Sunday, March 30, 2008

Whatever Happened to?...

Barry Windsor-Smith?

It's been more than thirty-five years since he rose to prominence as a superstar artistic talent with his work on Marvel's Conan the Barbarian; since then, he has become one of those elite "artist's artists" whose work is cited as a major influence by many... but like Jeff Jones and Jim Steranko, he's done very little in recent years. His last major spate of work came during the Valiant days, when he returned to regular comics series work. He was rumored to be working on a Superman graphic novel that never came about; other than that, he's been pretty much absent from comics.

Apparently, he hasn't abandoned the field, though; according to his website, he's well into another project, Monsters (and I think this was the same name as a project he was once reported to be producing for Vertigo, but I don't see any publisher linked to the graphic novel now, so I could be wrong). According to his description, Monsters "explores the disastrous effects of a Nazi program of genetic engineering, discovered at the close of World War II, upon two American families." There are no lengthy segments to give a feel for the story, but there are some enticing pieces of art, including the one I've included here.

I miss Windsor-Smith's work. He is a distinctive talent, an artist who took comics illustration (and fantasy illustration in general) in a pre-Raphaelite-influenced direction that had not been explored in the field previously. He is one of the few artists whose work is intensely evocative; not only does he create a unique look with his art, he also creates a distinctive mood with each piece. It's hard not to have an emotional response to his work--and to me, that's one of the most telling signs of artistic greatness.

Not sure what he's doing to fill his days now, but whatever it is, I hope he's enjoying it... and I hope that, at some time, he'll return to illustration with a major new project.

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