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.
We’re closing in on 7000 members and post about everything comics related :-)
I’m going to repost some of my G+ articles here as well and recently I’ve been posting write ups on the subject of;
What are the comics that have had the most impact on you?
These are the ones that have imprinted themselves in your conciousness, be it the art that stirred your soul, or the story that you can always recall with crystal clarity, that you can talk about the nuances of for hours on end if you meet a similarly smitten fan.
I can think of a few so I’ll kick things off with… ‘Miracleman’
This was such a departure from any cape and tights book I had been reading at the time, and was at the beginning of comics telling darker tales which have flourished to the present day.
As a brief history round up Miracleman started as Marvelman in Brit comic Warrior, and was the UK answer to Captain Marvel, magic word ‘Kimota!’ transforming Michael Moran into Marvelman, just as ‘Shazam!’ does for Billy Batson. Warrior had been reprinting Fawcett comics Captain Marvel until legal issues forced them to stop and Marvelman was born. Comic legends Alan Moore and Alan Davis created the characters adventures until cancellation. However in Warrior’s final issues the character became Miracleman, as Marvel Comics waved legal papers due the the now trademarked marvel name.
Settling at Eclipse Comics in 1985 Moore, with artists Chuck Beckum, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben, embarked on a ever darkening tale of superbeings and their impact on the world, a theme Moore would revisit time and again in later years.
It was Moores Eclipse run that took my breath away, carefree adventures became nightmares of epic proportions. The art, especially Totleben’s was beyond stunning in its beauty and complexity, it bordered on magical. Even when it was scenes of gore and horror as the citizens of London are slaughtered in panels that shock and awe to this day, the art was amazing and something you studied for every tiny detail.
Moores tale was also something I hadn’t experienced before and showcases the choices that Superman has refused to take on moral grounds since his creation. Miracleman with all the power at his command, joined by others like him and some alien friends, form a dictatorship to bring order to the world. All the issues that plague mankind, hunger, energy, materialism, are removed, even superpowers are given out as people explore more existential matters than making ends meet. It was a world that made sense in a dramatic way and I suppose helped you understand the restraint Superman must show every time he watches the news :-)
It was a book that moved me to seek ever more obscure and amazing work by what we now call indie creators, though I still collected the big name books on mass, which explains the thousands of books in my loft that has made numerous houses start to lean after a while.
Neil Gaiman, heard of him? ..and artist Mark Buckingham took over Miracleman after Moore finished his run with issue 16 and continued to weave fantastic stories as he always does in the utopia world Miracleman had created, but it was Moores tales that continue to amaze me when I re-read them, something that is overdue now.
Miracleman ended unfinished and became mired in legal battles between many people who claimed rights to part or the whole of the property, and Gaimans plans and tales for the character never reached the light of day despite some being completed which is such a great shame. In 2009 Marvel claimed they now owned the character and would be creating a new comic and reprinting old adventures but still legal wrangles have prevented any movement.
But despite all the problems that character has had outside of the pages of his book, it still stands as one of the finest comics I have ever read and had a huge impact on how I saw comics and their potential as works of art, and a vitally important and thrilling medium for storytelling :-)
I’ll be back with other comics that have had a similar effect, until then which ones have moved you? :-)
New DREDD making of feature has some new clips and lays out Judge Dredd’s comic origins, and his world, for those not in the know.
Really looking forward to this, makes me feel like a kid again with my copy of 2000AD which parents etc dismissed as bit of comic fun, but was soooo much more. Proud to say the 2000AD Newstand edition has pride of place on my new iPad : )
Get your tickets for DREDD in September perps or face 10 years in the iso-cubes : )
This is director Joe Carnanhan’s sizzle reel to Fox to consider his 1973 set reboot of Daredevil, the awesome Marvel comics character, and not too well realised Ben Affleck film from a while back. Fox passed, to focus on their next balls up of the Fantastic Four. The rights to DD now revert back to Marvel in October and if Marvel is listening ‘MAKE THIS MOVIE!!!!’ Give it a fast paced Lalo Schifrin-esc score and it would be perfection. Throw in cameos from Luke Cage and Iron Fist and it would be mind-blowing. A gritty mean streets New York with a fearless vigilante on the loose, awesome.