It’s hard to know where to start when you’re going to interiview Darryl McDaniels. I mean, it’s Darryl DMC McDaniels! The Devastating Mic Controller! One third of the first commercially successful hip-hop band in history. It doesn’t matter that I’m not personally a huge Run DMC; their music is so ingrained within popular culture that it’d be a struggle to find someone unable to name a single song they’re involved in.
The funny thing, though, is that he doesn’t act like he’s a big deal. Despite the stern manager Darryl was a consistently honest, eloquent, humorous human being, one you wouldn’t expect to be famous on such a level as he is. The key to which is, I think, the fact that he’s a comic book lover before a music lover, and in this world he still has some way to go.
He’s ambitious, to say the least. Thought Bubble was the debut for both DMC #2 and #1.5, created with the fantastic Tuta Lotay, but he dreams of the status of DMC comics decades from now, when he hopes their universe will be as well-known as Disney or Marvel. Although he could easily have worked with Marvel, he followed sound advice and went it alone instead, in order to maintain full control (and for the record, Marvel are huge supporters of his work).
It was Marvel comics that he loved as a kid. Unlike in the DC Universe with Gotham and Metropolis, the stories of Marvel were set in real places in New York; places the young Darryl couldn’t afford to see for himself. He spent his childhood drawing and writing, and excelled at English, although it was eventually Business Management that he studied at college, at the advice of his friend. “Listen to your friends’ advice,” he told me, “just don’t follow it.”
He thinks that teaching could have been his forte if he hadn’t had his rise to fame with Run DMC. That’s why the hero of DMC #1 is himself as a teacher – it’s a sort of alternate world where Darryl didn’t become a hip hop legend and instead became a junior high teacher (and night-time ADIDAS-class vigilante). Even within the graphic novel you can feel the respect he has for teachers, those rarely thanked everyday heroes of society.
The DMC comics are beautifully diverse, but as Darryl stressed it’s not for marketing reasons: he simply wants everybody to feel that they can relate to at least some aspect of a character. The diversity isn’t limited to skin colour either, and the hero of DMC #2 isn’t only Puerto Rican, but female and adopted. Her femininity is natural, and her fostering home environment is one of warmth and love – no tortured orphans in abusive homes here.
And because of Darryl’s life experiences he’s very keen to make the poor as important as the rich in his comics. One of the major things that he told me he wanted readers to take away from his comics is that no matter how bad your situation, or where you are in life, you are still important. Every life and every story is important, not just the wealthy and well-publicised ones.
He’s got a lot of ideas for the future of DMC comics. By the time his world has been built, the character DMC may be the least interesting of them! He dropped some hints that an aging superhero may be making an appearance, asking me what would happen to someone with super powers as they aged? Wouldn’t they still be comparatively stronger?
There have been talks about turning DMC into a film but Darryl wants to hold off for now. His reason? When it’s done, it has to be done BIG. Settling for anything less than a blockbuster would be a failure. For now, the comic needs to continue, preferably with the current mix of artists doing single issues each – the idea for which, by the way, being that if five people told the story of this event they would all tell it a little differently, which is wonderfully well thought-out.
And if he could have anyone illustrate an issue of DMC, he’s claimed it would be one of the artists on The Walking Dead because, in another great shocker, he’s a massive zombie nut! His prize possession, he told me, is an illustration of himself as a zombie.
So despite the interview not recording, I felt that I got a lot out of it – and I don’t just mean this awkward photo of us together. What was I supposed to do with my arms?!
Keep an eye out for DMC comics. If he can work some of the same magic with them as he did in DMC, we might well see his ambitions come true, and in twenty years we’ll be queuing up for the summer blockbuster release of DMC: The Movie.