Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Barry Windsor-Smith Appreciation!

So, Spencer Carnage declared this Barry Windsor-Smith Week, so as 2 Guys Buying Comics' contribution, I'm going to show you a few of my favorite BWS panels from Avengers #100, Essential-style.

(Come on. You didn't think I was going to let a whole week pass without mentioning the Avengers, didja?)

Anyhoo, Avengers #100 was written by Roy Thomas, and drawn by a man credited as "Barry Smith".

(Did you know that BWS originally went by Barry Smith? Due to his predilection for wearing ties around the office tied in a Windsor knot, his co-workers took to calling him 'Windsor'. He liked the name so much that he eventually had it legally changed to 'Barry Windsor-Smith'.)

(OK, not a word of that was true, but it should give the guys over at Comics Should Be Good another urban legend to chase down. Go get 'em, guys!)

Back on track now. This was drawn by Smith, and inked by Smith and Joe Sinnott, who damn well deserves his own week here on the comicsblogoweb at some point.

(Must. Focus.)

For those of you that haven't perused the greatness that is Avengers #98-100, shame on you. The gist of it is that Ares has come to Earth and is stirring up all kinds of trouble so he can conquer Olympus, Earth, and Asgard.

(Let it never be said that Ares wasn't one ambitious mutha.)

So we get that story (a gloriously fun, sprawling mess), the return of Hawkeye, the return of Hercules, Vision moping, Wanda kvetching, Thor hammering, Iron Man repulsoring, and just about every Avenger that had ever appeared at the time. I'm talking Black Knight, Hulk, those annoying Pyms, you name it. It's just fabulous.

(Side note: Once again, even though I can't recommend Essential Avengers Vol. 5 highly enough, it comes with a warning: Mopey Vision gets a lot of page time. Seriously. After two or three issues, you just want to grab him by the collar, poke him in his forehead jewel, and scream "GET OVER YOURSELF!". The Vision/Wanda/Hawkeye love triangle is a BIG part of this volume. Just fair warning.)

BWS Appreciation Panel #1:

I love this sequence. Cap's going all ninja while sneaking into the Black Knight's courtyard! And check out the shadows of the leaves on the shield. I dig that so much. Admittedly, the sweat on his face kind of makes him look more like the Sentinel of Rabies, but hey. It's cool.

BWS Appreciation Panel #2:

All due respect to Herb Trimpe, but this is one the coolest Hulk faces I've ever seen. He's a good mix of Neanderthal and Frankenstein, and just looks savage, even though he's not smashing anything (yet). I stared at that panel for like 5 minutes straight when I first saw it.

BWS Appreciation Panel #3 (click for larger version):

OK, so we've got the Avengers assembled 'neath a shady tree, whereupon I notice...back hair? Check out the manes on the back of Panther and Quicksilver! It's even migrated to Cap's chest and Thor's cape! Can someone tell me if this might just be a printing foible? Because it's simultaneously creepy AND unnerving. That said, if BWS wants to draw back hair on people,
then I'm down with that, because it's BWS.

BWS Appreciation Panel #4:

I just like this panel. I like how Iron Man's got his swerve going on with the flight lines. I like the jumping Hulk shattering the earth in leaps and bounds while remarking about how it's so quiet around here. I even can stand the Vision for a few seconds. And where in holy hell is Far Rockaway?

(Side note: One of the great joys of the Essentials line is finding panels that absolutely date the comic. These are usually panels where the villain says "Gasp! It's [insert name of hero here]", and the hero is all, "You were expecting maybe [insert name of then-popular music/movie/TV star here]". I swear, there's nothing like seeing Thor knocking down a brick wall and saying
"Thou were expecting Iron Butterfly maybe?" Comedy gold.)

BWS Appreciation Panel #5:

Best panel of the issue. You've got Hawkeye with some kind of creeping facial virus, Wanda making googly eyes at him while the trademark BWS back hair is plastered all over half of her headdress, and Black Panther just trying to fly the damn Quinjet, probably wondering where the "Eject Moron" button is.

I seriously think that some enterprising blogger (I'm lookin' at you, Jake) could take this panel and write different speech bubbles on it every day and sustain a blog with just that panel for about two months.

Anyway, here's to Barry Windsor-Smith gettin' his Avenger on! Excelsior!


Blogger Greg said...

Rockaway, as far as I know, is on Long Island. Hence the reference, as the Avengers are based in New York. I don't know what is "far" about it, though.

1:14 PM  
Blogger The Fortress Keeper said...

My favorite Roy Thomas pop culture reference is in the Kree-Skrull War arc, where Iron Man randomly quotes James Taylor's "Fire and Rain."

Never thought Tony was into those sensitive singer-songwriter types.

4:29 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I'm going to show you a few of my favorite BWS panels from Avengers #100, Essential-style
I actually have this comic in its coloured form and I have to tell you, the Essential reprint looks a lot better. The colours really mess with BWS' art.

and just about every Avenger that had ever appeared at the time
Impressive, but having seen more recent versions, the scene in #100 seems a bit anaemic, since there's only about six of them there.

Once again, even though I can't recommend Essential Avengers Vol. 5 highly enough
Agreed. It's the best one yet. Even with the comedy suicide bombers.

Can someone tell me if this might just be a printing foible?
No, it's a weird attempt at what I can only call "curl-hatching", and BWS only seems to use it on this issue.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Wow, this is art from #100 - thats pretty damn good. It reminds me why i wish BWS actually did some stuff these days. Is there some kind of reference or something somewhere listing the comics hes drawn?
Incidentally i have V1 of Essential Avengers and ive been wanting to grab V5 cos it looks so darn cool - should i give in to temptation or go through them in order i wonder?

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

I read a BWS interview recently in which he describes how much he hated drawing all those characters he "didn't give a toss about."

He has a Thing graphic novel coming out sometime soon, and a reworking of a Hulk story (reportedly plagiarized by Bill Mantlo in Hulk #312 or so) called "Monster" to be released by Vertigo.

Has Opus vol. 3 come out yet?

7:17 AM  
Blogger Chris said...


Personally, I'd head straight for Vol. 5, although 4 isn't terrible.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

"Far Rockaway" ... Last stop on the A Train. Your average NYer would recognize the term because A trains are either Inwood or Far Rockaway bound. It's right by JFK Airport actually. Supposed to be decent beaches nearby too (though i've never been). And i guess this officially makes me as much a NY nerd as a comics nerd.

1:43 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Yeah, skip to v4 or v5 with Essential Avengers. With all due respect to those earlier artists and writers, the book doesn't get really good until around the 80's or 90's.

(I mean issue numbers here, obviously...)

2:33 PM  

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