By Clark Collis
October 02, 2018 at 04:24 PM EDT
Judge Dredd
Credit: 2000 AD Graphic Novels

Carlos Ezquerra, the comics artist best known for co-creating the character Judge Dredd for the British sci-fi title 2000 AD, has died at age 70.

Ezquerra’s death was confirmed in a post on the 2000 AD website Monday. “It is difficult to put this into words, but we have lost someone who was the heart and soul of 2000 AD,” a statement from the publication’s staff said. “It is no exaggeration to call Carlos Ezquerra one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, and his name deserves to be uttered alongside Kirby, Ditko, Miller, Moebius, and Eisner.”

Ezquerra revealed that he had lung cancer in 2010, and the cancer returned earlier this year.

A native of Zaragoza, Spain, Ezquerra broke into the U.K. comics scene in the mid-1970s with his work for Battle Picture Weekly, drawing the World War II-set strips Rat Pack and Major Eazy. He was instrumental in the early success of 2000 AD, which launched in 1977. Ezquerra was not only responsible for the iconic design for Judge Dredd, a series about a fascistic future-lawman, but also co-created Strontium Dog, which concerned the adventures of the mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha and became hugely popular with 2000 AD readers after the strip’s original home, the comic Starlord, merged with the title.

Those paying tribute to Ezquerra in the wake of his death include actor Karl Urban, who played the title role in the 2012 film Dredd, and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright.

“My thoughts and prayers go out [to] the family of legendary artist and Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra,” Urban wrote on Twitter. “His exemplary work served as inspiration for me and countless other filmmakers and artists worldwide.”

“A fond farewell to the great Carlos Ezquerra, one of my favourite artists & comic book creators growing up,” wrote Wright. “A creative genius with an inimitable style of drawing (though me & my brother tried). For so many great visions of the future, especially Strontium Dog, I thank you Carlos.”