Red Nails is the great barbarian comic. You could argue that it’s the best piece in Barry Windsor-Smith’s ouevre, although there are plenty of contenders. It’s inspiring to me for a number of reasons, first, it’s just such a lush wonderfully-realized story. There’s nothing rushed about it, the artwork, the pace of the story, everything unfolds exactly the way it needs to. It’s a thoroughly uncompromised work, at a time when that just didn’t happen in comics. The other part that inspired me is that there’ve been various points in my comics career where I was overwhelmed by dread and self-doubt over the realtively small rewards for the mountain of work that creating a comic requires.
Then I think of Barry Windsor-Smith circa the early seventies, throwing his entire soul into his comics work, for one of the lowest page rates at the time, trying to live in the most expensive city in the country. He created things of lasting greatness. At the time there may have been really good reasons to give in to despair, but that didn’t stop him. To get BWS’s account of the birthing process for Red Nails, read his two-volume autobio art book, Opus.