Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra dies aged 70
The Spanish comic book artist, who illustrated many 2000AD comics and designed the iconic lawman Dredd, has died after a lung cancer diagnosis.
Carlos Ezquerra, the legendary Spanish artist who co-created Judge Dredd for 2000AD and gave the futuristic lawman his distinctive look, has died at the age of 70.
Ezquerra, who lived in Andorra, began his career in British comics in 1973, after working on Spanish war and westerns comics. He found work on the war comic Battle Picture Weekly, drawing the adventures of the Dirty Dozen-inspired Rat Pack and later the strip Major Eazy, before editor and writer Pat Mills, who launched 2000AD in 1977, asked Ezquerra to come up with character designs for Judge Dredd.
Dredd’s helmet, knee-pads and eagle-motif shoulder decoration were instantly iconic, as were the cityscapes Ezquerra developed for Dredd’s beat, the sprawling, dystopian Mega-City One. Dredd debuted in the second issue of 2000AD, but was not drawn by Ezquerra, despite his crucial role in the character’s design. Ezquerra returned to drawing for Battle for a few months, then teamed up with original Dredd writer John Wagner to create what many fans consider the quintessential period of the character.
Mills confirmed that Ezquerra had died and told the Guardian: “Carlos was without a doubt 2000AD’s greatest artist, and, indeed the premier artist of British comics. He was also a great guy to hang out with and he had a fabulous dark sense of humour. We will all miss him hugely.”
Ezquerra also created, with Dredd writer Wagner, the character Johnny Alpha for the strip Strontium Dog, which first appeared in the comic Starlord but later became a 2000AD staple when the two comics merged. Ezquerra reportedly refused to illustrate a 1988 story in which the bounty hunter was killed off, as he’d become so attached to the character.
David Bishop, who was 2000AD editor from 1996 to 2000, called Ezquerra “a gigantic, innovative talent”.
“He put the work ahead of ego, turning down easier paydays to pursue strips like the ground-breaking El Mestizo, a black slave fighting in the American Civil War – hardly typical fare for British war comics,” Bishop said. “Decades into an incredible career he dove head-first into creating comics on computer when others were content to play it safe. His work is the imagery that generations of readers have grown up enjoying. Carlos was a true gentleman, and a terrible loss for everyone who loved him or his work.”