Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Darwyn Cooke

“Y’know, Jimmy, long as we’re here… how about I tell you a story?”
----the last line of Solo#5 by Darwyn Cooke

This past weekend saw the passing of an amazingly creative and talented individual in the world of comics. Darwyn Cooke died of cancer at the age of 53.

Darwyn's work had a simplicity of style married to a depth of emotion and detail that created some of the most amazing work in modern comics. His most famous work is his epic limited series for DC Comics, New Frontiers. 

Written and illustrated by Cooke, New Frontiers took the DC heroes of the late 1950s and set them in a sweeping adventure of that time. If anyone was perfect for evoking the feel of 1950s DC coupled with modern storytelling, it was Darwyn Cooke.  New Frontiers is neat to look at even as it touches the heart and soul of its readers.

Even with an affinity for bright, colorful bigger than life super heroes, Darwyn Cooke was also very adept at bringing to life darker adventures, coupling comics with film noir. One brilliant example of this was Darwyn's work on Catwoman.

Working with writer Ed Brubaker on 4 issues of Catwoman's solo series, then writing and drawing his own Catwoman graphic novel, Cooke's template for this character has remained the touch point for Catwoman for years, surviving even the events of DC's New 52 reboot.

While at DC, Darwyn Cooke paired up with inker J Bone to bring to life a series featuring Will Eisner's The Spirit. The idea of anyone other than Eisner being able to bring his most famous and enduring creation to life seemed like heresy. But Cooke proved it could be done by producing a dozen issues of The Spirit that strongly evoked the spirit (ha!) of Eisner's work but was still uniquely Cooke's work.

I can't say I ever read a story Cooke drew or wrote that I did not enjoy. Which makes the circumstances of his passing that much harder to take. Prior to last Friday, there was no idea in comics fandom that Cooke was sick. Then that day, we found out from his wife that Darwyn was not only ill from cancer but it was a very aggressive form of cancer. In fact, that day, Darwyn went into palliative care. Palliative care basically means the best hope is to make someone's last days as comfortable as possible.

By Saturday, Darwyn Cooke was gone.

We can but hope that his last days, his final hours, were as free from pain as possible and that he knew that his work was admired by so many people. Darwyn Cooke, dead at the age of 53, was lost to us way too soon. But his work will remain to be admired for ages to come.

Another blog post coming up tomorrow as I take a look at comic books on TV. Supergirl is off to the CW and NBC dips its toe into the waters of the DC Universe with Powerless. And other things and stuff as they occur to me.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You 

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