Historically, comics have never accurately embodied the world we live in. Geekdom is much more diverse than The Big Bang Theory would have you believe, and many in the nerd community are tired of having a universe that does not fairly represent our lives. At the same time, the image that the media feeds us of hip hop is rarely a fair depiction of the culture. Many modern, commercialized rappers claim to represent “hip hop,” but MCing is only one aspect of a larger culture, a culture these rappers are not invested in. Luckily, Hip Hop legend, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and total comic book head DMC has launched a new comic that will give a realistic take on both the NYC streets the characters live in and Hip Hop.
DMC, AKA Darryl McDaniels, is teaming up with some of the best creators in comics for his new imprint Darryl Make Comics. The first graphic novel, set to drop in October 29, 2014, is appropriately titled DMC. The lead character is an alternative version of McDaniels. Instead of battling sucker MCs, this DMC is a superpowered teacher who fights reprehensible villains. The backdrop of this story is the city where both Hip Hop and comics were born.
Note: While the graphic novel will certainly feature the vibrant Hip Hop lifestyle that thrived in 1980s NY, the larger Darryl Makes Comics universe aims to represent all the different cultures and demographics throughout the world… and eventually the universe!
I had the chance to chat with Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the Editor-In-Chief of Darryl Makes Comics. We talked about numerous subjects including the importance of authenticity in character representation:
[W]hen you have diversity, it’s just authentic. If we’re going to tell stories we want all of our stories to be rooted in reality. Obviously we’re doing supernatural stories, telling with power and what not, but a story that’s set in New York City has to have its authenticity, and its authenticity comes from diversity. So it’s not like we’re doing it on an affirmative action movement, we’re doing it because it’s just real. The graffiti crews were as diverse; you had white kids, Latin kids, black kids. That was just a fact. It wasn’t an all-white crew; it wasn’t an all-black crew.
B-boy crews are the same thing. It was like you had Latinos, African Americans, and white kids. It was always diverse. I grew up in the South Bronx. I had African American friends, Asian, Latino, or white. It was just what it was. It’s really unfortunate when you have a lot of stories that are told and you only see one representation, mostly white male. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to sell authentic stories by actually showing diversity, but diversity to us isn’t on the top of our bulletin board. It’s just there because it’s organic.
The storytelling I think would be more authentic to tell in the 1980s because New York City nowadays is so clean and pretty and so condo-fied with beautiful windows on these buildings. It’s like hiding the fact that there’s been a class struggle, there’s still relevant issues, that there’s still concerns, that there’s still a need and there’s still a lack.
I think, from a storytelling perspective, you put out a book in the ’80s, the city was grimy, it was gritty. Nobody wanted to live in the city in the ’80s. You see what I’m saying? Telling the story from that perspective is a lot easier. It’s harder for a comic book or story to say, “Oh, wow, look at all these poor people struggling.” When people think of New York nowadays all they think of are these beautiful glass condos that light up the skyline. No, there is class struggle. “Really? Where are they?”
I think in the ’80s it’s a lot easier to show it because it was visibly and visually there. Also from a storytelling perspective the ‘80s were actually like, there was graffiti everywhere; it was on the trains, it was on walls. There were b-boys everywhere. B-boys and B-girls were battling. It was hip-hop fashion everywhere. It was flavor, it was culture. It wasn’t corporate-ized yet. It wasn’t quantified yet, it wasn’t packaged yet. It was organic.
Regarding using the comic to educate:
In my alter ego, I’m a full-time father. I’m also an art director, but my background actually, I was a community activist for many years working with a grassroots organization in Brooklyn called El Puente. My background comes from very progressive politics and very progressive work and many of my colleagues, including myself, were former teachers and many of my friends are still teaching. It isn’t so much blatant that we’re trying to make this into a curriculum, but I do open the doors if anybody wants to explore the opportunity of looking at our product as a jump off to talk about issues of class, issues of race, issues that affect inner city young people to the this day then so be it.
I don’t want people to think that we’re putting out a product that is heavy on a theme, heavy on a message.… Reality is “art is art.” It’s up for interpretation. If people look at our book, and they can find something to jump off in any direction, then that’s beautiful. Then it’s actually met its purpose. It’s meant to inspire, it’s meant to start dialogue, continue dialogue. On the flip side of it, it’s also meant to inspire people to become artists, become writers, to become something that this book can leave an open door to. I look at this book as something that will inspire young people, young adults, and adults in general; people of all backgrounds.
About future plans for the Daryl Makes Comics universe:
My dream is that we’ll actually have a line of different stories that inspire and storytelling for years to come. Daryl puts it bluntly that he wants this to be something that happens for decades and I will totally follow him on that, and I will champion this for him. My dream for this is … I’m keeping it modest. I want to have one amazing graphic novel next year that I can sit down with my son and all of his friends and read it to them. That if we could all experience and share in the love of storytelling.
Daryl will let this universe go as far as an imagination will take it, and if you look at his life as a metaphor, his life has taken him all around the planet. If his music can take him to Saturn and to other universes beyond, it would have done so by now if it hasn’t already. I don’t see this comic book being limited by any means as a result.
The DMC graphic novel is going to hit stands on October 29, 2014. It features top creators such as Ronald Wimberly (of Prince of Cats and Sentences fame), Felipe Smith (Ghost Rider), The Madtwiinz (Blokhedz) and many more, and includes graffiti by Carlos Mare. The masterminds behind the project are Publisher Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Editor In Chief Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, and Senior Editor Riggs Morales.
Preorder your copy of DMC #1 at your local comic shops now using code JUL141175. (Get your orders in soon because October orders are going to be finalized soon; if you don’t request your copy you may not get one.)