Steven Ellis talks to the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, and also one of the guests at SFX Weekender 3
First off, thank you for talking the time to speak to me Carlos. It’s a real pleasure to be able to do this. I’ve been a fan of your art since I read my first Judge Dredd story. Not to make us both feel old but that story was “The Prankster” in Prog 308 way back in 1983.
Carlos: That's quite some time... A real faithful fan. You deserve a medal!
A Krill Tro Thargo would be nice. Let’s start by saying an early happy 35th Birthday to both Judge Joe Dredd and his home comic 2000AD . Thirty-five years is quite a milestone considering most of 2000AD’s contemporaries and many UK comics that followed are no longer with us. What do you think gives Dredd and 2000AD their staying power?
I think Dredd is a very strong character, and very iconic. You can recognise Superman by the shield on the chest, Batman by the hood and Dredd by the helmet. Also the fact he’s being drawn by the best of the UK’s artists and with John Wagner behind his stories.
And when you were first designing the iconic look of Dredd did you have any inclination that you’d still be drawing him 35 years later?
No, Neither John nor me ever thought of that possibility.
What do you think is the appeal of the Dredd character? I mean he’s basically a bastard isn’t he?
Yes, he is a bastard, but the kind of bastard we’d all like to have near us when we’re in trouble... Also he’s cute, isn’t he?
It’s been a while since you last visited the UK. Are you looking forward to coming over and attending the 35th anniversary party in February?
Yes, very much indeed. I was going to be there a couple of years back at a sci-fi convention but my wife was having health problems.
I’m sorry to hear that. Considering your own recent illness – we’re all glad you’re recovering well by the way, and the amazing outpouring of support from fans you received – I suppose it must be good to be able to give something back. Is that a big part of your decision to appear at the Weekender?
It’s something I’m very happy to do. The fans always will be in my heart. I feel very touched by their response to my illness. It was the nicest thing to ever happen to me and... I LOVE ALL OF YOU GUYS!
This’ll also be the first time you and John Wagner have appeared together for a while. Are you looking forward to taking to the stage with him?
Yes, it will be very nice. He came to see me in Spain when I was recovering, so it’s time for me to buy him a couple of pints.
Do you know anything about what the weather in North Wales will be like in February? Very cold is likely, any chance you can import some Spanish sunshine for us?
I’ll put some sunshine in a couple of bottles; I only hope the police in the UK don’t stop me...
Thanks, that’d be great. And now a couple of comic related questions… You’ve been instrumental in the creation of several iconic characters, and you’ve worked on a great many more, but is there a character out there you’ve not had chance to draw that you would like to have a go at?
Yeah, the next one... Always there is a next one...
Do you have a favourite character to draw?
I enjoyed all of them.
Judge Dredd or Johnny Alpha ? Who do you prefer working on and why?
Hmmm. Maybe Johnny Alpha , I can get into his skin more easily; he is more humane.
It’s well known that you weren’t happy about the decision to kill off Johnny Alpha in Strontium Dog back in 1990. How did you feel about John Wagner’s decision to finally go back and revisit the death of the character after all these years? Did you have a part in the decision to tackle it? And are you happy to be addressing it?
Yes, at least it can be sorted – the wrong in doing that story, at least in the fans’ eyes – because for me that story never existed. Well, now with the new stories I am accepting something fishy happen back then.
Finally, thank you again for agreeing to do this Carlos, you’re a real gent. I look forward to seeing you and all the other 2000AD droids at the Weekender in the New Year. It should be quite a party.