Many of us saw the Black Eyed Peas perform at halftime during Super Bowl XLV; the hip-hop pop crossover act also opened the Steelers' 2009 season at Heinz Field. But that's not the end of the group's local ties. A new comic-book biography of the group has a Pittsburgh connection that's unrelated to the gridiron.
Kristoffer Smith, a 26-year-old graduate of CAPA High School and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, was tapped to illustrate the Black Eyed Peas issue of FAME, a series of biographical comics about pop figures from Taylor Swift to David Beckham.
A Pittsburgh native, Smith dabbled in graffiti before settling in as a mural artist; he spent time living, working and teaching in California before returning to Pittsburgh to work out of his current Rankin studio.
Smith, who illustrated a Lady Gaga biography for FAME last year, says the subject of pop cult figures is just another form of work for him: not necessarily a passion, but certainly not a drag. Some subjects, however, do appeal more than others.
"Lady Gaga -- I knew who she was, and everyone sees her in the media all the time," Smith says. "But I wasn't a really huge fan. But I did have a lot of fun working on the book. Now, the Black Eyed Peas -- I'm a huge fan of the Black Eyed Peas. I got to see them years ago when they opened for The Roots."
The Black Eyed Peas issue of FAME, due this month, was written by M. Zachary Sherman (who's also done work for Marvel, in addition to video-game writing and digital effects for movies). FAME is published by Bluewater Productions, also known for its Female Force series -- comic books about women in politics -- and Political Power, a series with issues on Barack Obama and Glenn Beck, among others.
The music-related illustration work doesn't end here for Smith: His next project is on D.M.C. of hip-hop legends Run-D.M.C. "It's a little more sci-fi, superhero fantasy rather than biographical," he says.
For more information, visit www.bluewaterprod.com.