Interview: D.M.C. Of Run-D.M.C. Fame Plots Comic Book Takeover
Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels is on a mission. The member of the iconic hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is out to change the face of comic books. The man with the legendary booming vocals has collaborated on his own superhero vision titled (what else?) DMC. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is some half-ass vanity project. D.M.C. is a serious man. “Rappers will mess things up,” he says of his new venture, which is due out in graphic novel form in January of 2014. “I don’t want to be another rapper trying to make a buck off of comics. Or trying to do something that is trivial or corny. This is no joke.” In this comic book, DMC is not a game-changing MC. He is an English teacher who also happens to be a powerful superhero fighting on the side of good. Fresh off of an appearance at last week’s New York’s Comic-Con, the rapper is well aware that there are few writers and artists of color in the predominantly white comic book biz. He shares a passion for expanding the worlds of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, the Black Panther and Storm with partner Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Editor-In-Chief of D.M.C,’s Darryl Makes Comics. “[DMC] wants to tell stories to inspire all generations like he did with his music,” says the veteran comic book artist, who curated “Marvelous Color” for Marvel Comics’ 70th anniversary. “His passion is what inspired me to become his partner in starting our own publishing company.” VIBE chopped it up with the legendary D.M.C. to discuss his new venture, why he believes he can compete with the likes of Marvel and DC, his plan to put on artists and writers who have been shut out from the comic book fraternity, and his vision for a world where everyone, beyond color, sex and economic background, can save the day. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
VIBE: Can you talk about your inspiration behind the DMC comic book? Writers and artists have long had to depend on Marvel and DC to deliver their vision. What pushed you to say, “Okay, let’s side step all that?” D.M.C.: Before hip-hop came over the bridge and changed my life, I was going to Catholic school. So for me growing up, it was school and it was comic books. Going to Catholic School back in the day, I also had to deal with that bullying stuff. And comic books were kind of my release. It was that world I could go to that empowered me, made me feel good, educated me. I learned some things about World War II; I learned about economic issues and science through comic books. So me and brother we collected them, and our favorite was Marvel. We had Hulk, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, the Avengers, we had all these Marvel comics that we collected. So you were a pretty hardcore collector, huh? I really was. But what ended up happening is hip-hop happens and changes me and my brother’s life. So we did a comic book sale where we sold the majority of our comics to buy two turntables and a mixer. Before I heard people say, “Yo, Run-D.M.C., y’all dudes were like our superheroes!” It was the same thing for me when it came to Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Cold Crush Brothers, Afrika Bambaataa & The Zulu Nation, and Funky Four Plus One. They were my real-life heroes. Even if you listen to my own music with Run-D.M.C., all the rhymes I’ve said were like, “Crash through walls, cut through falls, bust through ceilings and knock down doors…I’m the devastating, mic controller D.M.C.!” Every time Run would come to me and say, “D, we need to make a record,” it was easy for me because I would just imagine what the Hulk or Iron Man would do. So of course the question is how serious is a legendary music artist known for being a member of one of hip-hop’s greatest acts about this comic book venture? I’m very serious. This isn’t a hip-hop comic book. It’s a comic book that incorporates my culture. Given my culture, my DNA, my generation of hip-hop, it will have those themes, images and ideals. But this is not a hip-hop comic book. Can you talk about the lead character of DMC? Yes. The worse thing you can do when you do a “hip-hop” comic book is have everybody breakdancing, rapping and doing graffiti. But the DMC superhero isn’t a rapping superhero. In the world that we are in right now, Darryl McDaniels is the King of Rock who is a member of Run-D.M.C. But in an alternate universe Darryl McDaniels is not an MC from Run-D.M.C. The thinking is, what if he was really a superhero? So this character still has those important ideas and themes and concepts out of my music. But in the comic book, I’m an English teacher at a school, but I’m also a superhero! Are we talking traditional comic book distribution? That’s a great question…I’m glad you asked me that. I’m using the same distributors that distribute Marvel and DC. This isn’t a one-off. With this first issue of the DMC graphic novel and comic book series, I just happen to be the first known superhero in this universe. It’s not going to be just a series of DMC comics. I’m just the first character in this universe. There’s going to be totally different superheroes—female heroes; Latin heroes; Asian heroes; some of the characters in the Darryl Mac universe won’t even be hip-hop. This is a serious venture that we put together to stand side-by-side with Marvel and DC. The purpose for me doing this is to give every writer, artist, inker and anybody that wants to work on a comic book a chance; to show them you can have a place. That’s something rarely seen when it comes to people of color who want to venture into comics, right? Right. The thing with Run-D.M.C. is the same way we knocked down walls for Public Enemy, Lil Wayne and Jay-Z to do their thing, that’s what I want to do with this comic book. Kid Rock would always tell me if Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith had a baby I’d pop out. Travis Barker told me, “Forget ‘Walk This Way.’ I heard ‘Rock Box’ and knew what I wanted to do. I was just with Dave Grohl from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters and he told me, “Man, me, Kurt [Cobain] and all of us were at those Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy show!” So the same thing that we did with hip-hop is what I want to do with this book. When will we see the DMC book in stores? The first issue is going to be a full-size graphic novel coming out in January. And after the first graphic novel, the DMC comic book series begins. We will probably get up to 35 issues and then we will produce an issue featuring the next character, and so on and so forth. This is serious.