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