Comic Review: Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW Publishing)

IDW has released a collected edition of the late Darwyn Cooke’s Parker graphic novel treatments. The Martini Edition is a deluxe collection of interviews with Cooke, Parker stories, some additional […]

IDW has released a collected edition of the late Darwyn Cooke’s Parker graphic novel treatments.

The Martini Edition is a deluxe collection of interviews with Cooke, Parker stories, some additional prose by late author Richard Stark (Donald Westlake), and plenty of bonus full-page illustrations by Cooke.

It’s a high-end summation of this lengthy series of visual adaptations of the Parker stories. Parker is a relentless opportunist. He robs and kills, apparently without remorse or regret. Ah, if it were only so simple. The reality of Parker’s tales is a much more complex blend of immediacy, revenge, and reality. Parker ripped off and betrayed by the mob, sets out to get back at those who ruined his life. Step by step, he works his way up the mob’s corporate ladder, (or snakes and ladders). Using contacts and persuasive interviews, he begins to exact revenge on the mob. Author Stark/Westlake has done his research: he reveals the graft, the grift, the ways that organized crime operates from the ground level up. A primer on crime.

Cooke takes Stark’s hardboiled crime novels and renders them in a visual fashion that emphasizes their immediacy and brutality. Cooke’s brush style is bold and high contrast, with an impressionist touch. This means that we get the feeling of the early ’60s in America, with the big cars, big hair, and big casinos. The sky is the limit, but the sky is falling. The sleazy dark alleys, the drinking, the victims painted in dark silhouettes, cheap hotel signs emblazoned with accurate typefaces but little in the way of amenities. There are no fine touches or subtleties here: it’s bold splashy black ink with one secondary colour applied at the Cooke “art table”. Black drawings with ink, and one colour applied to those very drawings with another brush. Hand drawn and hand-lettered.

We’re drawn to Parker, despite our disgust and dismay. His crude but effective methods. His strategic troubleshooting. His instinctive understanding of human nature and crime.

It’s a gritty journey through the contents: The Hunter, The Man With The Getaway Face, The Outfit, The Seventh, and the Parting Shot: a short story. Plus a look at Hollywood’s actors playing Parker in a series of unconnected films, all illustrated by Darwyn Cooke. It’s definitive, and bound and determined to impress.

IDW Parker Martini Edition 2020, $99.00 for 362 pages of content. Mature readers: violence

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!