Sunday, May 15, 2016

BAB Classic: Darwyn Cooke's Take on the DC Universe

NOTE: This post was originally published on September 20, 2014.

Doug: Sadly, Karen and I never got round to reviewing Darwyn Cooke's masterpiece The New Frontier. I wish we had. Oh, we've both read it -- and we've both seen the equally pleasant animated feature of the same name. But time and busyness intruded around a year ago when we were in talks to get it done. Today, it's a sense of loss that an artist who brought us joy, and from all accounts I'm reading was a fantastic human being, is gone. But his work remains, and has been such a high to see around the Internet these past two days. One cannot help but smile at Cooke's smiling heroes and sexy women. His was a talent akin to Bruce Timm's -- guys like that just make comics fun. So thanks, Darwyn, for the fun.



Karen: Although not a Bronze Age artist, Darwyn Cooke sure has that sensibility. He might be best known for "New Frontier," his retro story of the DC super-heroes' origins (which was also turned into an animated feature), but he's currently produced 23 variant covers for DC books, and they are spectacular.You can see all 23 at the link below, but  I've posted a few here to show you what to expect. Personally, I get a big kick out of that Teen Titans cover!

http://comicsalliance.com/darwyn-cooke-dc-variants-december/







16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"and they are spectacular"....he he he he he, what a quote for today, the birthday of Sophia Loren.

Gotta go check out them covers.


Happy Somebody's Birthday!!!!


The Prowler (The secret to being prepared it buying high quality canned goods).

PS: No that's not an oxymoron.

Murray said...

Those samples are AMAZING!

Too often I use the complaint "He/they/she just does not 'get it'." This Cooke guy gets it! (Or he fakes "it" better than anyone could hope for.)

I agree, that Teen Titans concert is a pure delight. Supergirl and her pets hits the mark pretty good. I love the spirit of camaraderie with Superman and Batman.

Now to follow that link!

William said...

Darwyn Cooke has long been a favorite of mine. He has all the sensibilities that I think make up a good comicbook artist. His stuff is clean, a little cartoony, and very fun to look at.

He got his start on BTAS. And you can clearly see a Bruce Timm influence reflected in his style. Which is probably why I like Cooke so much. Because I am huge fan of the classic DC Animated style.

Of these new covers, I especially like the Superman/Batman cover with the diffused bomb, and the one with Bruce Wayne sacked out after a hard nights work, with Alfred (his surrogate father) ever at his side.

All the covers are awesome. I love the way Cooke basically seems to refuse to acknowledge the "New 52" looks for Batman and Superman. He only draws them in their classic costumes (trunks and all). I'm surprised DC let him do it, since it seems they are bound and determined to only promote the "modern" looks these days. It's like the heads of DC Comics are hell bent on pretending the last 75 years of comicbook history don't exist.

So, these are really a breath of fresh air. Oddly they make me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because these are so awesomely cool, and sad because it's a reminder of everything we've lost. Comics could still be done this way, and they could still be fun to read and fun look at, but alas I'm afraid that's all in the past. It seems that dark, muddy, grim and gritty is the way of the future in comics (for some reason I still don't understand). Oh well, at least once in a while they come out of the dark and give us something cool and fun like this to remind us of the good old days.

Edo Bosnar said...

I love Cooke's work as well.
And just a minor disagreement with you, Karen: I wouldn't say he has a Bronze Age sensibility, but rather an idealized Silver Age sensibility, and New Frontier was nothing if not a wonderful homage, tribute, etc. to DC's Silver Age.
All of the covers posted at that link you provided are spectacular. My favorites are Supes saving the little boy, Wonder Woman toppling those pillars, Batgirl swerving through traffic on her bike and, yes, Batman sacking out with Alfred taking care of him. Like William said, they're all just a joy to look at.

Pat Henry said...

Understands that each of us would be thrilled with our super powers, not all glowery and angsty. Understands that comics should be fun. Wonderful stuff.

Humanbelly said...

It's. . .
Superheroes caught in Norman Rockwell moments, yet rendered in a style that trends much more towards Archie Comics than it does toward realism.

Boy, it sure does work, doesn't it?

I tend not to be the biggest fan of minimalist styles like this--- but Cooke manages to convey SO MUCH w/out letting on how much effort that really must take on his part. Batgirl on that motorcycle? Man, I don't know if the soul of that moment could be captured any better. . .

HB

Garett said...

Fantastic! I like that the images are telling a story, not simply a standing pose. Also that there are many smiles here!

I liked Cooke's Catwoman book, Selina's Big Score, and also his Parker: The Hunter, adapted from the Donald Westlake novel.

Garett said...

I'm hereby naming Darwyn Cooke as a Canadian national treasure! : )

Edo Bosnar said...

Thanks for (re)posting this, Doug. I didn't want to leave a comment on the Civil War thread (been avoiding it, as I'm only going to catch it tonight).
Anyway, I already left some profanity-laden comments at FB and the Comics Should be Good blog expressing my dismay over the news (and rest assured, the invective was aimed at cancer, not Cooke). This is such upsetting news, especially since the world at large was only informed that Cooke was suffering from serious illness on Friday, and late Saturday we're already reading death notices and obituaries.
As noted in the comments from a year and a half ago above, Cooke was such a tremendous talent, who really 'got' superheroes. Looking over those images again, I have to say that now the one with Batgirl in particular just encapsulates the type of craft and joy Cooke brought to the table when doing superhero stories. It's a great loss, and he'll be missed...

Martinex1 said...

I just heard this morning. What a loss. Edo used the word that seemed to be embedded in his art..."joy." That was a great gift to us.

Redartz said...

"Joy" is so right. Cooke's artwork was a joy to view. It made the stories a joy to read, and you can just see the joyful enthusiasm exploding from each line. He was a comics artist in the very best sense; drawings which make you feel better having seen them. A great loss...

Anonymous said...

Truly, a tragic loss. He melded Toth, Kirby, DeCarlo, and the better New Yorker cartoonists into a wholly recognizable and highly appealing whole. I will miss seeing his work and extend my condolences to his loved ones.

- Mike Loughlin

Dave said...

Personally, his two takes on Spidey from the Tangled Web series are my favourites of his.

William said...

It's ironic that his initials are "DC" because he made quite an impact on those characters. Simply put, Darwyn Cooke made superhero comics that were fun to look at, and superhero comics are supposed to be fun. So now there is a little less fun in the world, and that's never a good thing. RIP, Mr. DC.

Garett said...

Just last week I pulled out Cooke's Catwoman: Selina's Big Score again. Great artist and storyteller! It's sad that we won't be seeing any more work from him-- I was always keeping my eye on whatever project he had coming out next.

Anonymous said...

RIP Darwyn Cooke. Once again a shining light has been snuffed out by the scourge of cancer. Rest in peace, dear fellow. Thank you for gifting us with your artwork.


- Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

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