter the Dragon, we have [Ahmed] Hoke using manga and graffiti elements to create @Large, first released in 2003. "For the most part," says Hoke, 31, "I'm trying to pump a style that hasn't been done before in comic books."