Awful news: Darwyn Cooke dead at 53


I’ve been away for awhile for a variety of reasons–haven’t looked at the comments, haven’t checked the site’s e-mail account, haven’t looked at the Twitter feed.

I knew I’d come back, but I hate having to come back for this.

A lot of people asked me why there had been no volume two in Darwyn Cooke’s planned illustrated versions of all of the Parker novels. I wrote the publisher to inquire, and, atypically, got no response. Now we have our answer.

We regret to inform you that Darwyn lost his battle with cancer early this morning at 1:30 AM ET. We read all of your messages of support to him throughout the day yesterday. He was filled with your love and surrounded by friends and family at his home in Florida.

Donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and Hero Initiative.

Please continue to respect our privacy as we go through this very difficult time.

A longer statement will come later today.

“Then we shall not be weary. Then we shall prevail.” — John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier speech

Probably most of you reading this have purchased and read Darwyn Cooke’s comic book adaptations of the Parker novels. Brilliantly done–damn near perfect, actually–they won pretty much every award comic books can win. Darwyn probably did more than anyone other than Donald Westlake himself to bring people into Parker’s violent world.

Behind the scenes, he also did a lot. I never told anyone this, but he donated some money to help keep this site afloat when I was having some financial difficulties a few years back. (It didn’t influence my coverage–I don’t think I wrote any reviews of his work after that.) And, more important than money, he granted this little site an exclusive in-depth interview when he released his comic book adaptation of The Score. He could have gone to any of a number of big sites–any comic book site on the planet would take an exclusive from him. But he wanted to draw readers of his comics to the books to further spread the gospel of Donald Westlake and Parker, so he chose us.

Darwyn was a very private person, but you never would have gotten that impression from that interview. He was clearly having a blast talking to a couple of guys who loved the Parker novels as much as he did. I bet we could have done it for another hour, easy, had we not had other obligations to get to.

I was supposed to edit it down, but reading it after I transcribed it, I found it so much fun and Darwyn so interesting and funny that I kept every word. (Well, not quite every word. There was some off-the-record stuff, some of it, alas, about potential Parker projects that will never happen now.)

So those are my memories right on the heels of learning about this tremendous loss.

Deep condolences to Darwyn’s family in this difficult time. Man, will he ever be missed.

As we mourn, let’s also make sure we celebrate this too-short life. There is lots of great Darwyn Cooke work out there. Dig in.


I’ll use this space to link to other obituaries and reminiscences as they roll in. Post any good ones you find in the comments and I’ll add them, and yes, I will try to open my e-mail at some point this weekend.

Comic Book Resources

DC Entertainment (via Newsarama)

Bleeding Cool

Paste Magazine: Comic Artist Darwyn Cooke Perfected the Visual Language of Optimism