Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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?

6 comments:

ilovecomix said...

this is awesome, mind if i added it to the ilovecomix archive site?

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Yep, but in return I hope you will one day explain me how it works, because I usually get lost there...

Daniel [oeconomist.com] said...

Nicholas P. Dallis, the fellow who creäted Judge Parker and handled the writing through the '80s made it the most G_d-awful slow-moving comic-strip of all time. I remember one strip (drawn by Harold LeDoux) in which an entire episode was given-over to the opening of a car trunk. Mind you that the reader didn't get to see what was in the trunk, just that some fellow fiddled with it, then said “Got it!” as he opened it.

EricMontreal22 said...

Just came across this, while looking (without much luck) for classic Judge Parker stuff. I'm an unabashed fan of the soap opera strips--Mary Worth, Dallis' three strips including Parker, Juliet Jones, Mary Perkins (perhaps equally an adventure strip) are my bread and butter, and unfortunately don't seem to have much interest among comic strip collectors and reprint companies--with the exception of Perkins, Jones and, to a much smaller degree, Apartment 3G due, largely, because of the astonishing art.

Yes, as Daniel said they sure could be slow moving (though that seemed to depend on the era--a lot of 50s-70s Dallis strips move relatively quickly, for example), but I guess that's part of the charm for me. Even though it was 8 years ago, thanks so much for posting this!

EricMontreal22 said...

BTW this story can be found--badly edited and coloured as they were--in issue one of Argo's 1956 Judge Parker comic book. Part of a series they attempted of reprinting newspaper strips (which included Dallis' Rex Morgan, Saunder's Mary Worth and Kerry Drake, etc...) It was short lived, and only one Parker issue came out, but can be easily found online on public domain comic book sites (though really, the art is so much more attractive in this format.)

EricMontreal22 said...

I should add, I think there's a Sunday missing between the 12 and 13 strips at the least, though I know the numbers don't quite add up, so I could be wrong. Still the fact that the opening text of 13 recaps such a major development as who was at the door--and in a way later Judge Parker Monday recaps would be done--makes me think that...