Darwyn Cooke – How it All Began, Abridged

Maybe you’ve heard of this guy named Darwyn Cooke — we did a video show** about him. Anyway, he’s a writer and a penciller for funny books. I remember the first time I heard of him. Conor told me to check him out. I believe the conversation was something like –

Conor: “Hey, have you read New Frontier yet?”
Me: “Nope.”
Conor: “Oh, you probably should, I know you’re not into superheroes, but you might like it for his style.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll look into it.”
Conor: “Seriously, I really think you’ll like it.”

Ron and Josh quickly agreed. I figure if three of my best friends can claim they know my style and what I might like – I actually should look into it.

Ding. Ding. Ding. They were right. The art in New Frontier is just my style – and it is absolutely amazing. If all comics looked like New Frontier – I would read every comic. That’s a note to all of you at DC and Marvel – hire Darwyn Cooke for everything… make him use the New Frontier styling and I’ll buy every book…multiple copies***.

I should confess that I do not own everything that Darwyn Cooke has done. At this point I have New Frontier (yes, the Absolute Edition) and I have the movie version as well, I also have The Spirit (though I have yet to read it) and last week I was given New Talent Showcase #19 (October 1985). According to wikipedia this is his first professionally published work. My LCS owner, knowing my love of Darwyn Cooke, gave it to me (gotta love the LCS).

In some ways there are similarities in the art – because it is done by the same person. But, just as Monet went through phases with his art, so has Darwyn. We could talk for hours about the similarities and differences between his older and newer work, but I’ll leave that discussion for somebody else.

What I find most intriguing about the story (granted, it’s a short story) is that there are no words past the title page (sans an address on a sign). He is so completely descriptive with the images that the entire story is conveyed without a single word balloon. In my opinion, there is a real art to that. I am not claiming he is the only one with this ability – but I think it is certainly worth pointing out. I’d argue that New Frontier (which certainly has some words) contains fewer words in the entire absolute edition than issue 7 of V for Vendetta. Okay – that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get my point…

Anyway, the story is 5 pages and you should take a look at it before I get a cease and desist order to take the images down.  (click on images to enlarge)

To me it is funny to look through New Frontier (or The Spirit) and then to look at this, because it is clear that he has matured in many ways. That being said – I think this is a great comic for a first time out – at least first time published.  And lest you think I am just pumping it because I like Mr. Cooke – you should see some of the other crap in the Talent Showcase #19. Not only is this pleasing to look at – but also it is a solid/interesting story for being only 5 pages long.

Now before I get torn apart for not having read EVERYTHING Darwyn Cooke has touched – I’m going to read The Spirit.  Once I finish that I’ll continue on my epic quest to read all the other Cookies (see what I did there?). In the meanwhile I leave you with Haystacks and Lilies from Monet.  Enjoy.


**Yes, his shirt says “You looked hotter on myspace.”
***It’s a lie – I will probably not buy every book and certainly not multiple copy.  Sorry.


  1. Nice.  That was a good little wordless story.  Cooke is the man.  Great article, get reading the spirit though!  start now!

  2. Great article Gordon!

    I would also recommend his run on Catwoman! Good stuff! Darwyn and His Cookies…sounds like a great name for a band…. 

  3. Nice work GtI.

    I always liked DC’s work, but after seeing the interview that iFanboy did with him, it’s obvious that he is cool as hell on top of all the talent. 

  4. Not to pile on, but I’d recommend Ego – his first DC book. I think there’s a hardcover collection out that includes Selina’s Big Score, which was also a great read.

  5. I really liked the short story, Every panel has a reason for being there and the layout even shows changes in pace and momentum.  Good Find and Good Article Gordon

  6. I just met Darwyn Cooke at my local store and he was such a nice guy and he sketched this awesome Hal Jordan for me. I just thought I’d share.

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Cooke’s pretty awesome.  We washed our hands at neighboring sinks in a restroom once.  His portfolio was just sitting there.  I have never come so close to kleptomania. 

    Those pages are so badass. I wonder how much the coloring has to do with the contrast.  Those early pages are so muted.  It’s not a case of better or worse, really.  It’s just a little different. 

     And a nice Monet comparison.  (Art History minor FTW!)


  8. @Paul – yeah – I was Art History, too – both in college and grad school.  w00t!

  9. cooke’s line is so gorgeous. i first saw his work as a fill in on x-statix back in… 97(?) and still remember staring at how he drew eyes- dazzling and minimalistic

    i always get this uplifting, classic, good sex vibe from his stuff 

  10. I just picked up the 1st Catwoman trade written by Ed Brubaker with art by Darwyn Cooke. It’s the 1st Darwyn Cooke I’d ever seen and it blew me away. It is everything I want comic book art to be.