When I first started buying comic books it was about 1970 or so and like any good boy of the time I gravitated towards the Marvel titles. Other than Batman and the mystery/horror titles I never had much to do the DC comic books of the time unless they were drawn by Neil Adams. But I must have bought nearly every Marvel title during a period of about three or four years there. If there was one artist I had to choose out of all the great ones I admired that stood out from the pack it would have to be Barry Smith (later Barry Windsor Smith). His early work, and even the first couple issues of Conan, seemed pretty derivative of Jack Kirby and that would be an uncommon thing for the time. Even the great Jim Steranko was nothing but a Kirby clone for the longest time. But, In my opinion, by issue three of Conan the Barbarian he was finding his own direction and as the series progressed he would be drawing in a style that simply no one was working with or had prior to him in the mainstream comic book field. I always had some reservations about Sal Buscema’s (John’s younger brother) inks over Smith’s pencils but even those improved as well over time so that the pair turned out some of the best work done by Marvel at the time, or any time to be honest. Marvel branched out into the b/w magazine field and one title was Savage Sword of Conan, which featured two of Smith’s best works; The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Red Nails, both rendered entirely by Smith. Both were a couple of the best adaptations of the Robert E. Howard hero ever put to pen and paper.

Smith would have a long and convoluted career that involved a breaking away from Marvel and its cooperate power structure and, among other things, a venture in a period of artwork  that he and pals Bernie Wrightson,  the late Jeff Jones and Michael Kaluta, termed New Romanticism. The work from this period was anything but comic book art for Smith. He would continue to work for mainstream publishers and his story is too complex to get into in this little brief intro. But much of his career and private life would be chronicled in the books Opus I and II, along with choice samples of some of his best work. I put together two Rapidshare files. One features the complete Red Nails story (thanks to the Groove Agent over at the culturally significant Diversions of the Groovy Kind for sending me the jpegs to work with) and both Opus books. I had considered putting up all the Conan the Barbarians books as well that I have here but figured I can do that another day if there is any interest shown in these items. The files are CBR and you will need a reader like the free CDisplay to view them. These are simply mind boggling books. If even one person wants the Smith Conan comics from Marvel I will get working on a file for that.


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