Category: Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark

Comics panel: Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter

Richardf Stark's Parker: The HunterThe late crime novelist Donald E. Westlake was notably protective of his most prominent fictional creation, the hard-as-nails master thief Parker, who starred in more than two dozen books written under Westlake’s major pseudonym, Richard Stark. Though the Parker books were adapted into films seven times, including the acclaimed Point Blank, Westlake insisted that the filmmakers change Parker’s name if they weren’t going to bother with a faithful rendition of the series. It’s a signal of both Westlake’s approval and Darwyn Cooke’s intentions, therefore, that Cooke’s graphic-novel adaptation of the first book, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter (IDW), gets to give its protagonist the right name. Developed in collaboration with Westlake before his 2008 death, The Hunter is pitch-perfect in capturing not just the story, but the lean, gritty noir spirit of the original novel, starting with the classic opening line, “When a fresh-faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell.” A long, largely wordless sequence introducing Parker highlights that Cooke both knows the original story inside-out, and knows how to retell it in a new way. Cooke’s noir bona fides include the 2003 Catwoman story Selina’s Big Score and the 1950s-set DC: The New Frontier, which also captured his aptitude for mid-century design aesthetics. Here, he creates a black-and-cool-blue early-’60s New York that’s both evocative and appropriately unglamorous. Cooke reportedly plans to continue adapting at least the next three Parker books; based on this one, it’d be a crime if he didn’t… A

Originally published on July 24, 2009 as part of a group-written roundup. Read the complete article.

Crime writer Donald Westlake dies at 75

Prolific and influential crime novelist Donald A. Westlake died Jan. 1 after collapsing of a heart attack on his way to a New Year’s Eve party the previous day. He was 75. Westlake wrote more than 100 novels over the course of his long career, turning out material of extremely high quality with such speed that early on, he found it necessary to use a variety of pseudonyms, most famously Richard Stark, because publishers were leery of releasing more than one book a year by the same author. His writing was notable for its brisk, inventive plotting, sharply drawn and believable characterizations, and especially his mastery of both the drolly absurd and the starkly hardboiled. Westlake often used his pseudonyms for particular kinds of stories, something like a brand name. As Westlake, he wrote mainly lighter-hearted crime stories, including the recently republished Somebody Owes Me Money, as well as harder-edged material including the terrifically bleak thriller The Ax, in which an out-of-work job-hunter raises his chances of landing a new position by systematically tracking down and murdering the other qualified applicants in the area. Writing as Richard Stark, he created what became his quintessential character: master criminal and heavy heister Parker, the antihero of more than two dozen novels. Originally, Westlake intended the character to die at the end of his first book, and so never bothered to give him a first name. That choice stuck with the character, though, because it fit both his taciturn personality and his workmanlike attitude toward thievery, which he treated as a job to be done, carefully and thoroughly.

Originally published Jan. 2, 2009 on Read the complete article.

Review: Richard Stark, Ask The Parrot

Richard Stark, Ask The ParrotWhen Donald Westlake invented Parker, the iron-cold thief protagonist of the series Westlake writes under the pen name Richard Stark, he didn’t know that Parker would be one of the noir genre’s most enduring creations. If he had, he’d have given Parker a first name. But Parker has been just fine without one through 23 novels. What’s important about him isn’t who he is, but what he does: He steals, and survives the aftermath. Under his real name, Westlake writes lighthearted comic caper novels, often about luckless burglar John Dortmunder. Stark offers colder, bloodier, and more psychologically tense tales—if Westlake takes after Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, Stark takes after Red Harvest. At its heart, the Parker series is about professionalism, and a man utterly ruthless in pursuit of his job.

Originally published on Nov. 30, 2006. Read the complete article.

Interview: Donald E. Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark)

Donald E. WestlakeCrime novelist Donald Westlake is a man of many aliases—Samuel Holt, Tucker Coe, Curt Clark, pseudonyms picked up over the course of 100-odd published books—but two names stand out, his own and Richard Stark. As Westlake, he mostly writes comic caper novels, notably his half-dozen books about luckless criminal John Dortmunder. As Stark, he’s created one of the noir genre’s most definitive antiheroes in the cold-hearted master thief Parker. His books have been filmed many times, including the well-regarded Point Blank in 1967, and he was nominated for an Oscar for his 1990 adaptation of Jim Thompson’s The Grifters. His latest book is a new Stark novel, Ask The Parrot, which picks up Parker on the run from the law after the disastrous bank heist of the previous Nobody Runs Forever. Recently, Westlake talked with The A.V. Club about making it up as he goes, getting into his characters, and the crooks who read his books.

Originally published on Nov. 16, 2006. Read the complete article.

WordPress Themes

Spam prevention powered by Akismet