No hip-hop or comics at this year’s New York Comic Con

It has come to the attention of Bleeding Cool that, for the first time in ten years, there will be no Hip-Hop And Comics panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, which will take place in a few weeks. Organizer Patrick A. Reed make the following statement regarding his absence;

We’ve received questions about why Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining isn’t on the schedule at New York Comic Con this year, and as the organizer, moderator, and public face of these programs for over ten years, I wanted to take a moment to explain the situation.

This is the first time since 2012 that there will be no Hip-Hop And Comics panel as part of NYCC’s in-person lineup. As in previous years, I submitted the panel proposal, began to build a list of speakers, and compiled a list of questions and conversation topics. Then, a few weeks ago, I received a notice that the program had been rejected by the NYCC programming team.

I find this disturbing because it leaves this subject close to my heart, and the rich and diverse hip-hop community, without recognition or representation at one of the largest and most esteemed fan conventions in the United States. New York is the city that gave birth to both the comic book industry and hip-hop culture, and I was hoping that the convention that calls this city home would, at this point, recognize the importance of this community bond.

Since we presented Hip-Hop And Comics: Cultures Combining on stage at the NYCC in 2012, I have organized and produced programs, exhibits, virtual presentations, and academic lectures on this topic at venues across the country; spoken and written extensively on the links and intersections between these two creative cultures; and has presented Hip-Hop/Comics panels at other conventions across the country including C2E2, WonderCon, Emerald City Comic Con, AwesomeCon, and San Diego Comic-Con. It has been my great pleasure and honor to showcase some of the greatest talent working in these forms and to shine a light on many of the most important creative minds in comics, animation, street art /graffiti, music and other related fields. I have been careful to approach this conversation with the care and respect it deserves, to bring together diverse and varied groups of speakers, and to elevate the voices of those who represent the breadth of hip-hop in its many and myriad forms.

During this time, I have been fortunate to welcome an incredible number of luminaries to the NYCC stage. Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels, Pete Rock, Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Chali 2na, Sammus, Dr. Sheena Howard, Mega Ran, Mix Master Mike, Large Professor, Adam Wallenta, Ytasha Womack, Larry Stroman, Likwuid Stylez, Kagan McLeod, AJ Ampadu, Zoi Ellis, David ‘D-Stroy’ Melendez, Carolina Cooney, Johnny ‘Juice’ Rosado, Ronald Wimberly, Ron Wilson, Joe Conzo, Matthew Rosenberg, Khary Randolph, Jamal Igle, Esoteric and 7L from Czarface, Eric Orr (creator of the very first Hip-Hop comic strip) and many more participated in this program and shared their stories with NYCC audiences. And in these programs, I have been careful to feature people of varying gender identities, racial and cultural backgrounds, and generational perspectives; address the story of how these shapes intersected; and properly representing this important topic and elevating a wide range of individual voices and perspectives.

As a result, these panels have been recognized by the media for their diversity, inclusiveness, and mix of educational and entertaining content. We’ve received acclaim from XXL, Ebony, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Bleeding Cool, CBR, MTV News, The Beat, The Fader, ComicsAlliance, Newsarama, Complex, Frank 151 and a number of other notable sources; been listed as one of NYCC’s “must see panels” year after year; and created goodwill and positive press for the convention.

And as this panel celebrates its tenth anniversary at New York Comic Con, and as Hip-Hop culture prepares to turn 50 in 2023, I am deeply disappointed that NYCC and ReedPOP do not consider this topic and this community worthy of being represented in their programming.

That said, we look forward to continuing to move this conversation forward in other venues and creating new opportunities to bring this vital conversation to all of you, the fans and creators of this community. Thank you for sharing the past decade with us, for filling the boardrooms, for questions and conversations in the hallways after programs, for coming to parties, events and book signings, and for being why we’re doing this.

Now, this isn’t a one-time situation and mostly seems to be caused by a confluence of delayed panels from previous conventions all landing together. There was an NYCC last year, though. I contacted NYCC Event Manager and former Bleeding Cool correspondent Chris D’Landowho told me

Better luck next year, Patrick? Concrete jungle where dreams are made, there’s nothing you can’t do… except have a Hip Hop & Comics panel this year, it seems.

About Ryan Headley

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