This weekend, during a panel moderated by ComicBook.com at the Twin Tiers Comic Con in Elmira, New York, The Crow creator James O'Barr revealed to fans that the series had almost been adapted into an anime sometime in the last ten years -- but that the studio who holds the license to the screen rights wasn't willing to allow it without a massive buy-in.
"Funimation wanted to do a The Crow series," O'Barr told an audience at his artist's spotlight panel at the First Arena in Elmira. "It was right after they did Afro Samurai. A bunch of these Japanese executives flew over to meet with me and talk with me about it, and I thought that was just a phenomenal idea. With anime, the violence is so over the top and I thought it would be perfect."
Funimation released Afro Samurai, starring The Avengers' Samuel L. Jackson, through Spike TV in 2007, followed shortly by a pair of DVD releases (standard and director's cut). It was a hit with most fans and a boon for the relatively small production house, but with The Crow, it wasn't to be. Hope, however, isn't all lost...
"Unfortunately the deal I have with Hollywood is that I own the character and the publication rights and they own the film and TV rights. And what Hollywood did is, 'Yeah, he can make it. Give us $6 million and he can license it,'" O'Barr explained. "Well, that’s the whole budget, right there, so that was a big disappointment because I really wanted to see that. They did Afro Samurai, they did Black Lagoon. It was an amazing company and I would have really liked that. I thought they could have done something really phenomenal. But the cool thing is that now The Crow is with a new studio and they’re much more open to that. So if we can get the Japanese interested again, I would love to see something like that. Because in my opinion, they kick Disney’s ass all over the street."
You can see a clip from the panel, including the quotes above and more, below.
He went on to say that he believed The Crow's aesthetic has often influenced anime and manga more than it has American comics and art.
O'Barr is currently working on a new volume of The Crow, his first as both writer and artist in more than a decade. It will release through IDW Publishing, hopefully in 2016, and he expects that it will be released first as serialized comics and later as a collected graphic novel.