BREAKING: 'Judge Parker' artist Eduardo Barreto is 'gravely ill'; new artist sought
Beginning next week, readers will notice a significantly different look to the comic strip "Judge Parker." That is because Eduardo Barreto, the feature's artist since 2006, is gravely ill.
"Eduardo is not coming back," Woody Wilson, the longtime writer of "Judge Parker" and "Rex Morgan M.D." tells Comic Riffs. "He's gravely ill. He has told us he will not be able to [draw the comic for] the foreseeable future."
King Features Syndicate, which distributes "Judge Parker," says that Barreto is sick and that there's "a temporary replacement" artist.
"We are, at this moment ... conducting a search for another artist," Wilson says by phone from Phoenix.
A family member says that Barreto, a Uruguayan resident who is in his mid-50s, has meningitis, Wilson says.
"Two weeks ago -- this came on suddenly -- he had to go to the hospital" in Montevideo, says the writer, adding: "Eduardo sent us a note saying he wouldn't be able to continue."
Barreto, one of the comics page's flashiest stylists, has also drawn for DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Oni Press. Among his recent releases is the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel "The Escapists," created with Brian K Vaughan, Philip Bond and Steve Rolston. He is widely known for "The New Teen Titans," as well as "Superman" and "Batman," "Marvel Knights" and Dark Horse's "Aliens vs. Predator" and "Star Wars."
Barreto took over artistic duties for "Judge Parker" from Harold Ledoux in May 2006. Shortly after, he spent some time in the hospital after a very serious car accident and the strip needed to get a "ghost" artist during that period, Wilson says. The replacements included "Rex Morgan M.D." artist Graham Nolan and John Heebink.
"It's a sad loss for all of us," not having him do "Judge Parker," Wilson tells Comic Riffs. "Eduardo brought a sex appeal and panache to the strip and that was needed. ... It's all we can do that the person who takes over 'Judge Parker' will be able to do what Eduardo has been able with this strip. It's really come alive. It's really what these continuities need. The artwork has to be beautiful and appealing and to draw people to the page and be able to tell a story."
Wilson, who inherited the strip decades ago from creator Nicholas Dallis, adds of Barreto: "His love of drawing beautiful women brought something to the strip -- like in a story last year involving Dixie Julep [a murderous topless dancer]. He drew so appealingly, every woman would get more voluptuous."
Dallis -- writing under the pseudonym Paul Nichols -- created the soap opera-style continuity strip in 1952, featuring widower judge Alan Parker and his children, Ann and Randy. Many storylines feature young attorney Sam Driver and his wife, Abbey Spencer, as well as their children. (Dallis, a psychiatrist who died in 1991, also created "Rex Morgan M.D." and "Apartment 3-G.")
As for finding a replacement for Barreto, Wilson says: "We had a week of Eduardo's son, Diego, who is an artist and is also there in Uruguay. He did a week and got us out of the [deadline] hole. Then he said he couldn't continue."
"As far I know, today, we have John Heebink doing the artwork as a temporary replacement," says Wilson, adding that King Features is "looking at some other people and sending them strips and doing tryouts."
Barreto is "a true gentleman and a joy to work with," says Wilson, an Arizona resident who has never met Barreto in person. The writer adds: "I've been lucky to work with two of the best artists [Barreto and Nolan] around; they compel me to write a better story."
The Washington Post dropped "Judge Parker" from its print comics in 2009; an outcry from readers -- thousands of people voiced their displeasure through Comic Riffs, a Post comics hotline and ombudsman Andrew Alexander -- prompted The Post to restore the strip to its print lineup.
THE WORLD OF EDUARDO BARRETO:
(NOTE: If you don't speak Spanish and would like to read the accompanying translated article, you can click here.)
THE RELATED READ:
STRIP REINSTATED: Here Comes the 'Judge'! Strip to Return to Post's Pages
MORNING LINE: On the Trail of the 'Judge Parker' Artist...
| February 12, 2010; 9:13 AM ET
Categories: Interviews With Cartoonists, The Comic Book, The Comic Strip, The Morning Line | Tags: Eduardo Barreto, Graham Nolan, John Heebink, Judge Parker, King Features Syndicate, Woody Wilson
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