I am just so saddened over Darwin Cooke’s passing away. I actually don’t know much at all about how he was personally (other than everyone liked him and that he was kind and had a great sense of humor). Rather it was his work that I’ve come to know so extremely well over the last couple decades.
I hadn’t realized it until I thought the matter over, but I think I may own a copy of just about every major work he’s produced since his big stage debut with ‘Batman: Ego.’ Ego remains one of my favorite Batman tales. I loved that it delved so wildly into the psychology of trauma and sublimation, utilizing Batman and the comic book medium to make palatable such a difficult and disquieting subject matter. And the art… the art is what hooked me for life.
I love everything there is about Cooke’s illustration style… it’s a seamless marriage between succinct and confident minimalistic lines coupled rich detail and the illusion of dynamic action. It sounds paradoxical as I try to describe it, yet somehow it works perfectly on the page. It’s as if someone took all of the best artistic qualities of Alex Toth, Bruce Timm, and Will Eisner and squished it all together to create what is (for me) the ideal comic book artist.
The relaunch of the Catwoman ongoing and the graphic novel ‘Selina’s Big Score’ with co-writer, Ed Brubaker, remains my favorite Catwoman story and brought forward Catwoman’s long overdo transition to being a true A-list hero in the DC pantheon of characters. The work on X-Force was fantastic, periodic tales in Spider-Man’s Tangled Web were wonderful, Wolverine and Doop was a classic.
Then came ‘DC: The New Frontier.’ I don’t even know where to start. Most of my comic-loving friends will site ‘Watchmen’ or ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ or even Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ as the ultimate DC comic story. For me it’s The New Frontier. It embodies everything that I love about comic books and the superhero medium. I can recall the first Christmas/Hanukah following the release of the trade paperback. I think I might have gifted copies to at least ten different people that year.
Cooke’s next big project was to return Will Eisner’s The Spirit to the 21st century. I hadn’t been especially familiar with The Spirit. I knew that Eisner was a seminal influence on many of my favorite artists, but had never gotten around to checking out The Spirit. Well, I definitely caught the bug wen Cooke presented the one-shot crossover between Batman and The Spirit and gleefully bought every issue of The Spirit ongoing that Cooke wrote and illustrated. It’s telling that my interest in The Spirit pretty much evaporated the moment Cooke left the book.
At first I was quite bummed out when Cooke departed from the super hero genre to focus on a series of comic novels retelling the noir detective stories of Richard Stark’s ‘Parker.’ These feelings of disappointment faded about two pages into the ‘The Hunter.’ Pulp detective fiction had never been my thing, but once again Cooke’s love and enthusiasm for it all was just infectious and I eagerly awaited each new installment… ‘The Outfit,’ ‘The Score,’ ‘Slayground'… I even shelled out more money than I should have for an overpriced copy of ‘The Man With the Getaway Face.’ They were all wonderful and maintain a place alf reverence on my shelf of graphic novels.
Cooke’s output seemed to slow over the next few years. There was a couple issues of ‘Before Watchmen’ that I begrudgingly bought and the wonderful series of alternate covers for DC Comics whole line. I figured that Cooke was working on his next big project and was excited to learn what it was.
And then yesterday I discovered Cooke had been battling an undisclosed and highly aggressive form of cancer. A day later, I learned that he had passed away. It was so sudden and shocking. I’m still bending my head around it. A part of my mind is still excited for that next big project. But it will never come. The comic industry has lost one of its all-time greats and the world is a little smaller and less bright because of it.
I’m so sad for Mr. Cooke’s family, friends, and loved ones. They have my deepest sympathies and condolences and of course will respect their wishes for privacy during this time of mourning. But I’m also sad for myself. Sad that I won’t get to read any new Darwyn Cooke comics. Sad that I’ll never get to see him illustrate my favorite characters, The Inhumans (although I do still have that issue of Spider-Man’s Tangled Web guest-staring Medusa and Crystal). And sad that there will be no further Parker graphic novels, that ‘Butcher’s Moon’ and ‘The Plunder Squad’ will not be adapted in Cooke’s unique and distinctive style. It’s such a loss.
I feel sort of guilty dwelling on how this effects me, but perhaps Mr. Cooke would have appreciated that. One of the greatest thing we can each hope to achieve in life is to be a positive influence on the lives of others. Mr. Cooke was definitely a positive influence on me, his works gave me terrific joy and I bet the same is true for thousands of other comic book fans out there. It’s a testament to him. I thank him and will miss him dearly.
I’ve seen a lot of beautiful follow forever by flawless blogs that I follow and I think I’m gonna dedicate one to all of them. Here are the blogs that I adore, even Sherlock and John follow them! Go follow them now!
We just want to take a moment to remember tumblr user Slayground who has deleted her blog. Slayground was a tumblr blogger award winning blog and has recently departed us to go out and chase her dreams in the real world.