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Comic Book Men – Q&A With Darryl McDaniels

Comic Book Men guest star Darryl McDaniels talks about his lifetime love of comic books, the legacy of Run-DMC and creating his own comic book.

Q: In the episode, you mention you’d wanted to see the Stash. What did you think?

A: It was simply amazing! The selections they have there, the artifacts, the toys — it’s really thorough. For a person in love with comic book culture and science fiction, there’s stuff there for people three years old to a hundred years old.

Q: Comic books have had a huge impact on your life. How did comic books form your childhood?

A: As a kid, I was bullied, and growing up was kind of miserable. But comic books were the one world where everything was perfect, where I was powerful and empowered. On the outside, I was this little nerdy kid who wears glasses and went to Catholic school, and everyone thought I was a little weakling. But they had no idea that, just like a superhero, the strength that was within me — both creatively and artistically — when it came time for me to come out of my shell.

Q: How did you go from being a self-proclaimed “shy nerdy kid” to becoming the “King of Rock”?

A: When I started in the group Run-DMC, Joseph Simmons didn’t put me in the group because I could kick a rhyme well. He put me in the group because he saw my school books and he saw my comic book collection. He said, “Darryl, you wrote all these rhymes, and you got these grades?” He knew there was something in me. When you look at superheroes — Peter Parker is this scrawny little guy; Superman puts on these glasses and acts stupid and scrawny to fool people. My whole presentation, not just for records, but for the world, was “All right, I’m Darryl McDaniels, but in order to function in this world, I have to become the Microphone Master DMC, the Devastating Mic Controller, I have to become the King of Rock.” So everything I was reading and experiencing in comic books, when it came time for me to actually get up on stage, start communicating with people, start putting my voice on these beats — my whole approach was like it came out of a comic book.

Q: Kevin says that Run-DMC’s declarative self-assurance inspired him and other people all over the world. How did you portray that self-assurance to the world?

A: When you think about it, you’ve got the Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Invincible Iron Man. For me, the hero always had his title and who he was. So when Run put me in the group, I said, “So for this record, I’ll be the Devastating Mic Controller DMC.” And then on the next record, I’d be the Microphone Master DMC. I realized I was always defining myself by having a definition of who I was, and that came from comic books. Some people, when you meet them, put out their hand and say, “Hi, I’m Mr. Robinson.” No, my thing is, “I’m the Dynamic DMC.” I’d always put the comic book definition of who I am and what I do.

Q: What do you think when people like Kevin say you’re one of his biggest heroes of all time?

A: It’s scary. It lets you know you have a responsibility to continue doing good. That’s one of the greatest things. It’s not about the records I sold or what I did for the industry. That’s the core purpose of my creative existence, when somebody tells me that. It’s very inspiring; inspiration works both ways. It also goes with this superhero mantra of, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” So it keeps you aware of responsibility.

Q: What made you decide to create your own comics?

A: The whole idea of doing a comic book came when I met with Riggs Morales. He’s the one who said, “The way you sound, the way you talk, the way you deliver is very powerful — have you ever thought about doing a comic book?” And he told me not to do it as DMC, but to do it as Darryl, the little boy who loved comic books.

Q: Why do you think music and comic books are so impactful?

A: It’s like one of the statements I made in Jay Z’s Made in America, which I had to change over the last couple of years. I had said, “Music succeeds where politics and religion fails,” but now I say, “Art succeeds where politics and religion fails.” Whether it’s music or comic books, poetry and spoken word, dance and ballet, hip hop or opera, Rembrandt or graffiti, the arts succeed in breaking down walls and exposing the universe that is right before our eyes, but a lot of us are too blind to see it.

Comic Book Men airs Sundays at Midnight/11c.

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