by Paul Bowers
In its second year, Columbia's only combination hip-hop and comics convention will feature some big-name headliners: Hip-hop artist and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah will perform on Oct. 5, and Phife from A Tribe Called Quest will take the stage on Oct. 6.
Preach Jacobs, the Columbia musician and journalist who is organizing Cola-Con, says the artists are "signed, sealed, and delivered" for the convention. Other heavy hitters on the lineup include Sanford Greene, a comic book artist and Charleston native who has worked on Amazing Spider-Man and Deadpool, and LeSean Thomas, director of Adult Swim's Black Dynamite cartoon and co-director of The Boondocks.
So what's with the juxtaposition of spandex-clad crime fighters and rap visionaries? Jacobs says the two art forms are already "extremely interwoven," so he doesn't feel like he's forcing the fit. As with superheroes, "it's very rare that rappers go by their real name," Jacobs says. "There's always a concept of having an alias."
Good example: Ghostface Killah titled his 1996 debut album Ironman, and he frequently refers to himself by the nickname Tony Starks — a reference to Tony Stark, the wealthy industrialist who puts on a armored suit to save the world in Marvel Comics' Iron Man. The rapper's preoccupation with the comic book has had mixed results. Composer Jack Urbont sued Ghostface for sampling the theme music from the 1960s animated Iron Man series on his 2001 album Supreme Clientele, but in 2008, Ghostface got a brief cameo in the Iron Man movie. (The cameo was cut in post-production, but it can be seen in the deleted scenes on the DVD.)
Jacobs sees the crossover between rap and comics as going both ways. Japanese manga artist Takashi Okazaki is a hip-hop buff, and when his comic Afro Samurai made the jump to an animated TV series, Wu-Tang member RZA provided the score.
"People will come for the music," Jacobs says. "They'll stay for the comics."
Currently, Jacobs is trying to raise $4,000 to help put on the convention via the fundraising website Kickstarter. "When I do the type of program that I want to do, I don't start with a budget and then adjust the show according to a budget," he says. "I say, 'Alright, well, I would like to see this show. Let's see how much money we have to raise to get it.'"
Cola-Con will take place Oct. 5 and 6 at the Columbia Museum of Art. Admission is $25 for a day pass or $40 for a two-day pass (museum members pay $20 or $35). To find out more about the convention, visit Cola-Con's website. Tickets will be available soon through the Columbia Museum of Art website.