Alex adds, “Part of the problem is he’s not creating any new paintings, he’s focusing all his energy into comics art.” This is what OPUS was designed for, to introduce a new generation to the work of Barry Windsor-Smith.

 

“All the old stuff, The Devil’s Lake and all that, people don’t even know about that anymore, but I think that OPUS will be a good vehicle. We’re hoping for the middle of the year for the first volume.” Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth says, “OPUS was originally submitted to me as a quarterly magazine. I analyzed it both from a financial and aesthetic point of view and suggested an annual volume, rather than put out a periodical and gather issues at a later date.” One of the constants heard about Windsor-Smith is that he demands a certain level of creative control and quality in presentation. Groth felt “This would be giving it its best shot, presenting it as a book. Both Barry and I will go full out on OPUS, with the best quality and paper and so on, stuff that can’t be done in a periodical.”

From this we move onto films, talking about the work of Peter Greenaway. We make coffee and take a tour of the studio. Barry’s area is bright and airy. This room, with its large windows and camera on tripod facing outward, was chosen, Barry says tongue in cheek, for the view -- “In summer, I’m barely drawing . . . I’m just sitting there watching all the pretty girls walk by.” The studio is crammed with drawing tables and computers, mixed in with antique books and the odd statue or chainmail headpiece. Among the treasures, we find about sixty of the pages of MONSTERS, the sociopolitical horror story he is doing for DC imprint Vertigo.

Alex: “In terms of the economics of running a studio . . . one of the things that we’re dealing with on MONSTERS is that when you go to a place like DC, with its corporate structure and page rates and all, and though they’ve made it flexible to a degree, but what they don’t account for is the work going in—”

 
 
Cover design for the proposed OPUS quarterly magazine,
featuring the 1980 BWS pencil and oil work Decapita.