Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Richard Stark's The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

Parker: The Hunter (Richard Stark’s Parker, Book 1)
adapted and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke
IDW, 2009
Crime Fiction (Graphic Novel); 140 pgs

From Amazon:
The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. 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! Richard (Donald Westlake) Stark's groundbreaking Parker books are adapted for the first time as a series of graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke. The initial graphic novel brings to life the first Parker book, The Hunter, which introduces readers to the dangerous anti-hero's cold and calculated world of criminals, thugs, and grifters.

Donald E. Westlake is a well-known name in the crime fiction arena. His work can be found not only in books but also on the silver screen. He took up several pseudonyms during his writing career, including that of Richard Stark. One of the series the author wrote under that name featured Parker, a cold-blooded professional thief in New York City. Westlake wanted to create a character who was very much a bad guy, but who, by then end of each book, the reader would sympathize with. The Hunter was the first in the series. It was later given a new title, Point Blank, which was also the name of the movie based loosely on the book.

Working closely with Westlake before his death in 2008, artist and comic book writer Darwyn Cooke took to adapting The Hunter to graphic novel format. His intention was to stay as close to the original story as possible. Unfortunately, I am unable to make a comparison, having not read Westlake’s novel. I can at least say that I found the graphic novel everything my husband said it would be when he recommended I read it. It is dark and suspenseful. And Parker is a character that is hard to like right off the bat, and only grudgingly after that. Still, by the end of the story, I was rooting for him just as Westlake would have wanted me to.

Not having a creative bone in my body when it comes to drawing, I can only speak in general terms at the skill Cooke possesses. The attention to detail, the shading and overall images captured the mood and feel of the story, moving it along and making it all the more interesting. I can see why Westlake gave Cooke his blessing in adapting his novel to the graphic novel format. It works, and it works well.

Rating: * (Very Good)

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  1. This is really cool Wendy! What a great place for graphic novels to go next. I haven't read this series, but I read a couple of Westlake's books back in the early 80's, my dad was a fan (may still be, though he tends to read nothing but Robert B. Parker these days). LOL

    But wouldn't it be cool if they started adapting some of the great mystery series into graphic novels like Agatha Christie or some of the new ones like Karin Slaughter. Or if the the new authors wrote original stories just for graphic novels. Tess Gerritson does a Maura Isles graphic novel side story. OOO, the possibilities...

  2. Great review...I like crime fiction but have never read a graphic novel (hard to believe, I know) so maybe this is a good one for me to try!

  3. This sounds great Wendy! I've never read a graphic novel, and to be honest with you, I'm not sure if I could get into one, but this sounds like a good one to try with!

  4. I love the Parker books (and Donald E Westlake, the man had the most twisted hilarious sense of humor), I'll have to check out the graphic novel.

  5. I've not read anything from the series, but am always on the lookout for another graphic novel to put on my list. Someday, a great graphic novel challenge will come up, and I'll be ready!

  6. Never heard of this book Wendy, but I'm always on the look out for more Graphic novels to add to my list. I do sketch a little but the art in graphic novels is beyong my ability :)

  7. Graphic novel is one genre I should explore!

  8. Nicola - I really like the idea too. I know several other novels or series which are being adapted to the format so why not mysteries as well? I'd love to see Agatha Christie's novels adapted.

    Kathleen - Thank you. There a number of great graphic novels in the crime fiction genre. I would never have discovered them if it weren't for my husband.

    Kristie - It is a bit odd at first. My husband reads through them so fast, but I still read them fairly slowly. I don't want to miss anything, pictures or not. LOL

    Carrie (Patience) - I'd really like to try one of Westlake's novels. My husband has read a couple and liked them.

  9. Sandy - I participated in the graphic novel challenge last year, but skipped it this year. I think it's still going in, but I've lost track so am not sure.

    Yvonne - Thank you!

    Violet - I'm always impressed by the artwork in graphic novels. My husband sketches some too, but he isn't too confident in his abilities either. I'm sure you both could pull it off with practice. :-)

    Alice - You really should, Alice. I think you could find something that you would like. :-)

  10. I loved the only real crime graphic novel I've read (100 Bullets) but have been on the hunt fore more good ones. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention!

  11. Elena - I haven't read 100 Bullets. I'll have to check that one out. Thanks for the recommendation!


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