Sunday, 24 May 2009

Barry Windsor-Smith

Today is Barry Windsor-Smith's birthday. Y'know, even after all these years, I still can't get used to that surname. I know, I know, it's his proper family name and all that, but to me, he'll always be little ol' Barry Smith, the genius who introduced me to Conan. ( I'm the same with Howard Chaykin, by the way. It's Howie, dammit! ) Anyway, after Bazza left Conan The Barbarian, he didn't do much in the way of comic work, concentrating on publishing his own prints through The Gorblimey Press, and putting together legendary art book The Studio. But there was the occasional dip into graphic waters, like this gorgeous wraparound cover for Star*Reach, a preliminary for the painting Artemis & Apollo.

And here's Baz hawking said item, from the back of the same issue. Hey, it was the '70's. We all dressed like this.

The major return to comics came a few years later though, in the February '83 issue of Epic Illustrated, with this incredible piece The Beguiling. A Pre-Raphaelite comic strip no less.

And finally, because you can't talk about Smith without talking about Conan, here's the full, spectacular cover to the Conan Treasury Edition. Hey Dark Horse, that's what Conan looks like.


  1. Very few artists developed as quickly as Barry. His ersatz-Kirby stuff on Daredevil and X-Men showed talent and his early Conan was much, much more self-assured but by the time of this Epic piece he was way too hip for the room! Wow.

  2. Absolutely. I have that Essential Conan that rapidly went out of print as soon as Dark Horse got the rights, and the transformation from, as you say, Kirby copyist to pre-raphaelite comics is incredible.

  3. In this cover Conan has no neck, it remembers me to Tolkemec from Red Nails incredible ending. Barry Smith can bo better.

  4. lluis is mistaken. The angle is looking up at Conan and Conan has his chest up and chin down -- just because you can't see Conan's neck in a pose doesn't mean Barry got it wrong -- try replicating the pose yourself in the mirror. The Tolkemec pose you mention from Red Nails is the same -- chest up, chin down. Barry may have some occasional anatomical quirks/mistakes (who doesn't?), but what lluis mentions isn't one of them.

  5. "The Beguiling" was amazing, and I purchased the issue of EPIC ILLUSTRATED which contained it when it was brand new (I was 18 at the time). I wrongly assumed it signaled BWS' return to comics, but it seemed to have been a false start until he did more commercial comics like MACHINE MAN and eventually some handsome X-MEN issues. I understand that ADASTRA IN AFRICA was originally supposed to be a Storm X-MEN storyline. Whatever happened to Barry? He drew a SUPERMAN graphic novel in 1999 which never saw print, and I don't know if he ever finished his mammoth THE MONSTER Frankenstein revamp. I suppose he's living on commissions, original art sales, and royalties, but it would be tragic to hear of him coming to an end wracked with ill health like Jeffrey Jones. Come to think of it, haven't heard much about Wrightson since his mini-strokes and brain cancer surgery. These chaps are having a bad go of it, it seems. Kaluta, are you all right?

    Chris A.