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.

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Original Joe Conzo photograph and illustration by Claudia Ahlering.

 

 

Jomix

Jomix_Invite

JOMIX — Jewish Comics; Art & Derivation

Tuesday, March 10, 2015│6:00-7:30pm

Guest speakers:

Karen Green, Graphic Novel Librarian, Columbia University
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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.

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

 

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Author Julian Voloj with Afrika Bambaataa, photograph by Joe Conzo

Photographs

In 2010, I photographed Benjamin Melendez for the Swiss magazine “tachles”. We met in his old neighborhood, the former Ghetto Brother turf, and he told me his story. It all started with these photographs.

Five years later, his story is now a graphic novel and the photographs I took back then became illustrations. Here an example of the way Claudia Ahlering turned my 2010 portrait of Benjy into a draft for the cover.

 

 

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Flyin’ Cut Sleeves – The story behind Ghetto Brother

 

The graphic novel “Ghetto Brother” tells the story of the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting and its central figure Benjamin Melendez aka Yellow Benjy.

In 1993, filmmaker Henry Chalfant and Rita Fecher, a teacher working in the South Bronx, put together the documentary “Flyin’ Cut Sleeves” which can be viewed here. Many of the illustrations used for the book stem from the footage filmed by Fecher in the 1970s and 1980s.

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.

Coming Up From NBM Publishing! Dungeon, Zombillenium, Geary and More!

It isn’t even Halloween yet and we are already celebrating the New Year here at NBM! We’ve just updated our Coming Up  section to show all our books planned through August!

A TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDER COMPENDIUM II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 ends with a bang with “The End of Dungeon” in Dungeon: Twilight, vol. 4 and the second installment of A Treasury of Victorian Murder Compendium by Rick Geary.

 Dior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February brings Annie Goetzinger’s Girl in Dior, detailing the start of Christian Dior’s House of Dior fashion empire.

101 OUTSTANDING GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LULU ANEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March sees 101 Outstanding Graphic Novels by The Rise of the Graphic Novel’Stephen Weiner and Lulu Anew by Etienne Davodeau (The Initiates),(previously announced as Jude Nude.)

GHETTO BROTHER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering’s biography Ghetto Brother– the story of Benjy Melendez, the notorious gang leader who engineered a gang truce- is out in April.

LOUISE BROOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE LIVES OF SACCO & VANZETTI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new direction for Rick Geary as he turns to fiction in Louise Brooks, Detective this May. His “Treasury of XX Century Murder” entry, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti will be rereleased in paperback format the same month.

DUNGEON Monstres vol.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dungeon may have ended in 2014, but the Monstres live on! Dungeon: Monstres, volume 5 will be out in June.”My Son the Killer” has two stories by Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, Blutch, and Frederic Bezian!

ZOMBILLENIUM VOL.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third volume of Zombillenium, “Control Freaks” will be out in July by Arthur de Pins.

 

See preview pages, descriptions and more in our “Coming Up” section of the site.

What are you most looking forward to out of this?