Darwyn Cooke opens his love letter to DC Comics characters — the six-issue DC: The New Frontier — with Johnny Cloud writing, on a cave wall on Dinosaur Island, the story of his last mission with the WWII special forces group The Losers. This first chapter is a poignant story of ordinary men in an extraordinary world, men whose heroism is ultimately overshadowed by the work of superheroes.
But more significantly, it’s also the story of a man telling a story, unsure of whether anyone will ever read it, but taking the time to craft it because the story matters and it must be shared — it’s a powerful representation of the creative drive that all writers and artists experience. And Darwyn Cooke had that creative drive — his body of work in the comics medium is extraordinary, some of the best comics ever made.
When I learned that Cooke died last week from cancer, two things immediately came to memory: the only time that I ever met him, and that image of Johnny Cloud writing a tribute to his fallen friends on a cave wall; it’s a sad opening image from one of my favorite comics, and I’m not surprised the tragic news brought it to mind.
Thinking about that image inspired me to write this. My memory of meeting Darwyn is one that I treasure, one that I would like to share, so if you’ll indulge me, this is the story of how I met my favorite comics creator, Darwyn Cooke…