Darwyn 150 150 Paul Levitz

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.

  • Thanks Paul. Very moving. Sad day…

  • Richard Gilmore May 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks Paul, always appreciate your perspective. We’ve lost a great creator.


  • Amen. Thank you, Paul.

  • Steve Rotterdam May 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks for that, Paul. I’ve been staring at Darwyn’s New Frontier splash pages all day, trying to find my way back to the hope they projected so well.

  • Anton Kawasaki May 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for this, Paul.

    Working with Darwyn on the Absolute edition of DC: The New Frontier was such a pleasure. He had such dedication to his craft, and it was so inspiring to watch. He never settled for anything less than the absolute best — an attitude that some people might describe as “difficult,” but it was exactly that passion that really made me admire him greatly. He will be greatly missed, and the world will be robbed of so much amazing artistry.

  • Hi Paul Levitz,
    I’ve always appreciated your editorial contribution to DC: The New Frontier! Darwyn Cooke had already modified his original pitch to Marvel for a Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD-Space Race saga into what became DC: The New Frontier, but was getting lost in the weeds. When what Darwyn Cooke was doing with DC: The New Frontier came across your desk, you said to Darwyn, “Why don’t you go back to your original proposal to us, Darwyn?” Brilliant! As a publisher, as an editor, as a fellow creator, as a fan, your getting Darwyn back-on-track with DC: The New Frontier was the nudge he needed to deliver a classic! Rest in peace, Darwyn Cooke: you will be missed.