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Chaos ensues, order restored in Judge Parker serial (UPDATED)

The behind the scenes events surrounding the Judge Parker creators could be worthy of their own story-line. After receiving a steady flow of complaints and inquiries in the comment section of this blog regarding the abruptly changing artwork of Judge Parker, I started to poke around to see what warranted such a strong reaction. I found rumors on other web sites that the artist, Eduardo Baretto had temporarily left the feature and that temporary fill-ins were being used. What Woody Wilson, the strip’s writer, tells me is a roller-coaster year for the strip’s production.

Last March, Harold LeDoux the feature’s artist, told Woody that he was going to retire and that they needed to find a replacement. Woody, who had worked with Eduardo on another project, suggested he take over the drawing. Harold and Woody worked with Eduardo to get the artwork looking close to Herold’s style to provide a smooth transition. Eduardo’s work was taken to King Features, who had Eduardo do another weeks worth of material to demonstrate his ability (kind of like an audition). By late April, Eduardo officially took over on the artwork, but has Woody explains, Eduardo was struggling to keep consistent with Herold’s style.

By June, a decision was made to give Eduardo some freedom artistically to “make it his own.” Soon thereafter Woody and Eduardo finally found a groove and things were going smoothly until early November when Eduardo vanished. No one could get a hold of him. When Eduardo resurfaced, he told Woody that he had been in the hospital with pneumonia. After Thanksgiving, Eduardo disappeared again but this time deadlines were passing. For about a week Woody tried in vain to communicate with Eduardo, but emails were bouncing and no one spoke English when he tried to call Eduardo’s home (Eduardo lives in Uruguay). Woody says that they had about a five day window to get stuff out the door, so he went to Graham Nolan the artist for Rex Morgan MD (which Woody also writes) and asked if he could take over on the artwork until they could find Eduardo. Graham could only commit to a week (DailyInk subscribers can see Graham’s work on the week of December 4th).

Meanwhile, Woody got a hold of the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay and explained the need for them to track down Eduardo. They found him in the hospital after a near-death car accident. As Woody explained it – they (King Features) were only a day away from replacing Eduardo entirely had the Embassy not found him when they did. Using Graham for a week bought King Features time to find another temporary artist. Woody wouldn’t disclose the name of the current artist you’re seeing right now. When the new artists started submitting his work it, Woody became very concerned that the artwork was radically different than previous artists – the style was different and ages of characters were all wrong, etc. He’s been receiving about 15-20 emails a day of readers complaining or inquiring about the strip – over 200 total so far.

The good news is that Eduardo has recovered and is back to the drawing board. His work should hit the papers in the third week of January.

UPDATE: I received an e-mail from King Features regarding the matter. The fill in artist is John Heebink who did a total of 4 weeks (daily and Sunday). His last daily runs the 14th of January. John is a talented artist who has worked in the comic book field whose work includes Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D! and humorous magazine covers. To those who have complained about the artwork being different the Herold’s I can only offer a Rumsfeldian response: You go to print with the artist that you’ve got.

Community Comments

#1 John Platt
December/29/2006
@ 12:29 pm

Wow, thank god Eduardo Baretto is okay. He’s a long-standing favorite, thanks to his stellar work in the comic book field.

#2 Tommy Austin
December/30/2006
@ 8:34 am

While Eduardo Barreto is no Harold LeDoux, John Heebink is no Eduardo Barreto.

My hope to Woody and the Syndicate is that Eduardo sticks it out for the long haul on Judge Parker.

His style was starting to do “justice”, no pun intended to Judge Parker. He is more contemporary with his style, but he can draw REALISTIC, which is what you want on Judge Parker. Heebink is making the characters look to “cartoony”.

But, they hay is in the barn, so here’s to Eduardo getting back on the strip and staying with it for a long time.

#3 Mike Rhode
January/1/2007
@ 9:54 am

Alan, great detective work, and it’s good to hear Baretto will recover. I’ve admired Baretto’s art on Judge Parker even though I don’t read the strip. I’m a big fan of the Shadow and he did a lot of issues of The Shadow Strikes for DC Comics fifteen years ago.

#4 D. D. Degg
January/1/2007
@ 10:18 am

Let me second Mr. Rhodes comments.
While I may have seen Barreto’s work elsewhere it is his The Shadow work I remember fondly.
And I had been enjoying his Judge Parker work,
looking forward to his return to the strip.

#5 Scott Rowland
January/1/2007
@ 5:42 pm

Thanks for finding out what happened.

–Yet another fan of Eduardo Barreto.

#6 Tommy Austin
January/1/2007
@ 11:19 pm

Heebink only has a couple weeks left on Judge Parker.

He is a good artist, but wasn’t (hasn’t) been a good choice to fill-in for Barreto.

Hopefully, this won’t repeat itself again, and Eduardo can remain with the feature for a long time, but, if I were Woody Wilson, I would be looking for back-ups.

#7 lefthanger
January/4/2007
@ 11:56 am

The judge parker strip is the only one in my paper that isn’t drawn cartoonish. Until now. I complained about it in comics curmundgeon. Josh nentioned this scite for an update.
I now feel better knowing it will soon be back to its old self.Hopefuly very soon. Thanks.

#8 Beverly Morris
January/5/2007
@ 8:32 pm

I’m glad to know what happened to the art. These people don’t like like themselves, ages and faces are so totally wrong. I hope it goes back to LeDoux style as Eduardo’s and those after him have made too drastic changes to the original comic characters.

#9 LightSyrup
January/6/2007
@ 8:45 am

Eh, I’ll just be glad that I won’t have to continue to try and forget what Barretto’s characters looked like.

#10 Tommy Austin
January/14/2007
@ 10:23 pm

Looks like Eduardo makes his return with the January 15th daily strip of Judge Parker.

Cool. Glad he is back on it.

#11 Lee Waldon
June/20/2007
@ 11:42 am

I so miss Harold Le Doux’s artwork-the series of Judge Parker is not the same. Can’t we “unretire” Mr. Ledoux?

#12 Jerry Plotkin
January/27/2008
@ 3:21 am

Having moved from Chicago at the beginning of 2007, here in Western North Carolina, I was disappointed to find ourselves deprived of the morning ritual of the Judge Parker strip in our local newspaper. My favorite strip ever since the two orphaned girls came to live at the ranch, I too admired Herold Ledoux’s work, but echo the sentiments that John Heebink’s work provided a workmanlike – albeit alarming! – segue to Eduardo Barreto’s more familiar style of drawing. Woody & Co., keep churning out those great storylines!

#13 Mark McComas
June/15/2009
@ 5:44 pm

Barreto is a great improvement over Le Doux, who’s stuff has always been as flat as cardboard cutouts to me. Sure, he’s good with patterns, but not much with camera angles and expressive faces. Kudos to Barreto. Glad you are there.

#14 Barreto son, Heebinks briefly take over Judge Parker » The Daily Cartoonist
February/12/2010
@ 11:50 am

[…] time the artistic duties of Judge Parker have been handed over to ghost artists. Back in 2006, Eduardo was in a car accident and Rex Morgan MD artist Graham Nolan and comic book artist John Heebink stepped in during […]

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