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.