Monsters is the legendary project Barry Windsor-Smith has been working on for over 35 years. A 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling, 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.
When he walks into a military recruitment office, Bobby Bailey has no idea that he is about to fulfill his tragic destiny. Close-mouthed, emotionally damaged, innocent, trying to forget a past and looking for a future, it turns out that Bailey is the perfect candidate for a secret US government experimental program, an unholy continuation of a genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany 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 titular monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, literal, and ironic, the story reaches its emotional and moral reckoning. Monsters is rendered in Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique; the visual storytelling with its sensitivity to gesture and composition is the most sophisticated of the artist’s career. It is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.
Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith is slated to release in January 2021.