I’m back with another of my posts which originally appeared on the ‘Comic book Community’ on Google+ If you’re on G+ join us for some comic madness https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/116640187442726311437
Here we go with the second…
What are the comics that have had the most impact on you?
Many thanks for all the replies to the last Miracleman focused post, let’s see what shakes out this time when I discuss James O’Barr’s The Crow.
I missed out on the comics run of this and like a lot of folks got it as a trade, and wow, it was stunning. It was another departure from my regular tights and flights books at the time and I first thought it was going to be a horror book, guy gets killed, rises from grave for vengeance, sounds pretty straight forward. But it was something much deeper and involving than I could possibly have imagined, and certainly not something I thought a comic book would’ve been capable of.
As a bit of background for those of you who mightn’t have read it or only heard of the movies, The Crow was a four issue series published in 1989 by artist James O’Barr via Caliber Press. The book had been a way for O’Barr to try to cope with the death of his fiancé, killed by a drunk driver. Following her death he joined the Marines to escape from a life for a while and after he left the service he began working on the story, further influenced by a news report of the senseless killing of a young couple over a cheap engagement ring. In interviews he admitted that the project didn’t have the cleansing effect he’d hoped for saying in a 1994 interview “As I drew each page, it made me more self-destructive, if anything….There is pure anger on each page.” This is something I could undeniably feel when I read the book.
I’d started off on the wrong foot I suppose expecting The Crow to be a bit of a horror/zombie shoot’em up, and boy was I wrong! I didn’t know the background to the book at the time of reading but damn you could feel the full range of emotions had been poured onto each page, as if O’Barr had bottled, rage, joy, despair, and love and inked the book with it.
It was a primal tale of brutal murder, the helplessness to prevent the horrific death of your loved one, and an impossible resurrection for revenge, guided and taunted by a crow who mocked the central character Eric’s anguish at his loss. Each page pulled you along on this journey as Eric inflicted his terrible vengeance on his, and his beloved Shelly’s killers, no supervillains, just a rabble of disaffected, drug addled, men, with no morals or conscience.
Eric’s unbridled rage was brilliantly countered by flashbacks of a life never to be fulfilled, of an all consuming love ended all too soon. Throughout all of this were woven lyrics of songs laden with relevance to the story from the likes of Joy Division, and quotes from the classics of Edgar Allen Poe.
It was a powerful story that struck the cords of every emotion and still does to this day.
Famously, or infamously given its tragic circumstances, The Crow was adapted into a movie starring Brandon Lee in 1994. Lee died during filming following a weapons malfunction on set, but he left a fantastic film that stands as a great comics character adaptation given O’Barr’s on-set guidance, and Lee’s obvious love and understanding of the source material.
I had the honour and pleasure of talking with O’Barr during a web chat a few years ago. It was a simultaneous film party set up by the web site Sci-Fi Mafia where about 20 of us all started the movie at the same time in whatever part of the world we were in, no ‘Hangouts’ in those days, and chatted with James who talked us through the scenes and his memories of making the movie, and Lee’s devotion to his performance. He also talked about writing the original books and his influences at the time. One of my prized possessions are posters he signed and sent to me as, given the time difference, I was pressing play and chatting at 3am not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to talk to him about one of my favourite comics.
So if you haven’t read The Crow, take a deep breath and dive in, for a harrowing journey that takes you from the pits of despair and helplessness to the highs of a blazing love that deserved an opportunity at revenge.