Art’s a two way street, or maybe more accurately, a double-edged sword. When you like the work of someone, like profoundly like it, you’re opening creaking doors within yourself and letting it in, right down to the cellar. Often there’s not even a conscious choice to it. All the intellectual discourse, all the snarky punditry, all the reviews and deconstruction and conjecture ultimately doesn’t really matter—the heart wants what the heart wants. Art is like that. The people that make art are like that. Sometimes you fall in love at first sight and it’s done. There’s no outthinking it. No rationalizing it. You fall into it, it falls into you.
Darwyn Cooke is one of those artists for me. His artwork and graphic novel storytelling, all swoony pulp retro and Silver Age futuristic, hits me deep down in the gooey center of my schmaltzy soul. It’s the type of work that almost always made me shake my head, a kind of instinctual “Jesus, can you believe how good this is?” reaction. Again, unconscious. Primordial. Sometimes the all-time greats (or our own personal all-time favorites, the ones we don’t just like but we LOVE, k-i-s-s-i-n-g LOVE) they bypass all our defenses, circumvent all layers of irony, and score a direct hit right in the amygdala. It makes you go all jelly and turns your brain to scrambled eggs.
It’s hard not to lionize your favorite artists. When the work is so on point, you figure that excellence must bleed into their entire lives, and you kind of build them up into immortal demigods, living the dream life of a Fellini movie. So when news regarding their very real mortality breaks, it’s even that much harder to digest. I’m honestly kind of in shock. I don’t really want to get into it, so I’ll let you Google the news for yourself. It’s sad. It sucks. I hope for the best.
So let’s forget all that and focus on the art. Darwyn Cooke forever.