Thursday, August 6, 2009

Read Lately: Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

  • I didn't even know about Darwyn Cooke's version of The Hunter until I saw Don MacPherson's preview of the book. Even then, as much as I was interested in reading it, I lost track of the book until it showed up in my local comic shop a couple weeks ago. It's a good thing I did not accidently overlook it because this really is a good book.

  • The Hunter is the story of Parker, an amoral criminal, who is on the path of vengeance after he is shot and left for dead after one of this enterprises went wrong. Parker is a strange character for a protagonist because he is a bad guy. He's not one of those sympathetic thieves with a heart of gold like Jean Valjean. If this was a western, he'd wear a black hat. The ingenious thing, as was Westlake's goal with the book, is that you end up rooting for the character, even if he's a jerk. It helps that even though he's bad, his opponents are worse and deserve what's coming.

  • The story is told in graphic form by Cooke, based on the first Parker novel published in 1963, though the words are all Donald Westlake (writing under the psuedonym Richard Stark). I have enjoyed Cooke's work since I first saw his DC: The New Frontier as well as his work on The Spirit. This novel is a perfect match for his artistic talents.

  • IDW did something ingenious with this book that I hope other publishers copy. It's actually bound like a standard hardcover book. The beautiful design of the dustjacket would make this a perfect fit with my other mystery novels. True, the interior art is scaled more like manga than an American comic book, but I think that is my preferred format for long form graphic fiction.

  • If you like crime fiction, this is great graphic novel for you to try. It's the best of Darwyn Cooke and Donald Westlake all in one. Heck, writing this now makes me want to go back and read it again. Maybe I will.

© 2009 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.
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