1949 (Forest Gate, London, England)
New York / England/United Kingdom
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comic illustration, 'Conan the Barbarian'
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Barry Windsor-Smith (born Barry Smith in Forest Gate, London, on 25 May 1949), is a British-born comic book illustrator and painter whose best known work has been produced in the United States.|
His international acclaim came as the original artist for Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian from 1970 to 1973, where he rapidly evolved a sophisticated and intricate style, introducing elements from diverse artistic influences to graphic storytelling.
Windsor Smith produced his first published work in 1967 and 1968 - single page Powerhouse Pinups of Marvel Comics* characters for Terrific and Fantastic comics, titles published by Odhams Press that included licensed Marvel Comics reprints for the UK market.
Following this, he flew to the U.S, in summer 1968 with fellow artist Steve Parkhouse for meetings at Marvel in New York. "I sent material first, and based solely upon a pleasant return note from Stan's assistant Linda Fite, my pal and me were at Marvel's doorstep in the blink of an eye."
Largely due to Smith's Jack Kirbyesque style, Marvel Comics Editor Roy Thomas gave him the job of drawing both the cover and story of X-Men #53 (cover-dated Feb. 1969), credited to Barry Smith as he was then known. He went on to draw Marvels' Daredevil #50-52 (March–May 1969), a Western short story, Half Breed, the story Outcast eventually published in Western Gunfighters #4, Feb. 1971), and issue #12 of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (May 1968), both scripted by Parkhouse. Windsor-Smith later called his early art "amateur and klutzy" and a "less than skillful" Kirby imitation, but Stan Lee liked it enough to give him more work. However, with his visa having expired and without a work permit, Windsor-Smith was sent home by U.S. Immigration Authorities in December 1968.
Despite this, Thomas assigned him issues #66 and #67 of The Avengers (July–Aug. 1969) after he had returned to the U.K., and he continued to work at a distance for Marvel, providing the art for a number of stories in the horror anthology titles Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness. Thomas, a longtime fan of Robert E. Howard's 1930 pulp-fiction character Conan the Barbarian, also had Windsor-Smith provide art for a sword and sorcery story, Starr the Slayer, in Chamber of Darkness #4 (April 1970). Soon afterward, Thomas offered Windsor-Smith the job as penciller* for Marvel's adaptation of Conan, starting with Conan the Barbarian #1 (Oct. 1970). In 1971, Windsor-Smith moved to the United States, having been granted a work permit.
During his run on Conan the Barbarian, Windsor-Smith was involved in the writing as well. He and writer Roy Thomas adapted a number of R.E. Howard short stories, the aforementioned The Frost-Giant's Daughter, Tower of the Elephant, Rogues in the House, and Red Nails, the last of which was issued as a very limited, pirated, A3-size black-and-white version on glossy paper in England in early 1974. As well as the art and story contributions, Windsor-Smith provided the covers for most issues.
From there his illustration career continued with Marvel Comics with Conan the Barbarian. Windsor-Smith also provided the art for a number of other Marvel Comics titles, including the Ka-Zar stories in Astonishing Tales #3-#5 (December 1970-April 1971) and #10 (February 1972), three further issues of The Avengers (#98-100, April–June 1972) - about which he would later remember the nightmare of drawing "all those bloody characters that I didn't give tuppence about", Iron Man #42 (June 1972), and Marvel Premiere #3-4 (July–September 1972), which featured Doctor Strange, both of which were apparently re-scripted by Stan Lee after being drawn to Lee’s original scripts.
Windsor-Smith was by now becoming disillusioned with the comics industry and the way in which in his opinion the writers and artists were being exploited: "I needed to be free of constraints and policies that were imposed by the dictates of creating entertainment for children".
Shortly thereafter, Windsor-Smith left comics for the first time, leaving only a couple of inventory items in the Marvel Comics vaults, both stories of R.E. Howard characters: Kull in Exile of Atlantis (Savage Sword of Conan #3, December 1974), and Bran Mak Morn in Worms of the Earth (Savage Sword of Conan #16, November 1975). Other than ten pages of inking* of Jack Kirby pencil work for Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles (1976), a one-off oversize Marvel Comics Treasury Edition, he produced no more comics work until 1983.
At this point he changed his professional surname to Windsor-Smith, adding his mother's surname to his own, and began to pursue a career in fine art. Granted residential status in the United States in 1974, Windsor-Smith, along with his partner Linda Lessman, set up Gorblimey Press, through which he released a small number of limited-edition prints of fantasy-based subjects that proved popular.
In 1976 Windsor-Smith published The Gorblimey Press Catalogue, a high quality index to the work published by Gorblimey Press, with full-page reproductions of each piece. Prior to that, in 1975, together with Jeff Jones, Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson, he was one of four comic book artists-turned-fine-illustrator/painters who formed a small artist’s loft commune in Manhattan known as The Studio, with the aim of pursuing creative products outside the constraints of comic book commercialism. By 1979 they had produced enough material to issue an art book under the name The Studio, which was published by Dragon's Dream.
Windsor-Smith returned to mainstream comics work for Marvel in 1983 and Windsor-Smith's last work for Marvel Comics came with the serialized Weapon X feature in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 (1991), his own, original conception of the origin of the X-Men character Wolverine which he wrote, drew, inked, coloured, and co-lettered.
In late 1991, he became affiliated with Valiant Comics, a new comics publisher founded by former Marvel Comics writer and editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, and asked to act as their creative director and lead artist. Windsor-Smith became the chief designer of the Unity crossover for Valiant Comics, and writer and artist for most of the first dozen issues of the title Archer and Armstrong.
However, in 1993 Windsor-Smith once again found himself in opposition to company employment policies when Valiant decided to adopt the same work for hire practices that he had disliked in Marvel Comics, and became dissatisfied with his position in the company: "They needed me as a figurehead just as much as a creator." He left Valiant soon after Jim Shooter's departure from the company.
Of his work for Valiant, and the problems he encountered there over legal ownership of titles and characters, Windsor-Smith said in 2008, "In the 1970s I was constantly asked when I would 'do Conan again'. In these latter years I receive e-mails imploring me to return to Archer and Armstrong. My short reply is, 'When pigs fly to the Moon and return home safely.'"
Since leaving Valiant, Windsor-Smith has worked for a number of companies including for Malibu's Ultraverse line.
In 1995 Windsor-Smith created an over-sized anthology series, Barry Windsor-Smith: Storyteller for Dark Horse that contained three ongoing features: The Paradoxman, a dark science-fiction tale, Young GODS, a homage to Jack Kirby's Thor and New Gods series, and The Freebooters, a lighthearted action series about an aging Conan-like character grown older and heavier and now running a tavern.
Windsor-Smith's last published work was UFO POV an 11-page story in Streetwise (July 2000), a trade paperback anthology published by Two Morrows Publishing. In January 2006, Windsor-Smith announced on the website Comic Book Galaxy that he was in negotiations to publish a graphic novel for Marvel Comics starring The Thing. He has also been quoted as having been working since at least 1998 on a 300-page graphic novel Monsters, which "explores the life and times of two disparate American families fatefully connected by an abandoned Nazi project in genetic engineering that has been covertly revived by the US government".
• 1970 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Individual Story ("Lair of the Beast Men," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, from Conan the Barbarian #2) (nominated)
• 1971 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Continuing Feature (Conan the Barbarian) (winner)
• 1971 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Individual Story ("Devil Wings over Shadizar," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, from Conan the Barbarian #6 & "Tower of the Elephant," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, from Conan the Barbarian #4) (nominated)
• 1972 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Individual Story Dramatic ("The Black Hound of Vengeance," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, from Conan the Barbarian #20) (nominated)
• 1973 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Continuing Feature (Conan the Barbarian) (nominated)
• 1973 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Individual Story Dramatic ("Song of Red Sonja," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, from Conan the Barbarian #24) (winner)
• 1973 - British Fantasy Society Awards Best Comic (Conan the Barbarian) (winner)
• 1974 - Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards Best Individual Story Dramatic ("Red Nails," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, from Savage Tales #1-3) (nominated)
• 1974 - Shazam Award for Superior Achievement by an Individual (nominated)
• 1974 - British Fantasy Society Awards Best Comic (Conan the Barbarian) (winner)
• 1975 - Inkpot Award (winner)
• 1975 - British Fantasy Society Awards Best Comic (The Savage Sword of Conan) (winner)
• 1976 - British Fantasy Society Awards Best Comic (The Savage Sword of Conan) (winner)
• 1977 - Eagle Awards Favourite Comicbook Artist (nominated)
• 1985 - Haxtur Awards Best Long Story (Machine Man) (nominated)
• 1985 - Haxtur Awards Best Drawing (Machine Man) (nominated)
• 1990 - Gem Award for Outstanding Service and Product Best Comic under $3 (Deathmate Prologue) (nominated)
• 1993 - U.K. Comic Art Awards Best New Feature (Archer & Armstrong)
• 1997 - Comics' Buyer's Guide Favorite Colorist (nominated)
• 1997 - Harvey Award Best New Series (Barry Windsor-Smith: Storyteller) (nominated)
• 1998 - Comics' Buyer's Guide Favorite Colorist (nominated)
• 2008 - Eisner Awards Hall of Fame (winner)
"Barry Windsor-Smith", Wikipedia, //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Windsor-Smith (Accessed 12/29/2013)
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