To call Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC, a legend would be an understatement. As a member of the pioneering hip-hop group Run-DMC, he left his mark on a genre of music in a way few before or since ever have. He’s also a serious comic book fan, and in 2014 launched Darryl Makes Comics along with Editor-in-Chief Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and Senior Editor Rigo “Riggs” Morales. Their first series, the aptly named “DMC,” takes the legendary MC’s hip-hop persona and gives it a decidedly super spin.
At New York Comic Con, the legendary performer and Miranda-Rodriguez joined Jonah Weiland in the world famous CBR Tiki Room to discuss everything from the latest issue of “DMC” — which introduces a brand new Latina hero — to how to authentically represent hip-hop culture in comics and more. They also weigh in, in no uncertain terms, about Marvel Comics’ hip-hop variant covers that have caused quite a stir since their announcement.
In the first part of their interview with CBR TV, McDaniels and Miranda-Rodriguez revealed the organic origins of “DMC’s” new Latina superhero LAK6, emphasizing that she isn’t just a “diversity” addition. They also discussed they recently announced “DMC” film adaptation and how the comic series is a passion project and not just a means to a paycheck and how that passion translates to keeping the book “authentic” to hip-hop culture.
On their new Latina superhero LAK6 and what inspired her creation:
Darryl McDaniels: We didn’t do it just for diversity. We’re not a bandwagon thing. We don’t do it just to make black superheroes or Latina superheroes or whatever. The world, the life, the culture we come from was always universal, it was always multicultural. Growing up in New York City in the late ’70s, early ’80s, it was breakdancers, it was graffiti, it was DJing and it was emceeing. It was a mixture of cultures that was making it the potent entity that it is.
Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez: She’s for me a composite character based on my mentor Iris Morales who was one of the original Young Lords, an activist group in the late ’60s and ’70s; Lady Pink who was a pioneer and graffiti writer in the late ’70s and ’80s; and taking those real women as inspiration, that was actually the driving force to give her that substance.
On the publishing side, I got to collaborate with Tula Lotay who is a phenomenal illustrator. She just blew me away and a lot of people don’t know but she’s a true hip-hop head growing up on Run-DMC, and also a foster child just like Darryl was and LAK6 was also a foster child. So, we kind of wanted a way to tie-in the real world to our fiction. We don’t want it to be after school special public service announcement but organically, she just happened to be a foster child. So, Tula and I, we worked together — I art directed her — and she came up with this amazing costume and it’s just the perfect next superhero. And we’re already working on characters for the next book.
On authentically representing the culture:
Miranda-Rodriguez: I talked to one of my friends who grew up in Williamsburg in the ’70s and he was like, “Yo, funny thing about a lot of these street gangs in that they wore the Hell’s Angels vests and cuts but they still rocked Jheri curls like they were freestyle singers and nobody had a motorcycle in New York City.” But we kept it authentic, which is why we even brought in graffiti writers into our book to keep it very, very authentic.
McDaniels: Yeah. The artists and writers create the universe and we bring in real graffiti artists to come tag up the buildings of the universe. It’s just a true blessing that a lot of our energy comes from our own experiences. But even now, even though we’re coming with this old school look, style and attitude, we can take from current events and put them in the book. We can talk on homophobia. We can talk on police shootings. With this universe, we can do some very universally impacting stuff that relate to people.
In the second half of the interview, the Darryl Makes Comics duo addressed the controversy surrounding Marvel Comics’ hip-hop variant covers, defending the publisher’s decision and the place of love they feel the covers came from. McDaniels also discussed the possibility of a Run-DMC biopic following the success of “Straight Outta Compton.”
On the Marvel Comics hip-hop variant controversy:
McDaniels: The perception was that they were trying to be cool? I don’t know why they would say that because when I go up in their offices, I can say 150 percent of the people up there at Marvel — and not the just the artists, the writers, the creators — I’m talking about the people that work there — they’re all hip-hop. That’s crazy. Maybe those guys are jealous because Marvel is doing it? Maybe they don’t want Marvel to rep hip-hop but you have to understand something: Marvel has been hip-hop.
Miranda-Rodriguez: And hip-hop has been Marvel. That’s the thing.
McDaniels: I don’t think it was a business decision. And the crazy thing is that it had to happen right now. We need something like that right now. When you say hip-hop now, the first thing people think is negativity, which is crazy.
Miranda-Rodriguez: I think what Marvel did with the hip-hop variants was that they actually celebrated an intergenerational experience of hip-hop. And let’s be specific, it’s hip-hop music, and hip-hop is a culture. There’s B-boying, there’s graffiti, there’s DJing. That’s just specifically a representation of hip-hop as musical art form, which is very corporate. These are, like, millions-selling units of records. So, if DC Comics did variants based on Hollywood movies, it’s the same thing as Marvel doing variants of hip-hop album covers.
McDaniels: And I don’t care if it’s Marvel or DC, I don’t care, I guarantee you, those superheroes, when they’re not out fighting evil, they’re sitting listening to hip-hop. [Laughs] When we do our variants, it’s the same thing. It’s a tribute.
Miranda-Rodriguez: I look at it as a celebration of art and culture. I think it’s kind of dope that they’re aware that we’re doing something and we’re aware they’re doing something.
On the possibility of a Run-DMC movie in the vein of “Straight Outta Compton”:
McDaniels: We’ve been exploring [those opportunities]. But outside of that, I’m probably 35 percent into the development of — not the Run-DMC story — my life story on Broadway. There’s a whole story that people don’t have any idea. It’s like, “I’m DMC. First to go gold. First to go platinum. First on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone.’ From the groundbreaking rap group Run-DMC, me, Run and Jay changed the world. But you think you know? You have no idea because neither did I.”