Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cooke vs Parker

(Note: I know it's boring that every (rare) post here begins with an excuse for the long time between posts--my excuse is that once my daughter began walking and getting into everything, it became extremely difficult to find time to fart around on the internet, especially when someone three feet tall is comes along and hammers at the keyboard every time you try!)

Six years ago I admired the first in David Drummond's series covers for the Richard Stark (pseudonym for Donald E Westlake) Parker novels--perhaps the best crime books ever written. Published by University of Chicago Press, they have been responsible for a well-deserved revival in the late Westlake's fortunes.

One of the first outgrowths of this revival were the graphic novel adaptations of some of the Parker books by Darwyn Cooke, whose bold, dynamic retro-inspired illustrations are a perfect fit for the works. Here are the covers of the first four books...






..a collected 'Martini Edition' of the first two...



..and some of the two-colour interior art ...





Cooke has also produced a limited-edition portfolio of art from the series.




All of this meant that when comics publisher IDW bought the rights to reprint the original Parker series in hardcover, Cooke was the natural choice to turn to to produce illustrations to accompany the text. Turning away from the two-colour style of the comics adaptions, Cooke has produced paintings that could easily be the covers to great 1950s/60s pulp novels. Here are four from the just-released first book from the series, The Hunter. (Very much click for much bigger versions.)




It's a shame Cooke isn't illustrating the covers for the books, which, while striking, are text-only and a little bland..


..though, comics publishers being what they are, there is an expensive deluxe edition which is much more attractive...



All of which brings us to an exciting and actually new book: Donald Westlake's The Getaway Car, a collection of his non-fiction writings edited by Levi Stahl, proprietor of the excellent I've Been Reading Lately, to be published in September by the same University of Cicago Press who kicked this whole thing off. The lovely cover is, naturally enough, the work of one Darwyn Cooke. Again, click for bigger...



4 comments:

Johnny Dale said...

Man, I just spent a good half hour trying to find a place to buy that Limited Edition of The Hunter, but it apparently doesn't exist outside of the image attached to IDW's blog post. You didn't happen to see it for sale anywhere, did you?

It's good to hear your daughter is growing up happy and healthy!

JRSM said...

I haven't seen it in the flesh: I believe it was on sale as an exclusive at the Toronto Comics and Art Festival in May (again, this is comics publishing for you), but I'm not sure if it has been available anywhere else. No second-hand copies seem to have surfaced yet, sadly.

She is healthy and happy, and oddly enough, obsessed with books, which is nice.

Levi Stahl said...

Aw, thanks for the kind words. I haven't seen the new IDW Parker editions yet--I've been traveling and haven't been haunting my local bookstore enough--but I'm looking forward to them. You can never get too much Darwyn Cooke!

magnusk said...

there's a second hardcover volume forthcoming, see here