His international acclaim came as the original artist for Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian from 1970 to 1974, where he rapidly evolved a sophisticated and intricate style, introducing elements from diverse artistic influences to graphic storytelling.
In 1968, Windsor-Smith travelled to New York and presented himself at the offices of Marvel Comics. A suitably impressed Roy Thomas gave him the job of drawing an issue of X-Men, but with no studio and having been kicked out of his hotel, Windsor-Smith was forced to do the work sitting on park benches. The resulting pages secured Windsor-Smith further work with Marvel, even though he was sent back to England within the year as he had no work permit.
Initially credited as Barry Smith, he rose to prominence in the early 1970s as the original penciller for Marvel Comics' adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian character. At first drawing in a manner lifted from Jack Kirby, within a couple of years he developed a unique style for comics at the time, borrowing from pre-raphaelites such as Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (whose influence would saturate Windsor-Smith's artwork even more in later years). Along with writer Roy Thomas, Smith adapted the Howard short stories "The Frost-Giant's Daughter", "Tower of the Elephant", "Rogues in the House", and "Red Nails". During their run together, Thomas and Smith also created original adventures and characters as well, including the flame-haired warrior-woman, Red Sonja, loosely based on Red Sonya, a character from one of Howard's non-Conan stories.
Shortly thereafter, Smith left comics, added Windsor to his professional name, and began to pursue a career in fine art (although he has returned to the comics field several times since). Granted residential status in the United States, Windsor-Smith in 1974 set up Gorblimey Press, through which he released limited-edition prints of fantasy-based subjects that proved popular. As well, he was one of the four comic book artists-turned-fine-illustrator/painters who, along with Jeff Jones, Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson, formed a small artist's loft commune in 1975 known as The Studio. By 1979 they'd produced enough material to issue a handsome art book under the name The Studio, which was published by Dragon's Dream (ISBN 9063325819). By this point, Windsor-Smith had fully embraced a symbolist and Pre-Raphaelitism aesthetic.
Windsor-Smith returned to Marvel in the 1980s as the artist & colorist of a Machine Man limited series (1984), provided plot/pencils/colors for Iron Man Vol. 1, #232 (July, 1988), and as the writer and artist of the serialized "Weapon X" feature in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 (1991). The latter was Windsor-Smith's own, original conception of the origin of the X-Men character Wolverine. During this period he also produced a well-regarded story featuring The Thing and Human Torch that was published in Marvel Fanfare.
Windsor-Smith was the chief designer of the Unity crossover for Valiant Comics and writer and artist for most of the first dozen issues of the title Archer and Armstrong. Valiant became a phenomenon, selling nearly two million copies of premiere issues, and climbing to the third largest comics publisher in the U.S. behind the long-time industry leaders Marvel and DC. This success was due in large part to the quality of the material produced.
In 1993, Barry Windsor-Smith abruptly walked away from Valiant, as he wasn't aware of what his position was within in the company after Jim Shooter's departure, which was soon after sold to video game giant Acclaim Entertainment for $65 million. Acclaim Entertainment neglected the publication of comics in favor of exploiting the characters for video games.
Fantagraphics has also published Windsor-Smith's Adastra in Africa, a hardcover starring a character from Young GODS in a story originally intended to be Lifedeath III of Marvel's The Uncanny X-Men with the character Storm. Fantagraphics has also published Opus, a series of hardcover art books featuring Windsor-Smith's work from throughout his career. These volumes also include his ongoing autobiographical story Time Rise, which features details of his extraordinary experiences with seemingly paranormal phenomena.
In January 2006, BWS announced on the website Comic Book Galaxy that he is in negotiations to publish a graphic novel at Marvel Comics about the character The Thing.
AGENDA: THIS WEEK'S BIG ISSUES: GORBLIMEY - IS THAT OUR MARY BACK? THE AIR NANNY IS HERE AGAIN, 40 YEARS AFTER SHE TOOK TO CELLULOID SKIES, WITH HER FEET FIRMLY ON THE GROUND
Dec 12, 2004; What's the story? Forty years after the famous Disney film was released, Mary Poppins is finally making her stage debut. PL...
MY UNFAIR LADY; My Challenge Was to Turn a [Pounds Sterling]100a-Week Checkout Girl into a 'Lady' -- in a Month. and Gorblimey, Wot a Task!
Aug 26, 2000; Byline: TIM WALKER THERE, in the rolling Dorset countryside, a furious pig was trying to wrestle me to the ground. The urbane...