Back-cover, Swords of Cerebus Vol 5 (1983)
Art by Barry Windsor-Smith
(from the introduction to Swords of Cerebus Vol 5, 1983)
...the first major contribution to my creative life that Barry made came at a later convention (I forget where). He had prints of all his Gorblimey work there, and, for whatever reasons, began to describe the allegory behind the Ram & Peacock prints. I say "for whatever reason" because, the more I consider it, the more implausible it seems. Whomever we were, clustered in a little circle around him, on the surface of it, we were just doting admirers, drooling over this "neat pitcher o' Conan". But there we all stood, mouths agape, while Barry unravelled, in meticulous detail, the interlocking representations and juxtapositions, the story he intended to tell with the picture and the grand joke that it would sell on the basis of the barbarian in the picture when the barbarian was incidental to the intent of it.
His explanation triggered off a way of looking at creativity, for me, that continues to this day. I began striving to understand the myriad levels of meaning in all great and intended-to-be-great works of art. When I failed at that -- became discouraged because I couldn't read each artists mind, I began to see that what was intended was not nearly as important as what I perceived -- I now looked at works for their impact on me, no longer for whatever "right interpretation" might theoretically exist.