James O'Barr, creator of The Crow, will draw a variant cover for Doom Patrol in August, marking his first published work with DC Comics.
Despite his high profile in indie comics, O'Barr has rarely branched out into more mainstream work, only occasionally producing art for the likes of Heavy Metal or Judge Dredd. Nevertheless, working at DC (under Gerard Way's Young Animal imprint) is something that's a bit of a long time coming for O'Barr.
According to Brian Cronin's Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed column at CBR, O'Barr tried for years to get a Batman project rolling with DC, with both sides amenable to the idea of working together but never able to make the creative and scheduling sides work.
Here's what O'Barr told Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column in 2006:
In the mid ’90s I did a script treatment and some paintings for a Batman Elseworlds book which Denny O’Neill thought were marvellous enough to ask only ‘When can you start?’ Unfortunately, shortly after that the Batman film was released and the parameters for what you could now do with Batman were chokingly narrowed and a bevy of new editors were employed to handle the flood of new Bat titles. I was dumped from one editor to another as some hot or diseased potato, no one willing to step out of the box with who or what Batman is or represents and the book just got pushed back further and further while I worked on new projects waiting for someone to come to their senses. Which still has not occurred. As Daniel Brereton was over heard to say “OBarr doing Batman – that would fucking rock!!!What a no-brainer! NO ONE does atmosphere and shadows like OBarr.” So, the chance for a talented artist and fan (if I do puff my ego a bit here) to take the next step in the Dark Knight stairwell just rots in the cellar. And the material where Batman is concerned is honestly not much more extreme than Paul Popes 100 Years Batman series (in fact a great deal of it is very similar….great minds think alike, I guess). It is graphic but not extreme. Violent, but not exploitive. And adult, without pandering.
Surprisingly, after all that, it's a cat's mug shot, not Batman, that first brings O'Barr to DC, but who knows what might follow?
You can also get the solicitation text for Doom Patrol #8, the issue the cover will adorn, below:
What is S**t, and why is everyone eating it? Cliff doesn’t like it, but Casey can’t get enough. Sure, Cliff doesn’t like a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong to be suspicious this time around. Meanwhile, we find out where Lotion the cat got off to, and how his journey has changed him. Life on the streets has made him an entirely different animal!