The Joy of Darwyn Cooke

Drew Dietsch

Darwyn Cooke passed away and the world of comics is a darker day from his death. Cooke’s work stands as a bastion to the happiness of superhero characters and the pure fun of the sequential art form. Cooke understood the necessary light that keeps comics and superheroes burning bright. His imagery celebrates heroism through almost childlike wonder, hearkening back to the work of Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson with a little bit of Bruce Timm‘s streamlined aesthetic.

The comparison to Timm is apt since Cooke was one of the storyboard artists on Batman: The Animated Series, a show that has defined the character for a generation. The acknowledged cartoony nature of Cooke’s art makes it hard not to feel like a kid again when you stare at it. It doesn’t hurt that some of Cooke’s most memorable pieces involve superheroes bursting with exuberance, looking like they are having a blast being superheroes.

The Teen Titans as a rock band. (Darwyn Cooke)

That’s not to say that Cooke’s material was uniformly silly. His adaptation of The Hunter, Richard Stark’s first Parker novel, does its subject material justice, and his seminal (read: essential) DC: The New Frontier treats its narrative with utter sincerity. Cooke’s art aren’t caricatures but rather idolized versions of whatever the tone of the piece dictates. Within those pieces, he was able to channel his apparent joy for what he was working on. It’s impossible to look at a Darwyn Cooke piece and not see just how much he loved what he did.

Darwyn Cooke is one of the greatest comic artists to have ever gifted us with his imagination. His contributions to DC Comics are as monumental as (and far more pleasant than) anything from Alan Moore or Frank Miller. He will be remembered for the countless smiles he created in the faces of fans who read his stories and absorbed his art. Just look at the featured image at the top of this page. Even Batman can’t help but smile when he’s drawn by Darwyn Cooke!

Batman and Superman looking relieved after a job well done. (Darwyn Cooke)

Thank you for all the smiles, Darwyn.

Please consider making a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Hero Initiative, two charities supported by Darwyn Cooke’s family.

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