Monday, October 01, 2018

Carlos Ezquerra 1947 - 2018

The comics community is today saddened and stunned by the passing of Carlos Ezquerra, one of the greatest artists to have graced the pages of comics. Only a few weeks ago, Carlos posted an update on his Facebook page from his hospital bed saying he had beaten cancer for the second time, but today we discovered that sadly it was not to last. 

Most of you will know Carlos' distinctive artwork from the pages of Battle Picture Weekly and 2000AD. For the latter, he designed / co-created Judge Dredd, one of the most iconic figures in comics. 
Early in his career, Carlos also freelanced for D.C. Thomson on comics such as The Wizard. Here's a page from the strip Chained to his Sword from Wizard dated 13th November 1976...
...and a complete one-off Simon Gaunt tale, also from the same issue...

Perhaps Carlos' most notorious artwork was the Kids Rule OK illustration for Action, dated 18th September 1976. Due to the character in the foreground mistakenly being coloured as blue as the policeman's helmet it was misconstrued by the media as a youth attacking a policeman. (It must be noted that Carlos did not colour the art, but that it was done by IPC staff.)
Another powerful cover was this one for Marvel UK's Fury in July 1977, delivering a message that, sadly, is still pertinent today...
...and this cover for Battle-Action is another memorable image...
His best remembered work for Battle Picture Weekly was Rat Pack, and Major Eazy, although I recall him saying that El Mestizo was his favourite, and he regretted that it didn't run for longer. (The whole series will soon be collected by Rebellion.)
For 2000AD (and Starlord), Carlos will be best remembered for Judge Dredd of course, and for Strontium Dog, which he also co-created. Both hugely popular characters, and a new Strontium Dog series was always one to look forward to.


Many also remember The Stainless Steel Rat adaptation that Carlos drew for 2000AD in the 1980s. Stunning work...
The thing I liked most about Carlos Ezquerra's artwork was that it was proper comic art. The dynamism, the inking techniques, the exaggeration and the humour we associate with British comics was all there. Carlos made it look effortless, but so good. After more than 40 years of seeing his work in comics it's hard to believe there won't be any more, and that's deeply saddening. 

However, as Carlos had been so prolific over the years it means there are always stories to re-read, or discover for the first time in back issues. His past work will always be with us.

As I type these words, tributes are pouring onto social media expressing their sadness at the passing of such a great artist. Carlos Ezquerra was highly respected not only for his talent but also as a person. I only met him once, for a short time, at the Enniskillen Comic Fest last year, and the pleasure of his company provided laughs and good conversation. My sincere condolences to Carlos' family and many friends on this very sad day. 

2000AD have posted about the great man on their website:
https://2000ad.com/post/4322

Obituary and tribute by John Freeman on Down the Tubes:
https://downthetubes.net/?p=101064

News reaches the mainstream media in The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/01/judge-dredd-co-creator-carlos-ezquerra-dies-aged-70




8 comments:

John Parker said...

Nice tribute, Lew.

garylee said...

A strip drawn by Carlos was always a treat. Despite the amount of detail on each page, it was always clear what was happening and made the story easy to follow.

Mark West said...

Nice tribute.

Stevie.H said...

Well said Lew. He will be greatly missed. A unique talent.

James Golbey said...

That classic downturned mouth on Dredd. He is a great loss to comics

qamar said...

Thst is really sad to hear.

He had a really distinctive style.

SID said...

I am still in shock. Not only a great artist, but an artist I grew up with and who had always stuck around.

Terribly sad especially if he thought he had beaten the cancer. Unfortunately, not an unique situation. I have a sister-in-law who thought she had beaten it 20 years ago only for it to return stronger and more vicious than ever. She is still fighting it though but we know that it will win one day.

I haven't seen anything in the Prog or Meg yet but I daresay a fitting tribute is being sorted out.

I wonder what the future of Strontium Dog will be since Carlos was THE artist of the strip?

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sorry to hear about your sister-in-law, Sid.

2000AD is prepared about six weeks in advance, I think. (Although modern printing methods can reduce that to two or three weeks these days.) I'm sure they'll do a fitting tribute to such an important creator.

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