Darwyn Cooke died of cancer a couple of days ago. He was 53 years old. Darwyn Cooke was an exemplary cartoonist and writer who worked primarily for DC Comics. He wrote and drew the influential mini-series, The New Frontier, which was reprinted in one of DC’s Absolute editions and it was adapted as a DC animated movie. He later worked on Will Eisner’s The Spirit, which seemed to me as a reader a labour of love on his part. The rest of his credentials can be found on his Wikipedia page or just google his name to feast your eyes on some examples of his gorgeous artwork.
I first became aware of him with his work on the graphic novel, Batman: Ego and I immediately knew that he was one of those outstanding artists that had the potential to become an icon. He didn’t disappoint.
I never tried to emulate his work, but he inspired me in numerous ways. With this simple little webcomic that I work on, I have the temerity to label myself a cartoonist, yet Darwyn Cooke was the real deal! His passion and commitment to his craft is obvious to anyone who sees his work. All I need do is look at his art and read his words to understand the love that he had for comics and for the comic industry in general and to realize the work, time and effort that he put into every panel. We’re both of the same approximate age and we grew up in the same environment, more or less and I think I can identify with his passion for the genre. In a way, I feel that I know him even though we only met briefly in passing. I can guess that he grew up reading and loving comics as I did and that he wanted to develop his talent and tell stories with his art and create worlds where amazing things could happen and magical beings could exist.
My own life took a different turn, but he persevered and became something more than the sum of his parts. His retained his love of the industry and he had strong views about where he saw it headed. He kept the faith while others fell by the wayside. He reiterated that good stories could be told without resorting to darkness and violence and that the innate goodness, optimism and nobility of the hero wasn’t negotiable.
Next to him, I feel like a cheater. I feel like I’ve somehow let him down. All I can do now is celebrate his life while being mournful of his passing. Following his example, I intend to recommit myself to my craft, to make more of an effort…draw more, create more and to try to make the world a better place with my art. I’ll most certainly fall short, but the important part is to try my best.
There is only one Darwyn Cooke and he had so much more in him and it’s a damn shame that he’s not around to create more art and to make our world a more colourful place. But what he’s left us with…his legacy, is so much more than we can comprehend and it will continue for generations to come.
This one’s for you Darwyn!