Ghetto Brother on BronxNet TV


Last week, author Julian Voloj (left) joined Ray Felix (Bronx Heroes) and Regine Sawyer (Lockett Down Productions) to talk about the Bronx and Comics on Open/BronxNet TV. The show was hosted by Rhina Valentin (La Reina del Barrio).

If you are curious to see the show, click here. The comic segment starts at about 15 minutes.

Ghetto Brother will be available in May.

Helping the Community


When people think about gangs in the Bronx, they think about violence. But the young kids involved with the Ghetto Brothers were not the savages the media presented, but young citizens who tried to better their community.

Bill Leicht, according to Benjy Melendez “the oldest Ghetto Brother”, has continued his path as a social worker and is until today involved in various projects including Peace Dojo, the Tricorner Peace Council, and Urban Visions. For Bill, showing youth alternatives to violence is a continuation of the work he did back in the day with the Ghetto Brothers.

In an email he writes to me:

For decades I’ve been saying I am continuing my work – as a Ghetto Brother. You are the first to take that seriously. The problem is prejudice. We all know youth gangs are — criminals — so society looks at us and our organizations with fear, loathing, and total inability to hear the message. That is bad for the street and it is bad for “society.” The work that you, Henry  Chalfant, Rita Fecher, Jeff Chang, Luis Barrios, David Brotherton and a very few others have created opens eyes, ears and hearts; very much it is needed and very much it is worth your effort. Thank you!
Bill Leicht, the ‘oldest Ghetto Brother’ portrayed by Julian Voloj (2011)

Ghetto Brother at Poe Park



2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10458

March 7. Reception and Ghetto Brother Panel Discussion 12pm to 3pm 
Benjamin Melendez and Julian Voloj in conversation about “Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker” Moderated by Regine Sawyer. The panel will start at 2 PM.

Free to the public.


Bronx Documentary Center

Last Saturday, the Bronx Documentary Center had a screening of “Flyin’ Cut Sleeves” with director Henry Chalfant. The documentary was source material for the graphic novel “Ghetto Brother“.

Prior to the screening, director Henry Chalfant talked about his first encounter with Benjamin Melendez and how Benjy connected him to his former teacher Rita Fecher. You can see his intro here.


Benjy Melendez presented Henry Chalfant with a copy of Ghetto Brother. More pictures from the event can be found here.

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. A good timing to introduce Claudia Ahlering, the artist behind “Ghetto Brother.” The German artist is based in Hamburg where she is currently collaborating with Julian Voloj on a new project. Visit her website for more information.


Claudia Aherling in her studio with pages from Ghetto Brother.

Benjamin Melendez visits NBM

Earlier this week, Benjamin Melendez, the protagonist in the upcoming graphic novel “Ghetto Brother” visited NBM.


Benjy is very excited that his life story is now going to reach a wide audience, telling the story of the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting and how young people decided to go a non-violent path instead of seeking revenge and continuing the circle of violence.

Terry Nantier presented Benjy with an advance reading copy of the book. The official book presentation will take place in April during this year’s MoCCA Festival.


Big in Germany

Screen shot 2015-02-06 at 8.09.44 PM

Did you know that this year there will be Ghetto Brother editions published in Brazil, France, Germany, and Spain? Don’t worry, you can get yours here at NBM. But it’s interesting what others think about this truly American tale. In Germany, “puls” named the graphic novel best new release in the category ‘non fiction’. Very honored.

Caz and Conzo in Cleveland

Caz and Conzo

Yesterday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland hosted an event with Joe Conzo and Grandmaster Caz. Both have actually a connection to “Ghetto Brother“.

Caz was the frontman of the hip hop pioneers The Cold Crush Brothers and is probably best (un-)known for rhymes he didn’t even perform – the verses that Big Bank Hank ‘borrowed’ for Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 single “Rapper’s Delight.” The Cold Crush Brothers’ first manager was Joseph Mpa, who back in 1971 (then as a representative of the Black Panther Party) approached Benjamin Melendez to discuss gang violence and, according to Melendez, “planted the seed” that led to the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting.

Photographer Joe Conzo became friends with the Cold Crush Brothers while attending high school. As their official photographer, he documented the early days of hip hop. His collection can be found in the Cornell Hip Hop Collection. Conzo was also an early supporter of the graphic novel, offering his photographs of the South Bronx as inspiration for the illustrations, giving the book a very realistic feeling. Another connection is Joe’s grandmother Evelina Antonetty, the founder of the United Bronx Parents, who gave Benjamin Melendez his first job.



Original Joe Conzo photograph and illustration by Claudia Ahlering.





JOMIX — Jewish Comics; Art & Derivation

Tuesday, March 10, 2015│6:00-7:30pm

Guest speakers:

Karen Green, Graphic Novel Librarian, Columbia University

Joel Silverstein and Richard McBee, Exhibit Curators, Jewish Art Salon.

Location: UJA-Federation of New York, 130 East 59th, Street Seventh-Floor Gallery, New York City

About the Exhibit

From the invention of Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster to the graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman, Jewish artists and writers have served an essential and indispensable role in the comics and graphic novel industry. This exhibition boasts a roster of cutting edge creators, reinvestigating traditional genres like superhero, political satire, romance, horror, science fiction and confessionals through a Jewish lens. Join us for a look at how these contemporary Jewish artists use the comics medium as a way to express and address their own Jewish identity and cultural experience while also examining the complex relationship of art, identity and culture within the Jewish community at large. More information here.

ghetto cover.indd

The exhibition will feature artwork from “Ghetto Brother” by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering.