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.
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.