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Farewell, Darwyn


“The grand old painter

Died last night

His paintings on the wall

Before he went

He bade us well

And said goodnight to us all”

 

That’s from ‘Picasso’s Last Words’, by Wings. It’s on their 1973 album BAND ON THE RUN.

 

I Tweeted that the other night when I found out that Darwyn had died. It’s the first thing that popped into my head, and it seemed fitting.

 

Due to Twitter’s 140 character limit, I couldn’t include the chorus. And I hate string Tweets. Not as much as I hate cancer, but, still. Here’s the chorus:

 

“Drink to me

Drink to my health

You know I can’t drink

Anymore”

 

I can hear Darwyn saying that. It’s easy to imagine it. Darwyn always seemed larger than life, a character from a tough film based on an even tougher book.

 

The truth is, though, he was a real guy. He had a wife whom he loved, a family, and a close circle of friends who are all gutted right now. The hole in their lives isn’t Darwyn-shaped; it’s the size of a getaway truck. Like I said: larger than life.

 

I sorta knew Darwyn. We were friendly, and we mutually respected each other’s craft. I hung out with him on many occasions, and we got along famously. He was at my wedding reception, and he spent the whole night sneaking ribs from Fat Matt’s Rib Shack to our dogs. This delighted our dogs (and Darwyn) no end.

 

When we were both working on the mildly infamous BEFORE WATCHMEN, Darwyn called me up. It was just a call to chat up another creator caught up in the controversy, but it went on for HOURS. I could hear Dar drinking while we chatted, and within an hour, he was fucking HAMMERED. Like, “Peter O’Toole on New Year’s Eve” hammered. And, oh, the shit he laid on me.

 

About anything and everything. Industry stuff I have to take to my own grave. He was just drunk and venting and that’s what you do with people you know, so I didn’t mind. It was nice to know that Darwyn Fucking Cooke felt like he could talk to me.

 

It WAS running long, and I didn’t want to be impolite and say “I gotta get back to the Blue Penis, man…” I was, as always, running behind and needed to get back to the pages. Now? Now I wish I’d poured myself a drink and just stayed up all night with Darwyn Cooke, drunk and hollerin’ and cussin’ and talking about comics and art.

 

But. These are the recriminations of the living, standing over the graves of the beloved dead. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

 

Darwyn lived life in fifth gear. He loved large, held grudges large, and created large. I once called him the Lee Marvin of Comics, at which he beamed and said “I’ll take that!”

 

I was wrong. He was the Darwyn Cooke of Comics. He was the metric against which others may be judged. There never was anyone like him, and there never will be again. I’m glad I got to meet him and know him, a little. The next time you have a drink, hold it up and toast the great Darwyn Cooke, who has caught the last train out and now belongs to the ages.

 

And if you don’t drink, then break a bottle over the end of the bar and beat the living shit out of a small, petty man who needs it.

 

For Darwyn.

 

AH!

Atlanta

May, 2016


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