Today the comics industry lost one of its greats. Writer, artist, and animator Darwyn Cooke died at the age of 54 following a battle with cancer.
After a decade and a half as art director and graphic designer for Canadian magazines, Cooke returned to his first love, the world of comic books. By replying to an ad placed by Warner Bros Animation’s Bruce Tim, Cooke became a storyboard artist on the seminal Batman: The Animated Series in the early 90s. That job advanced to animator on the Batman spinoff series Batman Beyond.
His growing reputation in animation allowed Cooke, one of the rare mainstream comic creators capable of writing and illustration his own work, to publish the graphic novel Batman: Ego followed by a revamp of Catwoman with writer Ed Brubaker. Their Catwoman redesign is considered by many to be the definitive modern version of the character and one of DC’s most significant comics, commenting on the state of women in comics and offering a strong female lead.
Cooke’s legacy as comic creator was cemented in 2004 when he mined DC Comics long history to bridge the gap between the Golden and Silver Ages. Set in the 1950’s, The New Frontier introduces dozens of DC’s A-list heroes, bringing them together to battle a world-wide crisis while growing Cold War uncertainties bring about political cynicism. Inspired by the movies, comics, and design of the story’s time period, Cooke presents Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern as the embodiments of all that is hopeful and good about humanity.
Recently Cooke, has been writing and drawing graphic novel versions of the hard-boiled crime novels featuring Parker, the only adaptations wholeheartedly approved by Parker’s creator Richard Stark.
As an artist, Darwyn Cooke was celebrated for his simple, vibrant style, a throwback to mid-century graphic arts, and his ability to lend a touch of humanity to larger-than-life characters. He will not soon be forgotten. The family indicated that donations in Cooke’s name can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and Hero Initiative.