CARLOS EZQUERRA INTERVIEW
copied from www.subhuman.net/classof79
Before we begin, I'd just like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview for the Class Of '79.
My pleasure : )
For some of our newer readers and those not familiar with 1970's British Comics could you just tell us some of the Comics and characters you have worked on?
From 1974 to 1995, I've working solely with Fleetway, creating the visuals of:
MAJOR EAZY with Alan Hebden as writer
EL MESTIZO with Alan Hebden
COMRADE BRONSKY, Alan Hebden
For Starlord and 2000AD Magazines.
JUDGE DREDD with John Wagner as scriptwriter
STRONTIUM DOG, with John Wagner and later with Alan Grant
DURHAM RED with Alan Grant, spin-off of Strontium Dog
THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT, books from Harry Harrison
AL'S BABY, with John Wagner
THE BADMAN, with Alan Grant
THE THIRD WORLD WAR
For DC Comics:
BOB THE GALACTIC BUM, with John Wagner and Alan Grant
BLOODY MARY, with Garth Ennis
For Digital Anvil - Microsoft:
FREELANCER, all the characters for this video game created by Chris Roberts, which will be released by mid 2000.
Also I've draw some episodes from the series PREACHER (The Saint of Killers, The Good Old Boys) and HITMAN with Garth Ennis, LOBO with Alan Grant, BATMAN and THE SPIRIT with John Wagner. And recently for Dark Horse BOBA FETT ½ and the six episode series of MARA JADE, By The Emperor's Hand, with Stackpole and T. Zahn as writers
How did you get into working in comic books and why in the 70's was your work predominantly for British boys comics?
I always love to read, draw and films, so what else can I do? I started working for England in '71 drawing girlie comics for Mirabelle and Valentine, then in '72 I was given an script for the magazine Wizard, from DC Thompson, about the Boer wars, after drawing the first episode I decided to go to London for a few months...and I lived there for almost ten years!
Nowadays artist quote names from artists of the 70's as their influences, who influenced you when you were starting out?
My gods in the comic were, and are, Hugo Pratt and Alberto Breccia. And I was very much influenced by the film directors Serge Eisenstein (Potemkim, Ivan the Terrible) and John Ford, because of the characters he created.
When Pat Mills asked you to come up with the visuals for Judge Dredd what were his instructions if any, on how this character should look?
I don't remember very well after so many years, but were something like this: 'is a menacing policeman dress in black and driving a motorbike'
Was it a long process coming up with Dredd's look or did it come to you very quickly?
When I create a character, I'll do it fairly quickly, the longest you stay working on an idea the more chances you have to spoil it : ) and Dredd was not an exception, I draw the essentials: grim face, black suit, menacing helmet (based on the Greeks), protections, and gun readily available when sitting on the bike, after that I started to embellish the protections and bike with symbols, maybe a couple of days in total.
I must say that Dredd was NOT based on Stallone,
as I've reading in some magazines, this idea came from a joke I made when I was in London for the film premiere, I suppose my English is not good enough to make jokes! :))
After designing the look of Dredd and drawing the 'Bank Raid' story it was a long time before Dredd fans got to see you working on Dredd again. When you saw Mike McMahon's artwork on those early Dredd's did it bother you that the artwork was such a copy of your own style?
Not at all, I always think if somebody copy's you, it is a form of flattery. I was angry with the 2000AD staff, because after creating Dredd and Mega-City, the first story published was not mine, so I leave them to go back to Battle until Starlord was launched.
When you did return for the 'Apocalypse War' was it a daunting task coming back to the character you created, but artists like Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland and Ron Smith had made their own, especially as you drew all 26 episodes?
No, when you have created the character is very easy to draw him again even after many years, also Dredd's looks is the same, more exaggerated but practically it hadn't changed since the first episode.
Out of all the characters you've worked on which have you enjoyed most, and why?
I enjoyed all the characters I created, they are part of myself, like my children.
Did you get offered to do the Final Solution and if so did you not do it because Johnny died?
Well, I was never offered to do The Final Solution because in earlier talks with the editors I was very much against Johnny's death, so they already knew I wasn't going to do it.
What have you been working on since we last saw you in 2000AD and what have you got lined up for the future?
On the past year I've done a six episode Star Wars miniseries of Mara Jade for Dark Horse, some artwork for the Round Table game and since July last year I am working on the characters and logos of Chris Roberts Freelancer, a videogame from Digital Anvil- Microsoft to be release next year, plus the new story of Johnny Alpha.
For the near future, I have a new miniseries with Garth Ennis, for DC Comics.
How do you create your work now? Can you describe to us the process of creating your pages from start to finish?
First, when I receive the synopsis I have some talks with the writer about characters, settings and so on, sometimes if is a new story I send sketches of characters. Once I have the scripts, I read it with a pencil in my hand doing like a story board very sketchy, then start with the real artwork, pencilling and inking the pages, and later if is a colour job I scan and colour it with the computer.
Does living in Andorra present any problems with your work?
No, with today communications my work can reach England or the USA in 24 hours, even minutes if I send it through e-mail!
What is your favourite piece of work/story?
Always the next one : )
What did you think of the Judge Dredd movie?
I liked it (sacrilege!!!), specially the first ten or fifteen minutes, maybe because I was expecting something far worse, after those fifteen minutes it was another Stallone movie. And I hated the ending, when Stallone... smiled!
If you were asked to design Dredd today do you think that you would do it differently, or if you were back in 1976 would you change anything about your initial design?
I don't know.
Is John Wagner as scary as everyone says?
Noooo... if you keep a safe distance from him he won't be able to bite you! : ))
After all these years what still drives you to sit at the drawing board?
The desire to do something better than the last job
Do you have any tips for people who want to become an artist?
Be determined to reach the top, the higher you aim the higher you'll reach, even if the first times the editors tell you your artwork is shit, fight for it, never be downhearted. It is a very rough profession and you must be very self-confident. At the same time you must be very critical with your work, you are never a master, always learning, because always there will be someone that is better than you.
And on the technical side, look to the people how they behave. read and see films as much as possible.
If you were to replace Tharg for a day, what, if any, changes would you make to 2000AD or The Megazine?
The size, I think is too big, I'll go for the American comic book size, in that way you can save money on paper and pay more to the artists : )
Now you are working on Johnny Alpha again are you drawing them all?
How fast are you at completing a page of art?
a) With the computer?
b) When you were using pen and ink?
It takes me about the same time, my record has been up to one and half pages a day, but my speed is proportional to the pressure I've got from the editor. : )
The speed is never the same, at the start of a series is quite slow as you have to establish the characters, the settings, machinery, buildings, and practically immerse yourself into the story, so after the first twenty pages is when you can accelerate.
Do you ever look at 2000AD related web sites or look at the messages on the 2000AD News Group?
Yes, I am a lurker, I am always interested on what the fans think.
Talking of the News Group, here are some questions asked by people on the group:
Could you ask Mr Ezquerra
Does he base his characters on real people and if so which ones are based on real people?
Not specifically, but I try to do them as real as possible
Is it true that Judge Dredd was originally intended to be black? If so, why did he change skin colour?
No, I never intended to make him black, originally I try to make him more neutral colour, it was supposed than in the far away future the races will be more mixed
Could you ask Carlos what his current computer specifications are?
I use a Macintosh G3 350Mhz with 6g hard disk and around 200 Mb Ram, I use mainly PhotoShop and occasionally Bryce 4, plus a graphic table, printer, scanner and a CD recorder
As an artist, what do you consider to be your next big challenge?
I don't know, I suppose my next new job
What's Carlos's view of Mike McMahon's objections to other artists blatantly ripping off his style?
As I said before, for me personally, I feel flatter, at least someone think you are so good as to copy your style.
In the original concept sketches of Dredd, he has a moustache. Why did he lose it?
I think you are confused, maybe you are thinking on another character from the seventies I designed, El Mestizo
Are you going to update your website?
Hopefully within the next couple of weeks, I'll let you know.
Which Judge do you like drawing the most? Which is your favourite Judge as a character?
Aside Dredd, McGruder was fun, also Castillo, DeMarco, and Guthrie as a rogue judge.
How did he feel about Johnny Alpha being killed off? Was he consulted about the decision at all?
Personally, I'd never recognised The Final Solution as part of the Strontium Dog saga, it was done against my will, and I was supposed to be the co creator! I don't know who was the one with the bright idea, but I found it stupid to do that with the second most popular character in 2000AD, as sooner or later it'll appear again, as has happened.
How does he feel about working on Strontium Dog again?
What does he think of Mark Harrison's Durham Red?
I liked very much, I love Mark Harrison's artwork
Was he approached to draw the story "Top Dogs"? No disrespect meant to Colin MacNeil, but I would've thought Carlos was the ideal artist for this crossover.
Would you like to have seen any other characters continue like Durham Red?
Yes, that means the characters I created are good
What do you think of the current incarnation of Durham Red?
As I said before I like very much Mark Harrison artwork on her, as for her look is like my kids, after their fourteen birthday they changed their look beyond recognition, but they still are my children : )
Would you like to paint her again?
Yes, I don't mind
What inspired Red's look?
Jeesus, I don't know. I try to make the way she acted and her personality in the scripts with her personal appearance, like I do with all the characters I design.
Do you think Johnny and Red should have made more of their relationship?
More? You don't know what happen in between episodes! : )
Have you ever considered writing yourself, to go the writer/artist route the way Dave Gibbons has?
When you are working with writers like John Wagner, Alan Grant, Garth Ennis and all the others I've been lucky to work with, the temptation is minimal! But ...you'll never know!
Of all the strips you've been part of over the years, which one would you most like to bring back if you could?
I wouldn't mind to bring back El Mestizo, it appeared in Battle with Alan Hebden script, about a black guy caught in the middle of the American civil war, he wasn't very popular (a black hero in the earlier seventies!) but I think it was a nice character.
Do you have any burning unfulfilled ambitions, not necessarily in the comic's field?
Yeap, to be five inches taller
And finally, You must get asked the same sort of questions all the time so could you please ask yourself a question that you would like to answer?
Well... nobody ever asks me: do you remember Alec Trench?
Yes, poor guy! Now must be around twenty years
since he disappeared. : )
And with our thoughts on the poor Alec Trench all that is left to say is thank you to Carlos for giving up his time and for the sneak look at some of his 'Strontium Dog' art.
If you want to see more of Carlos' artwork then look at his home page at:
La Placa Rifa,