Comic Creators Explain The Appeal of 'The Untouchables'
Tramp Daly is an internationally acclaimed artist who worked his way up from bombing NYC streets with Grafitti. The illustrator turned entrepreneur is known for pioneering a comic strip in The Source, MTV’s first hip-hop cartoon (Station Zero), and creative work with brands like Def Jam Records, LaFace Rocrds, EMI and more. Eventually, he was introduced to his now business partner, music producer/engineer Ishmael Ford-Bay, through a mutual friend and the rest was history.
The pair formed Starlight Studios created The Untouchables, a hip-hop based comic cartoon web series that chronicles five underground action heroes; Ishmael, 30/30, Mr. Dink, Half, & Ms. Xela from a project called Glass Manor in Capital City. After a new regime took over Capital City, the crime rate rose and the poor were left stranded to only rely on The Untouchables for justice. Political corruption and police brutality are at an all time high and a group of local gangs were organized by V.E.R.M.I.N. an evil underworld conglomerate that works hand in hand with the corrupt powers that be. They step on the throats of the good people of Capital City for their own personal gain. Capital City became a police state where the people struggled to survive. From The Untouchables is a crew with the strength to stand up and fight to win back the voice of the people.
Starlight Studios has teamed up with WorldStarHipHop for the 10 episode cartoon, which premieres every Monday and will run through mid-March. VIBE caught up with the duo to chat about what makes The Untouchables unique and why hip-hop heads will be able to relate.
What was the inspiration behind creating The Untouchables?
Tramp: We had an idea to do something like an X-Men. Ish was like, “I got a group, I got a collective group like Wu Tang from D.C.” and I was like, “We should do hip-hop,” and he goes, “These cats do,” so I went and listened to the music and I felt like they had some strong music. That’s when we formed Starlight Studios. We felt like it had to be real stories with The Untouchables. It wasn’t just music-driven, where it had to complement music, and the artists were gonna be real artists but the artists would also come into these characters and it was kind of our own version of X-Men but hip-hop in the city. It had this huge backstory that takes them around the world. But it really had the center point of the hood but in kinda dealing with issues like the evil characters, like the cult, V.E.R.M.I.N., that’s the archnemesis for The Untouchables and we deal with some of the ills kids go through. We don’t get heavy, heavy-handed with it but we get to a point where they fight through that and they also learn the back story of their ancestry and they start to realize certain things, like each of them have a key and the key kinda unties the mystery.
Why do you think young hip-hop heads can relate?
Ish:I think they already into the cartoon, animation and all that, action-movies like
Batman, Iron Man--this generation is like really into that but we don’t have anything that represents the hip-hop culture as far as an animated series or cartoon or anything like that because a lot of times, when it’s based off an artist, people try to do comedy, they don’t do like anything like a drama or a well thought-out product with writers. This is what Tramp has been doing for 20 years, and we’re getting a great response thus far. Our first episode got 4.2 million views, so I think that tells they kinda like it.
How does The Untouchables revolutionize hip-hop and comic culture?
Ish: We first revolutionize it by giving it a hip-hop voice, so it’s not like we have any competition. It’s not like if you want to look at a hip-hop comic, you have to just choose from The Untouchables or this or that, or something just in general, like cartoons or comics, whether they want to look at Batman, Superman, Iron Man, we’re kind of in a lane of our own. Like I said, it’s hip-hop. The music is infused into the animated comic strips. It’s like real-life situations but also a lot of fictitious situations and different things like that, but we’ll be touching bases on a lot of the things that may be happening right now in the world today so it’s not totally fictitious, maybe fictitious but intertwined with some reality and something real.
In short, what are each of your coolest points about The Untouchables?
Ish: One) You’ve never seen anything like this. It’s not really for children, it’s more for teens or young adults. Two) Of course, it’s entertaining, that’s why we made it! Three) It’s intriguing and it’s well-written, so it’s not like you’re watching like, “Oh, this is a cool little thing,” you actually see one episode, two episodes, three episodes and you can’t wait to see episode four. It really keeps your attention.
Tramp: I would just add that it always seems to be like when you go to the culture of hip-hop, they seem to have a bad taste of what’s going on right now, like, it’s too corporate, it’s hard to get in--and one thing we looked back at was that hip-hop to us--it’s in your being. Either you need to do something or not do something. You need to get in the mix or not and I think people tend to forget that. They want the fun stuff, but what we talk about is doing it. Like its hard work but it’s the best time of our lives doing it so we think that’s part of what we’re trying to do. I think a lot of people get a good feeling around it and we want people to understand that we’re creating a new movement.