Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
While browsing the shelves of the local library I find Darwyn Cooke’s rendition of The Hunter, his first adaptation of a story featuring Richard Stark’s (nee Donald Westlake) infamous antihero, the professional thief “Parker.” I check it out and read it cover to cover something like a dozen times. I return it and proceed to check it out again every few months or so. I check it out again after the successive adaptations of The Outfit and The Score also hit the library shelves. I find myself unable to get enough of Cooke’s clean, classic drawing style, his ability to render years of lived-in history with a few lines and careful placement of color and shadow. I am floored by his ability to make Stark’s words leap and flow, his choices in what he devotes to prose and what he leaves to image. Cooke’s work on the Parker books are the storyboards for the amazing 1960s films we will never have.
Cooke’s name alone makes me pick up his continuation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and not only are his new stories phenomenal and reverent to their source, Cooke manages the near-impossible task of redeeming the character of Ebony White, Eisner’s cardinal sin in his otherwise vital work. White, a minstrel caricature of the worst order, made it impossible for me to keep reading most of the original Spirit stories–similarly to the way Mickey Rooney makes it impossible for me to ever rewatch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And yet Cooke found a path through both his narrative voice and artwork to make him not only tolerable, but palatable. His talent was that astounding, that monumental.
His somewhat sudden death is hitting me harder than I expected. Cancer remains invited to hurl itself into a fire.