Saturday, September 07, 2013

Thomas and Smith's Conan:Red Nails

   Finally got time (and the right lighting) to look at the Genesis West artist edition of Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith's Conan: Red Nails, and it is amazingly cool. The pages were shot from the original art at full size, so you get to see all the incredible detail Smith lavished on these pages, which were probably the height of his work on the Marvel Comics Conan series. This is as close as you can get to owning the original art.
   You can see the notes written to each other by Barry and Roy in the margins. You can see where the artist used white out to fix errors or where something had to be pasted up. You can see where Smith tested the point of his brush on the corner of the page and the changes in ink density as bottles were switched or the ink dried on pen or brush. You can see where Barry's pencil drawing went beyond the panel borders and how he set up his perspective work. For an artist this is a terrific learning opportunity.
   For the Robert E. Howard fan, REH gets full credit in this volume. It's also interesting to see how Smith referred back to Howard's story as he drew the adaptation. In the margin notes at the bottom of many pages he gives the page number of the book he was using. A quick bit of detective work, comparing notes to page numbers, shows that Smith was using the Lancer/Ace edition of Conan the Warrior, which I put next to the book and its slip cover in the picture that accompanies this post.
   Roy Thomas provides an introduction where he talks about working on the story and there's an appreciation by artist George Perez. There are also bios of Thomas, Smith, and REH and some other nifty features.
   These books aren't cheap and of the editions put out by various companies, so far I've bought only two, Joe Kubert's Tarzan and this one. Basically when a favorite artist draws a favorite character, even I can't resist. Red Nails is a true beauty.


Keith West said...

Okay, I'm going to go out and get a second job now...

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I know the feeling, Keith. I won't be able to eat for the next couple of weeks, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices.