Barry Windsor-Smith is one of the greatest artists of comics’ history. With a career that began back in the late 1960s, Windsor-Smith has had a major impact on the industry, having illustrated Marvel’s X-Men and Daredevil, before moving on to Conan, where he would develop his own career-defining style that would continue as he jumped ship with former Marvel editor Jim Shooter to Valiant Comics. He would also develop his own independent series, but due in 2021 is a graphic novel that has been a passion project of his for his entire career. Fantagraphics is publishing the British artist’s Monsters. For more information, check out the full press release from Fantagraphics.
Fantagraphics is excited to announce the world-wide publishing rights to Barry Windsor-Smith’s graphic novel, Monsters!
Monsters is the legendary project Windsor-Smith has been working on for over 35 years. A 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling, Monsters’ vast narrative canvas is part familial drama, part espionage thriller, part metaphysical journey — in sum, an intimate portrait of individuals and an epic political odyssey spanning two generations of American history. Trauma, fate, conscience, and redemption are a few of the themes that intersect in Windsor-Smith’s Monsters.
When he walks into a military recruitment office, Bobby Bailey has no idea that he is about to fulfill his tragic destiny. Close-mouthed, emotionally damaged, innocent, trying to forget a past and looking for a future, it turns out that Bailey is the perfect candidate for a secret US government experimental program, an unholy continuation of a genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany in the waning days of World war II. Bailey’s only ally and protector, Sergeant McFarland, intervenes, which sets off a chain of cascading events that spin out of everyone’s control. As the titular monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, literal and ironic, the story reaches its emotional and moral reckoning. Monsters is rendered in Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique; the visual storytelling with its sensitivity to gesture and composition is the most sophisticated of the artist’s career. It is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.
“After putting so much time and investing so much creative energy in this project,” says Windsor-Smith, “I’m pleased that it’s finally being published.”
Barry Windsor-Smith began his career by drawing mainstay Marvel characters such as the X-Men and Daredevil in 1969 in the traditional Marvel style. However, in 1971 he broke from the Marvel formula when he started drawing the Conan series, turning heads with a fresh and controversial stylistic approach and winning numerous industry awards. Part of a young generation of artists that included compatriots Berni Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, and Jeff Jones, Windsor-Smith proceeded to carve an independent path for himself. In the ‘90s, he conceived, wrote, and drew three independent series, The Freebooters, Young Gods, and The Paradox-Man. In 1999 and 2001 Fantagraphics published Opus volumes 1 and 2, autobiographical coffee table art books. Monsters is his first book since The Freebooters (2005).
“I’ve known Barry for over 50 years now,” explains Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth, “so publishing his biggest and most artistically mature work to date is a personal and professional milestone for me, and I’m grateful that he’s entrusted this important work to us.”
Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith is slated to release in January 2021.