Spanish artist Carlos Sánchez Esquerra (1947) has developed most of his artistic career in the British market. Being both an accomplished storyteller and an inventive visual designer, he created the immensely popular Judge Dredd, alongside his frequent partner writer John Wagner. Particularly gifted to portray rugged characters involved in violent action with dark-humor undertones, Ezquerra has shined above all in war, western, and dystopic narratives. Because of his defining contributions to 2000AD throughout four decades, he may well be considered the quintessential artist of this publication.

At the beginning of his career, between 1970 and 1972, Ezquerra drew comics in the genres of western, fantasy, and horror for minor Spanish publishers like Boixher. Like many of his colleagues, Ezquerra started working for the British comics industry through the Bardon Art agency, operated by Spanish artist Jordi Macabich and British agent Barry Coker since 1957. Ezquerra’s first British works were romantic stories for girls’ comics Valentine and Mirabelle in 1973. That same year he already diversified into other genres as he contributed to the Pocket Library Series and especially to DC Thomson’s Wizard, where he cultivated war, sword & sorcery, and suspense tales in the EC tradition. In 1974, Ezquerra moved to London, where he would stay for ten years, and started working for IPC’s Battle Picture Weekly. This publication participated in a renovation of war comics in which Ezquerra played an instrumental role with the popular series: Rat Pack (1974), inspired by Robert Aldrich’s film The Dirty Dozen (1967) and created in collaboration with writer Gerry Finley-Day; and the anti-heroic Major Eazy (1976), with writer Alan Hebden. Also for IPC, he illustrated some covers of the controversial Action magazine, including the infamous one depicting what seemed to be a policeman threatened by juvenile vandals, which inflamed the existing debate about the violent contents of this publication.

In 1977, Ezquerra designed the futuristic law officer Judge Dredd for the new magazine 2000AD, adding to the mixture some ingredients borrowed from Spanish military iconography during General Franco’s dictatorship. However, the character was developed by other artists, while Ezquerra applied his talents to the creation of the short-lived atypical western series El Mestizo! for Battle (1977), alongside Alan Hebden; and the much more successful Strontium Dog, in partnership with Wagner, for Starlord (1978), subsequently transferred to 2000AD. A few short stories aside, Ezquerra properly returned to the implacable judge in the early 1980s with the “Apocalypse War” storyline and has continued to draw many of the character’s longest epics. In addition to his countless works for 2000AD, he has been collaborating with acclaimed British writer and declared Ezquerra fan Garth Ennis for the American market since the mid-1990s (Bloody Mary, Adventures of the Rifle Brigade, Just a Pilgrim, Battlefields).

— Jesús Jiménez Varea

Further Reading

  • Bishop, David. Thrill-power Overload: Thirty Years of 2000 AD. London: Rebellion, 2009.
  • Jarman, Colin M. and Peter Acton. Judge Dredd: The Mega-History. London: Queen Anne Press, 1995.
  • Molcher, Michael. 2010. “Interrogation: Carlos Ezquerra”. Judge Dredd Megazine 300-302: 16-22; 16-22; 16-23.