Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, 53, formerly of Run-DMC, will be part of a panel discussion alongside other creators of his artistic property, Darryl Makes Comics (DMC) at Baltimore Comic-Con, Sept. 23.
The AFRO interviewed McDaniels about his history with hip-hop and comic books.
“Before hip-hop came to me as a music my whole existence was comic books,” McDaniels said. “Comic books influence [and] empowered me to be so powerful when I picked up that microphone.”
McDaniels grew up following the comics of major publishers Marvel and DC Comics.
“Flash was one of my favorite comic book characters to draw. Justice League. Wonder Woman. Green Lantern. Love ‘em,” McDaniels said.
But even with fictional places like Stark Tower, the Baxter Building and Nelson & Murdock, Marvel’s decision to set the action in a real city drew McDaniels to the franchise.
“Gotham and Metropolis were fictional,” McDaniels said. “Stan Lee was brilliant because he had the superheroes running around New York City. So, for me being this little Catholic-School-kid growing up in New York City, every time I opened a Marvel comic book, I got a geography lesson about the city that I lived in.”
Hip-hop and comics had other connections, McDaniels told the AFRO, including the combination of “old-school” flair and innovation.
“The old school is a consciousness and a convention of how you artistically and creatively present yourself,” McDaniels said.
McDaniels explained that everything exists on some sort of continuity, taking old concepts and aesthetics and combining them into new works. The works of comic book icons Jack Kirby and Stan Lee demonstrate that continuity: Captain America’s swashbuckler boots hearken back to the last generation’s adventure serial films and Iron Man, while very high-tech, is literally an armored knight, he said.
The Hip Hop and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee described the last generation of hip-hop artists and New Yorkers as in a fight for their very lives.
“People thought New York City was heaven, but it took some young brothers and sisters, young boys and girls, out of the South Bronx, to say that it was like a war zone and to give us the message,” said McDaniels. “There was so much so-called ‘tech’ invented, and hope and creativity, that we had to use what weapons we had available, but we also was able to enhance the weapons that we had with technology.”
That experience colors the DMC universe, which is rife with ‘80s riffs.
“Maybe it is 1985 but, in what galaxy or what dimension? Maybe it’s 1985 with three zeroes after it,” McDaniels said of his comics’ setting. “In my universe, it could not just be because of social conditions, it could be after the bomb that blew up. The readers will find out later. We made it an ‘80s-like universe to represent the time that we grew up in—the art, the music and the literature and everything that was influencing us.”
McDaniels and the other creators of DMC will be at the Baltimore Convention Center, Sept. 23, in the Fourth Floor Ballroom from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.