To fully appreciate Concrete Immortalz, it helps to have some background on modern graffiti. The power of street graffiti is, in part, a product of its surroundings. It contrasts the mundane with something new and challenging. Images, words, tags, it forces the viewer into confronting a subject. A video by rapper Rhymefest shows the tag "Made You Look." In New York City in the 1970's, no one was looking. In the time before Disney musicals dominated 42'nd street, ACDC's "I Feel Safe In New York City" meant they were badass. New York was not exactly known for it's welcoming, friendly attitude, and it showed. The subways, trains, bridges, the very infrastructure of the city was falling apart and no one seemed to be doing much about it. Graffiti as we know it rose up in New York City around this time. Taggers mostly used subway cars as their canvas. As more people started to write their names, the writing became more elaborate. The more you were a consistent artist, the more respect you gained in the subculture. With large pieces that sometimes took up several cars appearing overnight, people started to take notice. The subway people had taken for granted to get around the city were suddenly given new attention. Of course, politicians like Mayor Koch claimed taggers were vandals, juvenile delinquents who had no respect for their surroundings that they defaced it. Millions of dollars were spent in an effort to curb the spread of graffiti. As soon as a piece went up, it was taken down as fast as possible to limit participation in creating more. Fast forward to a future where New York City is again in a state of disrepair. Claiming efforts to revitalize the city, a council headed by a charismatic leader comes together to expand construction, fight decay, and prosecute those who would threaten safety. However, only a certain few benefit from what they call progress. Suddenly, messages of dissent start appearing in public places. From these writings, the public begins to question what they have been told is the way of the world. This is what makes Concrete Immortalz a comic worth following; at its core it is a story about the purpose of art in society. One of the most interest points for artists and social critics alike is the philosophy behind a concrete immortal. It is not enough for an artist to be creative or talented; they must possess a drive to create an impact and move people through art. Graffiti takes its message straight to the people, and this is how the main character fights his war against lies and deceit. The series begins with "Concrete Immortalz: Insurrection" and continues with "Concrete Immortalz: Ruination." We see this dystopian New York City through the eyes of The Wall Lord, an embodiment of the passion, tragedy and talent present in all great men who have been capable of capturing the human spirit and leading their generation to revolution. The Wall Lord spreads messages of hope and rebellion against a totalitarian government, with truth and spray paint as his weapons of choice. The influence of graffiti culture is everywhere in the comic. As alluded to before, setting most of the action in New York City relates to the early days of the movement. The Wall Lord is dressed like a writer, his clothing covering everything but his eyes while armed with spray paint. Concrete Immortalz is produced by design firm Elite Gudz, which was founded by some of the graffiti art scene's most recognizable artists. Phetus, one of the creators of Concrete Immortalz, has been working as a graffiti artist since 1988. Contributors also include Cope2, who has been a graffiti artist since forming Kids Destroy in 1980. Cope makes a guest appearance in "Concrete Immortalz: Insurrection" and contributed an alternative cover for the issue. The series also has its own soundtrack, continuing the historic relationship between graffiti and hip-hop. Concrete Immortalz is more than a comic about graffiti. It is a story that explores the purpose of art and human expression as agencies of truth and change. Definitely a must-read for fans of graffiti, street art, hip-hop and comics.
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I'm a recent grad working on a writing career while reading whatever I can get my hands on. I to go where my experiences take me.
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