Over the years, the trend for musicians to dabble in a different kind of art ‒ namely comic books ‒ has seen increasing popularity. Between Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance’s The Umbrella Academy and Max Bemis of Say Anything’s Oh, Killstrike, the possibilities for musicians within comics seems endless. But one creator took things a step further, expanding from a hip hop pioneer to creating his very own independent publishing house.
Darryl “D.M.C.” Matthews McDaniels was born on May 31, 1964, in Harlem. Growing up, McDaniels fostered a love for hip hop after listening to recordings of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Using turntables and a mixer gifted to him by his older brother, McDaniels taught himself to DJ in 1978. During this time he also adopted the stage name “Grandmaster Get High.” Later on, McDaniels sold his DJ equipment and formed the hip hop group Run-D.M.C. with his two friends Joseph “Run” Simmons and Jam-Master Jay. Eventually, McDaniels came to prefer rapping to mixing records and adopted the nickname of “D.M.C.” which alternately stood for “Devastating Mic Control” or “Darryl Mac.”
Run-D.M.C. released their self-titled debut album in 1984 and quickly became a force within the hip hop industry with songs such as “It’s Tricky” and “Sucker M.C.’s.” Their third album Raising Hell went to No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, making Run-D.M.C. the most popular hip hop group at the time. In 2009, they were the second hip hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Creative differences over which direction to take the band, led McDaniels to leave Run-D.M.C. During this time, McDaniels discovered he was adopted and began searching for his birth mother. VH1 filmed a documentary chronicling his quest called DMC: My Adoption Journey, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming. Around the same time, McDaniels released his autobiography King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run-DMC. As well as the solo album, Checks Thugs and Rock N Roll, featuring performances by Sarah McLachlan and Zara Ph. Following a lucrative music career, including performing with Aerosmith on stage at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London, McDaniels ventured into the comics industry.
McDaniels’ lifelong love of comics inspired him to launch his own publishing imprint, Darryl Makes Comics, in 2014. “Growing up, all I did was go to school and read comic books. Comics did for me what hip hop did for me as I got older; it empowered me, inspired me and educated me. I learned about Nazis, space exploration, everything from comics,” McDaniels once shared. The first release from Darryl Makes Comics was the 90-page graphic novel, DMC, which features McDaniels as a superhero in 1985. This book was written by McDaniels and Damion Scott, and edited by Darryl Makes Comics’ Editor-in-Chief, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and Senior Editor Rigo “Riggs” Morales. Each chapter in the anthology is illustrated by a different artist and graffiti writers such as MARE 139 were hired to give the shots of 1985 New York City graffiti a sense of authenticity.
Along with producing comics through Darryl Makes Comics, McDaniels continues to dabble in the music. He recently provided guest vocals on Solus Deus EP The Plauge, as well as Italian rapper Caparezza’s studio album Prisoner 709. As of 2015, McDaniels was reportedly working with Generation Kill on an project entitled DMC Generation Kill, produced by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. Between making music, producing comics, being an established writer, Emmy-winner and Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee; McDaniels proves it’s not that tricky to do it all.