Comic book artist Ron Smith has died at the age of 94. The death of the 2000 AD veteran, who enjoyed lengthy runs on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, was announced via the 2000 AD Twitter account Thursday morning.
“We’re very sorry to hear that Judge Dredd artist Ron Smith has passed away,” the tweet read. “From co-creating Chopper to the weird Otto Sump and the wonderful Mayor Dave, he was an incredible artist with a career spanning decades. Our deepest sympathies to his family.”
Smith, a former World War II fighter pilot, had a short-lived career in animation before moving into comic book illustration in 1949, working on humor and adventure strips for a number of British publishers and titles, including Knockout, Hotspur and Warlord. Decades into his career, he added then-newly launched anthology 2000 AD to his workload in 1979, a move that would significantly raise his profile.
Quickly becoming one of the core artists on the Judge Dredd strip, Smith would be involved in numerous iconic stories featuring the character, including “The Day the Law Died,” “The Otto Sump Ugly Clinic” and “The Judge Child Quest.” He’d co-create a number of recurring characters, including anarchist antihero Chopper — who would be spun off into his own series — and Mayor Dave, an orangutan who became the leading politician in the future dystopia of the series’ Mega-City One setting.
Smith’s prolific output and appreciation from Dredd fans meant that he was the obvious choice to draw the character’s newspaper strip spin-off, which ran in the British Daily Star newspaper from 1981 through 1998. Smith was the primary artist for the entire run, even as he continued to work for 2000 AD.
Following his departure from the 2000 AD Dredd strip in the early 1990s, he went on to be the primary artist on the anthology title’s Rogue Trooper reboot, in addition to co-creating the series Chronos Carnival.
He officially retired in the 1990s, although his Daily Star Dredd work continued until that strip was discontinued. In recent years, he had been dealing with Parkinson’s disease.
Tributes to Smith have appeared on Twitter since his death was announced.
RIP Ron Smith. He was the Dredd artist of my youth, and informed my take on the character – his Dredd had a knowing, arch quality. The straight man in an insane world, but seemingly in on the joke. pic.twitter.com/e3oQz72y91
— Al Ewing Writes Comics (@Al_Ewing) January 10, 2019
— jock (@Jock4twenty) January 10, 2019
Sad news. Ron was one of the iconic Dredd artists and a great character. I was lucky enough to ghost a few of his characters for DC Thomson, early in my career, and learnt such a lot from studying his work. https://t.co/MvnvCtWreg
— Dave Gibbons (@davegibbons90) January 10, 2019