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Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 02/22/2010

'Judge Parker' Minus Barreto: Readers speak out about the art -- and the artist

By Michael Cavna

Reader "samalexander" wishes "Judge Parker" artist Eduardo Barreto well. Her sincere good thoughts go out to the gravely ill illustrator. Oh, and on a personal note artistically:

Please return. The strip isn't the same without you!

And ever since "Judge Parker" artist Woody Wilson told Comic Riffs that his strip was seeking a replacement artist as a result of Barreto's meningitis, samalexander's sentiment has been shared by many.

Samalexander wrote 'Riffs last week to say: "Get-well-soon wishes to Mr. Barreto" and later: "I hope Mr. Barreto knows he has fans who wish him well."

She also notes, though: "I have been spellbound by his artistry and the rug has been jerked out from under this strip by his absence. It's like all new funky bad actors just showing up in the middle of a movie -- or being forced to look at the preliminary story boards for the rest of the show."

Then, pointedly: "The subs have no business even trying to draw this strip."

Beyond our collective best wishes for Mr. Barreto, there is the indelicate matter among fans who demand: Then who shall draw our "Judge Parker"?? Well, after a couple of weeks of replacement artists, let's take a closer look:

"JUDGE PARKER" (with Eduardo Barreto):

parker26.gif [click on comic to enlarge]

Here's a "Judge Parker" strip from early this month, as reportedly drawn by the masterful Barreto. This is the eye-catching art -- gorgeous lines, deft textures -- that has revivified the strip's look since 2006. (I also note what my retired colleague Henry Allen has uttered over the transom about Barreto's style: It's the only reason I read the strip.)

"JUDGE PARKER" (with Diego Barreto):

parker210.gif [click on comic to enlarge]

Two weeks ago, in a deadline pinch, Eduardo's son Diego, an artist in his own right, drew a week's worth of strips (including the one directly above). Diego obviously has some of his father's flair. I'm struck by two particular differences: (1) Diego likes to heavily "outline" some of his figures, with bold lines that especially frame some of the faces; and (2) Over the course of a week, the facial features sometimes "floated" a bit -- understandably without the "snap-to" perfection that marked Eduardo's practiced "JP" hand.

JUDGE PARKER (with John Heebink):

parker220.gif [click on comic to enlarge]

Last Monday, the strip began featuring the work of veteran soap-comic artist John Heebink. Perhaps over time, his style will begin to more closely mirror Eduardo's. For the first week out of the gate, though, the style displayed rounded, less angular lines that made up the second-most distracting element (for me) last week. The first? The enlarged lettering. My-my. Those balloons are growing so fat with rounded letters that I wish I could just take a nib-pen and "pop" them. Gleefully.

Obviously, Mr. Barreto's recovery is what's truly important. But as samalexander so passionately put it: Oh, right now, how we also miss his art.

Do you have an opinion on the matter? Feel free to fire away.

NOTE: For anyone who wants to send their best wishes to Mr. Barreto, King Features informs Comic Riffs that readers may deliver a message at:
Or send the syndicate a note via snail-mail to:
Eduardo Barreto
c/o King Features
300 West 57th St., 15th Floor
New York, NY 10019-5238

By Michael Cavna  | February 22, 2010; 12:22 PM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Diego Barreto, Eduardo Barreto, John Heebink, Judge Parker  
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Are you sure that's Harold LeDoux's artwork and not Frank Bolle's?

When LeDoux was drawing the strip full-time, the characters did sometimes look a little like Howdy Doody or Alfalfa, as they do here; but it seems to me LeDoux drew facial features and backgrounds more sharply, more "in focus," than Bolle does...

Posted by: sonderfred | February 22, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

LeDoux, Bolle, whoever ...

I never paid any attention to this strip until the last couple of years, when Barreto's astounding artwork pulled me in. I understand it may be impossible for any replacement to match his level, but the past few installations have been dreadful, looking like something I would find in an "Archie and Jughead Digest."

Posted by: NotDoc | February 22, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse


Michael, hate to tell you this...but the art last week (and for the next few weeks) is being done by John Heebink. NOT Harold LeDoux.

Harold LeDoux is RETIRED, still living in Dallas. He did just make an appearance at the Dallas Comic Con a few weeks ago.

BREAKING: Mike Manley to ghost for Eduardo Barreto.

Mike just wrote this yesterday on his blog at:

I think Manley has a better grasp of the classic art form of a serial. He even notes that he learned from Al Williamson and was a student of Stan Drake, Leonard Starr and John Prentice. Mike, did a story with the former Secret Agent X-9 (Corrigan) (the former strip of his mentor and friend, Al Williamson), just recently for King Features for a comic book in Finland/Sweden. It also featured Modesty Blaise, but he didn't draw her.

Examples at his blog:

Based on those examples, I think Mike will be a better fill-in on Judge Parker, than Heebink.

>> brainiac1077:

Yes (sigh), of COURSE it's John Heebink, alas, as we *ourselves* reported earlier this month (linked to from above), according to the syndicate. Thanks.

And I'd heard Manley's name bandied about, but the syndicate had not confirmed any other ghost writers. Mike's post gives me hope.


Posted by: brainiac1077 | February 22, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I assume you meant you mean Ghost "artists", Michael.

Yes, Manley gives me hope. I think he will bring more of sense of realism to the strip than Heebink. John's work is too cartoonish, not enough realism. The characters look to exagerated.

Others I would like to see give Judge Parker a try:

Neal Adams
Jose Garcia Lopez
John Romita, Sr or Jr
George Perez
Rags Morales

I do look forward to what Mike Manley does with it.

Posted by: brainiac1077 | February 22, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

>> brainiac1077:

You put it perfectly re Heebink's style, which is fine -- just not for "JP."


Posted by: cavnam | February 22, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

>> brainiac1077:

** And I should add: As of this afternoon, King Features is choosing not to confirm/announce who any of the "JP" ghost artists are. I hope they see your very well-considered list.


Posted by: cavnam | February 22, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Barreto, get well quick as you and your excellant work are truly missed.

Mr Cavna, thank you for the explaination, as I was much disappointed at the art lately. Now I understand.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | February 23, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Barreto's art on "The Shadow Strikes" stands as some of the finest illustration in mainstream comics. My sincerest wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Posted by: arqueille2000 | February 23, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The Shadow Strikes work he did was OUTSTANDING. That and the "Long Haul" and "Union Station" are some his BEST stuff. He does well in the Noir, era-type plots. Also, Westerns.

If he can't come back, he will definitely be missed on Judge Parker.

Looking forward to Mike Manley's take on Judge Parker. He says in his blog "he is fan of the classic continuity strips".

Posted by: brainiac1077 | February 23, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I only started reading Judge Parker for the artwork, and only after hearing about it from this column. Without the artwork I might as well just read Mark Trail. At least that's funny.

Posted by: junque2 | February 23, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse


I just received an email from the Comics Editor, Brendan Burford at King Features today.

Sadly, Eduardo Barreto is not returning to Judge Parker. I hope he is getting better. But, he has resigned from the feature.

Mike Manley is the new "permanent" artist on Judge Parker. Here is Brendan Burford's email explaining what is going on. I found it odd he never named John Heebink as the replacement artist, just that the fill-in did a "yeoman-like job".

Please pardon the delay in my responding to your question about the artwork on the JUDGE PARKER strip. Eduardo Barreto has been ill, and in his absence we’ve been running work by a temporary replacement who has done a wonderful yeoman-like job of filling in under unforeseen circumstances, and very pressing deadlines. The work of the temporary replacement will run through March 14th.

We’ve now officially gotten word from Eduardo that he will be retiring from his drawing duties on JUDGE PARKER. All of us at King Features are sad to see Eduardo go – he gave the strip a classic look with a contemporary edge, and he drew the strip with great passion and professionalism.

Beginning March 15th, Mike Manley will become the new permanent artist of the JUDGE PARKER strip. Mike’s work has great verve and panache, and we’re confident that his stunning compositions and slick line will win over the JUDGE PARKER readers. During his career in comics and animation, Mike has worked on great titles like BATMAN and SUPERMAN, and we feel fortunate that he’ll be filling the role of JUDGE PARKER artist – the readers are in for something special.

With Woody Wilson’s consistently compelling writing and Mike Manley’s attractive art, the strip will continue its known brand of excellence.

Thank you for being such a loyal reader of the JUDGE PARKER strip.

Brendan Burford
Comics Editor
King Features Syndicate

Posted by: alevine76 | February 23, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

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