Robot 6

Benjamin Marra unleashes Gangsta Rap Posse #2 on an unsuspecting populace

You know, I briefly debated whether to slap the gloriously offensive cover for Gangsta Rap Posse #2, the latest installment in Benjamin Marra’s fictionalized/sensationalized homage to the likes of N.W.A. and other Tipper Gore–terrifying rap acts of the Bush-Clinton era, here on Robot 6. But then I realized: Is it really any worse than any given superhero comic image the Internet kicks around every week?

Marra’s series is a knowingly nasty-looking thought experiment, imagining what it would be like if hardcore hip-hop really were as Rambo-level violent as its practitioners sometimes made themselves out to be. This issue, which Marra unveiled on Thursday, sees the title characters square off against the LAPD, skinheads, record labels, and an ersatz George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, out for blood over uncleared samples. It’s coming straight outta Traditional Comics, Marra’s pulpy publishing imprint. Parental Advisory: Explicit Content.



And make it so!

” But then I realized: Is it really any worse than any given superhero comic image the Internet kicks around every week?”

Kind of setting the bar low there aren’t you? And yeah, it’s got similar themes to a lot of adventure comics (with some heavy subversion) and it lays them out in a much more blatant and politically incorrect manner and I suppose there is something to recommend that. But I’m kind of weary of giving racist or otherwise bigoted material a complete pass because it is “knowing” or “ironic”. I don’t think that this is worse than, say, David Heatley’s contribution to Kramer’s Ergot 7, but you’re justifying Marra’s image in the same way that Heatley’s work is often justified and if you can’t find any better way to recommend it I don’t think that speaks well to the trend in the art or its criticism.

^I’m lost. Are you calling Gangsta Rap Posse bigoted? If so you’re sort of missing the point of the whole thing.

Yeah, I’m kind of lost too, Julian. Could you elaborate?

For what it’s worth, here’s my review of the first issue of the series, and here’s my review of David Heatley’s My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down, which features “Race Comic,” which I assume’s the Heatley you’re talking about. Hopefully they can illuminate where I’m coming from on this.

I don’t think it’s bigoted. It’s crude, but that’s what Marra is after and that’s fine. My point had less to do with Marra in particular and more with this general trend I’ve seen in reviewing alternative comics material to brush aside deeper critiques of “offensive” material by labeling the approach as “knowing” or “ironic”. I know I’ve been guilty of doing that with some of Kim Deitch’s more problematic work so I don’t mean to have a holier than thou attitude, but I think it’s something to watch out for. The David Heatley comic I was thinking of was “The Hated Thing”, and I didn’t mean to say that you were defending Heatley here, but that Heatley has often used the same line of defense when people criticize his work like he does here:

That said, between your explanation and your review of the first issue of Gangsta Rap Posse you do give more justification for the comic than just being a “knowing” perpetuation of stereotypes and it was more of a knee jerk reaction to seeing that word in conjunction with your opening line about wondering if this was too offensive to post that inspired my first post. I apologize if I gave the impression that I was impugning your character.

Sean T. Collins

October 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

No apology necessary, Julian–I didn’t take it that way at all. Thanks for the clarification, and I’m glad the reviews helped clear things up on my end.

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