Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I met James O'Barr and came away disappointed.

Eagle eyed reader may have noticed way down there on my Facebook badge thing that my latest status update reads "I met James O'Barr today and he was a DOUCHE." Well friends, the following is an accounting of the events of said meeting as they transpired when my friend Diptastic and myself innocently braved the Banquet Hall of a dowtown Atlanta Marriott with child-like wonderment danced through our heads at the very thought of shaking hands with the creator, writer, and artist of The Crow....

We walked up to his table, where absolutely NOBODY was waiting in any kind of a line or anything, and there were these two guys sitting there. Now, in our defense, nobody was wearing a "Hi, I'm James" name tag or anything, so we weren't exactly sure which one he was. Embarrassing, yes, but we'd never seen the guy, and if we had seen a picture it would likely have been taken at least 10 years or more ago. It wouldn't take Dip's wife long to decipher some carefully hidden clues (I believe her words were something along the lines of "Um, you think he might be the one drawing the picture of The Crow?") and we decided that she was probably right, so we approached him, Crow comics in hand.

I stood there for a minute, not wanting to interrupt him while he was drawing, and waited patiently for him to get to a stopping point, so he could sign my comic and tell me how grateful he was to have me as a fan and such. Well dude never showed any intention of stopping, until some other older guy walked up and he immediately put his pen down to shake hands with the guy.

The older guy proceeded to basically cut right in front of us to speak to James, introduce him to his daughter, etc. He even mentioned that he knew one of James' ex-wives (which is something I will touch on later), and asked James if he remembered meeting him before, which James thought about for a while, but eventually seemed to recall, or at least he told the guy that.

Finally after a couple of minutes with this guy, who by the way showed absolutely no interest in getting an autograph or anything, James finally looked at me and Dip and said "You guys have some comics you want signed or something?"

Wow dude, really? So me, being the extremely polite human being that I am, replied "yes sir" and put my book down on the table. While he was signing, I asked if he would mind if I took a picture, and the guy actually rolled his eyes at me while agreeing to it. So I took the picture, and while I had the camera up, he did ask me if my t-shirt (my Eye Heart Creepy one) was a Dark Horse shirt, and I was so disappointed in the guy at this point that all he got from me was a "yeah".

I grabbed my book, thanked him, and walked away. Dip got his signed and off we went to discuss what a giant douche he was.

Now the ex-wife thing. For those who don't know, James originally did The Crow to help cope with the depression he felt over the tragic loss of his wife. In fact he had to stop doing the book half way through because the story itself was so depressing that it was actually making him worse instead of better. But he did manage to work through it and finish because he did the book to honor her memory. Or at least that's how I read it waaaay back when I first read the comics.

So fast forward to Sunday, when the other guy told him he knew James' ex-wife...James replied with a "Oh really? Which one?" and a chuckle/shit eating grin combo. Now I don't know about you guys, but that right there just trounces all over the story of how the Crow first came about. James loved his wife so much that he wrote and drew this beautiful book to help him cope with the loss of her. Apparently every one of his wives since hasn't made that much of an impact on his tortured, loving soul.

In less than 10 minutes, the guy basically managed to absolutely ruin himself in my eyes. I considered myself a fan before, needless to say that is no longer the case. I still think The Crow is a great book, but the guy behind it ended up being a supreme disappointment.

The show wasn't a total loss though, I had a blast hanging with Dip and the Mrs., I don't get to see them as often as I used to due to geographical complications. I also only had $10 to my name, so I couldn't really hit the con like I wanted, but I did manage to pick up the following for somewhere around $9 total:

  • Age of the Sentry #'s 1-6 - Picked the entire mini-series up for $2.50, I initially skipped it due to my dislike of the character, but I read lots of favorable reviews online as it shipped, and well for less than the cost of 1 issue then, I get to read the whole thing.
  • Elephantmen #'s 1-3 - I actually arrived to the Elephantmen party a little late, so I only had the first 5 issues in trade format. Being the whore that I am for singles, and complete series', I jumped at these when I saw them in a 50 cent box, when I handed all 3 over to the vendor, he says "how 'bout $1?" YES.
  • Hip Flask: Mystery City - Before there was Elephantmen, there was only Hip Flask, the hippopotamus from the series. I haven't read much at all of the early stuff, and got this prestige format special from a 50 cent box. Score!
  • Batman: The Cult #'s 1-3 - Yeah, I already have all four issues of Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson's classic Batman prestige mini, but these were nicer copies than mine, so I grabbed them. Pulled all 3 from a "4 for $1" box.
  • Nevermen: Streets of Blood - For whatever reason I never picked up any of Guy Davis' Nevermen comics. I love Guy's work, but missed out on the Nevermen when it first started, and unless I can get on something from either a good jumping on point, or preferrably from the beginning, I tend to pass on it. This was the fourth book that I grabbed to go along with The Cult. I haven't really looked at it yet, but I believe it's a trade of some sort due to it's thickness. Either way it's a lot of Guy Davis comics for only a quarter and I believe that's the very definition of a no-brainer.

So that was my experience from the Atlanta Comic-Con this past weekend. I think I'll hold off before running out to meet any other of my favorite comic creators for a while. I was genuinely surprised at Mr. O'Barr, as every other writer or artist I'd ever met ended up being really down to Earth. Maybe he was just having a bad day, or was disappointed with the turnout, who knows? In any event, I had a great time regardless and can't wait for the next Con, which hopefully I will have a little money in pocket for.


Brandon Cackowski-Schnell said...

Jeez, he even looks like a tool

WizWor said...

Well that is just severely disappointing, man. It's always a freakin' heartbreaker when you meet one of your heroes and they end up reeking of douche. I've had it happen to me many times when meeting a front man of a favorite band. Most recently, though (actually 4 years ago now), Tom Savini. That shit was crushing, dude. I was with my lady (who was pregnant at the time) and he was just so short and snobby with us. I had him sign a few things and as soon as I asked if we could take a picture together he was like "$20". It's hard to take that in when people like Michael Berryman and David Naughton are completely elated about meeting fans, and it's hard to not lose a little bit of love for someone's work when they act like that.

Ekleberry said...

Both O'Barr and Savini have been nothing but kind and approachable the many times I've seen them both at the Motor City Comic Con over the years. It's unfortunate that your experiences were not the same as mine.

Unknown said...

That's bs. I met him in California and he was not only nice but took the time to explain his finances death by a drunk driver and Brandon's death which he was extremely emotional over. He still keeps her ring on a chain around his neck. I purchased some artwork and he was genuinely happy I liked it. He seems to be a good judge of character. He is also a veteran. :)

Mister Bones said...

Sounds like your experience was what I was hoping mine would be. Unfortunately, as the post describes, it was not. I don't know, maybe he was having a bad day, or upset that the con wasn't a larger one or something, but it was a big disappointment for me.

Unknown said...

Wow...I know this is an old post but, I'm also a huge fan and this news is disheartening. However, I've heard of people having great experiences with celebs that treated me with similar annoyance. The worst I've met so far was Doug Bradley (the actor who played Pinhead in "Hellraiser" if you're unaware of his celebrity/fandom) but, there have been some equally shining "winners". On the flip side of that, when I do have a good experience with a celeb, it's often so mind-blowing and enchanting, and I walk away feeling elated and, in a cliche way, totally star-struck in awe of their kindness and generosity (one of the best has been Robert Englund...and if you don't know why he is famous, shame on you, lol). Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm sorry it was so negative but, it was well written, detailed, cohesive, and probably one of the best blog entries I've come across randomly on the interwebs. =]

nekro said...

Such an old post but still makes me feel bad that this is the second thing that shows up after googling him.

I had the pleasure of meeting him and he is such a nice person, even after meeting all the people that do like the crow but probably didnt even have any idea of who he was or have many facts wrong about his life (like you, who thought his wife died, it was his fiancee). I literally saw a guy asking a lady sitting next to him if “she” was “james”, and another guy asking him to draw characters from “guardians of the galaxy”...imagine the kind of things he has to put up with everytime he goes to a convention.

Also, since he is used to many people not knowing who he is, he has no idea if the people “waiting” in front of him are waiting for a picture, a chat or just like to stare and he wouldnt want to jump to conclusions. No one can read minds.

This post is from 2009, he married in 2000 and clearly divorced after that. The dude is allowed to keep on with his life and not just be haunted by the tragedy that happened when he was 21. He is obviously making a joke when he said “which one?” since he only married once.. It’s not disrespectful to anyone’s memory.

Sad you had such experience with him, also sad you didnt took the time to think what is like to be in his shoes and expect a person to behave like a hollywood celebrity signing authographs and taking pictures at command (not even hollywood celebrities are like that constantly) before posting this.

Im sure he is more interested in having a normal conversation than just signing and taking a shallow picture.

Anonymous said...

He wrote The Crow about his dead fiancé. They never had the chance to marry. With death comes perfection so I strongly suspect he will never be happy with anyone. I don't see this as romantic. I see it as tragic for all the ex-wives and children he leaves in the wake of his ego.

He was not kidding when he asked which one. I used to know him well in real life. He's
had multiple ex-wives. He was on ex-wife #3 in the early 90s and did not divorce wife #2 before marrying #3 which makes him a bigamist. Don't believe me? Check public records. You'll see.

Wives 1 and 3 married him in Detroit, MI. Wife 2 in Canada. He's had others since then but I don't remember details about those.

You are not wrong in your observations of his personality and character. Everyone has bad days. He has more of them than most. It's not charming.

Shawn Edmonds said...

Unfortunetly.... I too had a negative experience with James O'barr. Yesterday at Monroe Michigan's Pop Fest. I walked up to his booth and a lady and another man (not O'barr) were sitting there. I asked where O'barr was and the lady said he would be back in 20 mins. So I walked around for a bit and returned to his booth about a half hour later. Waited in line for about 20 mins while he was doing a drawing for someone, then signing a lithograph with a small drawing for the guy in front of me. When my time came I said "Hey man, big fan could I have you sign a lithograph like the one you just did for that guy in front of me". O'barr rolled his eyes and said "there's a list of people already" I looked behind me and there were only 2 other people waiting in line. Mind you that the lithographs signed were a $100 so I was expecting him to be like "hell yeah you can have one" though nope. So I kindly asked for a signature on a $20 print he had sitting on his table. He signed it and I said "Thank you so much!" He replied with a quick "Sure!" with his arms crossed... and that was that. I wanted to like him so bad and was crushed the way he treated me...

Retro Ryan Cosplay said...

I too met James at Monroe Pop Fest, however I came away with a positive experience with him. I arrived late to the con and as I walked up to the table to request a special $75.00 commission piece, the lady helping him said "I'm sorry, he's no longer accepting commissions, he is full" I was gutted. So I asked him 'Do you take online orders for commissions?' he replied 'I don't really do all that online stuff' I thanked him and turned away, I was still gutted but walked around for a while, I decided to try one more tactic, I walked back, said 'if I pay you $100, would you sketch and mail it to me at this address and handed him my address along with a photo of what I wanted sketched, he looked at me, smiled and said 'I can do that' and proceeded to write my address down personally and made a note to remind himself. Sketch should be arriving this next week was his promise, so I'm eagerly waiting :) I think he just has mood swings and bad days like anyone else. I was just grateful he didn't show any annoyance with him, but went out of his way to grant my request :)

EarthAngel said...

Guys, he is only human...i met the guy and he was great! Signed my 2 books and several neca and mcfarlane figures at no cost. Same here, he talked about her fiance and was a very chill dude overall....sometimes people have bad days

Andrew said...

I met him in New Jersey and he couldn't have been nicer. Signed my DVD, took a photo with me, and shook my hand. I was really happy. I hope I get to see him again, I'd love to buy some original art next time.

Nightwing106 said...

Met him twice. Nice BOTH times. Nothing in your story made him sound that bad. Maybe you should stop being judgy just because he didn't notice you right away.