By Bruce Lidl

While wandering the aisles at the 2013 Alternative Press Expo in San Francicso this past weekend, overwhelmed by comics, comix, and knitted hats, the problems dominating Washington DC seemed very far away indeed. Yet, even here among the alternative nerds, we felt the effects of the government shutdown, depriving us of a long-awaited (at least by me) new graphic novel, Fantagraphics’ Hip Hop Family Tree from Ed Piskor (Wizzywig). Serialized over many months on the popular Boing Boing blog, Family Tree is an amazing graphic history of the rise, and rise, of hip hop from its early days in 1970s New York up until its mainstream breakout by the mid-1980s. With an almost obsessive level of historical detail and a clear desire to examine deeply the foundational myths of the birth of hip hop, Piskor has created a unique exploration of the music and the times that spawned it.

Originally slated for release at the San Diego Comic Con, and then delayed until early October and coinciding with APE, Family Tree instead got held up in customs as the government shutdown (or “slimdown” for Fox News viewers) has massively slowed down the work of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “They are not entirely closed,” according to Eric Reynolds, Associate Publisher of Fantagraphics, “but they are kind of working half time, so instead of having Family Tree at APE as we hoped, the books are sitting on the docks in New York.” Reynolds expects them to clear customs sometime this week, but instead of having them for sale at what would have been a welcoming audience at the APE show, potential customers will have to wait and track them down elsewhere.

The government delay also played havoc with Piskor’s schedule, forcing him to postpone an in-store appearance and signing at Chapel Hill Comics from this past Saturday night to November 16. You can also see Piskor speak Saturday October 19th as part of the Chicago Ideas Week conference.


  1. Does this affect comics printed in Canada?

    “Government Shutdown Furloughs Superman”

    Imagine the angry fanboys marching on Capitol Hill because their weekly comics are being held at Customs!

  2. Don’t worry, it’ll be over with in a few days and we can resume escalating a totally unsustainable debt again

    Solution for people who complain about $3.99 comics: Just charge ’em all to your credit card! That’s what you elect the politicians to do, all the time for everything, so you may as well do it yourself for every little item too.

    Calling it a “shutdown” when 90% of the government is still operating seems like more of a misnomer than calling it a “slimdown”. But if the term originated on Fox News than we all have to hate it, I guess.

    That Hip Hop Family Tree does look awesome, though. Love the style of the art. I plan to buy it and put it next to my copies of “Yes Yes Y’all: The Experience Music Project Oral History Of Hip-hop’s First Decade” and “There’s a God on the Mic” by Kool Moe Dee. That early era was just the best.

  3. For those of us who are not receiving a paycheck, it’s a SHUTDOWN! I don’t know where the previous writer got the figure that 90% of the government is still operating, but even if it’s true (which I doubt), I’m sure it will a great solace to those workers who live paycheck to paycheck, but I don’t think it will be much of a comfort for those who rely on government services that they are not receiving. I could go on, but I go to sites like this to get away from politics and I don’t think Ms. MacDonald would appreciate opening up a thread about America’s fiscal policies.

  4. Wait–Why don’t we just print these in America in the first place?

    Oh that’s right, because the unions AND the corporations worked hand-in-hand to make sure that the printing industry wouldn’t really be viable in this country anymore.

  5. ‘I don’t think Ms. MacDonald would appreciate opening up a thread about America’s fiscal policies.’

    As long as said thread follows the usual Beat protocol of liberals agreeing with one another, I don’t think there will be much of an objection.

  6. As the author of the piece, I will take all the “credit” for opening this can of worms, but regardless of my own political views, I really wasn’t looking to call out either side. Truly, I was just so flummoxed by the fact that the shutdown had actually affected the comics world at all. And for a book I have been totally waiting for!

    Ok, I’ll admit the “slimdown” call out was a little bit snarky, but I didn’t explicitly criticize it, so everybody can make up their own minds on that as far as I’m concerned.

    And now that it seems things are getting settled, we can all go back to our regular schedule of Beat liberals hating on each other for their taste in comics, rather than agreeing about politics.

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