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Barry Windsor-Smith: Opus (Vol. 2) Hardcover – March 1, 2001

5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The second volume of Windsor-Smith's planned five-volume memoir continues the episodic narrative of his "sudden expansion of consciousness" during the early 1970s. Set in New York City, this autobiography explores visionary experiences that shook the foundations of his conception of reality. Told in a matter-of-fact, confessional tone that belies the incredible tale he offers, this book is part biography, part metaphysics treatise on the nature of consciousness, as well as a stunning collection of the art he has produced over a 30-year span. Early in '73, as Windsor-Smith labors over his drawing table, a disembodied voice begins questioning his chosen course in life. Later, the secondhand furniture in his apartment communicates vivid, tragic memories of former owners. He sees "light people" (beings apparently from another plane of existence) walking the streets of Manhattan and is convinced that the pedestrians walking next to him are zombies. These fantastic reminiscences culminate in a "time tunnel" that carries him back to his boyhood bedroom, where he watches his younger self quivering in fear of his own visitation. His lengthy reflections on the time loops, precognition, psychometry, astral travel, telepathy all described as firsthand experience are fascinating, although his dense text is sometimes ponderous and self-indulgent. His prodigious artistic output is represented with richly detailed reproductions of sketches, drawings, watercolors and oil paintings from his Conan the Barbarian period to his Pre-Raphaelite-style romantic fantasies. While not as groundbreaking as Windsor-Smith may suggest, this is nonetheless a compelling and beautiful book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the early 1970s, Windsor-Smith took the comic book scene by storm, changing what comic book art could be. While Neal Adams, Gil Kane, and others brought impressive realism to comics, Windsor-Smith showed that comic book illustrations could also be art. Breathtaking, sweeping, majestic, and intoxicatingly realistic, his work, especially in the early Conan the Barbarian issues, broke down the doors of what was possible in comics, if only for a while. Unfortunately, Windsor-Smith's work has since curled back on its well-muscled self, making this book an invaluable resource to budding comic book artists eager to see what this art form really has to offer. Alongside the reproductions of his artwork, Windsor-Smith writes of the often strange experiences that fueled his creativity. The tales of what went on behind his efforts enhance the art, but the work itself makes both volumes invaluable to all libraries. [For a review of Volume 1, see LJ 10/15/99. Ed.]. Chris Ryan,New Milford, N.
-. Chris Ryan,New Milford, NJ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1st trade ed. edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560973935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560973935
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.9 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,312,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Barry Windsor-Smith's second volume of his metaphysical autobiography is much better designed than the first and features some rather nice comicbook-style drawings, but it feels less "meaty" than Opus 1, despite being slightly longer. There is simply not enough works included that represent why he's deserving of a pricey second art book. Regardless of his goals, Barry Windsor-Smith is a comic artist best known for being the first to handle Marvel's adaptation of Conan. That's pretty much his legacy. His subsequent poster business and ultimate return to comics all hinged on the impact of his Conan comics nearly 30 years ago. The samples included in Opus 2 that illustrate his significance to comics and fantasy art in general are welcome--there's just not enough of it. Instead the book leans heavily toward Smith's stiff and pale Rossetti and Burne-Jones imitations. Perhaps they are meant to compliment his meandering text as he tries to explain his supposed paranormal experiences in 1973, but they become tiresome quickly. For all his pronouncements and posturing, Smith seems to have reached a plateau early in his career and simply stopped challenging himself. He has very little to say artistically and appears to be trying to make up for it with New Age babble about his precognitive links to Roger Waters. I don't think I'll return for Opus 3.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Marcus on September 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The reviews of OPUS 1 and 2 are pretty much divided between people who either think OPUS was the worst artbook they ever bought or people who thought it was the best. I personally belong to the last category. And I think the reason is that I didn't buy it with the expectations of this being 'just another artbook'. I dunno how this book has been promoted, but I think it is very clear from the backcover and inner covers that this is as much an autobiography as it is an artbook. But if you do have high expectations about this being mostly an artbook you're going to be disappointed (maybe), because there simply isn't enough of all the beautiful art!! Aside from that: if you think you have had paranormal xps you will obviously appreciate the book very much. But even if you are 'just' an openminded person who would like to know more about the man behind the art, you will still appreciate Barry's descriptions of his extraordinary xps and his honesty about all the doubt, confusion and fear of ridicule (and of alienation from friends and family) associated with such xps. It doesn't matter if these experiences point to an objective reality or if it was just a wee bit too hot that summer in NY. What does matter is that he had the guts to do it: To show what moves him. And his art. If people don't like it or understand it, well ... That's their loss, I guess. On a final note: I find it baffling that some reviews (for OPUS 1) actually claimed Barry couldn't draw very well, due to 'problems with proportions' and so on. Yeah, well Michelangelo isn't very good, either ... or Boticelli for that matter. All crap, really. Just like Barry Windsor-Smith ... :)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For one thing, being a genius takes a lot of hard work, all the time. It never lets up - if it does, that means you're not a genius any more. BWS is a brilliant illustrator and very good (dare I say it?) artist. Years of training and execution show in his work and in his biographical notes. If one must criticize, that criticism would be the visual analog of Emperor Joseph II's critique of Bach: "Too many notes."

The artwork here is wonderful, but I wish there were more of it. That brings us to the next part of why being Barry is so hard - the majority of this book is BWS's autobiographical writings, centered on events and perceptions that no one else in the room is likely to have seen. These are major events in his life, truly path-changing, and I fully trust that he describes the subjective experience as well as his words can. But many of these events are not the kind of things that another observer - a camera, say, or some person with just the usual five senses - would corroborate. Because this drama unfolds in ways accessible only to Barry, I find that it is not accessible to me.

I examined and enjoyed Opus 1, but I admit that I skipped most of the text and skimmed what little I read at all. Since text predominates in this book, it demanded more of my attention. I wish it hadn't.

-- wiredweird
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles R. Lister on October 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just a few quick lines to express my gratitude to the artist, not only for doing these wonderful paintings and drawings, but for speaking candidly about experiences that have shaped your vision. I have followed your work for nearly thirty years now and whenever I see BWS on something I know that it will be a thing of great quality and beauty. Opus 1 and Opus 2 now reside on my shelf beside my copy of The Studio (My third one, as I have already loved two other copies to pieces...) and a couple of treasured Epic Illustrated Magazines that feature your covers and interviews. I hope that these words of appreciation find you in good health and enjoying the continued success you so richly deserve.
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By Rune Rasmussen on June 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fast shipping, all was perfect!
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