We talk about other artists in the field today, in particular Jason Lutes and Paul Pope. On Pope, Windsor-Smith is constructively critical. “He has such potential but he needs to learn more. He’s showing 90 percent energy and just ten percent craft. He may regard that as old fashioned thinking, or something, but it’s really not, it’s utterly incontestable. Maybe I shouldn’t be so tough, he’s a young guy, he’s got a head on his shoulders, he’ll learn.

“Paul Pope, Jason Lutes and others really have their work cut out for them ‘cause they’re telling tales of regular people. It’s so easy for young superhero artists to glide right past the matter of character identification. Superheroes are color coded and they have bloody great symbols on their chests to let the insensate reader know who is punching whom. This is basically supershit: it comes from the earliest days of comics for kids where every element of the story had to be compressed down into its simplest formula to make it comprehensible to children. Explanatory captions, expositional thought balloons, manipulated dialogue between the hero and the villain so that the action can be understood. But even when the storytelling was precision graphics, like Kirby’d do, still the affected style of expositional monologue, or dialogue, or bloody captions had become the standard that all of the second string scripters emulated.”

We are settled in a sun-dappled corner of the studio and surrounded by a lifetime of artwork. Before, dear reader, you think Windsor-Smith too critical, remember that he has years of practice, and years of traditional art schooling, to fall back on.

  Go back and throw away your How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way and listen up.

“But in some totally convoluted turnaround, here’s these bright young cartoonists like Pope who’re plainly repelled by all that manipulated staging and dialogue shit of commercial comics and they’re creating stories that’re so far away from Lee and Kirby, or O’Neil and Adams, or whatever. But throughout their output so far there is this problem that I see all over. Jason Lutes is very gifted and has a much stronger grasp of the fundamentals than Pope, but he has to work on character identification. It’s just one of those things about being a comics artist and most especially because the work is black and white; you have to create distinct character faces and figures if you expect the reader to read at the pace and flow that you have invested into your story. I know he can resolve this shortcoming ‘cause I came to Lutes’ work backwards: I read Berlin first, then I read Jar of Fools. My problem with Berlin was that I couldn’t keep track of the characters because their faces were all so similar. I applaud him for drawing women sans sexual excesses, but still . . . I’m pretty visually hip but I kept losing track of who was who and the story started going askew. But in Jar of Fools, he identified his characters far better. But, come to think of it, when the girl, the waitress, cut off her hair I didn’t have a clue who she was for the first five pages of her reappearance, so once again the initial reading was disrupted and the flow was gone. Any number of subtle identification marks would have overcome that problem. A mole on her cheek, always wearing the same earrings, anything at all -- that’s not a trick, that’s storytelling.”