By | Friday, December 09, 2011 Leave a Comment
The S.O. passed along this link to an article about a work-in-progress graphic novel by Julian Voloj about Benjamin Melendez, who was instrumental in the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting which brought about a much-needed truce among the rival gangs of the South Bronx in the 1970s.

There's an excerpt of the work at the link. It looks as if Voloj, while a talented artist, isn't well-versed in comics. There look to be some minor issues with story flow, balloon placement and the like. But that said, I think it's a great sounded project and one worth keeping an eye on because it tells a story that no one else is telling. And I don't mean that in the cliched, "do you even know what unique means" kind of way. Voloj's story is picking up an obscure piece of history that I can guarantee will never be in any history book and, at most, maybe get only a passing mention in books about gang culture or hip-hop. He does note there's a condensed version of Melendez's importance in another article, but I don't think that has nearly the impact compared to what I'm seeing in the graphic version. I think that change of media will make the story significantly more accessible, more potent and, ultimately, more useful. In any event, it will certainly be something I think worth keeping an eye out for in the future.

An exhibit at the Bronx River Arts Center will begin this weekend, showcasing some of Voloj's work so far. And on Sunday, from 3:00 until 6:00, Melendez himself will be there as part of a panel discussion on "Activists and Artists Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting." If you're in the area, it sounds like it's worth checking out.
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