One of the highest peaks creative work can achieve is personal vision—that nirvana when a writer or artist is able to produce something that is unique, peculiarly and utterly their own. And on that peak, a summit is reached when that personal vision is shared and delights an audience.
Darwyn Cooke climbed the mountain in comics with personal vision, and with a distinctly different track than almost any other creator. After achieving success as an animator, he simply woke up one day and decided to try his hand at comics, and from the first comics he produced, did them as brilliantly as any of his generation. His NEW FRONTIER reimagined the entire DC universe in the context of the times in which it was originally published, a time just before Darwyn’s own, and in a country and culture just adjacent to the one he grew up in. It was true masterwork, outrageous as a first effort in the form.
Accomplished and acclaimed as he was, Darwyn was appreciative of those whose groundwork formed the foundation for the mountain he climbed. Invited to share a panel dais with Jules Feiffer to talk about noir, his blush was almost visible in the bytes of his response. The truth was, his work on the PARKER graphic novels would bring a younger (and larger) crowd to the discussion than the audience for Feiffer’s KILL MY MOTHER, but Darwyn’s respect and admiration for Feiffer came out in his sense of honor at being invited to speak as the older man’s peer.
I have a particular hatred of lung cancer for its toll in my family, and now add to that my anger at it taking from us an extraordinary talent, performing at his peak, and with so much more to give the world. Farewell, Darwyn, and know that we are richer for you having shared your vision of heroes with us.