Darwyn Cooke is an Eisner award winning Canadian comic book writer, artist, cartoonist and animator, known for his work on the comic books Catwoman, DC: The New Frontier, The Spirit and Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter.
In 1985, Cooke published his first comic book work as a professional artist in a short story in New Talent Showcase #19, but economic pressure made him leave the comic book industry, and he worked in Canada as a magazine art director, graphic and product designer for the next 15 years. In the early 1990s Cooke decided to return to comics, but found little interest for his work at the major publishers. Eventually he was hired by Warner Bros. Animation after replying to an ad placed by animator Bruce Timm. He worked as a storyboard artist for Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, and 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. DC Comics then approached Cooke about a project which he had submitted to the publisher years earlier which eventually became Batman: Ego, a graphic novel published in 2000. The success of that project Cooke to more freelance work, such as X-Force, Wolverine/Doop and Spider-Man’s Tangled Web for Marvel Comics and Just Imagine… for DC.
In 2001, Cooke and writer Ed Brubaker revamped the Catwoman character. They started with a four-issue serial “Trail of the Catwoman” in Detective Comics #759–762 in which private detective Slam Bradley attempts to investigate the death of Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). The story led into a new Catwoman title in late 2001 by Brubaker and Cooke, in which the character’s costume, supporting cast and modus operandi were all redesigned and redeveloped. Cooke would stay on the series until issue #4. In 2002, he would write and draw a prequel, the Selina’s Big Score graphic novel which detailed what had happened to the character directly before her new series.
Cooke’s next project was the DC: The New Frontier (2004), a six issue miniseries which bridged the gap between the end of the golden and the start of the silver age of comic books in the DC Universe. The story, which was set in the 1950s, featured dozens of super-hero characters and drew inspiration from the comic books and movies of the period as well as from Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction account of the start of the U.S. 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. That same year, Cooke contributed to DC’s artist-centric anthology project Solo. His issue (#5, June 2005) featured several different stories in different styles with a framing sequence featuring the Slam Bradley character. In 2006, Solo #5 won an Eisner Award for “Best Single Issue.” In November 2006, Cooke and writer Jeph Loeb produced a Batman/The Spirit intracompany crossover. This was followed in December by an ongoing Spirit series written and drawn by Cooke. 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.
In July 2006, it was announced that Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics would release a series of direct-to-DVD animated movies based on important DC comic books. One of the first comics to be adapted was 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.. Darwyn Cooke also wrote the first six-issue story arc of the Superman monthly series, Superman Confidential, which debuted on November 1, 2006. Superman Confidential features stories set in the early years of Superman’s career. In June 2007, Cooke was awarded the Joe Shuster Award for “Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer” for Superman Confidential.] In July 2009, IDW Publishing published Cooke’s Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter, an adaptation of the Donald Westlake novel, The Hunter, the first of four Parker novels Cooke adapted for IDW. The second, The Outfit, was released in October 2010, The Score was released in July 2012, and Slayground was published in December 2013.
Cooke was the writer/artist of Before Watchmen: Minutemen and the writer of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre in 2012–2013. In April 2014, Darwyn Cooke released a Batman Beyond animated short celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman.