Classic cover artists: Ron Smith
Even within the diverse pantheon of Judge Dredd's most formative developing artists, there's something about Ron Smith's work that stands apart. In a sense, his Dredd is the least Dredd-like - there's a cleaner line to his work, and an emphasis on anatomical detail rather than the more expressive, exaggerated designs of, say, Mike McMahon, Carlos Ezquerra, Ian Gibson or Cam Kennedy, and a more cinematic, perhaps 'American' style than Brian Bolland or Dave Gibbons. And yet he has contributed as much to the tone and appearance of the strip in its early years as any of these colleagues, and his prolific run of 2000AD front covers featuring the Mega-city lawman has helped Ron to become a seminal artist for many Judge Dredd fans, myself included.
One question I've asked myself is whether I find Ron's characters to be incredibly beautiful or incredibly ugly (and that applies to Otto Sump and Citizen Snork as well as to his less obviously visually-afflicted citizens). The answer, I think, is a bit of both. So many of his people have a veneer of artificial, conventional beauty - well-toned bodies, immaculate hair, strong jawlines and perfect teeth - but a wild-eyed, rictus-grinned vacuity that betrays a repulsive self-absorption within. In this, Ron Smith succeeded not only in representing the madness of Mega City One, but also a fairly accurate representation of the world we were and are becoming.