In Memoriam: Comic Artist Alphonso Azpiri

Alphonso Azpiri and Dave Elliott
Alphonso Azpiri and Dave Elliott
Comic creator, editor and publisher Dave Elliott pays tribute to the award-winning Spanish artist Alphonso Azpiri, who has died aged just 70. He’s best known for his adult comics work such as “Lorna” and “Bethlehem Steele”, but he was also the co-creator of Roman slave turned soldier Black Hawk for Tornado – an early contributor to 2000AD

From my early days as an artist, I was a fan of Azpiri. I was a big fan of his creator owned series Lorna, a scantily clad (usually naked) secret agent that was always accompanied by two robots. Comparisons between Barbarella and Star Wars have been made often, but Azpiri’s Lorna went where neither of the others could or would go. Lorna was fresh, funny, sexy, and science fantasy adventure. His style always reminded me of Walter Simonson’s work, only I think I saw Azpiri’s work first.

Lorna by Alphonso Azpiri

Sexy and playful was Lorna’s trademark and also revealed her creator’s approach to comics. At a time when political correctness wasn’t even a glint in its mothers eye, Azpiri was having the most fun any one could have in this industry. Azpiri was fast as well, enabling him to work for several publishers at once.

Lorna by Alphonso AzpiriI first started working with Alphonso when I took over control of Penthouse Comix. He’d been illustrating the adventures of Bethlehem Steele, a robot pleasure droid, but the character had been written to a point where he was having difficulty staying on the strip. Her character was being abused, so when I gave him the option of leaving or staying but he could write the adventures himself, he set out to rescue her. And what better way to rescue her than by making it a creator owned strip and having LORNA be the one to come to her aid.

Less adult-oriented, and suitable for younger readers, was Alphonso Azpiri's Mot, the adventures of a boy called Leo who finds himself plagued by a large, friendly but cumbersome and destructive monster. This was turned into a cartoon series and broadcast on France's Canal Plus.
Less adult-oriented, and suitable for younger readers, was Alphonso Azpiri’s Mot, the adventures of a boy called Leo who finds himself plagued by a large, friendly but cumbersome and destructive monster. This was turned into a cartoon series and broadcast on France’s Canal Plus.

Alphonso Azpiri's less "risque" work - for British comics Tornado, "Planet of the Damned" for Starlord - and "Ant Wars" for 2000AD
Alphonso Azpiri’s less “risque” work – for British comics Tornado, “Planet of the Damned” for Starlord – and “Ant Wars” for 2000AD

Alphonso Azpiri's take on the classic film vampire, Nosferatu
Alphonso Azpiri’s take on the classic film vampire, Nosferatu

Jabba the Hutt as you've possibly never seen him before... by Alphonso Azpiri
Jabba the Hutt as you’ve possibly never seen him before… by Alphonso Azpiri
I wish the industry could have supported him more but, like all things, tastes change and times move on. Despite the fact that he did everything from children’s to adult material, it was the adult material that editors would remember and pass over him for less risqué artists. A real shame, as he was one of the most reliable artists I ever worked with. Never once was he late, in fact, he was usually an issue ahead.

I for one will always remember his work with fondness and my heart will always have a soft spot for Lorna.

Dave Elliott

More of Dave’s writings on Wattpad

Heavy Metal pays tribute to Alphonso Azpiri

La Vos de La Galicia: Obituary (in Spanish)

• Alphonso had his own Twitter @azpiriiripza – still currently active

Alphonso Azpiri on ComicArtFans

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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