Pittsburgh’s ‘Hip-Hop Family Tree’ comic artist to speak at RIT Nov. 2

School of Individualized Study hosts two campus events with cartoonist Ed Piskor




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Ed Piskor

Life has been good for independent comic artist Ed Piskor. He reached his own superhero status with rave reviews from The New York Times and The Washington Post for his Hip Hop Family Tree series in 2013—which was later selected by NPR’s Book Concierge as Our Guide to 2015’s Great Reads. The graphic novel also won the 2015 Eisner Award for “Best Reality-Based Work.”

The School of Individualized Study at Rochester Institute of Technology welcomes Piskor for its inaugural Comics Studies workshop and lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The student workshop will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at University Gallery; the presentation is open to the public from 5 to 7 p.m. at Gosnell Hall auditorium, room 1250.

“Comics are more important now than ever, and Ed Piskor’s work is a remarkable example of how comics can help us understand our culture and our history,” said Daniel Worden, visiting assistant professor in the School of Individualized Study. “We are excited to have him talk to our students about his work and ‘making it’ as an artist.

“Over the past few years, more and more academics, colleges and universities have become interested in comic studies, and in the School of Individualized Study, we will be offering a new course this spring called ‘Comics: Image and Text in Popular Culture.’ The course will introduce students to the long history and unique form of the comics medium; it’s part of what we hope will become a larger program around comics at RIT.”

Piskor, a graduate of The Kubert School of cartooning and graphic art in Dover, N.J., has been cartooning professionally since 2005. He starting drawing with the author of American Splendor comics, Harvey Pekar, and the duo continued working together on two graphic novels, Macedonia and The Beats. Piskor began self-publishing Wizzywig after developing a huge interest in the history of hacking and phone phreaking. The comic was collected and published as the graphic novel Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker by Top Shelf Publications in 2012.

Recently the cartoonist has designed the characters for the new Adult Swim series, Mongo Wrestling Alliance, and action figures of the iconic rap group Public Enemy for Presspop Toy. His ongoing series Hip Hop Family Tree has been published in four volumes by Fantagraphics Books.

The School of Individualized Study is Rochester Institute of Technology’s academic unit for individualized degrees, custom designed to best meet students ideas, interests and career goals. The school enrolls more than 800 undergraduate and graduate students and provides academic programs to 400 students at RIT Kosovo. SOIS is RIT’s largest provider of online courses and offers three undergraduate credentials in applied arts and science, an MS degree in professional studies, and several advanced professional certificate programs.

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Ed Piskor