Ed Piskor tried to watch The Wire as a fan. Yet the storytelling and method of revealing characters were so compelling, he couldn’t resist attempting to deconstruct the show on paper. ‘But I had to quit doing that,’ the 29-year-old cartoonist says from his home in Pittsburgh. ‘I filled up an entire notebook with episode one.’
That keen appreciation for and obsessive attention to detail are a couple reasons his latest weekly comic for Boing Boing, ‘Hip Hop Family Tree: A Look into the Viral Propagation of a Culture,’ has inspired devotion since its debut in January. His strip, which untangles the roots of hip-hop’s godfathers, is Piskor’s attempt to understand how an underground subculture tucked in the heart of
the Bronx ghetto managed to go viral before such a word even existed.
But don’t let the magnitude of that goal—he rightly compares the history of hip hop to the Bible, but with less incest, blinding and burning bushes—scare you off. Even if you aren’t a maniacal hip-hop head, Piskor’s comics are visually arresting. They have the bleached, pixelated appearance of the cartoons your mom used to clip from the newspaper and stick to the refrigerator. Also, it’s just plain fun: the strip he was writing when we talked focuses on the Furious Five each buying mini motorcycles with their advances.