October: Parker Month; The Influence:
Richard Stark’s Parker The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke Review
I read this book over the summer on an airplane, then read it again two weeks later. It may not be the best of Darwyn Cooke’s Parker adaptations, but it is still amazing. Darwyn Cooke’s comic adaptation of the Richard Stark crime classic, The Hunter, inspired me to make my movie.
Let’s start by looking at that glorious cover; it is harsh, brutal, hard boiled and contemplating. We see a man, with a pistol in hand, sitting on a bed over a dead woman. Her room is trashed and the man’s face is covered in shadow. Is he brooding over her death, or is he simply waiting for something? This is our first introduction to Parker.
The story is the same basic premise as was seen in Point Blank. Parker, is a professional thief. “Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind – to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him!” (Amazon.com) It is the quintessential crime revenge tale. Parker walks in, ragged and angry, and works in the shadows to take his revenge on those who wronged him with exact, cold and calculating ruthlessness. The interactions between parker and those who have wronged him are perfect. In the best example, Parker tells his wife to go kill herself in an ingenious way, and when she does…we see how far he is willing to go to keep his return to the city hidden. Parker’s scene with his former partner, Mal, is equally impressive as they have been hunting for each others location since early in the book. And even after their confrontation Parker still has unfinished business.
The words and story all belong to Richard Stark, but the beautiful artwork by Darwyn Cooke gives the tale it’s style. Cooke is able to take all these written sequences and break them down to essential dialogue and narration, while bringing forth the rest of the story into the visual medium. The whole first section is done with very few words and gives off all this information about Parker without even showing his face. His style changes to massive detailed images –– complemented by Stark’s rich yet straightforward writing for Parker’s backstory –– and then switches back at the perfect moment. Cooke uses faded black lines and blue water color mixed together with the white canvas as the color scheme. It gives off the faded beauty, gigantic buildings and seedy underground of 1960’s New York. The clothing styles and character designs truly give off the feel of another era, and one character in particular makes me think of a 1960’s cartoon version of Steve Buscemi.
This book was my introduction to the world of Parker, and has made him into one of my favorite characters. Cooke’s works are the best adaptations of Stark that I have seen, and my favorite crime comics. The classic revenge tale told here with electric visuals has inspired me to create my own visual version of the story. While it won’t be as spot on, I hope that it can show the love and respect I have for the Parker stories, just as Cooke’s comics have done.
Favorite Scene: The entire first chapter is magnificent. It starts with the great wordless sequence that is utterly cinematic. It moves on to Parker’s interaction with his wife, which is pure brutality. It travels to a flashback sequence, which has a creative change in style, and finally lets us go with Parker on the start of his journey through the seedy underbelly of New York City.
Written by Tyler Ducheneaux
Images From The Hunter, Drawn by Darwyn Cooke