The A-Z of Canadian Comic Book Creators: C is for Darwyn Cooke


In celebration of gaining my Canadian Permanent Residency, I am running down an A-Z of Canadian comic book creators.

For the index list of creators featured, please click here.

C is for Cooke, Darwyn Cooke!

Darwyn Cooke was born in Toronto in 1962. His first published comic book work was in 1985 when his artwork appeared in New Talent Showcase #19. However, Cooke soon found that due to economic reasons, he had to leave the comic book industry to find alternate work. For several years he worked a variety of jobs, including being a magazine art director, graphic designer, commercial production designer and editorial illustrator. When he hit age 30 he decided that he’d had enough of this lifestyle, because of “the stress of the job and the absolute moral bankruptcy of it… You’re paid to lie.”

Cooke then went on to found the award winning Brotherhood Animation Company. At some point he saw an advert in The Comics Journal saying that Warner Brothers were looking for artists to work on the Batman and Superman animated TV series. Replying to this ad lead to him working for Bruce Timm as a storyboard artist for Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, then in 1999 he animated the main title design for Batman Beyond. He then worked as a director for Sony Animation’s Men in Black: The Series for a year.

During his time working in animation Darwyn developed a proposal for a project featuring Batman, which he wrote and drew, and submitted it to DC comics. A couple of years later, DC Comics approached him about the proposal, and it eventually saw print in 2000 as Batman: Ego.

A period of freelance work for both DC and Marvel followed, until in 2001 DC commissioned Cooke and Ed Brubaker to revamp their Catwoman character. This revamp started within the pages of Detective Comics, running as the four issue arc “Trail of the Catwoman”, printed in issues #759-762. The story involved detective Sam Bradley investigating the death of Selina Kyle, the secret identity of Catwoman. The popularity of this arc led to the pair working on a new Catwoman title in late 2001. This series saw a complete revamp of the character, resulting in her return to popularity. Cooke only stayed on the title for four issues though, leaving to write a prequel OGN about the character.

In 2004 Cooke embarked upon the project for which he become best known to comic book fans. DC: The New Frontier was a six issue miniseries taking place in the 1950s, and depicting the Golden Age superheroes Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman meeting the Silver Age superheroes The Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. The story sought to bridge the gap between the end of the Golden Age to the beginning of the Silver Age of comic books in the DC Universe. The story featured dozens of super-hero characters and drew inspiration from the comic books and movies of the 1950s as well as from Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction account of the start of the US Space Program The Right Stuff. The major DC characters are introduced in The New Frontier in the same order that DC originally published them, even down to the correct month and year in the story’s timeline. In 2005, Cooke won an Eisner Award for “Best Limited Series”, and a Joe Shuster Award for “Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist” for his work on the series.

More recent projects by Cooke include the first 13 issues of DCs relaunch of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, in 2006. In June 2007, Cooke and J. Bone won a Joe Shuster Award for “Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Artists” for their work on Batman/The Spirit, and Cooke won “Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist” for his work on The Spirit.

Also in 2006 Cooke, along with Tim Sale launched DCs new title about the early years of Superman, Superman Confidential. The pair completed a six issue arc detailing Superman’s first encounter with Kryptonite. In June 2007 Cooke was awarded the Joe Shuster Award for “Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer” for Superman Confidential.

In 2008 Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics released a direct-to-DVD animated movie based on Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. Cooke co-wrote the film with Stan Berkowitz and also provided art direction. The movie was produced by Bruce Timm.

Cooke’s artwork projects boundless energy, noir grittiness, and raw emotion akin to Joe Kubert’s. Cooke uses more angled lines that are broader and rougher to allow for greater exaggerated expressiveness. Shadows are extensively used to project the attitude of the piece. Cooke also instills an intangible sense of wonder and imagination onto each piece that is completely his own.

At SDCC 2007 Cooke revealed that he had two graphic novels in productions. The first being an all ages fairy tale which he described as “a big sprawling story that takes place a little in the future with giant robots”. The second story he described as being more in the vein of his Catwoman work, about a man who’s world is unraveling as he deals with modern life.


As penciller or writer/penciller

  • Batman: Ego (DC Comics, 2000). A 64-page prestige format Batman story. Writer & artist.
  • Catwoman #1-4 (DC Comics, November 2001 to February 2002). With writer Ed Brubaker.
  • Spider-Man: Tangled Web #11 (Marvel Comics, April 2002). Story “Open All Night!”.
  • X-Force #124 (Marvel Comics, January 2002). With writer Peter Milligan.
  • 9-11, Volume 2 (February 2002).
  • Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score (DC Comics, Summer 2002). 96-page graphic novel featuring a Selina Kyle story that takes place before Catwoman #1.
  • Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #21 (Marvel, February 2003). Story “T’was the Fight Before Xmas”.
  • Wolverine/Doop #1-2 (Marvel, 2003). 2-issue miniseries written by Peter Milligan.
  • The New Frontier #1-6 (DC Comics). Writer and artist.
  • Green Lantern: Secret Files 2005 (DC Comics, 2005). Cooke pencilled the main story (22 pages), written by Geoff Johns.
  • Solo #5 (DC Comics, June 2005).
  • Batman / The Spirit (DC Comics, November 2006). One-shot crossover issue between Batman and The Spirit. Co-written by Cooke and Jeph Loeb, and penciled by Cooke.
  • The Spirit #1-6, 8-12 (DC Comics, December 2006 to January 2008). Writer and artist.
  • Jonah Hex #33 (DC Comics July 2008) Artist.

Short stories as penciller

  • Legion Worlds #2 (DC Comics, mid-2001). 8-page back-up story.
  • Detective Comics #759-762 (DC Comics, July to October 2001). 4-part “Trail of the Catwoman” back-up story (8 pages in each issue) with writer Ed Brubaker, featuring Sam Bradley, that leads to Catwoman #1.
  • Batman: Gotham Knights #23 (DC, November 2001). A “Batman Black & White” backup tale written by Paul Grist (Kane) and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.
  • Just Imagine Stan Lee with Chris Bachalo creating Catwoman’(May 2002). Cooke drew a short back up story written by Michael Uslan and inked by Mike Allred.
  • X-Statix #1 (August 2002). Cooke drew a back-up short story featuring Doop, written by Peter Milligan.
  • Marvel Double Shot #3 (December 2002). Cooke drew the 11-page “Who Let the Dad Out?” with writer Sean McKeever.
  • JSA: All Stars #3 (DC Comics, 2003). Cooke drew a back-up story written by Steven Manale.

As writer only

  • Gotham Knights #33 (DC Comics, September 2002). Writer of the back-up story “The Monument”, with artist Bill Wray.
  • Solo #1 (DC Comics, 2004). 11-page story “Date Knight”, featuring Batman and Catwoman, with artist Tim Sale.
  • Superman Confidential #1-5, 11 (DC Comics, November 2006-07, 2008). “Kryptonite,” Books 1-6 written by Cooke with art by Tim Sale.

Comic Book Cover Art

  • Batman Beyond #4, #23 and #24 (DC Comics)
  • Weird Western Tales #1 (DC/Vertigo, 2001)
  • Batman Gotham Adventures #45 and #50 (DC Comics, 2001)
  • Batman Gotham Knights #12 (DC Comics, 2002)
  • Justice League Adventures #7 (DC Comics, 2002)
  • Rawhide Kid #4 (Marvel, 2003)
  • Bad Girls #1-5 (DC Comics, 2003)
  • Toronto Comics Festival 2005 (Free Comic Book Day)
  • Elk’s Run Bumper Edition (Speakeasy Comics, 2005). Collects Elk’s Run #1-3.
  • Spellgame #1-3 (Speakeasy Comics, 2005)
  • Red Menace #1 (variant cover) (WildStorm Comics, 2007)
  • Toronto Comics Festival 2007 (Free Comic Book Day)
  • Season of the Witch #2 (Image Comics 2005)
  • Painkiller Jane #3 (Dynamite, 2007)
  • The Comics Journal 285 (2007)
  • The Spirit #1-13 (DC, 2007-2008)
  • Jonah Hex #33 (DC Comics, 2008)

Related posts:

  1. The A-Z of Canadian Comic Book Creators: Index
  2. Comic Book Review - Captain America: White #0
  3. Comic Book Review - Superman #678
  4. Comic Book Review - Crossed #0
  5. Comic Book Covers of the Week - Week of Wednesday 13 August 2021


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