Wednesday, 13 October 2010

El Mestizo

For this next instalment, thought i'd go and take another look at a rather overlooked Ezquerra character - El Mestizo.
Right up till now i know him for (A) Being the project Carlos reputedly turned to after getting miffed that his work on Judge Dredd wasn't in the first few issues of 2000AD (true?) (B) A strip i didn't really care for back in the summer of '77, much prefering the Stukas, Panzers and Hurricane's of the European WW2 adventures of Johnny Red, Rat Pack et al.
So, dig out the guys first issue of 4 June 1977, and what do i think?
First up, excellent art from Carlos. Its only a couple of years from his rather crude work on Rat Pack but, by now, he's really developed a style, one which pretty much remains unchanged to this day.
Second is, again, how (A) so much story can be contained in a stand alone 4 page (!) strip, (B) How much maturity us Sprogs of the 70's were trusted with. Here we have the second only panel and the first ever dialogue. And what a shocking example of racism we have presented to us kids: "Whites only in here boy... So ah guess ahm jest goin' to have to teach you a lesson for forgetting your manners".
I mean, really. Here we have in this day and age the likes of Clint setting out to shock by seeing how far the envelope can be pushed but, week in and week out, comics in the 70's were giving up really rather graphic and adult themes in the guise of childrens comics for the price of 8p.
And no-one batted an eyelid nor were corrupted by it.
How things change.
Anyway, we get the classic come-back from the hero: "Take care fat man. People who try teaching me lessons end up face down!"
Now here's the thing. I've always remembered the fella as being Mexican, but guess that's down to being Mexico set and the name. He's actually a black slave set free to become a bounty hunter. And comes across as a very chatty Man With No name, maybe a riff on Ezquerra's very similar character - Major Eazy.
Anyway, a stonking first issue that, in the space of just four pages, sets out just what its like during the American Civil War, just who this new guy is, and what's in store for us readers.
Don't mean to run down writer Alan Hebden at all, but the enjoyment of this first episode, you'd think it was the Wagner/Mills team firing on all cylinders.
A great start, and one i'll pursue soon.