Wait, is that still Eduardo Barreto drawing Judge Parker? Maybe the artist has been rushed lately, or he’s on vacation. But the strips the past few days look like someone’s trying to imitate Barreto.
That would be a shame if he’s moved on. It was only about a year ago when both Judge Parker and Rex Morgan M.D. — both written by Woody Wilson — debuted a new look straight out of Milton Caniff’s World War II pin-up days.
The women in those two strips all became — well, there’s no other way to say this — hot.
Judge Parker in the past year has introduced one femme fatale after another, each dangerous and wearing very little in the way of clothing.
In Rex Morgan, as drawn by Graham Nolan, once-demur nurse June Gale herself has taken to dressing like a Victoria’s Secret model. In a storyline last May, to cite one memorable example, while she, Rex and their daughter were on an ocean cruise, June paraded about the ship in a bikini so revealing other passengers stopped to stare. And more than one panel showed her striking poses to lure her physician-husband into a closer examination of their suite’s mattress.
Voyeurism aside, this new-old look brings an accompanying attention to overall detail in all the panels — in the slit of the woman’s skirt, the snap of the man’s tux and the lines of his sports car, the olive in her martini glass …. It’s better art across the board, and that’s a good thing.
But in case you haven’t noticed, such well-rendered characters — and fine drawing — in contemporary popular daily comics is unusual. As I say, you’d have to go back almost to the 1950s to find similarly stylized women and men. Unless of course you count the Girls in Apartment 3G (later to be demoted to just Apartment 3G). Tommie, Margo and what’s her name up until relatively recently were rendered with an eye toward attracting the men folk.
Then, with a change in illustrators, the sex appeal — and the better art itself — moved from the third floor to the basement. We lost the view.