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.


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- 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.”

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!

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.


“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



Author Julian Voloj with Afrika Bambaataa, photograph by Joe Conzo