Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Richard Stark's Parker Brought To Comics Life By Darwyn Cooke!

During my formative years, I discovered the Parker series by Richard Stark. Stark is actually a pseudonym for Donald Westlake, and Parker is a professional criminal specializing in robbing institutions and armored cars. I still love those books.

The series started in the early 1960s and has continued. The latest book just came out this year.

Before I went to San Diego Comics Convention, I learned that Darwyn Cooke was going to write and draw four graphic novels early in the Parker series. I've been excited ever since.

While at the convention, I got the opportunity to talk to Darwyn. I was happy to learn that he's leaving those early Parker novels set in the 1960s. That's where they belong.

Darwyn was signing cards with some of his artwork, which looks utterly fantastic and has me even more excited. Unfortunately I learned after I got home that the card I got was only one of a set that was being given out.


Still, I'm getting my card framed and hung on my office wall.

If you haven't heard of Darwyn Cooke, you should have. He had a fantastic run on Catwoman with Ed Brubaker and ushered in the whole Justice League: The New Frontier comics and direct-to-DVD movie.

But Parker is a love Darwyn and I both share. This was the original cover of the book before the Gold Medal version above.

This was the cover of the Berkley edition I purchased when I was a kid.

Before Mel Gibson did his Parker riff in Payback, Lee Marvin did the original movie with Angie Dickinson. The name was changed to Point Blank!

The early Parker novels are out of print and hard to find. Usually when you can find them, they're either dog-eared or incredibly expensive. Or both, believe it or not.

However the University of Chicago Press is reprinting at least the first three. Here's the cover of the first one. It'll be out in a month or so. I've already pre-ordered my copies.

If you haven't read Richard Stark before, give the books a try. Either the reprints or the Darwyn Cooke interpretations will draw you into a bleak, hard world that will keep you clinging by your fingernails till the final page.

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