He’s the King of Rock and a die hard comic book fan, but Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is best known as a legendary hip-hop MC and for his time as part of Run-DMC. His newest venture is Darryl Makes Comics, a comic book publishing imprint that kicks off with “DMC,” a story that mixes 1985 New York City with hip-hop and super heroics. DMC spoke with Jonah Weiland in the CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to discuss the launch of Darryl Makes Comics, what the story of “DMC” means to him and his inclusive approach to storytelling. The MC-turned-comic creator also talks about the rise of geek culture and using big name artists on the comic.
On his history with comic books: It’s not like it was created just to have something else to do for me. I’m not the rapper just because I have a hit record is coming to mess up another genre. Before I ever picked up the microphone, before I transformed myself into the King of Rock, I was a little Catholic schoolboy who was an honor roll student. Always getting high accolades from my teachers. It was school, and it was coming home to immerse myself into the lovely world of comic books. And as a kid, it was Marvel for me because I lived in Queens, New York. Marvel showed me places in New York that I heard about and couldn’t go. Marvel was very real for me. And as a kid going to Catholic school you deal with the issues of bullying — comic books were the thing that made me feel empowered –comic books instilled in me everything that allowed me to become the person that I am today.
On hip-hop comics and why now is the right time for DMC to make his own: It was about a year ago I sat back and I said, “Okay, some of them are cool. Some of them are very gimmicky. The ones that are cool, why do they never work?” Then it hit me about a year ago. You don’t make a hip-hop comic, you don’t label it. You don’t call it a Jamaican comic just because you are a Jamaican artist or writer. You call it a comic book. My two friends Edgar and Riggs Morales, who are my two chief editors, I wouldn’t do it without them. They convinced me to — “If anybody could do a comic right, from the hip-hop generation, it’s you. Because you’re not doing a DMC comic book, even though that’s the name of it, this comic book is from the little boy Darryl who was a kid that loved comic books.” And that’s why this is going to work. It had to be done with integrity. It’s a tribute and celebration of the very comic book culture that didn’t just change my life, but every reader, regardless of race, creed, color, height, weight, religion, and age. This comic book is them, not just for them, it is them.
On diversifying and making comics for everyone: We’re trying to open up the lines of communication. There’s not a generation gap, it’s an information gap. How do you break down an information gap? It’s all through creativity. … This first issue even deals with domestic violence. What’s happening in the NFL that’s driving everybody crazy? So I got people that are reading this saying “You planned this.” No, we already were thinking that. Everything that exists in our society, everything that’s a reflection of you growing up, me growing up, the kid in Japan growing up, the kid in the ghetto growing up, the kid that’s father’s going to send him to Harvard growing up, when you think about the arts, that arts are the only thing that breaks down those walls of separation and communication. And basically speaking, everything I did with my music I’m able to do more with the comic books. This is more accessible. You can hold it. You can live it. When I was in school I was a great student because of this. I would learn about history, World War II, in class, but I would come home and Captain America would take me there — so everything that we deal with in our lives that is controversial, that is adventurous, is not really make believe or fantasy to the person reading the comic book. Everything that was given to me from the art in the pages of the comic books I became.
On geeks inheriting the earth, controlling media and changing stereotypes, and super heroes on the big screen: Now that it’s exploded so much in media, pop culture and Hollywood, it seems like the geeks are not ashamed in saying, “We’ve been there.” They expected the geeks and nerds to get all happy, we should look at people that were hating on us — truth be told the nerds and the geeks control entertainment, literature, they control everything that’s visual, they control all the art that’s on the wall, and they control technology.
On how he chose the artists for “DMC”: The whole purpose on this book was to be a tribute and celebration of comic book culture. So that’s why we worked with artists and writers who have drawn your favorite super heroes. People who have written and drawn for DC and Marvel, those are the people that I’m using so when you pick up the book — “Oh DMC is working with the guy that did ‘X-Men.'” Remember integrity. We want it to be authentic — the writers and the artists create the world with their god like abilities. But then we give a whole city to real graffiti artists to come in and write on the walls. The reason why we chose the ’80s-themed time period, when you think about the ’80s, old school doesn’t mean time period, it means consciousness.
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