He was a student at Hanna-Barbera cartoon studios after studying at the American Academy of Arts in Chicago. In the early 80s he worked in character design for the Super Friends, Richie Rich, and Pac-Man television series.
In 1982, he met French comic book writer and artist Moebius during the making of the film Tron. Two years later, the two collaborated on a portfolio of prints named La Cité Feu, later reprinted for the English speaking market as City of Fire.
In 1990, Darrow collaborated with writer and artist Frank Miller on the comic book Hard Boiled, a 3-part mini-series. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick's short story The Electric Ant, the book is an exploration of the mind and world of its protagonist, Nixon.
Darrow and Miller worked together again on Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot in 1996, a far more family-oriented work, in which the protagonists save Tokyo from destruction by a giant lizard. The story was later developed into an animated series by Sony entertainment, first aired in 1999.
Darrow was credited as 'Conceptual Designer' on all three Matrix movies. His visual style is most prominent in the scene of Neo's awakening from his biomechanical sleep. The insect-like machine that attacks Neo is a classic Darrow mechanoid made up of tubes, viewscreens and riveted joints. He has also contributed to both volumes of The Matrix comics, a series of short Matrix-inspired comic stories.
Outside of comic books and film, Darrow has also done some artwork for the Magic: The Gathering trading card series.
Darrow has won three Eisner Awards. His first was in 1991, which he shared with Frank Miller for Hard Boiled. His second was in 1996 for Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. His third was in 2006 in the Writer/Artist category for Shaolin Cowboy.
Darrow serves on the national advisory board of PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.
- La Cité Feu (1984) with Moebius. Reproduced as 'City of Fire'.
- Bourbon Thret (1986), a (french) limited edition comes with the "Darrow magazine, 25 pages of "overwhelming testimonies" : mostly illustrated private jokes from French comic artists.
- Hard Boiled with Frank Miller (1990).
- Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (1996)
- Doc Frankenstein (2004)
- Shaolin Cowboy (2005)
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