Monsters by Barry Windsor Smith

The story explores the life and times of two disparate American families fatefully connected by an abandoned Nazi project in genetic engineering that has been covertly revived by the US government. Told in a non-linear timeline spanning twenty years following the end of the Second World War, MONSTERS depicts the conflicts and intimacies of a diverse cast
of characters whose lives are destroyed by a malignant legacy from the Third Reich’s misguided quest for the perfection of mankind. A testament to the potential of accomplished graphic storytelling, the complex and compelling tale of MONSTERS unfolds through the nuanced, naturalistic dialog and drawings of master writer and artist Barry Windsor-Smith.

MONSTERS is a work in progress, currently totalling nearly 300 pages.
Publication information will be posted, as it becomes available.



COMIC LEGEND: Bruce Banner as a victim of child abuse was originally going to be a Barry Windsor-Smith one-off issue of Incredible Hulk in 1984.


As I discussed a few weeks back in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, if you turn down a Barry Windsor-Smith project, he's going to re-purpose the pages (which is totally fair enough, of course, as they are his pages).
However, what's particularly interesting about the origins of his current project, Monster, is what it would have represented at Marvel Comics had it been published when he intended it to be, twenty-six years ago.
In an interview with Comic Book Artist, Windsor-Smith shared his July 1984 pitch:
Plot centers around Bruce Banner's childhood. The Hulk relives a particularly harrowing day in his past.This is the story of Banner's working-class, middle American childhood. In a mannered fantasy - Twilight Zone - tradition, The Hulk, when entering an abandoned house in refuge from a pressing military attack, relives the last days in his childhood home.
Thanksgiving Day 1950 was the day when his father, Tom Banner, a recent and embittered W.W. II veteran, turned on his family for the final irrevocable time.
Employing a battered and disconsolate childhood as the springboard for the modern-day Bruce Banner's anti-social and violent attitudes, the story explores the damage caused by mismatched parenthood and effects of the Second World War on the heart and mind of the veteran Tom Banner.
Bruce Banner, an 11 year old in 1950, is represented as the full grown, seven foot Hulk throughout this fantasy. The story is called Thanksgiving and details the tensions the Banner household suffers when it becomes apparent that the family dinner, planned with eight relatives in mind, falls apart as one by one, brothers, sisters and in-laws cancel the visit with feeble excuses.
The truth is that Tom Banner has alienated his family with his explosive, argumentative temper.
Windsor-Smith continues to note that he felt that the issue was important enough that he was going to do what he could to make sure the story could run as a single issue of Incredible Hulk - withOUT Comic Code Approval...
It is of considerable importance to point out that this somewhat extraordinary story requires the use of what the comic book publishing world might consider profanity.
The terms I need to use in the script (all spouting from the paranoiac and drunken Tom Banner) are actually mild when paralleled to other - perhaps more sophisticated - media such as film, print and (at this date) television.
To cut to the quick: I need to employ the following terms:
Hall (as in "Like Hell you will")
These are comparatively mild terms, in my opinion. I've edited it down from stronger, more believable coinage.
The upshot is that for this story to have IMPACT, it must be published in the standard format (The Incredible Hulk) and without any special fanfare (I brought what could have been a 30-odd page story down to 22 for this very reason). Approval - within Marvel and to the satisfaction of the Comics Code Authority - is paramount and I'm prepared to offer any raison d'etre if it isn't apparent.
This story is about parent abuse and childhood trauma, which is an important issue. I believe that by sliding the topic into a regular comic book involving an established Marvel Comics character, a greater, more significant understanding of the idea can be achieved. This as opposed to (I feel inclined to suggest) the Spider-Man/Drugs issues of a decade ago that, due to their pre-publicity and etc., were ultimately regarded as hype for a medium that needed attention and was asking for recognition as a relevant form of art.
While I am unsure as to the specifics (but most likely, it is because of Windsor-Smith holding to his guns vis a vis the whole "not Comics Code approved" situation), for whatever reason, the story was shelved by Marvel.
And then, a little more than a year later, Bill Mantlo penned Incredible Hulk #312, where it is revealed that, yep, you guessed it, Bruce Banner was a victim of child abuse.

Windsor-Smith was none too pleased.
Since his original story, Windsor-Smith has been working on the comic for years and it has expanded and expanded and expanded to the point where it is almost 300 pages long. It is now called Monster, and it will be Windsor-Smith's next project.
Here are some (absolutely gorgeous) previews of the work (you don't need to use your imagination too much to imagine the Baileys as the Banners)...
It's certainly possible that Mantlo came up with his story on his own, but I don't imagine that Windsor-Smith thinks that is all that likely (and do note that if the story WAS based on Windsor-Smith's idea, it would almost certainly have to be an editorial edict for Mantlo to write a similar story, not something that Mantlo would have done on his own accord).
Monster sure does look like a great comic.
Check out Windsor-Smith's web site for more preview pages here.
Thanks to Dave Elliot for recommending I feature Monster, thanks to Comic Book Artist (I believe Jon B. Cooke did the interview - if that's wrong, please let me know) for the interview, thanks to Windsor-Smith for being so free with his original pitch, and thanks to for the transcription of the interview. Finally, thanks to Marv at for the head's up regarding the HulkMovie transcription (click here to read some pages of Incredible Hulk #312 following Windsor-Smith's plot outline - it makes for a fun contrast).

via Comic Book Legends by Brian Cronin


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