Another project that Windsor-Smith is working with DC on is a Superman book. “I went to DC last year with this idea for a Superman graphic novel, in a big art book format, and Paul (Levitz) was very pleased with the concept. It was gonna be Superman in Storyteller style, i.e. a sophisticated story. No exposition. There was to be no flying, no punching, no fighting. It’s a story about two people -- when Superman meets Lois Lane. But it took seven bleedin’ months to figure out the contract, while I’m sitting poised, pencil in hand . . . you want to see it?”

With this, we look over one of the best looking Superman stories I’ve ever seen. “It’s been gathering dust for about a year. So I kept saying, look, I’m ready and I’m rolling on this thing. And they say just give us a while to work out the contract. Then they got it into their heads that I was working on the story behind the scenes before the contract was done, and they were right. I was agonizing over not working, I was bursting with inspiration and they said no, don’t work on it. Seven months later there’s a contract -- SEVEN MONTHS! By that time my energy had dissipated and my spirit had imploded. Talk about red tape, I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

The problem that threw the slow gel into the works was the fact that Superman is clearly a hugely important licensed character for DC, something that they have droves of lawyers just to protect the shiny, happy image of, and there were doubts and questions about Windsor-Smith’s approach to the old codger. Will it happen? Who knows?

 

“The fact is I should never have listened to ‘em, I should’ve just continued making the book behind their backs and when the bloody contract was sorted out I’d’ve had the book done. The worst that could’ve happened would be changing the occasional panel to fit their editorial [strictures]. If I’d listened to my intuition An Evening With Superman would’ve been done and published last year.” Windsor-Smith shows us pages from the first version, which he has since scrapped and redrawn. In this version, the look is very 40s. The redrawn pages reflect more timelessness, with aesthetic sensibilities drawn from every age. Lois looks like a real woman, with a lean figure and intelligent eyes. “I didn’t like the first version after a while. It was too comic book. It’s not as far away from comic books as I’d like it to be...actually, as I look at it now, I think what’s the problem? This is nice stuff. At the time I hated it. I’m not really good at drawing Superman. There are too many clichés in my head about Superman. I was trying to make him look like an alien. I’ve got to work on it more . . .”

The situation, though dragged out, is not hopeless for a Windsor-Smith Superman at a store near you. “If I can revive my interest the story is projected to be about 120 pages. This new version has more of what I want from it . . .” Indeed, one can see what the artist is going for, what with the cinematic camera tracking, the carefully placed color cues . . . in the Daily Planet offices the information normally passed on to the reader through exposition is apparent in much more subtle ways, through typographers and designers working on the headline “Flying Man Sighted,” through photos being examined by editors, until we see Perry and Lois. Here, dialogue takes over. All this without a caption. And in a unique world.