Here Comes The Judge
Thursday Story Strip Day.
When I found Dan Heilman's The American Adventure, I was happy not only because it was a pretty and unknown strip. It also confirmed my feeling that Dan Heilman was a damn good artist. I had come across his Judge Parker in many of my Sunday sections from the fifties, but I could never bring myself to scan them. Although the art is nice enough, I was never a fan of the genre, those soap opera strips of the fifties that all went on far too long, like Mary Worth and Rex Morgan. Even Kerry Drake, easily the best of them, couldn't really impress me. The Heart of Juliet Jones at least had great art and I have to confess that reading Mary Perkins on Stage for the first time last year was a revelation as it may have been the best written strip of it's time.
But still, Heilman's Judge Parker always seemed attractive to me. Maybe it was too much of a story strip to impress me in single Sunday installments. The American Adventure showed me I had been right about Heilman's abillities as an artist, so I decided to go back to Judge Parker from the beginning and see if there was some attraction I missed. So here it is, the first weeks of Judge Parker. The strip started on monday 24th November 1952. The first Sunday seems to have been December 21st, although that doesn't really make sense and the the way the story is told, there is a hint of a Sunday page at least between Dec 6th and 7th. But in both of the papers I saw, I couldn't find it. Have fun reading it and I will see you after for my own reflections.
Well, that certainly reads as a very exciting strip. I do not really care for the soap opera trappings of the daughter and the judge being a widower. That's all a bit old hat, even at that point. But the crime story works really well and I like the way it is told. For this strip Heilman changed his style slightly from The American Adventure. It is less like that of Milt Caniff and that is too bad. Still, there are flashes of that same brilliance as with the man ariving at the doorstep to tell the witness is dead. The signature is now boxed in (the old one can be seen in the first announcement) and I can't help but feel that that is symbolic, as Heilman's drawing style seems to be boxed in by the subject as well. But all in all, I see why I liked Heilman's work. The staging is great and the action very expressive. I like this a lot better than Rex Morgan or, more significantly, the way Heilman's successor LeRoux took over the strip. So I think, the judge has deserved the right to have his story finished here, don't you?