Mourning a Good Friend


[Courtesy the Darwyn Cooke Estate]

Darwyn Cooke, the highly regarded award-winning graphic artist who brought Parker to a whole new generation of fans, passed away on Saturday in the early morning. He had been battling an aggressive form of lung cancer. On Friday, his wife, Marsha, posted the following message on Darwyn’s blog:

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce Darwyn is now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer. His brother Dennis and I, along with our families appreciate the outpouring of support we have received. We ask for privacy as we go through this very difficult time.
 And with sad alacrity, another post was added on Saturday:

We regret to inform you that Darwyn lost his battle with cancer early this morning at 1:30 AM ET. We read all of your messages of support to him throughout the day yesterday. He was filled with your love and surrounded by friends and family at his home in Florida.

Donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and Hero Initiative.

Please continue to respect our privacy as we go through this very difficult time.

Darwyn was a great fan of Don’s work and lovingly illustrated Parker within the era to which he belonged. In fact, Darwyn was the first person working in a visual medium that Don allowed to use the Parker name because he very eagerly endeavored to hew closely to the character Don created, as opposed to the character Darwyn started with in his head. In a promotional booklet for the Parker graphic novel series, Darwyn wrote:

lee_marvin_mockupI think I almost lost the job when Donald saw my first sketches. He found the moments I illustrated too violent and the Parker within them a “hot head.” I was also very attached to my impression of Parker, which was firmly bolted to Lee Marvin’s brilliant portrayal in Point Blank. Donald very quickly set me right and gave me what I needed to realize his vision of his character.

Scott Dunbier, Director of Special Projects at IDW Publishing and Darwyn’s editor on the Parker graphic novels, sent this message to me today:

When Darwyn Cooke died last week he left a void that feels impossible to fill. To his fans, of course, but especially to those of us who knew and loved him. Dar was (I hate saying “was” about him) smart, funny, sentimental, highly principled and fiercely loyal. He loved life, maybe more than anyone else I know–loved to eat, drink, talk, read, and create stories. I cry for all those wonderful stories he will never do (like Butcher’s Moon, the next Parker book we had planned), but so much more, I cry for my dear friend who I love so much, who I will never laugh with again, and whose void in my life I can’t imagine ever being filled.

IDW’s CEO and Publisher, Ted Adams, posted a message on the IDW website, saying:

We’ve lost a once-in-a-generation talent. The comics world will be a less interesting one without Darwyn in it. I’m extremely proud to have been his publisher and I know his Parker adaptations will live on for generations, outliving us all.

Before (and after) the Parker graphic novels, Darwyn enjoyed a long and celebrated career with DC Comics, who embraced his unique take on their stable of characters and continue to draw inspiration from his style. DC Comics posted a tribute to Darwyn on their website on Saturday:

Darwyn Cooke had a vision of the DC Universe that was uniquely his own, yet embraced by everyone. Once you saw his timeless designs and concepts for Batman, Catwoman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern or any other character, you immediately adopted his jubilant interpretation of these heroes as your own and wanted more. His take on the most iconic heroes in the world were breathtakingly direct and elegant, powerful and cool.  His were some of the most beautiful, fun DC superhero images we have ever seen.

hunter_signed_pageI didn’t know Darwyn very well but he was always very kind and his loving care of the Parker novels spoke volumes about his character and integrity as an artist. Our thoughts and prayers are with Darwyn’s family and friends. He will be missed by cohorts and fans around the world but his work will never be forgotten. Check out his Parker work in the gallery below.

Goodbye and godspeed, Darwyn.