Two weeks ago, I dropped an article titled “DMC of Run DMC is Bringing Real NY Flavor to Comics.” Soon after posting it, a few people started runnin’ off with the mouth that DMC’s comics would have been relevant thirty years ago. Let’s be real here- DMC, AKA Darryl McDaniels, is always going to be a hip hop legend, but doesn’t mean this dude can’t make hot comics as well. Most of his current critics have not even been exposed to his current comic work. Their lips are moving but they have no facts to back their claims up. I understand people’s apprehension about outsiders thinking they can come in and start dropping comics based only on their name; I myself am a straight up comic book head and most celebrities can kiss my Yiddish behind.
But I wonder if these “critics” realize DMC is a lifelong comic book fan; do they realize he based his MC persona on his favorite comic heroes; do they realize that D has already brought on many of the top underground creators from comics and animation to work on his project? In fact, I fathom they know little of DMC’s legacy, his origin, his struggles and his passions. I would bet the only reference point they have to DMC is the logo they see on people’s t-shirts. Not surprisingly, that same article, which they probably never read, went quasi-viral. The hundreds of shares show that there is something DMC is bringing to comics that fans are thirsty for. The question is, why the heck does DMC, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, want to create a universe in his name… and what is it that he brings to the industry that fans yearn for?
I have been lucky enough to have attended numerous panels featuring DMC, and I have blessed with the opportunity to talk comics with the King face to face. I can attest to the fact that DMC is 100% legit. This cat bleeds comics. And as we get closer to his comic dropping in October, at each convention he attends, at every Q&A session he participates in, DMC beams with more passion. I heard him speak this past weekend at Boston Comic Con, and D and his crew made it clear that he doesn’t want to be the “king of comics,” but he does want to “participate,” to pay his respect to his comic book elders and to create a comic that is “authentic,” “original,” “entertaining,” “inspirational,” “motivational” and “educational.”
The panel began with DMC going over his fanboy credential. DMC was a sheltered Catholic school boy living in suburban, lower middle class Hollis, Queens. His school uniform made him a target for bullies. Comics empowered D, educated him and allowed him to escape his environment. With comics, he was able to travel to other boroughs and even other galaxies. He related to the heroes, especially those in the Marvel Universe who repped New York City. “When hip hop came over the bridge,” DMC connected comic book heroes to the “real life superheroes” in hip hop, such as Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. This was the beginning of DMC’s origin. The thing is, DMC never sold dope, he wasn’t a “stick up kid” and he “wasn’t robbing nobodies house.” So when he fell in love with hip hop, he had to sell his comics to afford turntables. As a shy dude, he would channel his favorite heroes’ personas to give him the courage to go on stage. He became the “devastating mike controller” who would “crash through walls, cut through floors, bust through ceilings and knock down doors,” as if he were the incredible Hulk. So publishing a comic is just the next step in DMC’s own storyline.
When asked what ages the title will target, Editor-In-Chief Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez made it clear they were not aiming it at any one demographic. Their goal is for it to appeal to fanboys and fangirls young and old. And even though it is for “all ages,” it will not talk down to kids. He stated:
What I wanted to do is create a book that everyone could celebrate. And when you listen to DMC’s music, back in the day, it was a music that everyone could listen to. And it was a music that brought all races, all ages together.
After DMC gave a shout out to Falcon taking over the Captain America mantle, Edgardo shot on the topic of representation in comics:
I’m obviously always very well aware of diversity, both obviously racially and… representing gender, as well. Equal representation is very big to me… [Having strong women] happened organically, because this is our lives. The women in our lives are strong: my fiancée, my mother, Darryl’s wife, his mom. All of these women in our lives are strong. Why wouldn’t we represent that?
And in terms of diversity, we grew up in a very diverse life. So why wouldn’t we represent that in our life. And we also grew up in New York City, so why wouldn’t we write a story about the rest of New York City. ‘Cause I love marvel, and I love all these other comics, but everything always happens in Manhattan… Like there’s no crime in East Harlem, there’s no crime in the Lower East Side. There’s no crime in Rego Park. Wait, I’m not done yet. There’s no crime in the South Bronx. There’s no crime in Hollis. There’s no crime in Long Island City…
And not to knock it, but I’mma call it as it is. If you have a limited view and a small sense and a very narrow look at the world that’s the world you’re going to project to the rest of the world. And that’s the truth. You can’t be mad because ‘why they ain’t putting more women in the book,’ ‘why they’re not putting more people of color.’ If all a creator knows is this, that’s what they’re gonna put out there. But if you get different creators to make more work, then it’s going organically show diversity. And were not doing it on some affirmative action tip. It’s happening organically. And when we made this book, we did not set out to say “we need another black superhero.
Yes, so much yes! (I hate that saying, but it really fits here.)
On topics the comic will target, DMC stated, “We are gonna address the issues. We gonna address homophobia. We gonna address AIDS. We gonna address alcoholism. We gonna address the drug epidemic.”
“Our revolution begins with the art,” DMC stated. He said that the first thing dictators do is shut down the artists and shut up the poets; he is going to provide artists with the opportunity to create change.
One thing the comic will not be is a “hip hop comic.” In fact, the term “hip hop” isn’t mentioned even once in the book. DMC is not a rappin’ superhero, but he is a hero that grew up surrounded by hip hop culture. He would have to be because the book takes place during the 1980’s, a period when hip hop was vibrant throughout the boroughs. It will be “authentic hip hop,” not the commercialized rap people see on TV today. This is about the culture- the graffiti, the b-boys, the creativity and the passion that is hip hop. And he is not a hero that only fights for certain demographics in the city. “The DMC character represents a superhero that’s for everybody,” DMC said.
Edgardo directly targeted the question- “Why does DMC want to make a comic book?” He made it clear: “I’m a Wednesday guy. I got a pull list. I’m real. I’m not just some kid that walks around wearing an X-Men t-shirt.” To those unfairly judging DMC’s comic, Edgardo said, “that’s cool, but read the book and let me know what you think before you start judging. And [comic]-heads are wack because they’ll be the first ones to be ‘yo, that shit shoulda dropped thirty years ago.’ What were you doing thirty years ago? What’s your contribution to American culture?”
Throughout the panel, DMC and Edgardo referenced the importance of independence. They didn’t have the huge PR of the big two, didn’t have the financial backing others benefited from. This entire project is fueled by their passion, with money they worked hard for. They did it to ensure it was the product they dreamed of, absent any background figure pulling their strings. Edgardo explained, “you physically have to go to your comic book shop, and actually ask them to pre-order this book for you because they’re not, on their own, going to buy twenty or fifty copies and put that on the racks for you. This is not the way this is. We don’t have the money that Marvel and DC does.”
DMC’s comic drops on October 29, 2014. You can preorder your copy of DMC #1 at your local comic shops now using code JUL141175.