In 1970 BWS was offered the job as artist on a new title for Marvel, Conan the Barbarian. Conan was a “sword and sorcery” adventure character created in the 1930s by writer Robert E. Howard for the pulp magazine Weird Tales. Howard’s stories had enjoyed a revival in the 1960s when they were reprinted in a series of paperback books with popular cover paintings by artist Frank Frazetta. Marvel writer Roy Thomas had championed Conan as a possible subject for a comic book series.

Because this represented an untried market for Marvel, whose most successful titles were their super hero comics, like The Amazing Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four, they did not want to pay any of their top artist’s page rates for a project that could possibly lose money. This lead them to hire Barry Windsor-Smith, a comparative newcomer to the field whose page rate hovered at the bottom of Marvel’s pay scale. Barry was still living in England at that time, so he drew the first seven issues of Conan the Barbarian on a lap board in the front room of his parents’ house in Forest Gate.

In 1971 he was finally given his green card to return to the United States.


Above: The cover of Conan the Barbarian #1, October, 1970