Today, the world lost one of its best storytellers.
Anyone who believes in heroes is a gift to the world. Anyone who makes others believe in heroes is one themselves.
Darwyn Cooke was a phenomenal artist and a master storyteller because he had the unique ability move through you to your heart, and make you believe in both average characters and icons he told stories about. From Slam Bradley to Superman, Cooke had you believe in who they were and what they were about in equal measure. The importance of each personality stayed the same, but the scale and specifics of who each person was never served as any kind of impediment in his stories.
I was first introduced to Mr. Cooke's work through, arguably, his most identifiable work: DC's The New Frontier, which told the story of the formation of DC Comics' iconic Justice League of America through the unique prism of the 1950's. One of the issues' titles got to the primary point of the story he was crafting: "Analog Heroes," the icons we know and love viewed through an era of radio waves, control knobs, and the Cold War.
He created one of the absolute best examinations of the Batman character with Batman: Ego, a story of Bruce Wayne coming to terms with the part of his personality that allows Batman to exist. He told definitive stories with Will Eisner's The Spirit that seemed directly descended from the stories told by Eisner himself, and the grandeur of Cooke's own work very much came from the fact that he molded his sensibilities and artistic style in such a way that he feels like the direct spiritual successor to the likes of Joe Shuster, Joe Simon, and Jack Kirby.
Darwyn Cooke was the kind of comic book creator who made work that was built to last, not unlike the cars and buildings from bygone eras he would draw in so many of his stories. I only spoke to him one time, but friends and colleagues of mine who knew him also had nothing but great things to say about the kind of person he was. While that will be his greatest legacy for his friends and family, he gave the world a great gift through his work, that we'll all make sure are never forgotten.
It's the least we could do for such a great storyteller, and such a good man. Goodbye, Mr. Cooke. By my estimation, you'll always be one of the greats.
November 16, 1962 – May 14, 2016