DMC Saves the World

It's 1985, and New York is crime-ridden, graffiti-stained and simmering with racial tension. The hero -- dressed in an Adidas tracksuit and sneakers, with brass knuckles embossed with "D.M.C." -- is doing his part to protect the powerless.
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"I'm the king of rock, there is none higher
Sucker MC's should call me sire...
DMC stands for devestating mic control
You can't touch me with a ten foot pole...
My name is Darryl, you can call him D
You can call me Darryl Mack, or you can call him DMC
People always ask, "DMC, what does it mean?"
D's for never dirty, MC for mostly clean
Like we said before, we rock hardcore
I'm DJ Run, I can scratch. I'm DMC, I can draw"

King of Rock, RUN DMC, 1985
Written by Darryl McDaniels and Produced by Russell Simmons

With those lyrics RUN DMC went onto rule the airways for most of the 1980s, but as DMC aka Darryl McDaniels tells me, even then their handles were alter egos, with superheroes influencing them all over their records. Cut to 2014, and McDaniels was omnipresent at New York Comic Con taking photos and talking to fans about his new comic and comic book company DMC (Darryl Makes Comics). In the book, which takes place in the milieu of 1980s urban NYC, a superhero called DMC is busy trying to save the city.

For Mr. McDaniels, who conceived of the premise and worked with a team to make the project a reality, DMC is a celebration of his lifelong love of comics.

"I was a kid who had my lunch money taken away," Mr. McDaniels said, the neighborhood bullies in Hollis, Queens, had decided he was rich because of his Catholic school uniform. "The walk home to my house was terror ridden. Spider-Man took me to a place where everything was great." The world presented in DMC also needs a beacon of hope. It's 1985, and New York is crime-ridden, graffiti-stained and simmering with racial tension. The hero -- dressed in an Adidas tracksuit and sneakers, with brass knuckles embossed with "D.M.C." -- is doing his part to protect the powerless.

I spoke to Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the editor in chief of Darryl Makes Comics, which publishes the book.

How long have you known Darryl?
I've been friends with Riggs Morales for about 6 years. Although he and I have our respective careers, whenver we spoke it was always about comic books. He eventually collaborated with me on my second art exhibition with Marvel. My first exhibition was Joe Quesada's first solo art show "Santerians: The Art of Joe Quesada" centered around a group of Latino characters he created rooted in Cuban spirituality. When Riggs and I collaborated it would be for Marvelous Color, an art exhibition that celebrated Marvel's 70th anniversary by honoring its most iconic African-American superheroes. This show brought together comic book professionals and music industry professionals together for the first time.


Riggs worked for over 10 years for Eminem's record label Shady Records. He moved on to Atlantic Records as Vice President of A&R & Artist Development and invited me over to see his new offices. When I arrived, he apologetically cut our meeting short because he had someone he wanted me to meet. When we walked over the board room and opened the doors there was DMC sitting there with a big smile on his face.

DMC and I talked about comic books and this idea he had to make comic books. I was engaged immediately by his energy but mostly by his humility. He truly wanted to tell stories. Fun stories. He wasn't bent on starting an empire. He just wanted to see himself as a superhero. I said if he wanted to make a comic book, he should do it himself. I asked him not to license his likeness to another publisher nor to another creative team. I said if you did it with music and fashion, you could do it with comic books. I asked him what would he call his company and he quickly responded "Darryl Makes Comics."

He had ideas from the beginning where this story would start and go. He wanted to mirror some of his personal life sans the music. His mother and father always expected the best from him and held education at a high regard so he knew from the beginning his alter ego would be an English teacher, not a rapper. He had ideas about his powers and I added to the conversation and thought that our story should happen in the 1980s while he was at the height of his music. In an alternate universe, he'd be a superhero instead.

What did it take to bring all this to fruition?

I spoke with my good friend Axel Alonso at Marvel and he introduced me to Ronald Wimberley and Damion Scott who could work with our ideas and flesh it out into a working script. This collaboration continued as Riggs, Darryl and myself continued to embellish the working script. I sat down at my fiance's studio in East Williamsburg and started sketching out ideas for what a DMC superhero outfit would look like. Once I had a sketch we were all happy with, I collaborated with Shawna Mills and Dexter Vines to bring it to life.

We added Jam Master Jay to the story. He was a dear friend to Darryl and helped him throughout his life. As a tribute to him, we created "Jase" who later would become a critical ally to the superhero DMC. Not as a sidekick, but as a confidant and especially as his stylist. Did you know JMJ came up with the original look for Run DMC? Black fedoras, leather blazers, black Adidas suits and white Adidas Superstar 2's with black stripes? It was fitting that JMJ would "fit" DMC with his superhero outfit.

We set the stage the summer of 2013 and announced to the world we were going to make this graphic novel. That fall at the New York Comic Con, Damion Scott and Ronald Wimberly quickly knocked out a zero issue while we were still putting together the roster for the graphic novel. I recruited a diverse roster to give DMC a sense of history and artistic diversity. If DMC were an actual comic book since the 1980s there would have been over a doze artists by now that would have interpreted him. Also, he's a superhero from the streets of Nueva York. That means every person you meet and talk to would have a completely different take on what he looked like. We ran with this idea and put together a team of artists each with their own distinct style and following. From animation to traditional comic book storytelling our artists represent the past and future of comics.

We produced our book through the end of 2013 into the middle of 2014. It was exciting to see this abstract idea truly form into an actual publication. An indepedent publication. My 10 year old son Kian was there the whole journey, from character designs, thumbnails to finished colored pages. He became enamored by DMC and it truly intrigued me how a little boy could find this story exciting. We toured the country atteding comic cons in Kansas City, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Diego and back to New York and learned that our new book was reaching a new demographic. We were bringing back fans of comic back to the stores. People were drawn by DMC's charisma and honest sincerity to tell stories. When DMC talks about comics, he's that little boy reading Deathlok or Shang Chi all over again. So am I.

It's very surreal to have in my childhood sold original comics to my friends that I would write and draw to working alongside a great team that just love telling stories. Our stories. It's exciting to learn after just a year and a half that our stories are also everyone elses. We created a new superhero and we're so happy that we did.

What else can we expect from the DMC universe?

Just before releasing the graphic novel at this year's New York Comic Con we already started talking to toy companies and animation studios about where else we can take this new character and its universe. We're looking at portfolios and negotiating schedules with artists. We're starting our second graphic novel and hope to have it completed in time for next fall. The next book will expand where we left off. This first book was truly the origin of a universe, now we have to delve deeper into the characters and introduce new characters that will contintue to shape the universe. All the while, I know we all will be enjoying the ride.

DMC #1 is available at comic-book stores and fine bookstores everywhere.


Riggs Morales, Darryl McDaniels and Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez at New York Comic Con

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