NBM in April: Ghetto Brother

April will be a big month for NBM! We are releasing GHETTO BROTHER- Warrior to Peacemaker, by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering. Ghetto Brother tells the story of Benjy Melendez who brought a truce to the gangs of New York in the 70s.

GHETTO BROTHER

GHETTO BROTHER- Warrior to Peacemaker
Julian Voloj, Claudia Ahlering
Introduction by Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation”
An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, a Bronx legend, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.
6×9, 128pp., black and white paperback: $12.99;
ISBN 9781561639489
Diamond Order Code: FEB151507
For previews and more, visit our website.

On a similar note, available now is Ryan Inzana’s JOHNNY JIHAD. Publisher’s Weekly called the book “starkly engaging and powerful. A bold fictional investigation into the roots of political fanaticism.”

JOHNNY JIHAD
Ryan Inzana
John Sendel is a typical disillusioned teenager. The kind that snap and would start shooting at their school. He is part of a generation reared by television in the nineties with absentee or loveless parents, cynical, and willing to wield the impetuousness of youth in a self-destructive manner. But Johnny stumbles onto fundamentalist Islam through his friend Salim, and finds a new outlet to channel his rebellious angst. He cannot but admire these people with an actual purpose in life and something to believe in. The facets of Johnny’s humdrum existence in suburbia begin to fade, his life now has a purpose: jihad. However, the deeper he gets enmeshed, the more frightening the road becomes with no possibility of return. When the CIA gets hold of him, things take an ugly turn. Based on true facts of training camps run in the U.S. and inspired by the stories of John Walker Lindh and others… Chillingly real and hotly topical.
6×9, 96pp., B&W trade pb.: $9.95
ISBN 9781561633531
Diamond Order Code: STAR18763
For more information and previews, click here.

Head over to your favorite comic book store now to place your order in February’s Diamond Previews magazine!

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.

Zeichnung_Autowrack

south-bronx

Original Joe Conzo photograph and illustration by Claudia Ahlering.

 

 

Bambaataa

“The gang truce back in the early seventies with Brother Benjy, with the Ghetto Brothers, Black Spades, the Savage Skulls, the Savage Nomads, Seven Immortals, the Reapers, Turbans, with all the major street organizations, was powerful. It was the time to put down the weapons against each other and try to organize… It was deep. It was powerful… We were all in the same game.”
Afrika Bambaataa
Hip Hop Pioneer, Founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, Participant in the 1971 Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting

 

TOW_jc_0251

Author Julian Voloj with Afrika Bambaataa, photograph by Joe Conzo

New NBM for April ’15: Ghetto Brother

GHETTO BROTHER, the true story of how a NYC gang leader turned into a peacemaker in the 60s, leads NBM’s offerings in Diamond Previews magazine for February.

This April, Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering bring you an illustrated biography of Benjy Melendez in GHETTO BROTHER: Warrior to Peacemaker”. Voloj made the blog last year when he was featured on NPR for his graphic novel. Ghetto Brothers talks about the historic Ghetto Brothers gang who roamed New York in the late 60s and ushered in an era of peace with a gang treaty, which saw the birth of Hip Hop. Jeff Chang, the author of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation”, provides an introduction.

GHETTO BROTHER- Warrior to Peacemaker
Julian Voloj, Claudia Ahlering
Introduction by Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation”
ghetto cover.indd
An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.

“There’s no doubt that the Ghetto Brothers are an influence in NYC’s urban history. They paved the way for many who were searching for a sense of identity, a voice and social justice.”
-Jorge “Popmaster Fabel” Pabon
Breakdance Pioneer, Rock Steady Crew

“The gang truce back in the early seventies with Brother Benjy, with the Ghetto Brothers, Black Spades, the Savage Skulls, the Savage Nomads, Seven Immortals, the Reapers, Turbans, with all the major street organizations, was powerful. It was the time to put down the weapons against each other and try to organize… It was deep. It was powerful… We were all in the same game.”
Afrika Bambaataa
Hip Hop Pioneer
Participant in the 1971 Truce Summit

“The story of the Ghetto Brothers is the story of the Bronx in the 1970s… The Ghetto Brothers are still considered legendary by those who know.”
Jeff Chang,
Hip Hop Historian

6×9, 128pp., B&W, trade pb., $12.99;
ISBN 9781561639489
Diamond Order Code: FEB151507

For previews and more, click here!

To see NBM’s April offerings and place a preorder, please head to your local comic book store and ask to see the Diamond’s February Previews!

Ghetto Brother Takes Over the Airwaves

GHETTO BROTHER: Warrior to Peacemaker, coming from NBM in April was featured on NPR- National Public Radio. On November 7th, NPR’s Backstory radio show had a feature on reconciliation and its limits throughout history. They touched upon the historic peace treaty on Hoe Street, orchestrated by Benjy Melendez, which united the gangs. On the radio program, Melendez recalled his experiences and Julian Voloj, creator of Ghetto Brother, the graphic novel detailing the life and times of Melendez, credited the peace treaty, and the resulting safer New York streets, to leading the way for the hip hop movement. The segment on Benjy Melendez and his peacekeeping Ghetto Brothers gang, filled with a lot of facts and first-hand accounts, starts at the 35 minute mark. Listen to the podcast version here.

GHETTO BROTHER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker was created by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering. The graphic novel comes out in April but has been on  reviewer’s radars for the past two years. Ahlering’s art for the book  was on display at the Columbia Barnard Kraft Center’s Jewish Art Salon, in New York City, last year. For previews and more visit our Ghetto Brothers webpage. To learn more about Melendez, check out this NY Daily News article.