The comic world has lost another one of its great this week with the sad news that artist Carlos Ezquerra has passed away after losing a bout with lung cancer.
Though he might not have the fame and notability in America as he did in the UK and Europe, Ezquerra’s work on creating the initial launch versions of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog is often considered the definitive renditions of both cult characters. He had moved from his native Spain to the UK in the 1970s after making a name domestically for illustrating both western and war stories. A generation of comic-fans and future artists grew up with his gritty work on a variety of stories for the newly-launched British anthology weekly 2000AD where writer and editor Pat Mills had charged Ezquerra with coming up with the iconic elements of Judge Dredd, the brooding, uncompromising law-enforcer of a future metropolis known as Mega City One. The stories with their dark, satirical elements owed as much to Ezquerra’s imagination as they did Mills and set the tone that other teams on the title would follow thereafter. It was also a character that Ezquerra returned to a number of times, always bringing something interesting to the mix.
Strontium Dog initially appeared in sister-title Starlord until the comic was merged with 2000AD and was written by John Wagner and told the story of Johnny Alpha, a mutant whose non-fully-human status in a bigoted future made him have to find work as a bounty hunter. The character was so popular that even a ‘final’ story in which he sacrificed himself for his friends eventually had to be retconned (Ezquerra had refused to draw the story showing Johnny’s demise). Other character’s and stories he memorably contributed to included Al’s Baby, several adaptations of The Stainless Steel Rat stories and Fiends of the Eastern Front.
Many of his fellow industry professionals and fans have been paying tribute to him in the hours since the news broke…
A fond farewell to the great Carlos Ezquerra, one of my favourite artists & comic book creators growing up. A creative genius with an inimitable style of drawing (though me & my brother tried). For so many great visions of the future, especially Strontium Dog, I thank you Carlos. pic.twitter.com/dxlgESBLEw
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) October 1, 2018
My heart thoughts and prayers
Go out the family of legendary artist and Judge Dredd co creator Carlos Ezquerra .
His exemplary work served as inspiration for me and countless other filmmakers and artists worldwide .
— Karl Urban (@KarlUrban) October 1, 2018
We are profoundly sad to confirm that the legendary artist Carlos Ezquerra has passed away. It is difficult for us to put this into words, but we have lost someone who was the heart and soul of 2000 AD… https://t.co/FJI1K97SPh pic.twitter.com/fDKy47lTEr
— 2000 AD (@2000AD) October 1, 2018
Saddened to hear that Carlos Ezquerra has passed away. A fantastic artist who will be remembered for his work on Battle and 2000AD and of course co-creating Judge Dredd. It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with him last year at the Enniskillen Comic Fest. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/U8W1M6fVT2
— Lew Stringer (@lewstringer) October 1, 2018
Very sad to hear that Judge Dredd legend Carlos Ezquerra has passed away, surely the definitive Dredd artist. Had the honour of working with him back in my early 20s on the Purgatory strip. His unique style elevated every strip he touched: pic.twitter.com/pVvawVZsHU
— Mark Millar (@mrmarkmillar) October 1, 2018
Just feeling hollowed out by the news that Carlos Ezquerra has passed away. Between Strontium Dog and Judge Dredd, his work has meant more to me over the years than any other comic artist. I remember how his pages would smell of fine cigar smoke. He was just a lovely man. #RIP
— Andy Diggle (@andydiggle) October 1, 2018