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A self-taught artist, James O'Barr created his character The Crow in the early 1980s while in the United States Marine Corps. stationed in Germany, where he was on loan to the Army illustrating hand-to-hand combat manuals. He was inspired by such diverse sources as the works of French poets George Bataille and Anton Artaud, the music of punk artists Ian Curtis and Iggy Pop, and the stories of Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe, and credits his distinctive visual style to his study of classical Renaussance sculpture, 1940s noir crime films, and his two years of medical training.