Darwyn Cooke

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For the American basketball player, see Darwin Cook.
Darwyn Cooke
Cooke at the 2013 New York Comic Con
Born (1962-11-16)November 16, 1962
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died May 14, 2016(2016-05-14) (aged 53)
Florida, U.S.
Nationality Canadian
Area(s) Cartoonist, Writer, Penciller, Inker
Notable works
Awards Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoon Eisner Award for best comic book cover artist (2015)

Darwyn Cooke (November 16, 1962 – May 14, 2016) was a Canadian Eisner Award-winning comic book writer, artist, cartoonist, and animator, known for his work on the comic books Catwoman, DC: The New Frontier, The Spirit, and Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter.

Early life[edit]

Darwyn Cooke was born in Toronto on November 16, 1962.[1] His father was a construction worker and later ran a union. He and his brother Dennis grew up in Nova Scotia.[citation needed] He discovered comics as a child, but did not become passionate about them until he was a teenager, after having bought an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man drawn by John Romita. His father, however, did not think that comics were an good avenue for a career. Cooke attended George Brown College, but was expelled after a year.[1]


In 1985, Cooke published his first comic book work as a professional artist in a five-page crime story in New Talent Showcase #19, but as he was only paid $35 per page and produced one page a week, he decided that it was not an economically feasible job. He left comics to work as a magazine art director, graphic designer, and product designer for the next 15 years.[1][2] He eventually established his own design studio.[1]

Cover to Solo #5 (August 2005), featuring Slam Bradley

In 1996, Cooke learned that Warner Bros. was hiring storyboard artists for its two animated TV series based on DC Comics heroes, Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. His successful pitch included 14 pages that would be published in 2000 as Batman: Ego.[1] In 1999 he animated the main title design for Batman Beyond. He then worked as a director for Sony Animation's Men in Black: The Series for a year.[citation needed]

DC Comics then approached Cooke about a project which he had submitted to the publisher years earlier which eventually became Batman: Ego, a graphic novel published in 2000.[3][4] The success of that project Cooke to more freelance work, such as X-Force, Wolverine/Doop and Spider-Man's Tangled Web for Marvel Comics and Just Imagine... for DC.[3]

In 2001, Cooke and writer Ed Brubaker revamped the Catwoman character. They started with a four-issue serial "Trail of the Catwoman" in Detective Comics #759–762 in which private detective Slam Bradley attempts to investigate the death of Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). The story led into a new Catwoman title in late 2001 by Brubaker and Cooke, in which the character's costume, supporting cast and modus operandi were all redesigned and redeveloped.[5] Cooke would stay on the series until issue #4. In 2002, he would write and draw a prequel, the Selina's Big Score graphic novel which detailed what had happened to the character directly before her new series.[6]

Cooke's next project was the DC: The New Frontier (2004), a six issue miniseries which bridged the gap between the end of the golden and the start of the silver age of comic books in the DC Universe. The story, which was set in the 1950s, featured dozens of super-hero characters and drew inspiration from the comic books and movies of the period as well as from Tom Wolfe's non-fiction account of the start of the U.S. space program The Right Stuff. The major DC characters are introduced in The New Frontier in the same order that DC originally published them, even down to the correct month and year in the story's timeline.

Cover to DC: The New Frontier #6 (November 2004)

That same year, Cooke contributed to DC's artist-centric anthology project Solo. His issue (#5, June 2005) featured several different stories in different styles with a framing sequence featuring the Slam Bradley character. In 2006, Solo #5 won an Eisner Award for "Best Single Issue."

In November 2006, Cooke and writer Jeph Loeb produced a Batman/The Spirit intercompany crossover.[3] This was followed in December by an ongoing Spirit series written and drawn by Cooke. In June 2007, Cooke and J. Bone won a Joe Shuster Award for "Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artists" for their work on Batman/The Spirit, and Cooke won "Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist" for his work on The Spirit.[7]

In July 2006, it was announced that Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics would release a series of direct-to-DVD animated movies based on important DC comic books. One of the first comics to be adapted was Cooke's DC: The New Frontier. Cooke co-wrote the film with Stan Berkowitz and also provided art direction. The movie was produced by Bruce Timm.

Darwyn Cooke also wrote the first six-issue story arc of the Superman monthly series, Superman Confidential,[8] which debuted on November 1, 2006. Superman Confidential features stories set in the early years of Superman's career. In June 2007, Cooke was awarded the Joe Shuster Award for "Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer" for Superman Confidential.[7]

In July 2009, IDW Publishing published Cooke's Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter, an adaptation of the Donald Westlake novel, The Hunter, the first of four Parker novels Cooke adapted for IDW. The second, The Outfit, was released in October 2010, The Score was released in July 2012,[3][9] and Slayground was published in December 2013.[10]

Cooke was the writer/artist of Before Watchmen: Minutemen and the writer of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre in 2012–2013.[11]

In April 2014, Darwyn Cooke released a Batman Beyond animated short celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Cooke and his wife Marsha[13] lived in western Florida.[1]

On May 13, 2016, Cooke's wife announced on his official blog that he was battling an "aggressive" form of lung cancer, stating, "It is with tremendous sadness that we announce Darwyn is now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer. His brother Dennis and I, along with our families appreciate the outpouring of support we have received. We ask for privacy as we go through this very difficult time."[1][13] Cooke died the next morning on May 14, 2016.[14][15][16]


As penciller or writer/penciller[edit]

  • Batman: Ego (DC Comics, 2000). A 64-page prestige format Batman story. Writer and artist.
  • Catwoman #1–4 (DC Comics, November 2001 to February 2002). With writer Ed Brubaker.
  • X-Force #124 (Marvel Comics, January 2002). With writer Peter Milligan.
  • 9–11: The World's Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember, Volume Two (February 2002).
  • Spider-Man's Tangled Web #11 (Marvel Comics, April 2002). Cooke wrote and drew "Open All Night!", a Spider-Man Valentine's Day story.
  • Catwoman: Selina's Big Score (DC Comics, Summer 2002). 96-page graphic novel featuring a Selina Kyle story that takes place before Catwoman #1.
  • Spider-Man's Tangled Web #21 (Marvel, February 2003). A Spider-Man Christmas story titled "T'was the Fight Before Xmas", also featuring several female Marvel characters (Crystal, Medusa, the Wasp, and the Invisible Woman).
  • Wolverine/Doop #1–2 (Marvel, 2003). Two-issue miniseries written by Peter Milligan that co-stars X-Men's Wolverine and X-Force's Doop.
  • DC: The New Frontier #1–6 (DC Comics, 2004). Writer and artist.
  • Green Lantern: Secret Files 2005 (DC Comics, 2005). Cooke pencils the main story (22 pages), written by Geoff Johns.
  • Solo #5 (DC Comics, June 2005).
  • Batman/The Spirit (DC Comics, November 2006). One-shot crossover issue between Batman and The Spirit, featuring some of the supporting casts of both characters (Robin, Catwoman, the Joker, Ebony, P'Gell, Commissioner Dolan and more). Co-written by Cooke and Jeph Loeb, and penciled by Cooke.
  • The Spirit #1–6, 8–12 (DC Comics, December 2006 to January 2008). Writer and artist.
  • Justice League: The New Frontier Special (DC Comics, May 2008).
  • Jonah Hex #33 (DC Comics, July 2008) Artist.
  • Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter (IDW Publishing, July 2009) Adapted from the novel by Richard Stark, illustrated by Cooke. (ISBN 1-6001-0493-2)
  • Richard Stark's Parker: The Man With the Getaway Face – A Prelude to The Outfit (IDW Publishing, July 2010) Oversized (8" x 12") one-shot adapted from the novel by Richard Stark, illustrated by Cooke. Later republished as the first chapter in Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit.
  • Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW Publishing, October 2010) Adapted from the novel by Richard Stark, illustrated by Cooke. (ISBN 1-6001-0762-1)
  • Richard Stark's Parker: The Score (IDW Publishing, May 2012) Adapted from the novel by Richard Stark, illustrated by Cooke. (ISBN 1-6137-7208-4)
  • Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground (IDW Publishing, December 2013) Adapted from the novel by Richard Stark, illustrated by Cooke. (ISBN 1-6137-7812-0)
  • Jonah Hex #50 (DC Comics, December 2009) Artist.
  • Weird War Tales War One-Shot #1 (DC Comics, November 2010) Cooke wrote and drew "Armistice Night."
  • Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1–6 (DC Comics, July 2012) Writer and artist.
  • All-Star Western #34 (DC Comics, August 2014) Artist.

Backup stories as penciller[edit]

As writer[edit]

  • Batman: Gotham Knights #33 (DC Comics, September 2002). Writer of the back-up story "The Monument", with artist Bill Wray.
  • Solo #1 (DC Comics, 2004). 11-page story "Date Knight", featuring Batman and Catwoman, with artist Tim Sale.
  • Superman Confidential #1–5, 11 (DC Comics, November 2006–07, 2008). "Kryptonite," written by Cooke with art by Tim Sale.
  • Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1–4 (DC Comics, July 2012). With artist Amanda Conner.

Cover work[edit]

The Shade #4 Variant Cover (DC Comics, 2012)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gustines, George Gene (May 17, 2016). "Darwyn Cooke, Artist With a Retro Approach to Comics, Dies at 53". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Darwyn Cooke". Lambiek Comiclopedia. March 3, 2013. Archived from the original on December 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Darwyn Cooke at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "2000s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 251. ISBN 978-1465424563. In this powerful, prestige format tale by writer/artist Darwyn Cooke, criminal Buster Snibbs had ratted out his boss, the infamous Joker, to the Batman. 
  5. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "2000s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. One of DC's longest running characters got a makeover courtesy of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Darwyn Cooke as Catwoman was relaunched...With Brubaker's tight, noir-like scripting and Darwyn Cooke's stylish artwork, Catwoman's new direction made the character more popular than ever. 
  6. ^ Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 262: "Darwyn Cooke was both writer and artistof this hardcover graphic novel...A fast-paced heist set immediately before Selina's second ongoing series, this tale explained how Selina had enough money to embark on a new life as a crime fighter."
  7. ^ a b "2007 Nominees and Winners". Joe Shuster Awards. 2007. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ Cowsill "2000s" in Dolan, p. 328: "Writer Darwyn Cooke and artist Tim Sale began [the series] with 'Kryptonite', a six-part tale of Superman's first contact with the energy-sapping green element."
  9. ^ "WonderCon Special Guests". Comic-Con Magazine. San Diego Comic-Con International: 18. Winter 2010. 
  10. ^ Hughes, Joseph (December 9, 2013). "Darwyn Cooke Adapts A Masterpiece in Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ Sava, Oliver (July 12, 2012). "Writer/artist Darwyn Cooke talks Before Watchmen and creating strong heroines". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ Siegel, Lucas (April 18, 2014). "Watch Darwyn Cooke's Full Batman Beyond Animated Short". Newsarama. Archived from the original on November 4, 2014. DC Comics released the full, brand-new animated short by Darwyn Cooke featuring Batman Beyond. The character, who had his own animated series from 1999 to 2001, seems to be getting a push this year in conjunction with his namesake, Batman's 75th Anniversary. 
  13. ^ a b Gerding, Stephen (May 13, 2016). "Darwyn Cooke Battling 'Aggressive' Cancer". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on August 30, 2016. 
  14. ^ Johnston, Calum (May 14, 2016). "We Regret to Inform You". Darwyn Cooke blog. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  15. ^ Ching, Albert (May 14, 2016). "Darwyn Cooke, Celebrated Comics Artist and Writer, Passes Away". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on September 3, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Comic Book Artist Darwyn Cooke Dies at 53". NBC News. May 14, 2016. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]