D.M.C. Says Comics & Hip-Hop Culture Are Synonymous & Releases New Marvel Issue.
Darryl McDaniels has devoted his life to Hip-Hop as one third of Run-D.M.C. The Hollis, Queens MC has dedicated more than four decades to the pursuit of music, but he has always been open about the other love of his life: comics. Since his early childhood, DMC has explored the worlds of superheroes, villains, far-away places and times until he one day decided to create his very own comics. Having publically battled with depression, the world of comic books likely offered a sense of escape and in 2014 he made his formal entry into the world of the comics industry via his own imprint, Darryl Makes Comics. Later that year, the brand new publishing company made its debut with DMC, a graphic novel set in 1985 which draws much inspiration from the Hip-Hop aesthetic. Having often admitted that he was always a die-hard fan of Marvel, it came as no surprise to Heads when his name appeared in the third installment of Marvel’s Guardians of Inifinity. Together with his creative partner and illustrator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, McDaniels linked up with Watch Loud where the two talked shop in a unique interview that will delight Heads of Hip-Hop and Heroes.
As Watch Loud’s Cine Masai writes, McDaniels’ and Miranda-Rodriguez entry into the Marvel family comes at a time when diversity in the industry is a frequent topic of discussion, and “the fact that two of the independent comic industry’s most talented minds of color are on the team is nothing short of a good sign.” Linking up with one of the most iconic names brings with it no shortage of pressure; Marvel was founded 77 years ago as Timely Comics and has since become one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies. On teaming up with the company McDaniels shares, “It’s a scary huge responsibility. I’m humbled, but it’s the scariest thing ever. We’ve gotta live up to the expectations of the fans/readers.” Miranda-Rodriguez sings McDaniels’ praises in handling the pressures, saying “When you’ve got DMC as your right-hand man, it’s like Tony Stark saying ‘We’ve got a Hulk.’ He’s not full of himself; he says he’s the greatest of all time, and he giggles to himself every time he says that.”
Soon enough, details about the specific storyline in the duo’s issue come to light. McDaniels says that once Marvel approached him and asked him what his dream match-up between two of the company’s characters would be, he didn’t hesitate. “Grimm and Groot immediately came to mind for me. Ben Grimm, with his personality and the cigars. With Groot, even though he only says ‘I Am Groot,’ he says so much with his personality without being as in-your-face as Ben Grimm,” he says. His attraction to Groot goes further, as McDaniels calls him the “the cool jazz cat. There’s something jazzy about Groot; he’s definitely Daddy Cool.” It’s Grimm, however, who represents Hip-Hop pretty clearly. “He knows about kickin’ lyrics, breakdancing, graffiti. He was on his way to a different planet, but he saw the block parties and graffiti,” he posits. The Hip-Hop inspiration also made its way into Miranda-Rodriguez’ perspective, particularly as it relates to the issue’s cover art. As he explains, “Crazy Legs is one of my oldest friends. He has a collection of flyers; Grandmaster Flash, Treacherous Three, etc… I was aware of the Hip-Hop [variant covers for Marvel comics], and I wanted to find a different and unique way to homage Hip-Hop and Marvel at the same time.”
McDaniels’ was unsurprisingly a big supporter of Marvel’s decision to release variant covers to classic comic books styled after equally classic Hip-Hop album covers. “I think they’re the most awesome incredible thing to ever ever happen. I was disillusioned at people who were mad at it,” he says, suggesting “Maybe those people really didn’t know. Marvel Comics is in NY, homie…Marvel comics and hip-hop culture are synonymous, point blank.” He also acknowledges another contemporary example of the bridging between Hip-Hop and comics, namely Ed Piskor’s Hip-Hop Family Tree series. “What’s beautiful about that is that [Ed Piskor’s] giving you the untalked part of Hip-Hop culture through comic books…Ed’s educating people about the real history of the culture through the culture that’s responsible for his existence, the superheroes of Hip-Hop before they were even on record.”