From Comics To Film And TV: A Brief History Of ‘The Crow’

Despite Boardwalk Empire‘s Jack Huston dropping out of the title role due to scheduling conflicts, the remake of The Crow seems to be moving along. It’s been more than 20 years since James O’Barr’s comic was turned into a major motion picture™ and 10 years since the last movie in the franchise was released. We decided to take a look at the history of the series — from the various comics, films and TV episodes based on it — as well as the issues that arose behind the scenes of its creation.

The Comics

The story of The Crow began in 1978, when O’Barr’s fiancee, Beverly, was killed by a drunk driver. In order to cope with his grief, O’Barr joined the military for a while before beginning what would become the comic series that inspired all the films to follow. While the death of Beverly was that primary impetus of the story, O’Barr was also inspired by the story of a Detroit couple who had been murdered by thieves over a $20 engagement ring. After sitting on the shelf for years, The Crow was eventually published by Caliber Comics in 1989.

In 1996, two years after the release of the movie, Kitchen Sink Press began to release new stories of different characters taking up the “Crow” mantle. These characters included a Native American from 1860 (The Crow: Dead Time), a female Federal Conservation officer (The Crow: Flesh and Blood) and a man trying to save his daughters from being sold into slavery by the Chinese mafia (The Crow: Waking Nightmares). The most recent version —The Crow: Pestilence — was released in 2014.

O’Barr has mentioned that while his creation of the comic was intended to be cathartic, it actually achieved the opposite effect and increased his depression. It was meeting Brandon Lee on the set of the comic’s film adaptation and talking with him that he finally was able to get some much-needed closure, thus making the events to follow all the more ironic.

The Crow (1994)

Much like James O’Barr’s comic, the film adaptation of The Crow was steeped in tragedy. On March 31, 1993, Brandon Lee — playing Eric Draven — was shot with an improperly prepared firearm during filming. After being rushed to a local hospital and undergoing six hours of surgery, Lee was pronounced dead. He was 28 years old, only four years younger than his father, Bruce Lee, when he died in 1973. Most of Lee’s scenes had already been filmed up to that point, and any remaining scenes were filmed using a stunt double and CGI to replace him.