X-Men #53

X-Men #53, February 1969

This cover introduced the world to the extraordinary talent that is Barry Windsor-Smith. Except, he wasn’t a “Windsor” back then, just plain ol’ Barry Smith. The “extraordinary talent” part wasn’t really on display either. But, y’know… he got better. Very quickly.

Smith and his pal Steve Parkhouse arrived in New York, fresh off the plane from England in 1969. They showed up at the Marvel offices and Smith managed to bag the X-Men fill-in. Not as big a deal as it might be these days: the X-Men book was on its last legs as one of Marvel’s poorest-selling comics. Smith drew the issue from the comfort of a park bench — and it looks like it!

Never mind. A certain Cimmerian was just around the corner…