Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its twenty-sixth choice, Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Darwyn Cooke by Darwyn Cooke, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Darwyn Cooke
Writers: Darwyn Cooke, James Robinson, Geoff Johns, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Grey, Stan Lee
Artist: Darwyn Cooke, J Bone
Today’s choice returns to the work of the late great Darwyn Cooke. Cooke comes from the old school of comic artists. He spent much of his earlier career working in animation and it wasn’t until the release of one-off Batman: Ego back in 2000 that he got noticed by the comics reading public.
Cooke takes Alex Toth, Jordi Benet, Bruce Timm, Joe Kubert and even Michael Golden and tosses them in a blender, creating a look that is both fresh and familiar. His loose graphic style means that his artwork is bold and his storytelling is dynamic. This book celebrates his work at DC, a company he has done more work for than probably any other, in a lavish oversized hardcover which brings together work like the two Jonah Hex stories he has illustrated, the entire issue of Solo, the much-lamented DC anthology series from the beginning of the decade before last, the issue of the Starman spinoff The Shade he illustrated with inker J Bone and scores of his covers for many of DC’s titles. This book also includes the try out he did for DC’s New Talent Showcase in the 1980s.
He even got to do a full month of variant covers on their titles back in 2015. Cooke is a very versatile artist and this book shows that he is able to adapt his style to suit the subject matter. The Green Lantern story here tips its hat to Neal Adams and 1990s GL artist Mark Bright while the Hex stories, especially All-Star Western #34, shows how he could use simple lines to convey a sophistication that is lacking in many other comic artist’s work. You can also see that he owed a debt to classic comic Western illustrators like Tony DeZuniga and John Severin. Looking at his art, you can also see how he has been influenced by the likes of woodcut artist Lynd Ward and there is even a little bit of master poster illustrator Robert McGinnis in the mix too. The larger format really gives Cooke’s art room to breath and what is clear from this book is that Cooke really understood and empathised with the characters he has portrayed over the years.
This book also shows that he wasn’t just a consummate storyteller but his understanding of cover composition was second to none. Whether the subjects are on the move or just resting at home or with loved ones, Cooke really knew how to create an arresting image.
He brought a great deal to modern comics and it is thanks to his discovery by DC’s then Senior Art Director Mark Chiarello that we were treated to his comic work for a decade and a half. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Darwyn Cooke is a glorious commemoration of one of modern comics’ best practitioners and is a worthy addition to anyone’s comicbook shelf. His loss was a huge one in 2016 but this is a fabulous tribute to his DC body of work.
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far