Sunday, May 8, 2016

Elric ink drawing and Barry Windsor-Smith

This is a very early piece of mine from the mid 1970s. It depicts Michael Moorcock's fantasy hero, "Elric of Melnibone" in action. It is done in the style of my favorite comic book artist of that time (or any time), Barry Windsor-Smith. He was a British artist who broke in with Marvel Comics when it was still possible to submit an individual portfolio and get work immediately. He started out imitating the drawing and inking style of more popular comic artists but as he progressed he brought out the wonderful Art Nouveau/Pre-Raphaelite look that made him so great. He was heavily influenced by 19th century illustrators and artists such as Edward Burne-Jones or Alphonse Mucha. 

I copied Windsor-Smith's artwork hoping to learn how to draw like him. This Elric piece was inspired by the work Windsor-Smith did for Marvel's "Conan the Barbarian" stories. Elric appears in one of the stories, in a collaboration that is one of my collection treasures. Windsor-Smith used intricate pen work as well as beautifully drawn action figures and fantastic architecture and scenery. The only problem I have with his art is that his faces are kind of clunky, with small eyes and big long square jaws even for women, again borrowing heavily from the Pre-Raphaelites. But anyway I still want to draw as well as Barry.

Unfortunately something happened to Barry Windsor-Smith, some sort of mental problem. He published his terrifying psychedelic (but non-drug, according to him) experiences in his two collector volumes, "Opus," and since about 2010 he has published nothing. No one even in the industry is willing to talk about what happened to BWS. It's a shame that his great work is not continuing.

"Elric" sketch is black ink on sketchbook page, 1976.

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