This past Friday during a press release I learned that Darwyn Cooke was starting treatment for an aggressive form of lung cancer. I hoped for the best for him—as I’m sure we all did. Then, by the end of my workday, rumors were swirling around that he had passed. I pushed them to the side waiting for an official announcement, which came during the morning of 5-14-16.
Cooke’s passing hit me especially hard. In my life of comics, Darwyn Cooke was one of, if not the most important artists and storytellers.
Without knowing it you’ve likely seen his work many times over. He started out in comics with a five page non-verbal story in DC’s New Talent Showcase #19. After that with little money coming in from comics he left to work in advertising and animation. In the early 90’s Mr. Cooke answered an ad for Warner Bros. Animation studio. The ad placed by none other than Bruce Timm. For the next few years Darwyn worked with Bruce Timm as a storyboard artist on many projects. You’ve likely heard about Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Sony’s short lived Men in Black series and the one that melted into my brain: the opening title sequence for Batman Beyond.
I didn’t learn of this until I started researching his work after finding a new Crime/Noir graphic novel published my IDW; Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter. After learning about his past work I couldn’t help but notice his influence over what I loved in comic art.
Between the ’90s and ’00s, Cooke worked on numerous projects — comics that to this day are top reads on many DC Lists: his 4-part Catwoman story with Ed Brubaker, the 6-issue The New Frontier mini series, The Spirit, and lots of Batman pieces. He gave us so many more great projects during that span of 15 years.
His art and storytelling style was for the ages. He told stories from and in the style of the past, making them relevant and interesting to present day audiences. In late 2014, he was charged with creating special variant covers over 20 DC Comics’ titles. It was a delight to see what he came up with every week for titles like Justice League Dark, Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Batgirl, and He-Man: The Eternity War.
Darwyn Cooke will be missed by people throughout the comics community, including many of us around the TFAW offices. Though he his gone, his life’s passion lives on in every panel that he ever put on the page. Thank you for everything, Mr. Cooke.