I have been so sad to hear over the last two days of Darwyn Cooke's illness and passing today. As a guy who centers his formative comic years in the 80s and 90s, little did I realize I would come across a modern master of the form over the last decade. That guy was Darwyn Cooke. He exemplified what I love about comics. The optimism, the hope, the magic that comics can bring someone. Every drawing I saw of his brought such a feeling of happiness. Through New Frontier, his excellent work on Will Eisner's Spirit, numerous covers and the excellent Parker adaptations, he was such a versatile artist that you could tell how much he loved what he did.
As any regular reader of this know, I got to meet him at last year's Cincinnati Comic Expo. He was the only reason I dragged my family there. He was running late to his table and had a huge line. By the time I had gotten to him, my nerves were quite on edge. After asking him to sign my books, I thought the idea of giving him my own book was just too much to ask. But at the last moment, I asked him if he took other people's comics. He said he liked to see other artists work. Now I don't think of myself as an artist but just a guy that draws. I handed in to it, and I will never forget his words. "I like that cover." He noticed by flipping through the book that is went from black and white to color. Which I think he liked. He thanked me for it. I then went so far to ask for a picture. He was concerned for the line and others wait, but he took the moment to do so. He mentioned he couldn't believe how long his line was, which surprised me. I told him it was because he deserved it.
That memory I treasure, especially today.
Now I have to go find something of his to read. I'm glad I have plenty to choose from.
As I get near the books being available for sale, I thought I'd share some color, unlettered pages.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Mike, we've seen these before." I hear you. How about these?
Looks like someone broke the rules in the first one. And the other, we're introduced to two new characters through Tommy's eyes. All will be revealed soon!
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.