The Phantom writer Tony DePaul confirmed that Bret is the artist today on his blog:
The news is out that my friend Mike Manley is on the DL…
…Two long-time artist friends of his have stepped in to pick up the work while Mike’s on the mend. They’re doing a great job with unfamiliar material, under the tightest deadlines ever, and not only getting the work out the door but gaining time as they go. That’ll give Mike a comfortable buffer to work with once he’s back at the drawing board…
So, many thanks to Bret Blevins, and a colleague whose name I won’t mention until he or someone else makes it public…
As Tony writes: “They’re doing a great job with unfamiliar material, under the tightest deadlines ever.” Of course the snarkers at Comics Kingdom couldn’t care less about the circumstances the guest artists were facing when lending a hand to Mike.
It appears to my old eyes that the Judge Parker strip has been a combination of new art and digitally manipulated Mike Manley art to get a jump on the “dreaded deadline doom.” That should end soon. (already?)
With the next major American holiday Scott will begin signing the daily strips, and the Sundays a couple weeks after that.
As for Mike – Tony says in a response to his blog:
He’s got challenging days ahead but we texted back & forth a bit this morning, his spirits seem good.
Also – Looking up that quote about Mike shows that Tony now confirms Scott as the Judge Parker artist:
Well now the cat’s officially out of the bag… Yes, it’s Scott Cohn.