Monday, September 7, 2015
Timing is a bitch
Do you ever feel really different from one reading to the next? Sometimes I am bored as fuck reading a book in November but that same book will hit me really hard six months later. Maybe it had something to do with the edition instead of the timing, but on my most recent reading of The Crow I basically cried through the entire book.
Maybe I was just in a rough mood, I don't know, but it hit me hard this time around. If you're not familiar with The Crow beyond knowing it's the gothy movie that killed Brandon Lee let me start by saying that it's a bit more involved than pop culture makes it out to be.
It's a beautifully illustrated, violent, aggressive, truly depressed story about a murdered man coming to avenge the death and gang rape of his fiancee. The relationship between Shelly and Eric is shown in several stages, all of which suggest that they were honestly and deeply in love, and the images of this deep, sweet relationship are carefully intercut with images of a morphine addict raping Shelly's corpse and Eric literally slashing himself to pieces because he allowed her to be harmed (and horrible things ad nauseam).
Anyway, the book isn't perfect. Shelly is fairly dehumanized and I will never not have a problem with the fact that she is almost unrecognizable from panel to panel. There are just tons of allusions and snippets of poetry tossed in to the point that Eric is essentially incomprehensible as the Crow. T-Bird's gang makes no sense, the mythology of the whole story is confusing, the police department is oddly structured - really there aren't many points on which The Crow is coherent, but that doesn't do a damn thing to make the book less impacting.
It's raw, is what all these criticisms come down to. The Crow is a bundle of pain that was turned into a book that you can hold in your hands. J. O'Barr shared his suffering with us in one of the best examples I've ever seen of translating emotion into art. And for that it's fantastic.
O'Barr, J. The Crow. Kitchen Sink Press. Northampton: Massachusetts. 1994. (1981).