Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter
Darwyn Cooke

The Parker novels of Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) are a good choice for graphic novel adaptation, being comic-book action adventures characterized by their tough-guy dialogue and sense of neo-noir style. This sort of thing lends itself to a visual format (as with Frank Miller’s Sin City), which is nice because though they keep selling I don’t think the Parker books are that interesting to read any more. The Hunter was the first, and it also carries with it a legacy in film, from Boorman’s Point Blank to the Mel Gibson vehicle Payback. Cooke’s illustrations go well with the material, casting the figures as silhouette-ish versions of mid-century fashion mannequin-style characters, though I found Parker himself to be a bit too Hollywood, too much the leading man, too pretty. I also thought some of the visual set pieces a little hard to follow. The look has a starkness without clarity, and I’m not sure the two-tone greyish-blue colour scheme fits all of the action. But overall this is a stylish and responsible rendering of what has become, by whatever freak of time and popular taste, a crime classic.