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35 YEARS IN THE MAKING: THE MOST ANTICIPATED GRAPHIC NOVEL IN RECENT HISTORY *A GUARDIAN 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK* The year is 1964. Bailey doesn't realize he is about to fulfil his tragic destiny when he walks into a US Army recruitment office. Secretive, damaged, innocent, trying to forget a past and looking for a future, Bobby is the perfect candidate for a secret US government experiment, an unholy continuation of a genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany nearly 20 years earlier in the waning days of World War II. Bailey's only ally and protector, Sergeant McFarland, intervenes, which sets off a chain of cascading events that spin out of everyone's control. As the monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, the story reaches a crescendo of moral reckoning. A 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling, Monsters' narrative canvas is copious: part familial drama, part thriller, part metaphysical journey, it is an intimate portrait of individuals struggling to reclaim their lives and an epic political odyssey that plays across two generations of American history. Monsters is rendered in Barry Windsor-Smith's impeccable pen-and-ink technique, the visual storytelling, with its sensitivity to gesture and composition, the most sophisticated of the artist's career. There are passages of heartbreaking tenderness, of excruciating pain, of redemption and sacrifice, and devastating violence. Monsters is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.
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Barry Windsor-Smith has for over three decades, been working on Monsters. Almost twenty years ago I read an unfinished version and was shocked and astonished at the power and delicacy of the storytelling, by the honesty of the family relationships, by the feeling that this was being created by someone willing to reveal too much and go too deep in order to tell the story he had to tell. That it is completed and that it will be released to the world is something that's genuinely exciting for any of us who care about comics, or stories, or the place where art and imagination meet -- Neil Gaiman Nearly 40 years in the making, Monsters is surely Windsor-Smith's magnum opus. It demands re-reading, not only in order to take in the intricacies of the densely constructed narrative but to marvel further at the meticulously crafted artwork. -- Stephen Jewell * SFX * It's been 16 years since Barry Windsor-Smith's last book and in Monsters, you can see the work of those days and years on every page and panel... His classically influenced style...fills the pages with drawings and sequences you can easily lose yourself in the depths of... he has now created a work that his legacy will be forever tied to, melding his stylistic artwork with a story that explores trauma and grief in ways that he has never been able to before. -- Scott Cederlund * GamesRadar+ * Forcefully told and thoroughly affecting drama. Windsor-Smith's return is big news... Monsters hums with suppressed violence and regret, and Windsor-Smith renders both with real power. His command of pose and gesture...brings his cast to life. -- James Smart * Guardian * Monsters is drawn and inked with extraordinary delicacy, its pace is often meditative and it is just as interested in family relationships as it is in superpowers. Monsters is weirdly sweet. -- Sam Leith * Observer *
Barry Windsor-Smith began his career as a young comics fan drawing mainstay Marvel characters such as the X-Men and Daredevil in 1969 in the traditional Marvel style. However, in 1971 he broke from the Marvel formula when he started drawing the Conan series, turning heads with a fresh and controversial stylistic approach, eventually winning the hearts and minds of fellow comics professions, fans, and numerous industry awards. Part of a young generation of artists that included compatriots Berni Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, and Jeff Jones, Windsor-Smith proceeded to carve an independent path for himself. In the '90s, he conceived, wrote, and drew three independent comics series, The Freebooters, Young Gods, and The Paradox-Man. In 1999 and 2001 Fantagraphics published two autobiographical coffee table art books Opus volumes 1 and 2. Monsters is his first book in 16 years.