Everyone has known about The Crow since the mid ’90s, but it was on very few radars when Caliber first published the comic in 1989. It was actually brought to my attention early on.
Let me back up: As a teenager in the late ’80s, I retailed comics at some of the local Great Eastern Convention shows…Wayne, NJ and Paramus, NJ. I usually had one table, and was selling exactly what you’d expect at the time; lots of Batman, X-Men titles, McFarlane Spideys, etc. Hey, the hot mainstream Copper Age comics, that almost everybody was moving huge quantities of.
Lots of energy in those motel convention rooms; a genuine camaraderie between the dealers, as the business kept growing, and for the most part everyone was doing well. I was basically the “kid dealer” in the room selling on a smaller scale, but the other retailers treated me well, and it was a lot of fun shootin’-the-shit with those guys.
First half of ’89 the focus really was on the Batman books (as the first Tim Burton movie approached that summer), and in terms of independent books, it was really all about Dark Horse. The indie Black & White boom / bust was a few years earlier, so a lot of people were dismissing any newer B & W stuff (as it didn’t have the cache it used to) unless it was Turtles or again, out of Dark Horse.
Okay, so, let’s say it was during the first half of 1989 I had one of my monthly tables at Wayne or Paramus, and my spot was directly next to a dealer whom I didn’t think I knew prior. Very nice guy…
…and he obviously had a bit of a clientele that sought out his opinion, as I clearly remember some collectors asking him, “Anything new I should know about?” He responded with a book he had on the wall behind his table, “Yeah, I like this new book called The Crow, I’m recommending it…”
Have no idea how many copies he had, or what we was selling it for, but yeah, it was the first issue first printing, newly published. This guy really was paying attention to the indie world, and was ahead of the curve. If anything, it demonstrated to me when a comic book dealer is really on top of new under-the-radar product in the market.
And no, I didn’t buy a copy from him for my personal collection. Don’t ask me why. Man, do I regret it. But hey, I saw The Crow when it was a new comic that nobody had heard of. Except for this guy.
More info / resources:
James O’Barr’s official website is HERE…
…and original issues of The Crow are of course way pricey. If you’re looking for the TPB, head over to your local comic shop or Amazon.com!