Saying Goodbye To A True Comics Art Original
♦ Judge Dredd co-creator as well as artist on many other strips including Strontium Dog for 2000AD Carlos Ezquerra passed away suddenly last week and here Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Cundle pays a personal tribute to him…
Whoever it was that was responsible for allowing the adage about never meeting your heroes to slip into the popular consciousness didn’t know what they were talking about. I’ve been fortunate enough, throughout my career, to meet and interview a number of individuals who, for one reason or another, I hold in high regard. I’ve crossed paths with Pat Mills, Chris Jericho, Greg Graffin, Neal Adams, Katy Manning, Roger Miret, Jay Bentley, Mick Foley, Paul Bearer, Ray Cappo, Mark Millar and many more and they have all, invariably, been everything that I hope they would be. But even though I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with many of my heroes, I’ve still got a bucket list of people who, for one reason or another, I’d like to sit down, share a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze with. Carlos Ezquerra was right at the top of that list. And now he’s gone.
While many far more eloquent men and women who knew Carlos as a beloved friend and cherished colleague could tell a thousand stories that would paint a picture of who he really was, I didn’t know Carlos. I didn’t know the man he was. I only knew Carlos through his art, a medium that has spoken volumes to me over the last four decades. Carlos fired my imagination and inspired my creativity and transformed a typical adolescent pastime into a lifelong passion, because it was Carlos who made me fall in love with 2000AD. Like it did for so many others of my generation, the Prog became an all-consuming obsession for me and while I’ve stepped away from it many times, often for extended periods, during the last forty years, I’ve also always, without fail, returned to it. And the reason that I kept, and keep, going back to 2000AD is Carlos Ezquerra.
For the majority of Tharg’s legions, Dredd was, and is, the be all end all reason for their continued devotion to 2000AD and while Ezquerra famously co-created the chisel jawed, fascistic lawman of the future, Old Stoney Face isn’t who I think of when I think about Carlos and the Prog. For me, 2000AD was always about Johnny Alpha. A mutant bounty hunter and the title character of the long running Strontium Dog saga, Johnny was an outcast who was shunned and bullied by society because of what he looked like and who he was. But even though the world ignored him, turned its back on him and treated him as a second class citizen, he always behaved with honour and compassion and did the right thing when, given the way that he’d been treated, it would have been so easy to throw in the towel, acquiesce and become everything that his tormentors accused him of being. But Johnny Alpha always stood tall and he always got his man.
To someone who was incessantly bullied because he was small, ginger and had a funny accent, Johnny Alpha was a role model and someone to aspire to be like. He was everything to me. Strontium Dog was my be all and end all. And while John Wagner may have been responsible for creating the character, it was Carlos Ezquerra who brought him to life and made his adventures leap from the pages of Starlord and 2000AD and into my imagination. There they gave me something that up until then I hadn’t dared to believe in. They gave me hope. Carlos gave me hope. He gave me the hope that helped me get through those years of misery, humiliation and suffering. Carlos gave me the hero that I needed when I needed him the most and in doing so, he made me fall in love with comics. So the small, bullied boy that I was and the man that I’ve become, would just like to say thank-you Carlos. Thank-you for Joe Dredd, Sam Slade, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade and Johnny Alpha, but most of all thank-you for giving me hope; thank-you for everything that you did for me. Duerme bien Carlos. Viaje seguro… Tim Cundle
Carlos Ezquerra 1947-2018
Here is his Facebook page