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Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives Volume 1 Hardcover – January 26, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fan favorite Windsor-Smith has been drawing comics and Pre-Raphaelite-influenced fantasy illustrations for more than four decades but remains most closely associated with his first major work, Marvel Comics’ adaptation of the pulp-magazine hero Conan the Barbarian. Windsor-Smith illustrated the character for only the first three years of its long comic-book run, yet it’s widely felt that none of the artists who followed equaled his seminal rendition. These early stories, which established sword-and-sorcery as a popular comics genre, possess a freshness that vanished once the genre’s limitations became evident. Thomas’ scripts, many adapted from Robert E. Howard’s original stories, supply the requisite blood and thunder, but it was Windsor-Smith’s ornate, meticulous art that turned the barbarian into a property whose popularity rivaled that of Marvel’s most popular superheroes. The 11 issues in this first of two volumes reprinting Windsor-Smith’s too-brief run aren’t his strongest work—the earliest stories, in particular, are a bit stiff and tentative—but they already demonstrate the melding of elegance and power that made him one of comics’ most popular creators. --Gordon Flagg
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Product Details

  • Series: Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Books; Reprint edition (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595824413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595824417
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Tucker VINE VOICE on January 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A little history:
Way back in 1970 Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor Smith (back before the Windsor middle name was used) started working together to really change the face of mainstream comics. Conan the Barbarian was the first of it's kind. Barry gave us art that evolved from one issue to the next and he delivered on visualizing Robert Howard's Age Undreamed of in spades. Roy wrote the tale of a thief, a reaver, a slayer, a man who would become a king by his own hand. If this sounds cliche' it wasn't in 1970. Conan is often described as heroic. Well, he definitely of heroic proportion and effort but he was really just a man and not a superhero in tights. He was a resilient, tough, smart, cunning and determined man. As a barbarian from the untamed north he was a large man among other, smaller men in both size and aspiration. Barry and Roy delivered in a way that's hard to describe, but it's hard to argue that Conan the Barbarian wasn't something new to the mainstream heroic comic genre.

When this book collecting those comic formatted stories was first announced a lot of people were encouraged by the proposal that stated that the original color guides would be used for this volume. Newer readers who discovered Barry Windsor Smith's art for the first time in this contemporary period had mixed but mostly favorable reactions to Dark Horse Comics reprints of the Conan the Barbarian series now collected in trade paperbacks called The Chronicles of Conan. However, for many of us who read the original comics off of the old spin racks the Chronicles were a mixed bag. One annoying reason was due to the lack of the covers being reprinted to go with the tales, but the biggest reservations were for the revised coloring. It ran the gamut from decent to very annoying.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M J Heilbron Jr. VINE VOICE on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. I just got this in the mail, and I had to leaf through it immediately. What a package!

First of all, the cover is done in a beautiful faux-leather, with an inset full color image of Conan. It simply feels wonderful to just hold.

The artwork, in the bold colors described in the previous review, is vividly reproduced on heavy stock. There's a ribbon bookmark sewn in.

If you're a fan, you know and love these stories, and probably have them in several iterations.

This is the keeper. (Besides, you know, the actual comics themselves...)

I own hundreds upon hundreds of hardcover comic collections...and this has instantly joined the short list of the nicest ones I own...
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have a confession to make. For the longest time, I thought Barry Smith, who did some random Marvel work along with the amazing Conan comics from the 70s, and Barry Windsor-Smith, whose elegant and stylish artwork appeared on so many series throughout the 80s and 90s, were two separate people.

In fact, I always assumed they had a father/son John Adams/John Quincy Adams-type of thing going, where "W" used his middle name to separate himself from his famous father who was in the same profession. Of course, I was wrong. Fortunately, Dark Horse Comics has cleared up any such misconceptions with their release of "The Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives volume one."

Reprinting the first half of his legendary run on Marvel's Conan from 1970-73, this beautiful hardback puts Windsor-Smith's name proudly on the cover, corrects the coloring issues seen in previous reproductions, and delivers a fitting tribute to a ground-breaking comic. Almost like a smaller version of the Dark Horse Hellboy Library Editions rather than the existing Archive Editions, "The Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives" comes complete with a faux-leather hardbound cover, the reproductions of all of the Windsor-Smith Conan covers, and a lengthy introduction by writer Roy Thomas.

Windsor-Smith's run on the original series truly shows the development of an artist and the evolving format of the American comic book. With the first few issues, Windsor-Smith is little more than a skilled Kirby-imitator, and writer Roy Thomas is just laying down chunky plots as if he were writing a standard 70s-era Marvel superhero comic. However, along the way something magical happened.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Behers on February 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally, printed as the beautiful comic art that they were, correctly recolored, on top shelf paper, and in hardcover, the fantastic Conan artwork from the early 1970's of Barry Windsor Smith with the top quality writing of Roy Thomas! It has been a long time coming...and it was well worth the wait! If you love Robert E. Howard; great story telling and adaption; and the greatest artistic talent (besides Mr. Frazetta) to show the true Barbarian in an art style that set itself far above the others, this is the copy of these classics that you want to own. I can not wait for the second and final volume to be shipped out. What? You didn't pre-order your copy yet? What are you looking here for....? Get going!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The cimmerian on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This first volume collects the first 15 issues or so of the Conan the Barbarian first series and I'm glad to get my hands on a book like this.

I just don`t see how can someone not love this book. You see right from the beginning the care that has been put into this project. The quality and originality of the stories has been preserved, since every page looks awesome.

Colors are very vivid and they don`t overwhelm the art as some people have said. I don`t know if they have been toned down, but I do know that they look beautiful. The printing is also top notch from start to finish. It impressed me so that I had the feeling that The Chronicles of Conan printing does not compare to this one!

The only gripe I have concerns the covers from each comic that are not as vivid as the stories themselves, but they still look good without a doubt.

Also worth mentioning is that the first stories present a Barry Smith that was still learning his way into greatness, so the art may not be as attractive as the one found in volume 2.

And beware that the price here on Amazon is an inviting temptation, since in many other sites the same books are sold for 50 dolars.

A very good book that should not be missed.
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