Darwyn Cooke, the artist, writer and animator responsible for the seminal “DC: The New Frontier,” the modern redesign of Catwoman, mandatory reading like his adaptations of Richard Stark’s “Parker,” passed at the age of 53, leaving the comic book community in mourning.
A career storyteller in both animation and comics, Cooke was remembered by those that he knew and worked with for a passion that shone through in his work — which was celebrated by those that only knew him through his work on the page and screen.
DC Entertainment issued a statement this morning praising the “timeless designs and concepts” Cooke contributed to the company, and his legacy.
“Darwyn Cooke had a vision of the DC Universe that was uniquely his own, yet embraced by everyone,” DC said, adding, “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.”
DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio remembered Cooke as “a throwback to a bygone era that was [often] reflected in his work,” saying, “The simplistic brilliance of his art and the natural flow of his storytelling not only elevated but enhanced all projects he touched and his passion and love of comics was reflected in every panel of every page.”
Collaborators, friends and well-wishers shared their remembrances of Cooke on social media.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis offered a suggestion that, as has become all-too-frequent habit in 2016, fans celebrate a deceased creative by revisiting or discovering one of their most outstanding works.
The best way to celebrate the passing of an artist is to sit with their work and enjoy it one more time. Try Darwyn cooke’s new frontier
– BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) May 14, 2016
Writer Gail Simone concurred, and offered insight both into her plans for mourning and the artist’s interpersonal dynamic.
The New Frontier.
Spending some time with friends today.
– GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) May 14, 2016
Darwyn Cooke could be cranky and impolite, or he could be gracious and thoughtful.
Hard to say which side I cherished more.
– GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) May 14, 2016
Editor Scott Dunbier, who worked with Cooke at IDW Publishign, shared a self-portrait by the artist.
– Scott Dunbier (@sdunbier) May 14, 2016
Writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti described he and wife/collaborator Amanda Conner as “devastated,” adding that those “closest to him understood that Darwyn always felt he was living on borrowed time, a sentiment more of us understand a little bit more right now because of this loss.”
Love you buddy. pic.twitter.com/EAvljY1s3w
– Jimmy Palmiotti (@jpalmiotti) May 14, 2016
Fellow animator LeSean Thomas saluted a titan of the form with one of his iconic images.
– LeSean Thomas (@LeSeanThomas) May 14, 2016
Vertigo editor Jamie Rich shared a touching sentiment that Cooke be remembered by a very specific but encompassing image.
If anything, this is how Darwyn Cooke would want us to remember him tonight. And always. pic.twitter.com/5cEXD9KhZw
– Jamie S. Rich (@jamieESrich) May 14, 2016
Veteran writer Mark Waid rated Cooke to be among his generation’s greats.
If you don’t think it’s an honor to know a man like Darwyn Cooke, you’re delusional. Guys like him come along once a generation. Maybe.
– Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) May 14, 2016
Cartoonist Becky Cloonan offered a simple cheers.
Rest in peace, Darwyn.ðŸ¸
– becky cloonan (@beckycloonan) May 14, 2016
Artist Paul Pope made a date with one of the gods of the artform.
See you in Valhalla, brother.
– PULPHOPE (@PULPH0PE) May 14, 2016
Fellow sleek minimalist Cliff Chiang gave thanks for the work Cooke did to advance the interests of fellow artists.
Dar was uncompromising, and through that opened doors for lots of us. Can’t repay that debt ever. He will always loom large. Thank you.
– Cliff Chiang (@cliffchiang) May 14, 2016
Writer/editor Nate Cosby recalled one of Cooke’s most memorable sequences, from the “Spirit/Batman” special.
– Nate Cosby (@NateCosBOOM) May 14, 2016
Marvel alum Arune Singh offered a suggestion to those seeking to do justice to Cooke’s legacy.
The best way to honor Darwyn Cooke is to do what he did – use your gifts to make the world a better place every day. pic.twitter.com/bxEIYuB33c
– Arune Singh (@arune) May 14, 2016
Publicist David Hyde cited one of the quotes with which Cooke would be most associated.
– David Hyde (@superfanpr) May 14, 2016
“Catwoman” collaborator Ed Brubaker extended his gratitude for having worked with the artist.
One of the best things I ever did was convince Darwyn Cooke to revamp Catwoman with me. For about a year we were making magic together.
– Ed Brubaker (@brubaker) May 14, 2016
Artist Jason Latour cited gratitude for his predecessor’s influence.
My thanks to Darwyn Cooke. For the inspiration. For the reinforcement. For the challenge.
– Jason Latour (@jasonlatour) May 14, 2016
Author and NPR contributor Glen Weldon shared a revealing factoid about one of Cooke’s most recognizable accomplishments.
Darwyn Cooke fun fact: He animated the (proFOUNDly groovy) opening credit montage of Batman Beyond on an old Mac in his spare bedroom.
– Glen Weldon (@ghweldon) May 14, 2016
(Let’s revisit that turn-of-the-century cultural artifact, shall we?)
Artist Cameron Stewart, who once shared a studio with Cooke, shared a personal anecdote about their history together, and the challenges of their mentor/mentee relationship.
– Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) May 14, 2016
Read DC Comics’ full statement below:
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.
“Darwyn Cooke lived life like a character from a Micky Spillane novel, a throwback to a bygone era that was, more than occasionally, reflected in his work,” said DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. “He was both compassionate and combative, approaching everything he did with a tenaciousness and temerity that is now unheard of in a world afraid to offend. The simplistic brilliance of his art and the natural flow of his storytelling not only elevated but enhanced all projects he touched and his passion and love of comics was reflected in every panel of every page. Working with Darwyn was not without its challenges. There were times we’d spend hours arguing over story then go months without talking, but we always found our way back, drawn together by the common bond and friendship comics creates. This is an industry-wide loss that I feel personally, but the sadness is mitigated in the knowing that the beauty and grace of his art will forever stand the test of time and be a monument to all that is great about comics.”
Darwyn was one of our medium’s true innovators. A gifted artist and master storyteller, Darwyn began his career as a magazine art director and graphic designer. After answering an ad placed by Warner Bros animator Bruce Timm, Darwyn entered the world of animation, where he contributed to such shows as “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Superman: The Animated Series” and “Men In Black: The Series.” From there, Darwyn made the leap into print comics, where his character design was never more effective, enduring or entrancing. It was the look and honest simplicity of his characters for which Cooke became famous-as first seen in his breakout work “Batman: Ego” published over 15 years ago today and then followed up by his popular and critically acclaimed work on “Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score” and “The Spirit.” Even after 15 years, Darwyn’s design for Catwoman is still the one used today in both comics and inspired the look for Catwoman on the hit TV show, Gotham.
An Eisner-award winning artist and accomplished writer, Darwyn has been a much-loved and respected member of the comics community. He lent his signature retro style to all corners of the DC Universe, from “Jonah Hex” to “Before Watchmen” to Vertigo Comic’s “The Twilight Children” and, of course, his master work, “DC: The New Frontier.” His bold, direct style, often compared to the works of Joe Kubert, Alex Toth and Jack Kirby, reflected his down to earth, no nonsense personality. Darwyn Cooke always claimed that he was a lucky man to have such a wonderful family, friends, and such a wonderful life. He lived that life with the same brilliance and fearlessness that so permeated his work. And for those of us who knew this one-of-a-kind and genuine soul, we were lucky as well.
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