Rejected cover to X-Men #169, 1982. Art by Paul Smith.
Paul Smith is the artist of my X-Men. I read a few issues of both the Byrne and Cockrum runs (Cockrum’s second — I was too young for the first) before Smith took over, but I never loved either enough to regularly pick it up. Once Smith was on board, I was too. My enthusiasm for the title waned when he left, though I continued purchasing John Romita Jr.’s run for a year or so before moving on.
After recently re-reading from the relaunch in Giant Sized to Uncanny #200, I find my appreciation for those Paul Smith issues has only grown over the years. I think it was the peak, both of Claremont’s writing and the artistic realization of those characters.