Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter, Adapted & Illustrated By Darwyn Cooke (A) is one of the tastiest morsels of comic book confection to sit on my bedside table in a long, long time.
The Hunter (A) has been adapted into a movie twice: in 1967 by John Boorman and Lee Marvin (i), and in 1999 by Mel Gibson and Brian Helgeland (i). The latter is quickly taken over with Gibson’s bug-eyed antics, while Marvin’s performance (despite being somewhat uneven and occasionally overwhelmed by Boorman’s momentary fascination with the French New Wave) falls closer to what Donald Westlake laid down when he wrote as “Stark.” Now it has been adapted into a comic book* by Darwyn Cooke.
Cooke brings a whole lotta luscious luuuuv to the table. He renders the characters in bold strokes reminiscent of early Harvey Kurtzman (w) and moves the story in a smooth sequential flow that brings to mind Will Eisner (w), when he was at his unselfconscious best. Cooke is also resolutely faithful to the text, lifting not just dialogue but entire passages straight from the book. This is not, however, a text-heavy work: Cooke’s use of the silent panel is adroit and entirely beguiling in the best “A Picture Is Worth” tradition.
Cooke has a retro-stylistic savoir faire that won’t ever be confused with the rancid, sweaty, nicotine-stained prose that “Stark” employed — but that’s a good thing, as it makes this book a delicious pleasure unto itself. Highly recommended, not just for Parker fans, but for anyone who enjoys comic art at its pulpy, impish best.
*Quibblers who would rather call this a “graphic novel” should meditate a little longer on what Art Spiegelman has to say on the matter.
Link Love: Darwyn Cooke's blog; IDW's page; Michael Blowhard links to some Westlake love, including his own, here.