Friday, May 22, 2009

Famous First Fridays: Barry (Windsor) Smith's Marvel Comics Debut

One of the greatest artists to every grace the comicbook universe had one of the most humble beginnings of all. In the U.S. for only a short time, trying to get work in the comicbook industry, Barry (pre-Windsor) Smith finally got an assignment from Marvel's Roy Thomas--to draw X-Men (no adjectives, Wolverine, or spin-offs back then) #53 (November 1968). As the story goes, Barry had been kicked out of his hotel and was forced to draw the entire issue on whatever unoccupied New York park benches he could find. Barry's crude-yet-energetic Kirby-inspired art proved good enough to land him a few more gigs at Marvel (Daredevil issues 50-52, Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #12, some covers, and a handful of shorts in Marvel's mystery titles). In 1970, Thomas hired Smith to draw Conan, and the rest, as the cliche goes, is history. Let's take a look at a few choice pages from that premiere penciling job, shall we?

Oh, in case you're wondering... BWS did finally draw Wolverine. He came a long way, huh, baby?


  1. "Felled by the foulest of fates..." "Their fortunes are feeble..." "Condemned by cruel conspirators..." Clearly we must conclude the audacious Arnold Drake was royally renumerated for each instance of artful authorial alliteration he could ascribe!

  2. Hey Groove, just wanted to thank you for a great blog. Showing the debuts of famous creators/characters is a very nice idea. Looking forward to more posts about Neal Adams, Mike Grell, Jim Starlin and especially Marshall Rogers. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks, Max! All the creators you mentioned are "cued up" for their own Famous First Fridays. In fact, if all goes according to plan, Marshall Rogers will be in next Friday's spotlight!

    RAB, I absolutely agree that Artful Arnie's alliterative aptitude is A-1, amazing, and aces!

  4. Twenty years later, Marvel reissued a miniature facsimile version of that Barry Smith X-MEN as a Halloween treat! We gave out hundreds where I worked that year and I still have one copy in a drawer upstairs.

  5. Has an artist ever made as many long strides in so short of time as Barry Smith? Amazing to look at his development. Great post, Groove!

  6. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer,



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!