MARVEL COMICS & CONAN (1970-1974)

 

While BWS was finding employment in his chosen field in England, there was a very limited amount of work available in the style he most wanted to pursue. He was determined to work for Marvel Comics, the home of his greatest inspiration, Jack Kirby. Barry sent samples of his comics drawings to Marvel in New York. Encouraged by a friendly but non committal response from Linda Fite, assistant to Marvel Publisher and writer Stan Lee, 19-year-old Barry and his best friend Steve Parkhouse, an aspiring comics writer, flew to the U.S.A. in the summer of 1968 and presented themselves on Marvel’s doorstep. Stan Lee was sufficiently impressed with the young Englishman’s facility that he offered him work. The resemblance of Windsor-Smith’s still rough yet dynamic drawings to the company’s unofficial Kirbyesque house style convinced Lee to give him a chance.

Barry's first work for Marvel comics was the cover and interior story for X-Men #53. He followed that with a western short story, “Half Breed,” and issue #12 of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (both scripted by Steve Parkhouse). As Barry and Steve had virtually no money between them, they were eventually kicked out of their hotel, and BWS actually drew much of X-Men #53, and the other earliest Marvel works while sitting on park benches. The talented Londoners managed to stretch a five month stay in the New York out of a limited two-week visitor’s visa, but were sent back to England in December of 1968 by U.S. Immigration authorities who suspected them of working without a permit. By then though, Barry had made his inroads at Marvel, and he continued to work for them across the Atlantic while trying to secure a Green Card to return to work in the U.S. with valid resident status.

 

Above: The cover of X-MEN #53, Barry Windsor-Smith's first professional comics work in the U.S.