James O’Barr Interview

I was lucky enough to get to chat with the creator of The Crow, James O’Barr last night where we discussed why the character still resonates after all these years and we got some exclusive details on upcoming projects like Fox Company and a new Crow story.

We weren’t allowed to discuss the upcoming remake but we still discuss the Brandon Lee classic and more…

James will be at the Toronto Comicon this weekend but before that check out our interview below.


When The original Crow movie first went into development, were there other actors who were up for the role?

There were actually a lot of other actors but I believe Johnny Depp was at the top of the list but he had just done a film that he thought was too similar and that film was Edward Scissorhands. So I totally understand why he turned it down.

When creating the character did you have a particular actor in mind?

Well not really a particular actor but it was more influenced by the music styles of the time (the 80’s) like Bauhaus and Iggy Pop.

The music played such an integral part of the story; was that important to you?

Yeah, to this day I listen to music when I’m working; no television or DVDs. Music sets the mood for whatever I’m working on; thankfully in the first movie the music was all used to move the story along. There weren’t just songs thrown in there just so they could end up on the soundtrack.

When other people work on The Crow, do you enjoy seeing other interpretations of the character or do you consider it your baby?

I consider my book my child but I enjoy other comic book adaptations or seeing other artists working on it. I’m a little divorced from that myself; there are different characters and different storylines so it’s not as personal to me but I do enjoy seeing other artist’s interpretations of the character.

What is it about the character of Eric that you think still resonates after all these years?

I think it’s the themes of the book of love, loss and justice; those are universal themes that could be set in any time or any place. The book’s been in print for 25 years so obviously it’s not era specific.

It’s timeless…

Yeah! It seems to get handed down to a new generation like every 4 years so the themes are very universal.

You have several projects in the pipeline including the western Sundown, The Crow: Engines of Despair and your Korean War Story; any word on street dates for them?

I want to finish a project before I offer it to a publisher, because between appearing at conventions and appearances at things I never know how long it’s going to take me to finish something or how much opportunity I’ll have to work on it. Two of those projects, the western and the new Crow book Engines of Despair are about two thirds of the way through so I’m hoping late this year or early next year we’ll see them printed.

Does the Korean War story have a title yet?

Well it’s based on a book called The Last Stand of Fox Company which was a real company of Marines in the mountains over the Chosin Reservoir so probably it will just be called Fox Company. It’s historically accurate and they were the real 300 but there were only 289 of these marines against 20,000 Chinese. It’s a really spectacular story and Korea is kind of a forgotten war in America; there really aren’t any good films about it so I think it’s long overdue that someone tells these stories.

Korea is kind of a forgotten war in America

It’s true, I can’t think of too many movies about the Korean War; this is very much a passion project for you isn’t it?

Yeah definitely; having been in the Marines myself we heard stories about Fox Company and they were like these mythological figures. Doing the research for it I discovered they were all just young kids like we were but they stepped up and did what they had to do. It’s just one of the most heroic things I’ve ever read and a story that needs to be told.

Do you have any idea who the publishers would be at this stage?

Well currently I have a great relationship with IDW and hopefully that will continue. They’ve been the easiest company to work for so far…

You recently did a cover for Judge Dredd; would you be interested in doing more with the character?

Yeah, I love Judge Dredd… although the outfit was a bit of a nightmare to draw (laughs). I really think that material would suit my style and I’d really love to do a Judge Dredd book at some point.

Did you like the recent film with Karl Urban?

Oh yeah absolutely, I thought it was spectacular and I’m very disappointed that there’s not gonna be a sequel.

Yeah, I think we’re all pretty devastated about that… I hear you’re an action movie fan; do you have a particular genre favourite?

Actually, it’s like music; as long as it’s truthful and well done and there’s character development then I enjoy any kind of film, not just one specific genre. I actually have a fondness for film noir and late 60’s westerns but I’ll watch anything that I think is truthful.

Are there any other artists you’d like to work with?

There’s lot of other artists I’m envious of but I have found that where my artwork is concerned I prefer to have total control over it. I’d like to write for another artist or possibly even draw something that another writer has written. So far I’ve just found it easier to do everything myself; there are no negotiations when I’m doing everything myself (laughs).

I understand you’ll be at the Toronto Comicon this weekend…

Absolutely yeah! Toronto is one of my favourite cities and I’m not just saying that because I’m going to Toronto. It’s kind of like New York with all the riff-raff cleaned out (laughs).

Well we shall see you at the Comicon then; thanks very much for taking the time to chat with us.