Bell was born in south-central Los Angeles in 1975. His parents, both teachers, soon moved to East Los Angeles. At a young age, he remembers going along with his mother while she attended classes at Cal State Los Angeles. Darrin would sit in a corner with some art supplies, quietly drawing.
During most of his school years, a time when urban school districts were being desegregated, he was bused to schools as much as two hours away. "We were always minorities in every neighborhood we lived in, which I think opened my eyes a bit more to the rest of the world," he says. "I've always had friends who were different from me, so I have a lot of respect for diversity."
About the time Darrin enrolled at Berkeley in 1993, he developed the concept for a strip called Lemont Brown, which evolved into Candorville.
Bell started freelancing editorial cartoons while attending the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained a degree in political science. His cartoons have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times and several other publications, as well as on MTV, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC. Although he took a break from drawing editorial cartoons soon after 9/11, his interest in the medium rekindled and the Writers Group began syndicating them in 2013. The cartoons come from a black/minority perspective but comment on a wide range of issues. "I believe there's no issue of relevance that doesn't also affect minority communities just as it does the white community," Bell says.
Bell won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning "for beautiful and daring editorial cartoons that took on issues affecting disenfranchised communities, calling out lies, hypocrisy and fraud in the political turmoil surrounding the Trump administration."
In the late 1990s, Bell formed a partnership with writer Theron Heir and the two launched Rudy Park. Today, Bell both draws and writes the strip, also syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group.
Bell lives in Sacramento with his wife and three children.