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Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives Volume 1 Hardcover – January 26, 2010
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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
Top customer reviews
Other than that, this book is a great way to read all those old stories and follow the progression of Smith's craft. You can actually see the subtle improvements from issue to issue, despite some of the awful inking jobs by other artists that darn nearly ruin some of the issues. Same for the gaudy coloring as mentioned by others. The stories themselves are somewhat clunky as you can tell how both Thomas/Smith are sort of feeling their way around this new genre. Some have not aged well, but others like issue 3 with the Grey God is still a good read as well as issue 6 "Wings Over Shadizar". Of course Howard adaptions like "Tower of the Elephant" are also well executed. These eleven issues are serve as a lead in to the eventual pinnacle of Smith's work in Vol 2.
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.
However The image sold on Amazon shows the version of the book that has an beige book with an embossed font and the illustration is printed on directly on the cover of the book -- The version delivered is an illustrated dark brown dust jacket over a plain dark brown book with the word "Conan" in gold lettering.
A little bummed by that.