Over three decades in the making, the graphic novel MONSTERS by legendary comics artist Barry Windsor-Smith is a 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling. Best known for drawing the Conan series of the ’70s and creating several independent comic series of the ’90s — including Young Gods and The Paradox-Man — Windsor-Smith is now releasing his first major work since The Freebooters (2005). Fantagraphics will release MONSTERS on April 27, 2021.
Set in a timeline spanning the 1940s to the ’60s, Monsters centers around young Bobby Bailey, a naïve, emotionally fraught young man with a tragic destiny. The day he walks into a US military recruitment office, little does he know that he will become the subject of a top secret, experimental genetics program with loathsome Nazi origins. Thus kicks off a dizzying chain of cascading events that spin out of everyone’s control as friends, foes, and others are swept into his orbit and must grapple with the earth-shattering ramifications of what this unholy experiment has wrought. As the titular monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, literal and ironic, the story reaches its emotional and moral reckoning.
“After putting so much time and investing so much creative energy in this project,” says Windsor-Smith, “I’m pleased that it’s finally being published.”
“I’ve known Barry for over 50 years now, so publishing his biggest and most artistically mature work to date is a personal and professional milestone for me,” said Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth. “I’m grateful that he’s entrusted this important work to us.”
Monsters’ vast narrative canvas is part familial drama, part espionage thriller, part metaphysical journey — in sum, an intimate portrait of individuals and an epic political odyssey spanning two generations of American history. Trauma, fate, conscience, and redemption are a few of the themes that intersect in Windsor-Smith’s Monsters. Rendered in Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique, this graphic novel is surely one of the most intense and gripping works of visual storytelling ever drawn.