James O’Barr

James O’Barr – Bio

James O’Barr is an American Graphic artist, best known as the creator of the comic book series The Crow.

He grew up in the area of Detroit and was raised in institutional and foster care.  O’Barr has been a self-taught artist since his early teens – he learned his craft through direct observation. He was inspired by such diverse sources as the works of French poets George Bataille and Anton Artaud, the music of punk artists Ian Curtis and Iggy Pop, and the stories of Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe. O’Barr credits his distinctive visual style to studying classical Renaissance sculpture, film noir, and his two years of medical training.

In 1978, O’Barr’s fiancée was killed by a drunk driver, and in an effort to cope with his grief he joined the Marines. In 1981, he started work on The Crow, while he was stationed in Berlin as an outlet for his rage and frustration at the tragedy.  O’Barr’s had hoped that his project would result in a catharsis but this was not the case. He told an interviewer in 1994 “[A]s I drew each page, it made me more self-destructive, if anything….There is pure anger on each page”.

The Crow remained undiscovered for several years, until being published by Caliber Press in 1989. It has since sold more than 750,000 copies worldwide.

The Graphic novel was adapted into a successful film of the same name in 1994, but it resulted in further tragedy. Brandon Lee, who played the main character, was accidentally shot and killed during filming.

O’Barr, distancing himself from the tragedy, has continued to paint and draw for various publishers, and recently created the gothic western “Sundowners”.

As of the mid-2000s, O’Barr resides in Texas.

 

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