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DC Comics mourns Darwyn Cooke, who gave iconic heroes an iconic style

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Award-winning illustrator dies at 53 after bout with cancer

Darwyn Cooke, the influential illustrator of numerous iconic heroes in the DC universe of characters, died on Saturday after a short battle against cancer. He was 53.

Cooke began as an animator on two key cartoon series in the 1990s: Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, before joining the print medium. He won the 2006 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue for his work on DC's Solo #5 and also was recognized five times by the Joe Shuster Awards for achievement by Canadian comic book creators.

Cooke's breakthrough performance in print came with Batman: Ego, published in 2000. He became well known for his retro-inspired designs of several major characters, and DC Comics in a statement noted that his take on Catwoman is still the template used today, as well as for the television series Gotham.

On Friday, Cooke's family reported on his personal blog that he had begun receiving palliative care "following a bout with aggressive cancer."

Saturday, DC Comics wrote a comprehensive tribute to Cooke's life, art and legacy. "His take on the most iconic heroes in the world were breathtakingly direct and elegant, powerful and cool," the publisher said. "His were some of the most beautiful, fun DC superhero images we have ever seen."

"This is an industry-wide loss that I feel personally, but the sadness is mitigated in the knowing that the beauty and grace of his art will forever stand the test of time and be a monument to all that is great about comics," DC publisher Dan DiDio said.