Legendary Judge Dredd Artist Ron Smith Has Died, Aged 94

Ron Smith‘s career in comics stretched fifty years. Born in 1924, he worked for British comic book publishers DC Thomson and IPC Magazines, but found comic book fame drawing Judge Dredd for 2000AD and the Judge Dredd newspaper strip printed in the Daily Star.

An engineer before the Second World War, during which he flew Spitfires in battle, he left the RAF to jointhe  animation studio, Gaumont, following that drawing comic books for kids, where he began to specialise in action adventure and Westerns.

The fifties saw him draw comics such as Hotspur, Adventure and The Wizard, with DC Thompson buying him a house close to their Dundee headquarters. He was able to use the ‘artist; designation on his passport evade the authorities to work as a journalist for DC Thompson’s The Scotsman in sixties South Africa, to track down and interview anti-apartheid activists.

Going freelance in the seventies saw him continue drawing adventure comics, including his first superhero work, creating King Cobra for Hotspur and working uncredited for Marvel Comics. This led him to draw Judge Dredd in 1979 and through the eighties, drawing more Dredd than anyone, including the serials The Day the Law Died and The Judge Child, creations including Otto Sump, Mega-City One’s ugliest man,  Chopper, Dave The Orang-utan who became Mayor of Mega-City One and The League Of Fatties. He also drew for Rogue Trooper and Chronis Carnival. He also drew the Judge Dredd strip for the Daily Star newspaper, ensuring his work – and the character – was seen by millions.

As well as 2000AD and Judge Dredd, he also drew for M.A.S.K., Eagle, Wildcat and Toxic Crusaders before retiring in the nineties after failing eyesight. Suffering from Parkinson’s, he later moved into a care home in Leatherhead, where he passed away this morning. He is survived by four daughters.

Friends, colleagues and fans have been sharing commiserations and memories.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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