Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra dies aged 70

The Spanish comic book artist, who illustrated many 2000AD comics and designed the iconic futuristic lawman Dredd, has died after lung cancer diagnosis

Carlos Ezquerra, the legendary Spanish artist who co-created Judge Dredd for 2000AD and gave the futuristic lawman his distinctive look, has died at the age of 70.

Ezquerra, who lived in Andorra, began his career in British comics in 1973, after initially working on Spanish war and western comics. He found work on the war comic Battle Picture Weekly, drawing the adventures of the Dirty Dozen-inspired Rat Pack and later the strip Major Eazy, before editor and writer Pat Mills, who launched 2000AD in 1977, asked Ezquerra to come up with character designs for Judge Dredd.

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Jack Kerouac letter to mother recounts ‘On the Road’ adventures

Written 10 years before the book that defined the Beat Generation, appeal for a $25 sub is now on sale in California for $22,500

He may have been the godfather of the Beat Generation, a self-styled crazy hobo mystic who hit the US’s highways looking for himself, but Jack Kerouac wasn’t above asking his mother for money to tide him over on the epic journey he immortalised in On The Road.

In a letter from 1947, written at the height of the travels that would form the basis of his classic roman a clef published 10 years later, Kerouac begs his mother, Gabrielle, for $25 to help him get from Denver to California.

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Making fantasy reality: Alan Lee, the man who redrew Middle-earth

As the final ‘rediscovered’ JRR Tolkien book, The Fall of Gondolin, is released, the artist describes his journey from an Uxbridge council estate to working on The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand

For artist Alan Lee, nature has always provided a gateway to other worlds. Now 71, Lee remembers growing up in Uxbridge, on a council estate that bordered a wilder landscape. It was what you might call a liminal childhood – on one side, the recently minted avenues and structures of social housing, on the other, “a short walk into this strange landscape of canals and fields and woods”.

It’s that sense of crossing from one world to another that has informed his work, especially his association with JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth, which has formed a large part of Lee’s oeuvre over the past quarter of a century.

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Hugo awards: women clean up as NK Jemisin wins best novel again

Jemisin’s third win in as many years signals an end to the influence of the rightwing ‘Puppies’ groups, with female authors winning all major categories at sci-fi awards

Author NK Jemisin has scooped her third Hugo award for best science-fiction novel and, in doing so, has become the standard-bearer for a sea change in the genre’s diversity, as women – especially women of colour – swept the boards at last night’s ceremony.

Taking the stage to accept her third win in three years for her novel The Stone Sky, Jemisin told the audience at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California, on Sunday that “this has been a hard year … a hard few years, a hard century,” adding: “For some of us, things have always been hard, and I wrote the Broken Earth trilogy to speak to that struggle, and what it takes to live, let ...

Has Stan Lee put his troubles behind him?

The man who created the Marvel universe has spent the past year struggling with illness and in a series of disputes. But things are ‘much better’ now, he says

Stan Lee wants you to know that he’s OK.

The 95-year-old mastermind of the Marvel universe has had a very bad year. His wife Joan died last July, after 69 years of marriage, and not long after, stories began to circulate suggesting he was being stolen from and abused. It was even reported that he had become estranged from his only surviving child. But things are looking up, he reports via email.

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Do libraries run by volunteers check out?

Over the last decade, around 500 UK libraries have been handed over to ordinary people to run for free. This option is seen as a good alternative to closures – but how do the volunteers feel?

It is just before 7pm on a Tuesday and Wilsden library is about to close. There are a few stragglers, mainly mums with small girls who have been at the dance class in the village hall, where the library occupies one corner.

Wilsden is just one of 15 community-managed libraries in the borough of Bradford, West Yorkshire. It opens for one day a week and is staffed completely by volunteers such as Simon Dickerson, whohas volunteered at the library since it became community-managed in 2011. Prior to that, the library was run and staffed by Bradford council, but budget cuts meant that Wilsden’s library, along with branches in nearby Denholme and Wrose, were earmarked ...

Do libraries run by volunteers check out?

Over the last decade, around 500 UK libraries have been handed over to ordinary people to run for free. This option is seen as a good alternative to closures – but how do the volunteers feel?

It is just before 7pm on a Tuesday and Wilsden library is about to close. There are a few stragglers, mainly mums with small girls who have been at the dance class in the village hall, where the library occupies one corner.

Wilsden is just one of 15 community-managed libraries in the borough of Bradford, West Yorkshire. It opens for one day a week and is staffed completely by volunteers such as Simon Dickerson, whohas volunteered at the library since it became community-managed in 2011. Prior to that, the library was run and staffed by Bradford council, but budget cuts meant that Wilsden’s library, along with branches in nearby Denholme and Wrose, were earmarked ...

The future’s female? 2000AD’s all-women special

A new sci-fi edition has been written and drawn entirely by women, which the comic hopes will put an end to its boy’s club reputation

It’s one of the UK’s most venerable comic weeklies, but is 2000AD, home of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and Robo-Hunter, still seen as a bit of a boy’s thing? More than 40 years after it first hit the newsstands, that image might be set to change, with a new issue created entirely by female writers, artists, colourists and letterers.

The 2000AD sci-fi special includes Batgirl artist Babs Tarr illustrating a Judge Dredd story, graphic novelist Tillie Walden writing and drawing one of the comic’s famous Future Shock shorts, and Irish novelist and playwright Maura McHugh penning a story about Judge Anderson, Dredd’s telepath colleague.

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Unusual suspects: the writers diversifying detective fiction

Authors including AA Dhand, Steph Cha and Alex Segura explain how they are broadening the horizons of a traditionally very white genre

Take a look at any list of the greatest detectives in fiction – say, this one – and it’s hard to ignore the fact that they’re overwhelmingly white and male. Some of them may be intellectuals, while others prefer to solve a tricky case with their fists, but one thing Sherlock Holmes shares with Sam Spade, Jack Reacher and Kurt Wallander is the colour of his face.

A quick flick through my copy of Peter Haining’s survey The Golden Age of Crime Fiction reveals only two characters who aren’t white: a Thuggee assassin in a Victorian penny dreadful and the Earl Derr Biggers private eye Charlie Chan. Biggers was something of a sucker for inscrutable, “eastern” wisdom, but the character was this Ohio-born, Harvard-educated author’s attempt to find ...

Lionel Shriver dropped from prize judges over diversity comments

Mslexia says that the author’s recent comments would ‘alienate the women we are trying to support’ and she will no longer sit on its award jury

Lionel Shriver has been dropped from the judging panel for a writing competition run by magazine Mslexia, after the author slammed publisher Penguin Random House for its diversity and inclusion policies.

Debbie Taylor, editorial director and founder of Mslexia, said that Shriver’s comments in a piece for the Spectator magazine were “not consistent with Mslexia’s ethos and mission” and would “alienate the very women we are trying to support”. Consequently, Shriver would no longer be a judge on their annual short story competition, she said.

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Mark Millar: ‘Netflix will take risks where a studio won’t’

The creator of comics such as Kingsman, Kick-Ass and now The Magic Order explains why he signed to the streaming giant – and how he did it equitably

“Pick a card,” I say to Mark Millar. “Any card.”

The man behind some of the best-known comic books of the last 30 years is sitting in a corner of a Glasgow pub reading a copy of the Morning Star, which he folds up to indulge me as I riffle a deck of cards in front of him.

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Action Comics #1000: the 10 most important issues from 80 years of Superman

From Superman’s first flight to the issue where he lost his job (and that time he made Santa buff), a look back at eight decades of Action Comics

Eighty years ago today, the first issue of Action Comics was released, with the now iconic cover showing Superman lifting a car over his head as hoodlums flee. It was comic book readers’ first introduction to the character, starring in the lead story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Now, Action Comics has become the first monthly comic book to hit its 1,000th issue. In the manner of major book and film releases, #1000 got a midnight release, with studio DC Comics encouraging comic book lovers to mark the historic issue, which includes stories from artists and writers including Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, Louise Simonson, Jock, and Marv Wolfman. But what are the most important issues in Action Comics’ 80-year history? ...

‘The man’s a genius!’: Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman on Eddie Campbell

From printing strips in a Southend bedsit to working for Marvel and DC, comic artist Eddie Campbell has drawn everything in between, all the while remaining in the shadows of stardom

Eddie Campbell is a genius. But don’t take my word for it, take Alan Moore’s. “Eddie’s is a genuine one-off talent, utterly idiosyncratic and personal,” he says. Or perhaps Neil Gaiman’s: “The man’s a genius, there’s an end to it.”

If you don’t know Campbell by name, you’ll know his comics: most famously, he was Moore’s artistic collaborator on the tour-de-force From Hell, eventually adapted into a film starring Johnny Depp. But the Glaswegian artist produced a wealth of work both before and after From Hell. The Glaswegian artist’s oeuvre ranges from the ultimate punk-DIY – photocopying and distributing his autobiographical In the Days of the Ace Rock’n’Roll Club strips from a Southend bedsit in the 1970s – ...

The Killing Joke at 30: what is the legacy of Alan Moore’s shocking Batman comic?

Published three decades ago, Moore’s take on Batman has been polarising readers ever since, with the writer himself calling it a ‘regrettable misstep’ – but is there good to be found in this violent and troubling comic?

When The Killing Joke was published, 30 years ago today, it was instantly hailed by critics as the greatest Batman story ever told. Written by Alan Moore, the comic won an Eisner award in 1989, hit the New York Times bestseller list a decade after it first came out, and was adapted into a R-rated film. The ripples have been felt across superhero comics ever since.

It is an important comic book for many reasons, not all of them worth celebrating. The 46-page psychological slug-fest posits the ultimate standoff between Batman and his oldest foe, the Joker; the green-tressed villain wants to prove that all it takes to make a sane, ordered person ...

Just how monstrous is the Sun’s ‘Flakensteins’ story?

Its report, confecting outrage that oversensitive millenials feel Mary Shelley’s monster was misunderstood, is not perhaps as philistine as it sounds

As Sun headlines go, “Flakensteins” isn’t really up there with the classics such as “Gotcha”, “Up Yours Delors” and the immortal “Freddie Star Ate My Hamster”, but it’s causing something of a stir nonetheless.

“Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ – and is in fact a VICTIM” trumpeted the Sun’s story on Tuesday, echoing an earlier Times article that drew from a new edition of Mary Shelley’s 200-year-old novel. In its foreword, Exeter University’s Nick Groom writes that many students are sympathetic to the creature given life by Victor Frankenstein, despite the fact that the tortured monster then, as the Sun succinctly puts it, “murders his creator’s brother, pal and bride”.

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Just how monstrous is the Sun’s ‘Flakensteins’ story?

Its report, confecting outrage that oversensitive millenials feel Mary Shelley’s monster was misunderstood, is not perhaps as philistine as it sounds

As Sun headlines go, “Flakensteins” isn’t really up there with the classics such as “Gotcha”, “Up Yours Delors” and the immortal “Freddie Star Ate My Hamster”, but it’s causing something of a stir nonetheless.

“Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ – and is in fact a VICTIM” trumpeted the Sun’s story on Tuesday, echoing an earlier Times article that drew from a new edition of Mary Shelley’s 200-year-old novel. In its foreword, Exeter University’s Nick Groom writes that many students are sympathetic to the creature given life by Victor Frankenstein, despite the fact that the tortured monster then, as the Sun succinctly puts it, “murders his creator’s brother, pal and bride”.

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Marvel comics’ Fresh Start looks like a return to old cliches

With yet another reboot for Thor, Iron Man and Hulk on the cards, the cartoon giant is showing worrying signs of pandering to its most conservative readers

Another year, another relaunch at Marvel comics: on Tuesday, it was announced that it is revamping its output with a project called Fresh Start. Its May launch will be, by my count, Marvel’s seventh or eighth fresh start since 2012, coming just months after the company last rebooted its characters, in September 2017’s Marvel Legacy line, and cementing the company’s reputation as the serial monogamist of the comic book industry.

Over the past couple of years Marvel has made some genuinely significant changes to its core characters: it replaced billionaire inventor Tony Stark in the Iron Man costume with a 15-year-old black girl, Riri Williams; deemed Thor unworthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir and passed the mantle to love interest Jane Foster; ...

DC is not kidding around with Hanna-Barbera reworkings for adults

If recasting Snagglepuss as a gay playwright in the 50s or putting Wacky Races in a Mad Max-esque fight sounds unlikely, it’s only the latest – suprisingly successful – reinvention from the comics giant

Heavens to Murgatroyd! Who could have thought that Snagglepuss, that bright pink mountain lion beloved of Saturday morning cartoon shows would one day be reimagined as a gay playwright in the 1950s in a serious, adult comic book? Or, for that matter, that such a reinvention would work?

DC Comics has embarked on the curious little experiment and, in Hanna-Barbera Beyond, given old characters a contemporary makeover. The scheme has seen Wacky Raceland drop Dick Dastardly, the Anthill Mob and the rest into a Mad Max-esque fight for survival in a postapocalyptic wasteland; the Flintstones remade into a satirical poke at the American Dream and Scooby-Doo rebooted as a “smart dog” with an implant that allows ...

Marvel criticised for comic-making tool that bans guns, drugs and bare midriffs

Terms for new online Create Your Own platform for fans stipulate that politics, social issues and ‘alternative lifestyle advocacies’ must not be included

The dream of creating comics for Marvel is one held by many writers and artists, but the company has always been a notoriously tough nut to crack … until now. But, although a forthcoming tool will allow amateurs to create their own Marvel comics, it has been widely criticised after the company released restrictive terms and conditions that ban comics from including content it deems controversial, including midriffs, contraception, guns and “alternative lifestyle advocacies”.

Marvel Create Your Own, which was announced on Thursday, will allow fans to create comics featuring the studio’s huge cast of characters, from Captain America to the Guardians of the Galaxy. The online platform will allow fans to combine various backgrounds and character images with editable speech bubbles.

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This Christmas, don’t give books to non-readers

For bibliophiles, it is tempting to buy books as presents to ‘fix’ people who don’t read – but this is snobbery of the worst kind

You’re making a list, you’re checking it twice, and your fall-back position will be a nice book or two for friends and family to unwrap on Christmas Day. Everybody loves a good book, right?

But wait. What about those who don’t read? (Take it from me, these people exist. I’ve seen them. I’m even friends with a few.) Now you and me, we know that books are great. Books enrich, educate and entertain. People who read books are smarter, nicer, more attractive. People who don’t read books live grey, humdrum, fiction-free lives, bereft of that essential spark that infuses the lives of us readers, allows us to walk on clouds, hear choirs of angels and piss rainbows.

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