If you noticed the sudden, dramatic difference in the art of the 'Judge Parker' comic strip this week, there's a sad explanation: Eduarto Barreto , who has drawn the strip since 2006, is seriously ill.
Barreto is "gravely ill. He has told us he will not be able to [draw the comic for] the foreseeable future." says Woody Wilson, the longtime writer of the strip (and also of 'Rex Morgan'), according to Michael Cavna, who writes the "Comic Riffs" blog for the Washington Post.
This also from Cavna's blog:
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."
Cavna has a lot more info on "Judge Parker" and Barreto (including a interview [in Spanish] with the cartoonist) on his blog.